An exchange program always was on my “wish list”, and in the beginning of the third year of study, it rashly moved into “to-do list”, as it was the last chance – now or never. I did not want to lose this opportunity, which AUCA gratefully offered, and be a loser, who even did not try. But maybe I applied just to highlight this deed as done; and thinking, that at least I tried, was my self-consolation. But you cannot imagine that joy when you learn that you passed a selection process.
Why Collegium Civitas in Poland out of another six exchange programs? Firstly, it was not Asia: neither China nor Korea, nor Japan; of course, I like Asian part of the world, but I simply would not be able to eat spicy and another kind of their food for nearly half a year. Yes, my stomach controls the mind. Secondly, it was Europe, surprisingly isn’t it? There were two other European countries. But Germany did not match my field of study, and I did not know the French language for France. Poland becomes the only way to Europe. Poland is the country with a rich and difficult history. It has seen kings, conquerors, tyrants, communists and finally democratic rulers. Actually, I did not know much about Poland when applying and even may have done fact mistakes. But after a month being here, I think I made the right choice and this country is where I should have gone. It is a great place to learn the history of the past hundred years and puzzle out in world’s controversies.
There is a great difference in culture and lifestyle between Kyrgyzstan and Poland. There is no show-offs and self-pride, that someone is cooler, richer, and better than the other. Polish people live their own lives for themselves, not for others. Here is no dispraise. They did what they want; they wear what they want; they express themselves in such manner they want and do not think “what people say”. Firstly, you may be shocked, then you may criticize, but finally you come to the idea, that it is their free will, and it is a human right – to have freedom of choice. Maybe this is something Kyrgyzstan needs.
In a fall of 2015, I applied for two exchange programs for the first time ever. I did not know where I was previous four semesters, when application process started, and why I did not apply earlier. At the same time with CC, I applied for Bard PIE program and was waiting for results. It was double stress. There were a lot of nervous thoughts in my mind: whether I would fail two times, or I would pass there and there, then what should I choose America or Europe, which program confirm, which one refuse. But divine forces or the destiny saved me from the dilemma and made a choice for me, and as you know it became Poland, Collegium Civitas.
I arrived in Warsaw at night by bus in a heavy snowstorm. I had no idea where I was, and where I should go. Host university found a mentor/friend for me, but she was a bit late and while I was waiting for here, I was alone in a crowded bus stop, in fact not knowing whether she would come or not. People did not seem to be friendly, I tried to ask for a call in English, in Russian and by signs as well, but they pretended that did not understand. I was feeling unwelcome. Free wifi saved me from being lost and forgotten. She met me in a while and ordered a taxi. I did not have polish currency, and maybe I was short-changed when paying for a ride, I did not want to argue with a taxi driver at night during snowfall in some remote area of the city where my new house was supposed to be, I just wanted this day to end. I came into the dark house, walked around, found Symbat, sat on the bed and felt safe.
The study at CC and AUCA is pretty the same: credits, projects, essays, finals. There are some differences in a grading system from course to course: somewhere – oral exam, somewhere – the only final, without any midterm; somewhere – quizzes every week; and somewhere – essays; it depends on teacher’s preferences and spare-time.
Here we can take maximum 40 ECTS credits, and since one course here is 4 credits, and not 6 as at AUCA, we have a LOT of classes, I have 10 courses for 38 credits. I took a lot of interesting courses related to my major, for example “Using Media as Propaganda Tool”, “Global Media”, “International Advertising & PR”, “SMM”, and “Marketing fundamentals” beyond major I took must-known subjects for modern man: “Democracy versus the Brave New Authoritarian World” and “Holocaust and Genocide”. With last mentioned class we would have a field trip to Krakow (Cracow) around Jewish ghetto and Auschwitz concentration camp, I do not know which feelings I am supposed to have but definitely, it would be hard to bear.
Let’s come back to positive things, there is always something beyond studies and I cannot miss it. There was ICD 2016 – International Career Day, organized by the international student club and Career office, where I was a volunteer. We helped in organizational part: meeting business representatives and visitors, helping to find the way to each other. Aside from fair, there were workshops, to which I also possibly paid attention. I was amazed by lecture “Do not just get an education. Be entrepreneurial. Work hard in a smart way” by Danial Omotosho. I got so inspired, so motivated that my motivation can be spread to other hundreds of people. I was ready to move heaven and earth. One hour with him made me change the perspective on many things; get out of the box and forget that once I was inside. He asked very significant questions for self-discovery that no-one tries to ask, or wants to find time to ask, but he made us think.
I highly recommend applying for this exchange program, not because it is prestigious to study abroad, but if you truly want to get new knowledge and experience. The exchange is not a party and clubbing, it is a hard work and lack of sleep, trust me. If you choose Poland for the spring semester, be prepared that here is everlasting winter.
I want to thank you to all who believed in me, and of course to my lovely university for this majestic opportunity, to professors for their spent time on several recommendation letters because of two applied programs 🙂
The biggest thanks go to my parents without whom I would be here, oh, this financial dependence 🙂
P.S I will use a moment of glory to tell a mini story: that my academic enthusiasm is coming out of inspiration once given by dad. When I was lifting up on cableway, while having a vacation in the mountains with him, I had a dialogue that changed my life. At that moment, he said: “Do not think that your education ends when you graduate. Never stop studying, do not miss any single opportunity to learn new things.” His words became my motto.
I was also featured with my story on university website: auca.kg