Erasmus Hakkında (About Erasmus)

Hayatımın en ilginç 4.5 ayını paylaşmak? Biraz düşündürücü, çünkü hazırlığını yaparken bu kadar olacağını tahmin etmemiştim. Kulağa basit gibi geliyor ama bir de bana sormayın… Umarım düşünen arkadaşlar yazımdan fayda sağlarlar. Bu makaleyi benden isteyen arkadaşım yabancı olduğu için haliyle yazım da ingilizce oldu.. Şimdiden iyi okumalar.

Hello dear friends! My name is Büşra Deniz. I study food engineering at Hacettepe University in Ankara in Turkey. I am a senior student now and i would like to talk to you about my almost 5 months erasmus studies which was in 2015-2016.

My Erasmus… Entertaining, Rough, Adventurous, Surprising, Maturing, Universal, Scientific… I know it already sounds crazy but, i had to pick out a few words that will explain my Erasmus experince. Although, those are not the only ones, just so you know; you can not define it, you will know it when you experince it. Well, let’s get started…

I will start from the very beginning… First, i had to choose one country, since my grades were great, i knew that i would be going exactly where i choose. I had four options; Budapest, Hungary – Napoli, Italia – Warsaw, Poland – Wroclaw, Poland. After long conversations with my family and friends who already experinced Erasmus, i finally picked one. I picked Warsaw. My friends told me, Polish people like Turkish people and my friends also told me that they were very welcomed there and the streets were safe no matter what time it is and the currency is low and i would not have financial problems that i might have in other countries… I also wanted Warsaw because in winter semester, the weather is really cold over there and i like cold weather. Anyways, here it comes to paper work and deciding how to get Warsaw? I was under the influence of the movie which i like at that time (the movie made me want to go to Prauge desperately) , i also wanted to discover Europe… I bought a ticket to Prague from fly UIA. It was connected flight from Istanbul to Kiev and after Prague. I also bought bus ticket from Prague to Warsaw. I booked a hostel in Prague for 2 nights. I packed so on. I do not know how you would feel but, it felt like my heart was going to stop. I do not take it strange because, it was my first journey in abroad for such a long time. As a young, muslim lady who wears scarf, i was a bit scared, i do not know why but i think i was judgemental about the culture which i had very little idea. Farewell Ankara!

I arrived in Prague. I exchanged my money in the airport. Don’t do that! I could not buy bus ticket from airport to metro station because i did not have coins. (Don’t worry i won’t tell you all the steps but the memories which i find cute and they deserve to be told.) Nice lady, who barely speaks english, i mean barely! She and her daughter helped me to buy my ticket. They also told a man to guide me to the station. I felt very lonely and desperate, what would i do in the city? What if all the people were like this not speaking english well? While i was fighting with my thoughts i found myself in hostel! I did it. I left my luggage and took the city map. Adventure time! First day i decided to visit old town. Eventhough i had the map, i asked like hundred times for directions, an old lady tried to teach me czech! It was so funny. I saw two hijabi girls walking on the Street. I went next to them and met. They were indonesian. We talked and we literally walked all through Prauge all together in those 2 days… I still talk to them and they invite me to Indonesia. I am thinking of going Indonesia and surprise the girls one day. In third day, during the visit of national library i met a lady from Philippines but married with an italian man and living in the USA. We actually met through her beautiful two year old daughter, Anna. We went to Lennon Wall together and had lunch in an asian restaurant. My first time, tasting asian food. After meal, we said goodbyes and she mentioned that i have an open door in USA whenever i want from then on. I picked my luggage from
hostel and walked all the way to bus station, breathing and full of hopes. (Prague is really small i never used transportation in 3 days except my first arrival from airport to center.)

Well well… I took the bus to Warsaw! I forgot to mention one very important thing! The university’s ESN club arranged a mentor for me, Aleksandra. She offered to pick me up from the bus station. My bus was a little late than i told her, i still feel the feeling that i made her wait for such a long time early in the morning… Anyways, she picked me, bought me a daily bus ticket, took me to dorm and we sattled down in my room. She was very kind and i started to like this whole Erasmus thing. You remember what i mentioned in the beginning, my fears and so… They just disappeared in a second. I knew that she liked me back as i liked her. It was the very first relief i had. She had to go to work but, we arranged a meeting. After work she took me to shopping and city center. During shopping i was intruduced ‘our’ market; Biedronka. You might have heard many things about Biedronka but, you can not imagine what kind of amazing and funny memories i have in the way of Biedronka, Ursynow. At night, she and i had my first Polish dinner, Pierogi. Turkish people would recognize Pierogi from ‘Mantı’. It was quite nice. She and i had walk in old town and she left me in the dorm. That time i didn’t have a roommate so i was alone, i was tired, i immediately slept. Next day i was alone again, i decided to discover what was around and my first getting lost case! I was lost, i couldn’t find my way to dorm, not even with he navigation in my phone! Yes, i know… I have a problem finding my way. My second beautiful memory occured. Young polish lady, who does not speak english first tried to give me directions than she changed her mind and gave me a free bus ticket which would take me back dormitory of SGGW. I was gratefull that i met such nice people… On the other hand i was concerned… I noticed not so many people speaks english in Warsaw. I don’t mean young people and couple of old people. I tried to speak with a few cashiers, drivers, people on the Street but, out of one or two, the other ones just said ‘nie’ and walked away. Thoughts came again, telling me i would be alone and bored because of language problems… I tried to calm myself down because, i didn’t even know the rest of the Erasmus students. It would change when i meet new people. It actually did! There was a problem in the arrangement of dormitories. I saw a post in our facebook group. French girls wanted to change their rooms with other people who are not french. There was a meeting in front of our dormitory ‘Grand’. (The rest of the meetings would take place in front of Grand until the end of Erasmus ) I said why not! I want to know about other cultures and this opportunity is wonderful. I went to meeting and i met lots of french, turkish, indian people. After that meeting, nothing was the same anymore! I joined meetings with french girls and we got closer. We arranged appointments and trips to other areas of Warsaw and also other cities. I felt they were my best friends of Erasmus. They still are… I thought they would see me strange because i wore scarf but, they did not! We talked about everthing, religion, science, politics, everything… It was a great oppotunity because, most of the people in western countries think muslims are terrorists and so on. It is sad but, i think i represented my country and my religion really well during Erasmus. It tought me one thing, if you are good, reasonable and kind to people, they will see the good in you and treat you in that way… We wouldn’t be able to share our rooms with french girls but, we had a great friendship. I did not mention french male friends because, i do not prefer to hang out with boys. However they were kind and understanding too… Good news was we were classmates in most of the subjects.

Days past and i got closer to turkish friends too. It was expensive to cook by myself… The turkish people who lives across the bathroom and me agreed to shop and cook together. By the way during first week or week and a half, i did not consume any meat products except fish. I couldn’t find halal meat so, i didn’t eat random meat sold in supermarket. (It changed when i first went to a mosque in Warsaw. I was going to the mosque every friday to perform prayer with the rest of muslims. They gave me couple of advices about halal meat and where could i find.) Since i mentioned bathroom. You need to know about it. I shared a bathroom (a toilet, a shower, two lavatories) with 10 people including me. Don’t get surprised! It was one of the best dorms in Warsaw because, most of them are either so expensive or not hygenic. We also had a kitchen in the floor. It was not hard to live. Although i thought how would i use a bathroom which is also used by other 8 strange men. It was not that hard. Like i said, the people that i share the batroom were kind and they knew about my sensitiveness they did not disturb me in any kind of matter. I was lucky. Cooking together did not work out so well after few weeks because the turkish people i share my food were living upside down. We were literally not having breakfast and eating dinner at 10 pm to 3 am. (By the way, they close the kitchen at 10 pm, if you are like us, you have to give your ID to the reception and get the key.) We decided to split and my eating habits went terrible after that. I am not proud of that but, what you would do if you lived in a dormitory in a foreign country. It’s enough about the food. If you know where are Biedronka and E. Leclerc and how to cook, you’ll work it out.

Let’s come to city! Warsaw was quite big and the air was really clean. You could inhale very clean oxygen and it is one of the things i miss in Ankara. The transportation was easy and cheap if you have 3 months card. Every bus stop has current lists of buses and their stops. You can download the app jakdojade. It will help you a lot! Metro was the same as i was used to in Ankara. Although the language is diffucult to pronounce you will get used to it eventhough you can not spell the words. Old town is not the actual old town. After the World War II, Warsaw was destroyed by Nazi army. It is quite sad story if you travel around europe not only in Poland, you will hear terrible things related to World War II. It was a shock for me during my trip in Prauge. Where was i left? Warsaw old town was rebuilt by the foundations of Russian. It looks like old town and you can sense the smell of historic architecture. I liked the city. As my friends told me the city was safe in my point of view. No one intend to harm me even when i was on Street at 2 am. There were lots of drunk people but, if you push them away they just go. It must be because the beer is really cheap in Poland. Cheaper than most of the food items. Not in Poland, when i was in Prauge, people were joking that the beer was cheaper than water! I can not tell much about the city it depends how you look. If you like green, parks, clean air and also a big capitol city Warsaw is one of them. If you like small towns, traditional clothes, bazaars selling home made products, you would probably not choose Warsaw.

About food i can not tell it was magical. I did like polish food but there not so many i can tell. I do not know is it because i am turkish but, i prefer turkish food and recommend it also. There were Kebab restaurants all over Warsaw and it is quite common in europe. I tell you my friend it has nothing to do with kebab! It is something else. It looks like ‘Döner’ but, it is not kebab. (Everytime i say ‘my friend’ it remids me indian people in Italy.) You will get used to seeing kebab is sold at every quarter of Warsaw. Chineese restaurants are quite okay and cheap for a student who wants to eat healthy. If you are lazy and want to feel full like insane, there is one pizza restaurant across the campus and also gas staion. You can always call there, they have free servise to your dorm. By the way, it would be nice to tip! Don’t forget it, sometimes they charge you automaticly don’t get surprised! The persantage of the tip depends from country to country, keep in mind…

Now i want to talk about trips. All of us must have had this urge to discover new cities, new cultures, meeting new people and so on. My first trip was to Prauge like i told in the beginnig. After meeting with french people, we arranged second trip to Gdansk. I wondered Baltic sea and i joined them. (After putting my bare foot in baltic sea, it was cold and after i got flu which would last until the end of Erasmus!) It was small, cute city. You should see Westernplate. Third was ESN organization to Krakow. I didn’t mention ESN earlier because i did not like the events so much. Most of the events were arranged in night clubs. I don’t say people who wants to party that shouldn’t. I just thought the meeting and getting to know each other for the first time shouldn’t be in a night club which is a noisy like hell. It should have been in a cafe or even on the grass of campus… Anyways, i joined ESN this time because, they offered to visit Salt mine, Auschwitz- Birkenau (which made me cry all the way back to Warsaw), old town guided tour and that was all i think. The rest was again partying hard, drinks and so on. They were quite fond of drinking alcohol, more than i imagined. However the french people were not that fond of alcoholic drinks, this was one of the features of them that i like. We used to arrange tea parties in the dorm and have meals all together in cafes. Before forgetting ESN arranged one great dinner. I have to admire, it was fun. In the dinner people from all over the World came together and shared the food especial to their country. I also cooked ‘Tarhana soup’. Here it comes christmas holiday. I had almost 20 days off because of christmas. I decided not to hurry like others, they wanted to visit almost all of the countries in europe. I want to pick one country and visit it while feeling it. I picked Italy. It was one of the countries i wonder the most. We went to Rome with two Turkish people and stayed there for 2 nights after Rome we split and i continued with Florence- Pisa (It was a daily trip. I decided my days in Florence were too long so, i went to Pisa.)- Florence- Venice- Milano- Bologna- Katowice- Warsaw. You might ask how much that 11 days trip costed to me. It is not much. Believe me! If i decided to eat junk food all the time and not spend so much Money on gifts and did not want to enter all touristic places it would cost much less than. However, i am happy with it. I spend no Money to public transportation in city center except Milano. (Only from bus station and from airport or viseversa.) Milano is big and expensive, the hostel which i stayed was far from the center. I can not tell how i felt during christmas trip. I was happy with my decisions and i thought that i could do everything by myself.( Remember, it was my first journey away from my parents! ) When i turned back to Warsaw, normal life started again. Exams, presentations, paper work and flight ticket back to Turkey.

I can not say i had a great scientific experience and i learned a lot about my major in university. However, i learned a lot about life, about people, about myself. I saw the real me living in me. I decided what i want and who i want to become, what kind of life i want and deserve. I collected memories which gave me life lessons and i will keep them with me whether they are worse or best.

Not yet. I can not finish my words without mentioning my roommate. You know, i did not have a roommate for a long time but, she came finally. I was staying in a double room. My roommate was a nice polish lady who speaks english fluently. I can not tell how happy was i when i first met her. She was exactly the kind that i want to share my room with. Although she was quite christian and practising her religion seriously, we got along well. I respected her manners and she did the same to me. She never complained about my five times prayers during the day or my scarf sensitivity. She invited me over to her beautiful house. I met his father. We had dinner altogether and i served turkish coffee to them. (I hope they liked it.) I also shared funny traditional stories about Turkish coffee. (The one with the groom comes to ask a hand of bride and the one with 40 years.) She took me a long walk in the forest with her dog. I trusted her and she trusted me. Although her father was questioning everything (The things belong to Ottoman Empire culture not practised in Turkish Republic anymore.), i tried to make everything clear as much as i could. In the end, he gave us a ride back to dorm with his car. I still remember those days just like yesterday. I give her my best in this life and for the next life after death. My doors are all open to her when she wants to visit Turkey.

Anyways. That is almost everything. I made it look like a super experience but, there were hard times. I had rough times close to end of my Erasmus experience. I was sick for 4 months (strange flu) and i also missed my family and things got complicated with friends. I was looking forward to leave Warsaw as soon as i can. I was bored. I wanted to graduate desperatelly but thinking of the lectures i have to be successfull in Turkey made me a bit aggressive. The weather was cold beyond my imagination. Friends were leaving Warsaw one by one and i got bored eventually. I was my own driving force to turn everything up- side down. I recommend you to stay calm… Final thing that make me really angry was the dormitory. They did not give any information about when we should leave the dorms at the end of semester so, i bought a ticket on late February. Then, they told me that if i want to stay, i have to pay extra as a guest. (Which would cost me a lot!) I had to buy a new ticket instead and wanted to leave not to expence more.

I finally arrived in Ankara on fifth of February. My older brother, sister- in- law, younger brother and mother picked me up from the airport. I cried all the way home. It felt like leaving a movie theather, like i watched a movie and i was the leading actress. I did not guess was it a dramatic or commedy movie but now everytime i remember, i just feel different. Part of me was in Warsaw and living almost  5 months in Warsaw made who i am in the present. There are things that i miss so much; meeting with great friends (french girls, my beautifull mentor, my cute roommate…), living on my own and travelling around europe, there are things that i regret; making friendships with the people which i don’t want to see right now and being in the places which are not suitable for my belief and lifestyle and so on. If you ask me ‘Do you wish you didn’t have this memories that you regret?’ I would be saying; no. The memories i regret are mine and they will lead my way. I also might not want to experience the memories i liked then. They are just memories, as you will all understand.

It will be almost a year from the very first day that i left Ankara for Erasmus. Now, i am writing these sentences, thinking, reliving… It would not be appropriate finishing without thanking to my special friend who gave me an opportunity to share my Erasmus story.

Thank you all for reading this. I want you to write your own inspiring story that will lead your way in life and help you with the choises you’ll make. Take care! Don’t forget to have fun but, be careful!



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