ERASMUS IN THE TIME OF CORONA - THE EXPERIENCES OF REGINA IN POLAND

An important moment of the university period, when our students gain experience in a foreign educational institution, get to know the culture, students, art life of another country and new impulses reach them. Our students always return home with exciting stories of these study trips. The epidemic situation also overwrote and transformed this period, many had to return home, but some remained at their host university. We talk to them in our series.

Regina Vitányi, who is a Graphic Design MA student, and an avid “Erasmus traveler”, has now returned to Poland.


 


Why did you choose this university as your Erasmus destination? What major did you study there? How long have you been abroad?
I was in Wrocław during my master’s degree for a full year majoring in Graphic Design, and I chose this university because they have very well equipped and professional workshops where I could try things that would be normally related to other majors (e.g. ceramics, theatrical set design and puppet design). I was already in Wrocław during my undergraduate studies, and I thought I could make useful connections if I could return for a longer period of time.

 


Tell us a little bit about what it was like to get out, the first few days, and then how did your life go? What tasks did you get, how could you fit in, how did you feel? What were the groupmates like, the teachers, how was your relationship with them? What was it different than at home? How did you change it?

I’ve changed a lot during my Erasmus semesters, it’s hard to grasp how much. When I first arrived, I was only twenty years old and didn’t know anything in Polish, so when my train arrived in Wrocław at 4 a.m., I also looked with big eyes at the many consonants :). Because I love unfamiliar situations, I didn’t feel nervous, in fact, despite the drowsiness, I tried to find the dormitory with great curiosity. Back then, I still lived in the belief that whoever knew English could talk to anyone, but I soon learned that the key to that was not English but gesticulation. Because at five in the morning I had to explain to a slightly grumpy receptionist, who only knew Polish, that I would live in this dormitory, let me in.


 


I’m now twenty-three, and I’m doing quite well at “survival” level of Polish, meaning I’ve learned to do my shopping, get directions, bargain in the market, and do basic small talk in Polish. If you are planning to go to Erasmus, I would definitely advise you to learn how to present yourself in the language of the country and explain what help you need in the first days.


 


At the university, subject registration works in a very interesting system, because the workshop leaders make you “audition” for the given classes, which takes place like a job interview: by portfolio presentation and by presenting a project idea that we want to implement within the class. I took an average of four subjects per semester, which included a mix of graphic design (book design, poster design, image design, packaging design) and reproduction graphics (screen printing, linocut, aquatint, experimental solutions). The graphic design workshop class was led by a crazy and truly genius guy who, above all, encouraged everyone who went to his class to be inspired by each other’s work and understand each other’s creative motivations, personalities - which made a great community forged from exchange students and locals. This studio organizes a wide range of programs, such as the “Printcard” project, which is an international graphic mail-art program that is open to anyone interested. I can highly recommend it, already several METU students have presented their works at the related exhibitions.

In my own projects, I wanted to try as many new techniques as possible, so I had many experimental works, which were fortunately welcomed by the teachers there - for example, I made a screen-printed installation for glasses, which was presented at a group exhibition in Germany, where it became interactive.

 


I also made screen printing on functional ceramics, I was very interested in this technique because I didn't have the opportunity to try it at home. It was held by Magdalena Wośik, who also visited METU a few years ago. In the first semester, I made a book illustrated with clay, and then a bilingual Örkény book that has an interactive cover.

  


I tried to make the most of my time in Poland, so I found a great opportunity at the Wro Art Center: every two years, they host one of the largest volumes of media art exhibitions in Europe, and I volunteered there. It was an unforgettable experience, first attending curatorial workshops and then being entrusted with tasks such as presenting interactive works to visitors, coordinating events, organizing and conducting artists’ transportation from the airport to accommodation, and installing the works. It was a lot of challenging tasks, but I learned so much from it. In my second semester spent abroad during my master’s degree, I organized an international end-of-semester exhibition based on these experiences, which was a great experience and it was good for everyone to see the fruits of our hard work.

What did you see from the city / country? 

The city was beautiful, and the view from the university was the old town across the river. It was a nice experience to walk by it each day. There’s really always something going on in Wrocław, despite its size, it has 13 universities, so it was mostly my own age group that came across on the street. The Erasmus community mostly depends on luck, but every time I learned a lot about the culture of other countries and, what was especially good, that I could learn about their food as well.

 


Would you like to work or study in another European country in the future?

Yes, my dream has always been to work abroad, so my next goal will be Estonia, where I would like to spend my internship as soon as the international situation allows it. I would really recommend it to everyone! I received a lot of support from the Erasmus office at METU, they were very helpful in all matters, so I am sure no one will be left alone with any problems.

 

2020. 05. 14.

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