Saturday-Sunday, October 28th-29th. Last weekend, two representatives of the ESN UAM Poznań section, President Natalia Zielińska and PR Manager Hania Adamiec, took part in a very special congress – Central European Platform (CEP). It was a unique conference for representatives from Central European countries, such as Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Croatia and Hungary. The main idea behind CEP is the exchange of good practices, integration, stepping out of your comfort zone (so out of your country's delegation) and training. This year, the crucial point of the congress was ESNreview, which is the current hot topic among all ESN-ers. ESNreview defines the changes which will soon occur within the ESN's structures and which will affect all of its members. Besides that, the congress participants also had a chance to take part in a variety of training sessions – ranging from the „must-haves” of a good leader, the art of motivation and communication, to the secrets of good self-presentation. After intense days full of training, the participants relaxed during integration evenings.

Thursday, November 2nd. That’s what we were all waiting for and… here it is! We spent Thursday morning playing and having fun in a Poznań kindergarten “Mali Europejczycy” (Little Europeans). Students from Spain, China, Portugal, France and Turkey had been welcomed by a bunch of brave five-year-olds from the “Smurfs” and “Sailors” groups. Next, they all played “Simon Says”, a game that keeps participants very active. Then, in line with the theme of the meeting – Autumn in Kindergarten – they all worked together on an art work called „Magical leaves”, which the children then gave to our students as presents. It was the first, but surely not last, meeting with kids in this semester!

Thursday, 2nd November. If it has ever crossed your mind that ESN might be lacking in spontaneity, here’s proof of how wrong you were. One thing led to another, a group of Erasmus students and two ESN-ers used their WhatsApp conversation to arrange a sushi meeting. Eating with chopsticks turned out to be a major challenge for part of the group, whereas others showed absolute professionalism when using the oriental cutlery. But this was just the beginning – the group moved on to a nearby pub called Ministerstwo Browaru, where they tried unusual flavours of beers form different parts of the world. Wish we could have been there!

Saturday, November 4th. It was a Saturday incredibly full of trainings! A group of young ESN-ers eager to learn more about PR secrets met early in the morning at Jowita Dormitory. Our Newbies didn’t fully realise what they were up for… Participants were thrown in at the deep end of marketing and advertising training courses carried out by Karol Wiśniewski, Remigiusz Chiluta’s graphics basics and understanding ESN’s life lecture by Patrycja Płachecka. During eight hours of theoretical and practical courses, the participants learned basic terms of branding, got to know Photoshop secrets and found out how to organise ESN events from scratch. What’s most important – these young, energetic people spent a fantastic day together, getting to know each other, making new friends and discovering how great being an active person actually is!

Here he is! Let me introduce to you Zihao Wang from China – our first Erasmus of the Month this year! What a small world I’d like to say – or Poznań in this case – as the Erasmus of October turned out to be my roommate! And let’s not forget it was me who ran the ESN Weekly News project just last year… Coincidence? I think so! Or... It was not without reason that Zihao became our choice. He fully deserved it, which you will find out about in just a moment.

As a word of introduction, I must say Zihao is remarkably modest. I only found out from other members of ESN about his new title! And, believe me, when we met just three weeks ago, he didn’t even know what ESN was. Well, what made us take a liking to him so much, then? Read on to find out!

ESN Weekly News: As per our tradition in our ESN section, we conduct interviews with foreign students who come here for a student exchange. In October you became our choice – during SocialErasmus group’s speed dating event by the name of Dating & Helping you scored the highest notes from your interlocutors. And now it turns out you’re not even an Erasmus! Could you tell us a little bit about the programme that brought you to Poznań?

Zihao: It’s very simple. I came here for one semester from Shenyang (North-East China – ed.) for a student exchange available to us through an agreement between Adam Mickiewicz University and my home university, Tianjin University of Technology.

EWN: China and Poland are thousands of kilometres apart. I can imagine it wouldn’t be easy for you to just pack your bags one day and go visit your family back home, and yet you came here for the whole semester. Is Poznań the farthest you have ever been?

Zihao: Well, it’s not the most faraway city I have been to. In January I went to the United States with my friends from a Social Practice Group (Zihao is a student of Sociology – ed.). We visited Portland, San Diego and Los Angeles. It takes about 14 hours to get there by plane, which means America is (from China’s perspective – ed.) located father than Poland. But I always bring back fond memories when travelling to different countries.

EWN: As I understand though, you weren’t visiting the US as a tourist?

Zihao: Well, the trip to America was a part of a short-term programme whose aim was to acquaint us with American culture and local citizens’ life. But at the end of it, after a week of learning, we had one more free week we used to travel across the cities of western America.

EWN: Since we’re on the subject of travel… Do you like travelling?

Zihao: Yes, I really enjoy it.

EWN: I’m asking this question because I’d like to know whether you see your stay in Europe as something more than just a university trip?

Zihao: Student exchange experiences feel a little like the travel ones, though for the most part they are a lot more. And physical distance is no factor here – it all depends on our individual observations. I want to travel outside China to experience differences in living in another place, especially now that I’m young. Being here I not only gain new knowledge, but also develop my social skills, learn to rely on myself and get used to loneliness. Because even though I have already been quite active in all these events, parties, voluntary services and classes (organised by ESN – ed.), it still doesn’t mean I’ve got accustomed to everything. 

EWN: That’s understandable, it’s only been a month since you arrived in Poznań. In that case I won’t be asking you about any adventures you’ve had here, but I’m wondering whether anything interesting, exciting, or maybe dangerous happened to you during one of your trips abroad?

Zihao: Yes, I experienced something like that back when I was a „fresher” at my university. During my first year of studies I went to Thailand, to the city of Chiang Mai.

EWN: By yourself?

Zihao: Exactly. So, when I was there I wanted to use an app that would show me the best place to sleep. This app is known world-wide, also in China. Relying on it I booked a room in one of the homestays supposedly located close to the city centre. I decided to get there by taxi, but when I arrived it turned out that not only was the distance from the centre much bigger than I had expected, but the place itself looked abandoned – I could not see one man in the area. I must admit I was feeling a little anxious, the surroundings looked rather dangerous too, so I decided to stop looking for the flat and stay in the taxi instead. I asked the driver whether it was the correct address or he knows where I should go. He had no idea, told me he only knew this address. Then he talked to a man who was allegedly the homestay’s host, though as they were speaking Thai, I couldn’t understand a word. When I finally got out of the taxi, I met another man, who showed me around the flat. It was a different person than the one we first talked to, though it turned out he was an employee at the homestay. Eventually, I decided to change the place into one closer to the centre and where I felt much safer. I spent seven days in Thailand altogether. After the first one that didn’t go too well, the rest were way better! I learnt a few Thai phrases from the local people, because they didn’t speak much English, even though they were trying to understand me. I saw beautiful landscapes of Doi Inthanon National Park, Tha Phae Gate and different temples, I also learnt Thai history. The Thai people were also very friendly.

EWN: Such adventures always make for great lessons. I have one finishing question for you, partially connected to what you have already said, but also why you have been chosen. You’ve taken part in many ESN events where you showed your positive attitude, smile and openness. At the same time travelling, which you’re such a fan of, means making new friends everyday. Do I understand well that you just like surrounding yourself with people?

Zihao: Of course! First of all, I believe a smile is your label, it sends out friendly vibes. On top of that, it’s just part of my personality. I also like sharing my ideas, listening to different opinions on various subjects. Frankly speaking, I also really enjoy children’s company, like for example the last time we went to a primary school (as part of the Erasmus in Schools project – ed.) They are just wonderful!

Interview by Mateusz Marciniak (ESN Weekly News)

November 6thCyberNight

November 7thPerformance in nursing home

November 8thSports day in College

November 8thLaser Tag Battle

November 10thErasmus in School – St. Martin’s Day

November 2nd – 27thCollecting goods for animal shelter

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