The end has come, though before we jump straight to it – read about what was happening in Erasmus life lately and what was the biggest Polish adventure of Chris from Taiwan!

Wednesday, May 30th. On this day we decided to share the joy – Children’s Day was coming soon while a lot of children were hospital-bound with no opportunities to spend this special day of the year playing and having fun like their peers. Making good use of the beautiful May weather we decided to take some blankets to the Dąbrowski Park and join forces with our foreign friends in a quest to cheer up little hospital patients with colourful wishcards of support. The event resulted in great success as everyone worked with enthusiasm and dedication to help others! It was definitely not the last time we organised this event – because who wouldn’t want to become an ESN angel and make someone else smile?

Thursday, June 7th. Thursday morning was very special for children from Mali Europejczycy (Little Europeans) kindergarten in Poznań because of a visit paid by Erasmus students and members of ESN UAM Poznań. The international students told the children about culture and traditions of their home countries and then made sure to play some fun games together! It was a great opportunity for the children to learn something new about different cultures, and for the Erasmus students to get to know our local society and develop new skills working with children. As the Children’s Day was not that long before, we prepared many surprises for the kindergarteners! It was an extraordinary day full of fun for both the students and the children, one they will surely remember for a long time!

Friday, June 8th. On Friday evening room A in the Jowita dormitory turned into a place of heated discussions. And this was due to an event many ESN UAM Poznań members had been long awaiting – the Election Day! We began with thank-you speeches from “retiring” members of the Board, Board of Audit, Delegate and Vice Delegate. Each of the candidates stood strong through the shower of questions from the audience, clearly displaying their readiness to take over the most important seats in the Section. We heard many promises and hopes for “a better tomorrow” – let’s hope the new Board challenges us to be even better than we are now, and we wish all the newly elected many great initiatives and keeping our fingers crossed that everything always goes your way!

Friday, June 15th. It’s not easy to say goodbye, and we all know that much too well. The question remained how we could celebrate this inevitable (though touching) moment. We must admit a Hawaii-themed party on a beach sounds like a dream! And that’s what we decided to do with the help of the Barbarka ze spokojem staff. During the meeting we announced the results of the Erasmus Awards contest where our Erasmus students could vote their winners in categories such as: „The Legend”, „The Best Couple”, „Party Animal” or „SocialErasmus Hero”. Winners were awarded medals, and the “Erasmus Queen” and “Erasmus King” received the greatest ovation! It was an incredible experience that we feel happy and honoured to have shared with you.

Born in Taiwan, lived in Los Angeles, studied in France, worked in Africa, now settled in Poland… This is Chris Yenchen Lo in a nutshell! A Medicine student and our international ESN star that just cannot go unnoticed being always oh-so-active and ready to engage in the most exciting of events, there is one more thing that makes Chris Chris… He loves to challenge himself, just like this one time he went to a Polish KFC! Want to find out more? Read on!

ESN Weekly News: Why did you decide to go on an international exchange?

Chris Yenchen Lo: Learning from different cultures makes your life more colourful, and we only live once! Exotic places and experiences humble me and teach me to cherish and respect others. Because I will become a doctor, learning in practice by contacting people is very important to me. By participating in different activities, I meet friends, I get involved in Polish society and I can even learn a variety of cultures easily. This is nothing but a shortcut to make your life more colourful!

EWN: Did you have one favourite activity?

Chris: Personally, I appreciate trips to different cities – it’s amazing to visit other cities with foreign friends. Needless to say, Polish friends are great at organising trips and be super helpful in solving language problems and arranging travel agenda issues. But! I like Helping the homeless and Kindergarten visit events the most. If we want to know the society of a place, we can’t just do it by visiting some tourist attractions or joining parties. Instead, we have to go among people to deeply understand the development and formation of the community. I hope we can do even more in those activities because nothing makes you happier than those genuine smiles from the people, right?

EWN: Did you take part in any events of that type in the past?

Chris: I have joined all kinds of events, even parties and club crawl in my home country, other countries during my studies and even in Africa. This way I can tell that based on different cultures and climates, we have different ways to go around the activities. For example, instead of sharing knowledge about foreign cultures and languages like I do with kids here, I was teaching African kids how to use the toothbrush and properly brush their teeth. But still, all those activities are all interesting and amazing!   

EWN: How would you describe your international student experience in Poland?

Chris: I am a medical student in Poznan University of Medical Sciences (PUMS). Currently, I am a first year student in a 4-year MD program. If I can find out a residency and work in a local hospital, I would like to stay even longer. I love Poznan! Even though the weather during winter is not that great (too windy), I still like the Polish culture here, Polish people (especially Polish girls, love them!) and, of course, pierogi! It is an amazing treasure given by God! I also had a chance to try Polish pizza, zapiekanka (pot pie), as well as the Polish sausage – kiełbasa. No need to mention Biedronka and Żabka. They are the best!

I enjoy the time spent with Erasmus students, ESN students and even locals. We are a group of extraordinary students who not only are multilingual, but also appreciate and cherish foreign cultures.  We study together, party together, participate in activities together. That’s why we build strong friendships and sometimes even find love. Those priceless experiences make us more complete and mature. They will for sure follow all of us for a lifetime.

EWN: Tell me about your biggest adventure.

Chris: Since I have stayed in Poland for 8 months so far, I have experienced so many interesting things such as the crazy Tram party or a potato fight, though the biggest adventure I’ve had is ordering a meal at KFC – fully in Polish! Well, after getting along with ESN students (oh, I love you guys so much!), I think my Polish has improved a lot. I studied the menu carefully before standing in line. It took me about 20 minutes. I think all the other customers might have been thinking I acted pretty weirdly. When my turn came, I just pretended I was a fluent Polish speaker and used Polish to start the conversation at the order area. However, after a few sentences, I realised that I couldn’t follow what the clerk said. He was speaking too fast! No need to mention his special accent… I had no choice but to force myself to continue the conversation. I kept using “co?”, “dobrze!” and “super!” to pretend that I was very calm and understood everything he said. After saying “dzięki”, I got two pieces of fried chicken, some fries and a Coke. Yeah! What a triumph! (Let’s just forget I ordered a chicken burger and no fries…). I encourage all foreign students to use Polish more, sometimes you may be met with a surprise (I got one free fried chicken!).

EWN: Let’s talk some Polish now.

Chris: Well… Dzień dobry! Jak się masz? Co, co, co? Aha! Nie rozumiem… (smug shrug) Dziękuję bardzo! Pa! I think Polish is the most difficult language in the world, and I can speak Mandarin Chinese, so I would know!

EWN: Do you travel during your stay in Poland?

Chris: Travel is definitely a “must” in Poland! There are a lot of beautiful cities here. I’d like to try hitchhiking and biking to Gdańsk in the near future. I have been to Wrocław with ESN and Erasmus students once for a nice two-day trip. We followed the “history path” and visited a lot of beautiful places such as church, university and Old Town. We also went to Sky Tower to explore all of the city, to the Zoo to say ‘hi’ to those African animals, even to the Hydropolis museum, the one voted the best Polish museum last year. Nightlife in Wrocław is pretty amazing as well. Looking forward to my next visit!

EWN: Fingers crossed. Before we finish, would you like to add anything else?

Chris: I had a really good time getting along with all ESN and Erasmus students. Because of your hard work organising activities, trips, parties etc. it makes a perfect time here – thank you ESN, again, I love you all! Meanwhile, I encourage more Polish students to join ESN or just simply get along with us. Trust me, you will absolutely have a great time with us, international students.

EWN: Wise words!

Interview by Zosia Kałużna of ESN Weekly News