First and foremost can you introduce yourself?
I am Mevhibe Ayşe Akdemir. I’m studying Psychology, I’m in my 3.-4. year (irregular).
How did you benefit from the Erasmus program?
My Erasmus experience took place in the University of Adama Mickiewicz in Poland. I went in the fall semester of 2021-2022 (2022- Between February and June)
How did you decide to apply to the Erasmus + Internship program?
It was always on my mind, I actually applied a few times. In my last application I selected the without grant option, wanting to go with or without the grant this time. I don't know if it had any effects but in the end I did get accepted.
Which part of the application process was most challenging for you?
To be honest you feel the need for someone to guide you through the process of gathering the paperwork however are not able to find someone who is competent or familiar with the process. We had a very knowledgeable teacher at the Erasmus Office, but then they took some time of, and then they were constantly redirected from there to there by email, stressing out until the problem was solved. But I can surely say that after enough insistence and mailing, everything got solved. I think that I was lucky with both my Erasmus coordinator here and my teachers there. No matter how much we’ve constantly been emailing them because of this troublesome problem in the process, they had adopted a solution-oriented strategy by stretching the rule or doing what should be done if necessary. I think they handled the process professionally despite the problems in the system. So stay calm and be on the look for the emails A solution will be found to the problems.
How was the process of picking where you wanted to do your internship ?
Frankly, I didn't want to be a burden on my family because of the foreign exchange situation. I wanted to pick either Poland or Germany. I eliminated Germany because of the language barrier (which I made a mistake, I should have investigated thoroughly). As a result of a lot of blogs, people who had gone before and internet research about Poland, I decided on Adama Mickiewicz. It was my first choice. A friend who went from our school before me praised it very much, both in terms of the lectures and the environment, I must say that it lived up to the expectation.
How did you handle choosing lectures ?
The lectures were specialized for the Erasmus Program. They had put together a seperate program for students who had come for Erasmus. Everyone was able to pick any lecture. People from different majors also attended the psychology lectures(and I should point out that psychology classes were very popular). From this point of view, you won't have much trouble choosing lectures. Our coordinators here are also very flexible regarding accreditation. Another important aspect is that the lectures you failed does not affect your average.
Considering your own department, what advice can you give to people who will participate in the Erasmus program in the future?
I think go away, forget about the things you are afraid of such as term extension or not understanding the teacher. In the end you are a part of a hundred percent English major. As for money, there are part time job opportunities. Don't worry about how I would do it. Even if I didn't have have it in my mind, I had a lot of friends who worked there part-time, so my knowledge about it occurred directly there. Beware if there is a Turkish market or not,and take supplies accordingly. You miss it even if you think that you wont. I went by saying that I would learn a new culture, and I made a big speech. But the cousin of every place is only 2% of Turkish food cousin.
Can you talk about the features of the city that you went to?
Poznan was a beautiful city. Greenery, plenty of parks, bicycle paths, the fact that it is a safe and constantly live city. The locals don't speak English very well or can be afraid to speak, so we got along in a tarzanian sort of way. English being the non-native language was a bit restrictive for both daily life interactions and the process of developing my English. (but of course you come together with a lot of people who speak English at ESN events, so you are exposed to the language). Because everything is written and spoken in Polish, your first grocery shopping may take an hour. A person feels like an illiterate child. Regarding racism, I have not been exposed to any racist situation. I think there was a situation against Ukrainians, once but I didn't understand it since it was also Polish, my Erasmus Buddy translated it, and then told me about the situation. Moral of the story is that if someone had said something, I probably did not understand it :’)
Can you evaluate your Erasmus experience in the country that you went to ?
I was very pleased, first of all, my own city was the reason for the discovery in itself, the last month I spent exploring my own city. Especially when we figured out the bicycle situation at the last minute, we toured the whole city from land to land. In addition, Adama Mickiewicza's ESN is also incredibly active. We immediately connected with Erasmus and other exchange students there, we became like a family. We were also getting together every week thanks to events. There were also trips to the surrounding areas organized by ESN. I've heard that my friends who weren't very active in ESN had an experience which was a bit more boring, in which they were left without guidance on what to do. I felt lucky in this respect. English is the language of education for Erasmus students and Adam Mickiewicz is surrounded by English speakers because there is a particular education program in which the language of education is English. Although English is difficult to understand in daily life, it is thanks to the activities in your field that you get exposed to English. After staying in Poland for a long time, I felt like I had returned to Turkey when I went to a place where English was spoken a more for the first time. Understanding what the people passing by on the street were saying, being able to say hello to people was enough to make me emotional. I saw two different reactions to this situation, I found it uncomfortable not to be able to understand what was passing on the street, while another friend of mine saw it as an opportunity to listen to their head.
How was the profile of erasmus students where you were?
In general, people came to socialize and travel, they were open to new experiences. Because there was a person with a certain attitude of mind, the minds match and interact immediately. There were many Turks. And many Spaniards . Other than that, the other countries were the minority. Classes were online when they exceeded 25 people due to COVID :’) There was a maximum number of 50 people in the class. There were a total of about 200 students who came during my semester, but it's a little difficult to guess considering those who had come for two semesters and were not in the whatsapp group.
Can you tell us about the friend environment you created during your stay?
My personality isnt able to handle many friends, so I didn't want to get into overcrowded groups, if i went into one , it usually evolved into few new friendships in the end. I made friends with Turks, Greeks, Koreans, Poles. I usually spent time with the Turks. I have found a lot in common with Koreans and Greeks, the closeness of the cultures is very affecting, it really helps to hit it off. We hung out a lot with our Polish Erasmus Buddy and their friends. Apart from that, if you participate in ESN activities frequently, you have the opportunity to get to know someone different every time. The friend group I spent time with in the early middle and recent periods was almost completely different.
What was the hardest part of living in a foreign country?
Shopping in the markets. Especially the first time. Not being able to participate in small every day interactions with people.Not being able to say things like "Kolay Gelsin" or "Iyi Gunler" "Kolay Gelsin" is such a cultural phrase that was hard to translate to English, we couldn't translate it, and the other party might not know English, there was a moment of blank silence. We were saying Have a nice day, they weren't answering back. I did not realize this situation until 1 month later in another country. I remember when we first went shopping in Brussels, I had gotten used to not saying, ‘Have a nice day! but ‘this time, the cashier lady from across the street said Have a nice day I was incredibly excited, I was emotional because that's what was missing. I call this situation a reverse culture shock. I realized and questioned the things I had adapted to for a month and then another month later. It is very difficult to explain our problem of defending our own right in bureaucratic situations. If there is no one who speaks English, and even if there sometimes is, communication is very open to misunderstandings. For example, this public transport ticket checks suddenly fines you and expects you to explain yourself or just does not understand directly. I didn't experience it, but the first friends who left were scared and panicked because of the lack of internet and phone reception. Traffic rules such as waiting for it to turn green on pedestrian roads, takes some time to get used to.
What was the best part of living in a foreign country?
There is a lot to experience, so you don't feel like staying in your dorm too much. Bicycle paths, incredibly systematic public transport really mesmerized me. It was very different to see this layout compared to Ankara, where a tram passes every time I put my foot down after a city structure dominated by private vehicles. Being able to go everywhere by bike, seeing places with parks full of green forests, it felt good for my body, considering that I had never lived anywhere outside of Ankara. In addition, it was very surprising to find tickets at incredibly low prices to go from one place to another within European. We were a bit more lucky since Poland is in the middle of Europe. Especially during discount periods, we could change countries between 200-500 TL, while we could not even change cities at this price in Turkey. The world seemed really small.
What have you done during this process that you've never done before?
It wasn't my first overseas experience, but it was my first time abroad on my own. I had more of the control. I have mastered the field of overseas vacation planning, which I had not done before, and chasing discounts. I had always wanted to go and explore different countries. During the trip, there were moments when we came across strangers from somewhere else, became friends and had conversations. In the incredible lightness of being a tourist, I was annoying the locals by asking everyone everything, which could sometimes lead to negative reactions to beautiful friendships from time to time, but the reactions were mostly positive. I had never felt this social before. Turks are very well known. People who are Turkish fans are those who have done Erasmus in Turkey before.. Unexpected friendships were formed. Baklavists of Turkish neighborhoods were coming out in unexpected cities of unexpected countries. I had never gone to a night club, or partied through the night. Normally it would seem very dangerous to go back home in the morning, but it was a normal thing there, a culture even.The first day I went, a woman was checking into the dorm, and I remember I was surprised because it was about 4 o'clock at night. And then I got used to it, of course. In addition, Erasmus students were going to a contract or you had to meet in some way, even if it was not planned at all. We lived in a very small place and it was like we had an environment, like we knew everyone. It was a different cultural experience for me. I've always wanted to live in a city with bike lanes, where I can ride a bike to work and school. I am a person who is very influenced by Korean culture and from Korean dramas. I've always wanted to meet Korean people. We actually met and went to a barber's Korean dinner, I made very sincere friendships. I am very fond of Japanese anime culture. There were a lot of Japanese restaurants in Poznan, and there were places where anime themed products were sold. Most importantly, I was also lucky enough to come across a comic in Poland, all the streets were full of people doing cosplay. It was really great.
We know this question is hard to answer, how has the erasmus internship experience benefited you?
Self confidence in going abroad. I have seen that there are opportunities to travel very cheaply from abroad regarding money. I saw that abroad is not such a remote space experience, on the contrary, it is accessible, and even my friend and I planned a Sarajevo Montenegro tour immediately after returning.
Is there a memory that you would consider unforgettable that you would like to share with us?
You think that you will manage alone until you go to Erasmus, but there are also people there as well. I will never forget the moment that I first entered my dormitory. My flight was late to Poznan, thank God, my Uber driver David was a foreigner who speaks English. He waited at the door until I was sure of the address. That shaped my first impression about this city. Later, when we entered the dormitory, we got along tarzanlyn with the Polish lady at the reception who did not speak English at all. She was so patient with us that we laughed when we got something wrong, there was a long struggle between us, but she never ran out of patience and bared with us until the end. I think this was the second warm welcome too. When two people want to understand each other, they really do find a way. I put my first experience with Tarzan and English in my pocket, I was incredibly confident going to my room, a warm friend said, ‘Are you new here? Welcome!’and greeted me (let me remind you again three or four hours a night), I said yes, her accent sounded familiar (Turkish ), I asked where she was from. She said "Turkey" and I said ‘I knew it! I am from Turkey too.” Then we switched back to Turkish, and introduced ourselves. When I met her in the early days, she was very helpful with the people in the dormitories or in places where I had difficulty. Everything went very smoothly, and then, of course, there were problems, but there was always someone around to ask for help.
Was the grant that was given enough? Did you spend any extra money?
To be honest, I didnt take out a grant. However, the grocery store prices are around the same if not twice the price of the prices inTurkey. I problably spent the most on food, and accommodation while traveling. When it comes to traveling, in times of discounts/sales there were extremely cheap plane tickets. Only the accommodation was pricy.
Is there any information that you found useful to you, that you would like to recommend?
TAKE SPICES WITH YOU! There were any dried mint leaves or red pepper flakes here, none of the meals I cooked pictured Turkish foods. :') There isn't a Turkish Market (at least there was a regular market, a brother who opened a stand at Galeria Petska from time to time, but it takes a month until he discovers it or finds a Turkish market in a different country). We all got sick, especially the first week, and you want to make a soup, mom, it doesn't look like anything without dry mint, as if it touched your hand. Apart from that, if you are addicted to sour pomegranate sauce like me, buy it like me, because I cried for the first month:’) But if you don't buy it, it's okay, you will also find it in places where you will visit the Turkish grocery store. @ Surely, take medicine with you. My immune system is not weak, however their viruses hit a little different. Everyone got sick within the first week. Start buying your foreign plane tickets and accommodation early before the summer season arrives (before May) prices increase a lot when the season starts.April May is also very navigable, the weather is autumn-like. Take summer attire with you, it gets quite hot towards June. Be as it May be a Northern country there is summer here as well.You are especially going to fall in love with the sky which fades at 10. Find affordable stores Like Primark Tkmaxx you can find suitable pieces from Turkey that you never expected, I bought a lot of shoes. The advice I inherited from a friend who went to Poland before: Don't fill your luggage full and leave, reserve a 5 kilo place in the gift medial things from there on the way back. Check if the opening dates of the dormitory and the school as they might not coincide with each other. This situation resulted in me having to change flights constantly. I missed orientation week. Don't miss the orientation week, especially for Adama Mickiewicz, they introduce both the school and provide a tour of the city, plus the first friendships are established there. You can give your family authorization from a notary to make transactions related to your account. I didn't need to use it, but just in case. It can be both for your cell line or for your bank transactions.
Which transportation-communication companies did you use?
Bolt- There is Uber as well but Bolt is more local and cheaper. Jakdojade- Is like our EGO application. Unfortunatly not all trips are visible on Google Maps. All the networks of bus tramway at Jajdojade are available and more reliable. Next bike is the application used for cycling, it takes time to solve but we finally succeeded. You can call customer service when you are in difficulty, they have a very helpful team who speaks English. Orange flex- You can activate your Polish line with the Orange flex application and the sim card you will receive is free of charge from the stores. Don't forget the special 100gb internet for students (free) and the gift of zyloty that will benefit both them and yourself when you log in with someone's code, I did all this without knowing about the activation of the line. It will definitely be shared in WhatsApp groups.
Did you have any information about ESN in the country that you went to?
Frankly they were very active, there were rarely any weeks that a event was not held. In fact, that was the reason I applied to ESN when I came back, because we could be a more lively club with very little effort. They were sharing the activities of the pubs and of the bars. They were doing workshops promoting their cultural dances and clothes. I came across Easter and there was an egg painting workshop. There were a lot of meeting events, especially in the first week. We had already finished most of the places to visit in Poznan from the first week.(parks, museums, well-known bars, cafes). I remember the thing was it had gotten into such a routine now that I could say this week I'm not going to this,or I'm going to this. This situation both made me very active socially and I did not suffer from loneliness. When I returned home, I had a feeling that I should be more active and explore more of Ankara. They were constantly finding something to do, despite the cold weather. I realized that we closed our self of too much.