by Maria Gondek & Weronika Skronska
Rafal is a Polish Erasmus student in Lisbon. He came to the capital of Portugal at the end of August and he has been enjoying his new life since that time. Why ‘new’? Because as he claimed, he has never seen such a perfect place to live before, even though he loves Poland the most on the world.
Erasmus+ is the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014 – 2020. During 7 years it provides opportunities for over 4 milion Europeans to study, train and gain new experience. The programme also support overs 125,000 institutions and organisations to work with peers in other countries to innovate and modernise teaching practice and youth work. Rafal is lucky to be one of those 4 milion people who have opportunity to study abroad.
He studies international business at ISCAL. In Poland he studies at Higher School of Banking in Gdańsk on the northern of country. Erasmus is a great opportunity for him to meet people from all over the world. He has heard a lot about Lisbon before as he works for a travel office. He was enchanted by Lisbon having heard the stories about polite people, warm weather, breathtaking views and melancholic fado music. These are only few reasons why he decided to study in Portugal.
You never know what can happen when you go abroad. As long as you stay open – minded and curious about different people, culture, traditions, you have a lot of opportunities to improve yourself. You do not need a lot of money, expensive car or rich family to make your dreams come true. Erasmus gives you an amazing possibility to go to a new country (that you have probably never visited before) and start your new adventure. Rafal is the type of human who is not afraid to discover the new land. As the motto of Erasmus people say: “no regrets!”.
Lisbon is not the only city that he’s already seen in Portugal. Erasmus organisations like ELL and ESN organised many trips to: Algarve, Coimbra, Fatima, Porto, Braga. He also had an opportunity to visit Spain and Gibraltar with his international friends. Sightseeing is an enormous part of Erasmus life as well as socialising with another nations. – Nightlife in Lisbon is insane. You can leave home in the middle of the night and you still find a lot of people on the streets. At the time when Polish people finish the party, portuguese people prepare to go out! – he adds in unbelieving tone.
Rafal lives with other Portuguese people who are willing to learn him a new language, even though it is not an easy one. Rafal hasn’t got any serious problems with pronunciation because Polish language has a lot of difficult sounds which can be used and applied to Portuguese. But portuguese grammar is still a big mistery for him.
Linha d’água is one of his favourite places in Lisbon because it is very calm and quiet. He admits that teachers at ISCAL are very demanding so it’s a perfect place for him to study for exams that are going to come very quickly.
Rafal didn’t come back home for a Christmas. It was first time in his life without family. Tickets during this time are more expensive than at any other part of the year that’s why he decided to stay in Lisbon. He missed his family a lot during that special time. In the other hand it was a new experience for him: preparing traditional Christmas dishes by himself, organising dinner with other students from Europe and even America and Asia. He forgot for a while about homesick and spent unforgettable time.
– I was so surprised that all guest really appreciated my meal, even though I’m not the master chef – he laughs. – I tasted many dishes much more different than traditional polish ones. My point of view completely changed, I gained new knowledge about other countries and nations. – he adds.
In Lisbon he found one of his vocations – modeling. As he says, he never expected that somebody could identify him as a potential person to become a model or photomodel. One of employees from Blu Models agency in Lisbon found his profile on Instagram and offered him a cooperation with them. Blu Models has been prospering for a few years. With a huge success it promotes models in Portuguese, european and international modeling market. That’s how he revealed the new path in his life. This collaboration seems to be very promising for him as he has been already invited for another projects.
The opportunities coming for Erasmus are endless. – Friends and memories are eternal – he emphasizes. The Erasmus exchange program is one of the greatest culture and character building programs that you can have in your whole life.
Soon, the winter semester will be finished and Rafal will go back to Poland. But his Erasmus story is not going to finish in Lisbon. Among Erasmus students it is said: “Once Erasmus – always Erasmus!”. It opens the door to a brand new life and new opportunities everywhere: with no fear, more courage, self – consciousness. And what’s the most important – with a lot of friends and good people willing to help you anytime, all over the world.