I fell upon the idea of participating in the Erasmus + student exchange program when I was a first year student of the State Higher School of Technology and Economics in Jarosław. And I did not have to wait for the result, it was even better than I expected. I learned about the Erasmus + exchange program from the leaflets stuck on the PWSTE buildings. At first I decided to visit the International Cooperation Department and ask about the travel arrangements. At that time, I did not intend to participate in the above mentioned exchange program, but after getting basic information I was interested in it. A great incentive for the trip was the scholarship that every student received under this program, as well as a wide range of countries and higher schools where one can study for two semesters. I took a decision to participate in the above program immediately after the first conversation with the head of the International Cooperation Department. The thoughts about going to a warm sunny country, getting to know another culture and participating in classes along with foreign students got stuck in my head.
In the end, I went to Valencia alone, others did not want to go for different reasons. The most difficult and the most emotional were, of course, the first weeks. Everything was new and interesting. At first there were a lot of formalities, but there were less of them before departure. I had two weeks to choose disciplines and apply to the curriculum. Subsequently, I took the decision to study 5 subjects, one of them was Spanish. Polytechnic University in Valencia offers foreign students learning foreign languages at different language levels free of charge. Only one subject was conducted in English, the number of subjects to choose was limited. Although the subjects I selected were conducted in Spanish, most of the teachers had a good knowledge of English. In case of some misunderstandings, I could communicate in English. The Polytechnic University in Valencia has a huge campus, it is equipped in such a way that students can spend their free time and entertain themselves. There is a large library, many bars and restaurants, stationery shops, bookstores, and service facilities, such as a hairdressing salon and a flower shop. Sports facilities are also impressive: professional treadmills, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a soccer field, basketball courts, beach volleyball courts, a gym. In order to visit these sports facilities you must show a student ticket and an entrance ticket, which can be purchased in advance for the semester.
The Polytechnic University (Valencia), as most universities, takes part in the student exchange program “Erasmus +”. This is a non-profit student organization. It provides assistance in many fields ( mainly for students of the exchange program), organizes small and large tours, various events, due to which we can get acquainted with Spanish culture and traditions. This organization holds parties and gives a volunteer support . In addition to the student organization in Valencia, there are several private companies that deal with similar activities. Here one can learn about excursions that are conducted almost every week at the weekends. Excursions to less known places are more interesting for me than that ones to famous places. In addition to one or two day excursions, one can find here organized tours for more than 7-10 days. You can also buy here a SIM card and learn more about the city and the lifestyle of the local residents.
I know that Valencia is a city in Europe with the largest number of foreign students. Here you can meet people almost from all over the world. Some faculties of the Polytechnic University were established specially for foreign students. Engineering studies and undergraduate studies are conducted in English. My faculty is the smallest one, one can study here geoengineering, therefore, it is offered English language for the second level academic degree. One should take into consideration that it is planned here studying of engineering specialties. The faculty is located in a modern building equipped with construction and geodetic equipment.
The first two months were difficult for me. I spent a lot of time with my friends on the beach. Sometimes I went there alone, because I wanted to spend as much time as possible in the nature. While staying with my friends we exchanged views, discussed different problems. I met students from many European countries. I believe that this is the best way to get to know countries, culture, traditions and history, because you get the first-hand information. It also helped me get rid of certain stereotypes.
One of the most interesting custom in Spain (which is pleasant to foreigners and sometimes complicates life) is “Siesta”. This is an afternoon break for lunch, sleep, etc. As a rule, most shops and service points close at 2 p.m. for lunch break and open at 5 p.m. I forgot about it several times and went there in vain . During the Siesta, most restaurants are crowded with people. While strolling through the streets of the city during the siesta, one can get the impression that the city is extinct.
Valencia has a lot of bicycle roads and this encouraged me to buy a ticket for riding a bike. It was the main kind of travelling that I used to while going around the city. During my staying in Valencia I saw the rainfalls only several times, so I did not have to think about the weather, as we are used to in Poland. In my opinion, the coldest months were November and December, but it did not prevent me from riding a bike. In some situations, I used a subway or a tram. A bike riding around the city is a good way to get to know it at any time of the day or night. I am happy with my choice and I must say that it is worth going there. Over time, a large Valencia became less and less for me.
I must say that my guests visited me two times and it was an excellent experience. In November a group of friends came to see me; and in December my brother visited me. As I went to the university almost every day, I was accustomed to the conditions and place of living and I felt bored. However, my friends made me realize that I live in a unique place. I began to get involved again with the things that became boring for me. When the weather was bad, I did not spend my free time in the air. It is worth noting a well-developed family business here. This can be seen not only in restaurants, but also in many stores. An interesting experience was celebration of Christmas and New Year Eve in Valencia. The celebration of Christmas with foreigners was an exceptional event, and of course, an unforgettable one. We had Polish, Lithuanian, Turkish and Mexican dishes and snacks. On New Year’s Eve we gathered in a small house which was located not far from the coast. Here I met many people and we drank champagne.
When I had to come back to Poland, on the one hand, I was happy, because I got back to my native country; and on the other hand, I did not want to leave a place that made an unforgettable impression on me. Despite the fact that training at the Polytechnic University in Valencia was a challenge for me, I was happy that I had taken such a decision within the Erasmus + exchange program. I will always remember the time and people I met in Valencia.