Exchange, is a program that always be my dream. My willing to join this kind of program since I was junior high school. I was so inspired by my senior, because he could join the AFS program and another exchange program. I keep thinking about my English, what would happen next and so on. But when I saw this opportunity to join exchange program to Poland, I didn’t let myself restrain my dream. I decided to send my application form until it finally came to an interview phase. And guess what, I couldn’t believe that I was accepted by AIESEC Surabaya to be an exchange participant. But it was still not that easy, then I need to apply for a project which was offered and do the interview again to the Local Committee of some countries via skype.
I sent my applications to some projects, but the first who responded me was Summer Camp, LC Katowice. Last time, I was staying in Malaysia and wifi network in my dormitory was really slow, then I decided to go to food court and do the online interview, the only place where I can get fast internet. So, I just didn’t care what people will say and kept doing this skype conversation here. After the interview, I got the result in week after and they sent me an email which is clarified that I accepted in this project. I was so happy and proud of myself!
After another process like exchange the documents, applying visa to the embassy, and many more. I could go to Poland at July 1, 2015 and arrived there next day. Before doing the project, we had 2 days for preparation. Here, I could meet all of the exchange participants and also all of the committees from Poland. In this preparation seminar, they informed the exchange participants about Polish culture, about how to make a goal, how to motivate ourselves, how to do auto-presentation, and many more, they even taught us how to do Polish dance and it was so fun! At that time, I also asked my EP buddy about how many students she had interviewed, and she said 40. Seriously? I still couldn’t believe that I was the only one who was accepted. Thank you Sonia!
And I also asked her what made her interested in me?
And she said that in that interview, Sonia knew that I was in public place (food court) but I just sang her song that she was just like “Wooow” “Really?” “Yeaaahh hahaha”
And I also said to her “Sonia, to be honest, not only you who feels like not really good in english, but also me” “No you have a very good in english” “Seriously?” “Yeaaahh”
“And just now, actually I’m so nervous when I introduce myself in the preparation seminar, do i look nervous?” “No at all!” See? So we just need to believe in ourselves.
In this 6-week project, we moved to another city every week, and we would change the pair every week as well. And every Friday we had EP lead meeting, so we could meet all of the EPs, the committee to evaluate and improve ourselves every week.
My first week was in the city called Chorzow, and my first partner was an exchange participant from Egypt called Omar. We stayed at the hostel near with culture house. We firstly gave our presentation about our country. I thought my presentation was boring and they weren’t so interested, but when I asked them to give me from 1-5 star in the end of the day. They gave me 5 stars and they said that they were really interested in our presentation. We also had many trips, like a place where they recycle the rubbish, then to biggest park in Poland which is named Slaskie, etc. We really had a great time with the kids there. They couldn’t speak English very well but they keep trying to talk with us. And we liked to ask them to teach us Polish. We learned how to say “I love you, I like you, how to count from 1-3” which is so different and really not easy! And we also had one day for Cuisine time! So every student brought their Polish food, Omar brought Egyptian food, and I made Indonesian food (pecel, indomie, and bandrek) then we ate together. I was so thankful that they placed me in this fun culture house which had so many trips and interesting activities. In the last day, they gave me and Omar so many souvenirs! Bag, pencil case, pen-drive with pictures, candies, mug, pencil, chocolates, instant soup, so many letters, flowers as well, and many more.
In the second week I move to Katowice. This week I stayed in Martyna’s flat with Omar and Rosanne (from Hongkong) but we would work in different places. So here we really needed to arrange who would bring the flat key haha. I didn’t have any pair this week but there was a translator who always can help me to communicate to Polish kids. I did the same thing, gave the presentation, made games, made quiz so I could give some presents from Indonesia to them. It was quite different with the previous week, last week I only worked in the same place but in this week they had more than two culture houses so in 3 days I went to different culture house and met different kids. Even if we didn’t spend so many times together but when I wanted to say goodbye they didn’t let me go and kept hugging me. I was so happy about this, but sad as well. First time I met them, they were shy but after they saw something interesting they kept asking and asking. For example, I was wearing uncommon outfit, like hijab, to cover my head. And I told them that I can only show my hair to girls and my family. One of them had an idea what if they ask the boys to go out and just let girls inside the class so I can open my hijab. What a really good idea. And the other different was this week the director and his accountant wanted me to teach them English before I attend the class. So one hour before the class I would have like speaking class with both of them. Firstly, I was so nervous, I just had no idea what would I do? But when I just faced it, not to panic, everything was alright. It was not as hard as I thought before, I really enjoyed it because we could just like talking about everything.
On the third week, I move to another city again, Myslowice. This school named Welcome to English. If in the first week we didn’t spend the whole day at school, here we must have stay from 9am – 3pm. My partner for this week is Li-Hsin from Taiwan. We stayed together in the flat, and she likes to cook, so in the morning usually she would make rice and some vegetables, and I made omelette with cheese and milk J because we had so many time in this school so every day we really need to think what would we do. Mostly the kids prefer do something than listening the explanation in the presentation. To make it not bored I made this activities like making Indonesian puppet “wayang” ,colouring pattern of “batik” and for the first time I brought all of my veil/hijab and let the kids tried it. I made the different style of using veil/hijab and they like it! In this school, the owner always cooked us for dinner. So after the school we ate together in her flat. And because I told her that I couldn’t eat pork, she changed all of her menu which usually use pork with chicken or turkey 😀 Just like in the first week, we stayed with the same kids so we were getting more close with them. And the worst thing, we needed to say goodbye after one week.
Forth and Fifth week, I stayed in Bielsko Biala. This school named Oxford Centre. I worked here with Li-Hsin, Omar, and Diana from Ukraine. We stayed together in one flat, except Omar. We walk everyday to the school which the distance is about 4-5km. What an experience!! Haha we were crossing train station, shopping mall, and many more everyday. This school had so many children with different ages, they are divided into groups. I responsible to stayed in the group where it all boy in the age of 4-5years old. Every day one of them are crying, fighting, and so on. But I also had a chance to teach another group, I tried to give them hijab class again to the girl class, and they also like it! Even they didn’t want to give me back and asked me “Can I bring it home?” hahaha.
Last week in Ledziny city. And finally I could stay at the host! Yeaaayy I’ve been looking for this chance since the first time I came here. I stayed in Martyna’s house. Not the same Martyna as the owner of the flat in my second week. Here I could really feel how to live with Polish family. This school is quite special because I was so surprised in the first day when I entered the class, the student is not kids anymore. Its all above 50 years old. But then I just gave them presentation about my country, and I also showed the video about how to make batik, then they really happy and they showed me and Diana the room where they usually do some handi-craft things. They taught us how to make some kind of flowers. So even if its not with kids, I still enjoy it J But the other day, the kids came. So I knew then that in this culture house, every ages from the young one until the old one could learn for the rest of their life, they could learn about languages, music, painting, and many interesting things. I also had seen there is a disability person in this culture house who joined us to see theater. I gave the presentation to the student’s parent as well. They all were very welcome to us and at the end of the day they brought me and Diana to some room, and we just had a conversation together, they gave us souvenir and we took a picture together. When I asked “Who is this lady?” Some of them answered “This is the Major of this city”. Oh my god, so I was really sitting in very important place with a very important person too.
So this is about the project, about the weekend I’ve been to Wroclaw and Krakow in Poland itself, and went to the other country near by like Vienna Austria, Prague Czech Republic, and Berlin Germany.
I really won’t forget this hilarious experiences! I learn a lot here, I can improve my English, my presentation skills, I can motivate myself, I can learn how to be a better person, I can learn how to understand other people with other culture, and learn how to be independent and more responsible. And for Poland itself, I really like Polish people! They are very hospitable, always helpful, and nice. I will always remember when I arrived at Poland from Berlin at 3am in the morning alone, one of the AIESECer, who his home was not even in the same city as the bus stop was, he still want to pick me. And the other thing is he couldn’t drive that time because he was drunk in the day before, but you know? Who drive him to pick me is his father. Oh my god, he was really tried to help me. And he let me get rest in his home until the day after, when I needed to move to another city. Thank you Maks! And it won’t happen without the help of my beloved EP buddy who always helped me since I haven’t arrive at Poland. I love them both! And since that time, we were getting closer until the time when we need to say goodbye at Closing Gala. I was preparing to face this time so hard. Especially to say goodbye with this two very important person for me. And yeah we did, crying together, me and Sonia. And I thought i would do the same with Maks, but no, not now. When Maks accompanied me to the bus stop (because i already had a plan to travel alone to several country around Europe after this project) suddenly his father texted him and offered him to join me. I was so surprise! Then i just said “See you tomorrow in Budapest!” and yup he came on the day after to Budapest, and we continue our trip to Rome, Venice, Milan, Lucerne, Paris, Brussels, and the last, Amsterdam. It was a very sad part of say goodbye that i’ve experienced in my life.
So from this experience I also learn that we really-really need to go out from our comfort zone, try something new! Be brave of something you’re afraid of! You just need to face it and you’ll be fine J.Just believe in yourself that you can do it and just do it!
–AZIZAH SAYIDA AMALINA LARASATI
Marine and Fishery Student at Universitas Airlangga Surabaya
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