João Marques in Poland:

ON A PERSONAL LEVEL IT MADE ME REALIZE THAT I DO NOT NEED HALF OF THE STUFF I HAVE. 

[At left: João F. Marques and Alexandre Soares at home (Lodz). At the right: Manufaktura – Former textile manufacturing facility that has become much more than a shopping center. Works like a city within the city of Lodz (about 150.000m2).]

Year of the “Mobility Experience”: 2010/2011
Home institution: 
ESAD.CR, Caldas da Rainha, Portugal.
Course:
 Graphic Design.
Host institution: 
Akademia Sztuk Pięknych (ASP) w Łodzi, Lodz, Poland.
Course or field of study:
 Graphic Design.

Why did you choose this school?
In terms of print media is excellent, the quality of the Polish poster is very good!

[At left: Material used in paper production. At the right: Studio Paper of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Lodz]

Did you like the school?
I liked most of all because of the working conditions, the teachers, and the new techniques I learned and had never worked. The studio workshops were always open, it is a kind of Bauhaus where there are no classes as such, students may develop their work and if they need, they have the support of technicians and teachers, who are always there.

How faristheschool from the city?
It is about 2 km.

Your field of study is well developed in the school?
Yes it is very well developed, especially the techniques of engraving, printing and paper production.

[At left: Cellulose. At right: Working paper production.]

How did you relate to native teachers and students?
Well, there is no “the school environment” as we have here, because as I said earlier, we have no classrooms where people come together all at the same time. As I went with 3 other colleagues we just did not meet many students.

This school is “ideal” for…
…Fashion Design, they have fantastic conditions, Printmaking and Paper Production.

Other information/experiences:
The quality of the bar/cafeteria is quite good, with about 3.50 Euros we can buy a meal with drink, but it differs from our canteen, there it is like eating at a restaurant, you have several dishes to choose.

[At left: Mega Pizza (70cm) in Katowice. At the right: “Smietana” – used in Polish cream soups.]

Where did you stay?
I stayed in a rented apartment.

How far is the accommodation of the school? And the city?
It is located at 2km from the school and the city center.

How were the conditions of accommodation? How much did it cost?
It’s amazing how it looks so bad from the outside and inside it is the opposite! The house has cost at four people about 500 Euros.

Other information/experiences:
I advise other interested students not to go to the Residence school because there we lose contact with the city (apart from the comfort).

What did you think of the city?
Gray, industrial, with some interesting wartime landmarks: they have the largest Cemetery of European Jews.

Did you experience difficulties with the language?
Yes, of course! The oldest did not speak well English but the youngest spoke good!

Did you like the food?
Pickles in everything! They have a completely different cuisine, the soup takes cream and no potatoes. Generally they have good food.

How was the standard of living?
Very low!

Did you visit other cities in Poland?
Yes I visited everything! It was very cheap to travel with a student card, we had 57% discount, and we could see the whole country (bus, rail, cruise: from Latvia to Sweden for 30 Euros round trip…).

[At left: Cruise Riga/Latvia – Stockholm/Sweden for 30 Euros (round trip). At right: Central Square of the Polish capital: Warsaw]

What do you think are the major cultural differences?
They are a very closed people, more oriented towards the classical arts, almost all know musicians… The scars of the war are very much alive…

[The largest Jewish cemetery in Europe, in Lodz.]

Otherinformation/experiences:
Do not miss the trip to Auschwitz, I left that visit with the maxillaries contracted so shocked by the history.
I have met many Portuguese and Spanish people there.
In bars and nightclubs there were songs in which staff from nowhere climbed up on tables, break glasses… It seems like a traditional dance, a bit strange, from my point of view.

Did you receive a grant?
No. I worked to be able to go. I was the only one among other ERASMUS colleagues from other countries, who had no scholarship. They pay them everything.

Did you make Polish friends?
Yes, several. Some had already been on Erasmus exchange in ESAD.CR.

Do you plan to go back?
Yes! I would like to go back before the end of the semester.


[Auschwitz – Cans containing gas, used in gas chambers.]

[At left: Gate of Auschwitz: “Arbeit macht frei” (Work sets you free). At right: barbed-wire fences of concentration camps.]

What do you think that this experience brought to you in the personal and professional level?
At both levels was very important! On a personal level made ​​me realize that I do not need half of the stuff I have. At the professional level, for example, just yesterday I got a job because I gained experience in paper production.
I was willing to work outside of Portugal, perhaps I would try Canada.
Overall, I gained holidays all over the world resulting from people of different nationalities I met!!

Did you experience some adventure or strange situation you’d like to share?
Me and Alex, who was with me, we went by bus, and I, joking with him, pulled his seeing glasses… well, they fell outside the bus, the door closed, we asked the driver to stop, but he did not understood what we have said and continues. We never saw his glasses again. Alex does not see anything without them, and stayed that way for 2 days. Then we had to run several optical shops to find proper glasses for him.

Another interesting situation that I found it was a Portuguese who is studying there. He came to me saying that he was asked to take good care of me, to show me places, etc. It was nice!


[At left: Replica of “Tram” (electric) on a bus. At right: Tram Stop.]

A recommendation for future “Mobility Students”:
Take advantage of the ERASMUS in Poland for traveling. Do not get stuck in Lodz, because it doesn’t represent what is Poland, the cultural and artistic diversity that the country has.

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