Micael Nunes and Catarina Coutinho in Poland:

3.731 KM AWAY FROM HOME!
WE LIKED THE SCHOOL A LOT – BY HAVING A VERY FREE EDUCATION, GIVING THE POSSIBILITY TO CONNECT THE FINE ARTS TO DESIGN AND RESOURCES BETWEEN VARIOUR SUBJECTS IN EACH PROJECT.

[On the left: Catarina and Micael. On the right: City of Lodz, Poland.]

Year of the “Mobility Experience”: 2011/2012.
Home institution: ESAD.CR, Portugal.
Course: Graphic and Multimedia Design.
Host institution: Akademia Sztuk Pięknych (ASP) w Łodzi, Lodz, Poland.

Course or field of study: Graphic Design, Multimedia Design and some subjects from others fields.

Why did you choose this school?
First of all we took into consideration the country that where we were going, for their level of cultural life and also reflecting from the various options in it. We have chosed the city of Lodz because they have a school that allowed to receive several students from our school, and also because we had a very positive feedback from other outgoing students. The school offers an art core very dynamic, where several subjects complement each other and so we could explore them and the workshops that were different in ESAD.CR.

[Tatra Mountains, Poland.]

Did you like the school?
Yes, we liked a lot by having a very free education, giving the possibility to connect the fine arts to design and resources between various disciplines in each project.

How far was the school from the city?
The school is situated near the city center, the most common transport was electric as well as being cheap enough was undoubtedly the best option, because it was very warm and the winter is very cold.

[Warsaw, Poland.]

Your field of study is well developed in the school?
Yes. We can use various techniques to develop projects, not having many restrictions which had made ​​possible the development of projects that reach out our interests. With regard to teachers in the overall level, we did not have the best impression, since they do not give the same follow-up we receive in ESAD.CR. They do not create support classes where students expose matter or references.

How did you get involved to native teachers and students?
During the intensive course of Polish (in the city of Katowice) it was quite easy to meet people and create friendships with the language teachers. In the city where we study the remaining five months was more difficult to communicate with students and teachers as they often did not speak English (no alarm because everyone had assistants who helped us). The people that actually gave us more pleasure to meet were the friends we’ve made among several trips and those that we have known through CouchSurfing.

This school is “ideal” for…
Create a portfolio in the areas of interest and develop multidisciplinary work using techniques not found in Portugal.

[Our little house, Lodz, Poland.]

Where did you stay?
We stayed in an apartment with a colleague of ESAD.CR, and oddly enough, with two more Portuguese’s. The houses are not very cheap, but it was worth to have some extra comfort and also because we could live together. If you are alone, we recommend you stay in the residence to be cheaper and easier to meet the student’s community.

[Micael in Berlin, Germany.]

What did you think of the city?
From what we saw and lived, perhaps the city was the most negative aspect. The city was very dark and gray. Being one of the largest cities in the country, we would think that is always something happening both at cultural and leisure, but in fact the city did not offer us much. That’s what motivated us more to travel and visit other cities.

Did you experience difficulties with the language?
Yes no doubt, although we have gone a month for the EILC course, but it was almost impossible to understand the Polish language. We pass all the time trying to say the words correctly, even though we never get to have a long talk in Polish. To talk with teachers and colleagues, the use of the English language helped, but little, because almost no one spoke English. You can always think about learning a few words in Russian.

[Augusto, other ESAD.CR’s ERASMUS student, and Catarina, in Lviv, Ukraine.]

Did you like the food?
The food was quite different and very good. We tried various regional dishes (you can have lunch in restaurants by 2.5 €). The biggest problem is finding good and fresh fish, since we were quite far from the sea. The most important are undoubtedly the drink. There were plenty of beer brands, although no gas. But do not forget that Polish vodka is very good. Yet we always felt the lack of a good Portuguese coffee, a good imperial and a plate of lupines on a summer afternoon.

How was the standard of living?
The price of living was much cheaper than here, but in the meantime is rising very fast; we recall that it was the only country that has not suffered from the economic depression. Well to give you a better idea, a cheeseburger costs 75 cents, going to a restaurant and ask for the main dish, with drink and dessert, may be round 4-6 Euros. Transports are very cheap also, and have huge discounts on train travel and in museums (51% discount in the presence of Polish student card), without a doubt the most expensive it is housing, is almost the same price as in Portugal.

[On teh left: Romania. On the right: Catarina in Romania.]

Did you visit other cities?
AHAHAHAH of course! The prices are quite accessible by train.

We chose to CouchSurfing in all cities, enabling us to meet more people, to have free stay and to know the best spots in town. Inside Poland we visited cities, as for example: Krakow, Warsaw, Gdansk and Wroclaw. We also had the opportunity to visit other countries, such as: Germany for only 12 Euros (cost of going to Berlin), Hungary for 15 Euros (cost for going to Budapest) and also for Ukraine and Romania.

What do you think are the major cultural differences?
The weather, no doubt! But what were most surprised for us was the people that seemed to be always sad and reserved and the amount of xenophobic and racist people in a country that suffered so much.

[Cluj-Napoca, the third largest city in Romania.]

Did you receive a grant?
Yes, we received a grant. Micael received at the beginning and the Catarina received when she was in Poland.

Do you plan to go back?
Not at the moment. We want to visit other destinations. The labor market in Poland is not very interesting; the minimum wage is quite low.

What do you think that this experience brought to you in the personal and professional level?

No doubt we can really see other cultures, political and artistic, meet new people, learn new tools and see the best and the worst of our country.

Did you experience some adventure or strange situation you’d like to share?
One of the funniest things that happened in the past was not having the card inside the electric Ukraine, and unfortunately the reviewer caught us and made a huge scandal for us to pay the fine. A few minutes after the conversion, we saw that the fine it was 2.5 Euros.

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Joana Fontes in Poland:
DO ERASMUS! TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE AROUND YOU AND ALWAYS HAVE AN OPEN MIND AND WILLINGNESS TO LEARN MORE!

[On the left: Gdańsk. On the right: One of the train trips.]

Year of the “Mobility Experience”: 2009/2010.
Home institution: ESAD.CR, Caldas da Rainha, Portugal.
Course: Graphic and Multimedia Design.
Host institution: Akademia Sztuk Pięknych (ASP) w Łodzi, Lodz, Poland.
Course or field of study: Graphic Design (Faculty of Graphics and Painting).

Why did you choose this school?
This was not my first choice, but after a search at school web site, which even offered information in English, I thought it would be the most suitable for what I wanted to develop/learn in terms of work, with special emphasis on printing techniques as screen printing and engraving. I also had made friendship with Polish Erasmus students in the year’s application, and also had the testimony of friends who have had exchange held there the previous academic year and they were quite pleased.

[On the left: Gdańsk. On the right: School in Łódź.]

Did you like the school?
I really liked the school, it was huge and had excellent conditions, as well as in classrooms and in their own workshops. It had a wide space, with all materials at our disposal. However, I felt the lack of a digital print workshop, for example, as well as we use in ESAD.CR.

How far was the school from the city?
The school is located in Łódź city, not far from the center. However traveling were mostly made by “tram” (electric), for being cold and snowing… Despite being the 2nd largest city in the country…

Your field of study is well developed in the school?
Yes, quite. The students have two common years of Graphic Arts and Painting, and only at the fifth semester they have specialization in one of the following areas:  Graphic Design, Printmaking, Painting, Drawing and Sculpture, or Multimedia. Since I was an Erasmus student, I could choose freely any subjects of the departments. But I think this model is much more complete and enriching for students.

Besides Graphic Design, what areas of study are developed in this school?
The most developed areas in the school are: Textiles and Fashion, Industrial Design, Interior Design, and also the Visual Arts. It appears that it is the best fashion school in the country…

[On the left: Łódź Design Festival. On the right: Łódź Design Festival.]

How did you get involved to native teachers and students?
As I mentioned, I already knew two Polish students who, at that time, were already back to Poland. The approach with colleagues was a little difficult, given the differences in culture and personality, but with some colleagues from the residence and from some classes we gave ourselves pretty well. As I was in Erasmus with a friend and classmate from Portugal, and also with other of Fine Arts and other of Multimedia Design, this adventure was not so difficult. The rest of the group was also shy, with the exception of two Portuguese students in the course from Porto. The relationship with teachers was great. For practical reasons, even for being the subjects of our interest, I chose only subjects in which teachers or their assistants spoke English, that despite having done the course EILC in Poland Kraków (Cracow) during the month of September, I expressed myself and made me understand much better in English.

This school is “ideal” for…
The school has very good references in the Fashion course but as my study area was the Graphic Design and Printmaking, only then I can rely. I’m very interested in silkscreen and other printmaking techniques, such as almost all the subjects I chose to do during the Erasmus studies, were those areas. I loved the conditions, new techniques or ways to implement them and that’s what I recommend to all interested students.

Other information/experiences about the school:
I recommend to all students to attend the perform the Erasmus EILC course, if the language of the country is considered difficult to choose and this language course is available. There are other advantages, such as if the course occurs in a different city from the city where is the Erasmus school, there are a possibility to know a different city during one month.

Where did you stay?
I was at the school student’s residence. It was much easier and cheaper, since I stayed for only one semester.

How far was the residence from the school? And from the city?
The residence was in the city of Łódź. Maybe a few 15/20min, depending on the weather conditions, and if the “tram” was right at the tram stop on time.

The residence was good?
Yes, I’ve never been at a residence. At ESAD.CR I rented a room/apartment. I had less privacy, because I had to share the room, but I have no complaints to make.

How much did it cost?
80 Euros/month, if I remember correctly.

What did you think of the city?
At the beginning, the city of Łódź disappointed me a little, it was very large, gray, dark and lifeless… This was a great shock comparing with the previous city, Kraków, where I had made ​​the EILC course Polish. But I learned to like it, but mostly to understand culturally Poland. I liked a lot to know this country, culture and people. We are so different and yet so similar. But are these cultural differences that make us truly knowing things, and even miss, like or appreciate more what we have and our own country.

[On the left: Wawel Castle, Kraków. On the right: Łódź Design Festival.]

Did you experience difficulties with the language?
Despite having done the Polish course, I always talked in English. With exceptions, like in public services and restaurants. Most of the people did not speak much of English, sometimes not because they did not know…

Did you like the food?
The food is quite different from ours, a lot of potatoes and they rarely eat fish… but as I am vegetarian, my case was a little aggravated. The gastronomy was part of the Polish course, so I’ve been almost a month eating tomato and mushroom soups and salads. But I do not forget the fantastic cappuccinos and apple cake, the Sharlotka.

How was the standard of living?
The standard of living was lower than in Portugal (now with this crisis might not be). But yes, the public transport were fairly cheap. I went out to dinner many times, despite the kitchens of the restaurants closed very early – 8 o’clock in the evening.

[On teh left: Praga. On the right: The Brandenburg Gate, Berlin.]

Did you visit other cities?
Yes. Me and Joana Gomes, during the course of Polish EILC we spent a month in Kraków, the course organized visits to places: the salt mine of Wieliczka, the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Berkinau, Pieskowa Skala Castle and the mountains of Zakopane. We visited Warszawa (Warsaw), the capital, Gdańsk and Wrocław north, we passed briefly Szczecin, Katowice and northwestern border. We also visited Berlin (Germany) and Prague (Czech Republic).

What do you think are the major cultural differences?
In the gastronomy and climate there are features that shape the cultural differences, such as meal times, and even the personality of the people, more calm, shy and reserved.

Did you receive a grant?
No.

Do you plan to go back?
If I have plans at a strict sense, no. I have to explore other places. But it is a door that is always open!

What do you think that this experience brought to you in the personal and professional level?
At both levels this experience brought me lots of good things… there have been so many and so good that it is difficult to describe, so I recommend this experience of mobility at all the students.

[On the left: East Side Galery Berlim. On the right: Wrocław.]

Did you experience some adventure or strange situation you’d like to share?
There were plenty of adventures or peculiar situations, especially for the first times or when traveling, but as I remembered and liked to share, maybe the 1st snowfall, out of time, even in early October, when we Portuguese seemed children mystified with this phenomenon. It was very beautiful.

A recommendation for future “Mobility Students”:
Do Erasmus! Take full advantage of everything and everyone around you and always have an open mind and willingness to learn more.

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