Winter semester is almost gone. We are still writing our last exams and lucky ones, who have already passed them, can enjoy the anticipated rest. For some students the end of the semester is also the end of the great adventure – taking part in Erasmus+ exchange. Whereas some students are forced to leave Poznań, other ones are coming to us from all over Europe! Traditionally, we won’t leave them alone. In January another recruitment for Mentor programme ended. Anna Światnienko, the Coordinator of this programme, informs that there were as many as 161 people willing to help foreign students at our university. We have selected 94 Mentors out of them to take care of 93 students from different countries who will come to us really soon. Let’s not forget that new semester begins with another Orientation Week! In ESN UAM Poznań we are already working on how to host our guests to the best of our abilities during their first days in Poznań. We start on the 20th of February! For any kinds of information you can search in our next editions of ESN Weekly News as well as on our fanpage!

“I’m already here… At the weirdest table I could choose” said a message I got from Emiliya on my way to our meeting. She’s going to be interesting to talk to – I think, stepping into the café where my interviewee is already waiting. Sure enough, her energy strikes me right from the start. Funny, positive, quick-witted, Emiliya Aleksieva, an Erasmus student from Bulgaria, hopes to soon be using her Psychology degree to unlock children’s potential for learning and development, especially through art – her biggest passion. Always ready to push herself to the limit, Emiliya rightfully won the Statue for the SocialErasmus during the Farewell Party for her active and dedicated work in the ESN SocialErasmus section, and subsequently earned another honour by becoming the Erasmus of the Month January.

EWN: First of all, congratulations on your very well-deserved win!

EMILIYA: Thank you.

EWN: I have heard that you are very active within the ESN SocialErasmus section, taking part in all of the events and quick to connect with children and high school students alike – whoever that is you’re working with.

EMILIYA: That’s because of my passion for speaking to unknown people. In the past I used to be a really closed person, I didn’t speak to anyone. At school I only knew my class, and I was only speaking to a few of them. I’m from Sofia (Bulgaria’s capital city), which has a population of nearly two million people, but I felt really closed. Then I moved to another city to study, with a population of 82 thousand people, and I opened myself, also began working as a waitress which helped me start speaking to people. I am much more likely to speak to strangers rather than when I’m in a group of friends. I think this is because I really like learning new things and getting to know new people.

EWN: Do you think studying Psychology has also helped you to connect with young people so well?

EMILIYA: I’m interested in the Psychology field that focuses on development. I really enjoy going to schools because children are the people that you can help develop. In the future I would like to work in schools because children have so many resources, so much potential.

EWN: What are your other interests?

EMILIYA: My favourite hobby are two things – drawing and making DIY jewellery. I’m also quite interested in photography and decor. All that kind of art stuff, hand-made stuff – I’m there!

EWN: Do you think you could combine it with working with children?

EMILIYA: Yes, definitely! I think this is very important for children to involve in arts, it develops their imagination and thinking.

EWN: Have you got a clear idea of what exactly you want to do?

EMILIYA: Don’t ask! (laugh) For sure I want to do something with people, something social. I cannot stay at home for one minute!

EWN: Which one was your favourite ESN SocialErasmus event here in Poznań?

EMILIYA: I really liked the Chat That Up Workshops for school pupils where they could learn about the Erasmus+ programme. It was really interesting, I liked that I could share my experience with them and inspire them, but also I gained a lot for myself, because it helped me get directions concerning my intership options in Poland.

EWN: Do you take part in this type of events back in Bulgaria?

EMILIYA: In my town there is a bar/club/cultural spot all at the same time where they organise a lot of cultural events. They invite artists from the theatre, art faculty, singers. I help them with projects that they create. Now after this Erasmus experience I really want to get involved in events like this when I go back. At my university I had a chance to visit different institutions as part of an internship – I wasn’t doing it for a grade or anything of that kind, I just enjoyed it. The best moment for me was at school, when we had to prepare a training for children. I’ve also travelled as part of the 10-day Erasmus Short Projects to Estonia, Spain and Slovakia.

EWN: Did you travel by yourself or took some Bulgarian friends along?

EMILIYA: On my first trip in Estonia I knew the whole group. Then on the second one, I only knew one girl, and on the last one I went by myself. Here in Poznań I’m also alone.

EWN: Weren’t you afraid to challenge yourself like this?

EMILIYA: Not at all, I love challenging myself!

EWN: How was your experience in Poznań?

EMILIYA: The moment I arrived I was like “I’m in love with this city!”. To be honest, I didn’t initially think of Poland, I wanted to go to Spain. My mother suggested me to go to Poznań, so I started researching it and I don’t regret the decision at all.

EWN: Have you travelled around Poland?

EMILIYA: I’ve been to Kraków and the nearby places, I was also in Gdańsk and in Warsaw before my Erasmus. After my exams finish I want to couchsurf around Poland and visit the cities that I haven’t had a chance to see yet, for example Wrocław, and then some other countries.

EWN: What about the language? I heard you speaking some Polish.

EMILIYA: Back in Bulgaria, I took two lessons in Polish and when I heard the sound of the language I was very frustrated. “Where am I going?! How am I going to survive?”. It wasn’t about the words, I wasn’t aware of grammar at all, it was about the sound. When I arrived here, at the beginning it was really hard for me to listen to all these rustles but then, I think it’s thanks to my Polish teacher, I started liking it – and now I really regret having to leave and not being able to be around it anymore!

EWN: Do you use Polish on a daily basis?

EMILIYA: I do. I’ve even started using grammar! (laugh)

EWN: How do you like Polish food?

EMILIYA: I might not be a huge fan, but I will really miss the żurek!

Interview by: Zosia Kałużna (ESN Weekly News)

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