Erasmus changed my point of view, gave me strenght and shaped my mindset

    Studying or teaching at university is connected with knowledge and development of skills, but it also brings experience for the rest of life

    Catholic University in Ružomberok (CU) is a member of the Erasmus family. As part of this program, students and employees can stay abroad for a certain period. Since 2010, when the number of mobilities of this program at CU began to grow significantly, till 2022, almost 900 foreign teachers have come to teach CU students and 350 foreign colleagues from partner institutions has been trained at a similar workplace of CU. In this academic year, 65 foreign experts taught at CU and 35 workers exchanged experiences with colleagues within the Erasmus+ Programme.

    This semester Ewelina Chwedczuk research and didactic assistant at Uniwersytet Przyrodniczo-Humanistyczny w Siedlcach, has done her first Erasmus+ mobility as a teacher ever at the CU, but before this, she did the Erasmus+ study mobility in 2012.  She shared her experience with us.

    1. What motivated you to participate in Erasmus+ in 2012 and what in 2023?

    First, when I applied in 2012 I was so afraid and scared. I really wanted to go somewhere abroad to study, but inside I felt totally powerless. I really desired for a change in my life, for experiencing some inspiring adventure that would change my point of view. Finally, I decided to fill in all the forms and hand in them to our Foreign Relations office. After a few days I received the letter of acceptance and I was so exhilarated, but still scared. I remember that I even hadn`t told any of my family members and friends that I applied for Erasmus programme, so when I informed them about my decision they were really surprised. After all, Erasmus as a student was a fantastic experience that changed my point of view, gave me power and strenght and shaped my mindset. That is why, when I heard about Erasmus programme in 2023, now as a research didactic assistant, I applied striaghtaway. The only place I wanted to go was Ruzomberok. I even hadn`t considered any other place. Encouraged by previous experience of studying at CU, I wanted to be there in a totally different post, this time as a teacher.

    1. How did you feel when you come back at CU as the teacher? What differencies you can see at the University, city?

    I think that the town and university haven`t changed much. Taking university into account, the Faculty of Arts and Letter has been the same, still modern and cosy. Moreover, I was a little bit surprised that the staff hasn`t changed a lot, too. There are still the same lecturers. I suppose it is very profitable for the faculty, because they know how it works and how to teach effectively. If it comes to Ruzomberok itself, it is still inspring and magical. The same charming cafes and restaurants, old-fashioned houses and breathtaking views. Everytime I come to Ruzomberok, I really appreciate the picturesque views. My journey took 7 hours, but I didn`t sleep a wink because I was admiring mountains.

    1. What did you expect from this mobility?

    Firstly, my aim was to share my reasearch findings and observe students`reactions. I had an interesting opportunity to present my materials and set of practical tasks for students. I suppose it worked because they enjoyed our classess so I think, I reached the goal. Moreover, I wanted to gain some new experience and exchange ideas with teachers from the same branch.

    1. Are there any significant differences in teaching in Poland and in Slovakia?

    Not really. A Polish educational system is very similar to a Slovak one. There is just a few rather formal differences, but if it comes to teaching itself,  it is the same. I also remember that when I used to study at CU, our lectures and seminars used to be the same as in Poland. I mean, the same level of requirements, similar angles and approaches.

    1. What qualities do you think are essential for a teacher of 21st century?

    This is a really good question. I have been interested in the topic for a really long time. I remember that in the past, when I used to be a high school student, I stated that I would never become a teacher :) but my life turned upside down and led me to the way I am right now. I have found myself in teaching and it is the most suitable job for me. I don`t know what may be essential for 21st century teacher, but for sure they have to be understanding and sympathetic. Also being closer to students, for instance, I always try to remember their names to show that I respect them and I create positive atmosphere. When I teach I always think that my teaching needs to change something in students` approach. If they are not encouraged enough, I try to show them and motivate to do better. And after all, being humble, humble, and once again, humble. Being proud leads to nowhere.  I do like my profession. I believe that if I don`t, no one will :)

    1. What advice would you give to a student applicant for Erasmus+ mobility and what advice would you give to a teacher applicant?

    For all students who want to apply – GO! It is the time of your life, take a chance. For all teachers – I would say the same. If you are still afraid and look for some perfect moment – please, do not think this way. There will not be something like `perfect moment`. It is happening right now.

    1. How is Erasmus+ contributing to the education of the future and to the life of an applicant?

    Signifcantly. I used to be a closed shy girl.  Before my student Erasmus adventure I was afraid to go to Warsaw by train what takes 90 minutes. During Erasmus in 2012 I started to be brave. Travelling, a lot of adventures, exploring nature and mountains, making friends, being active, new learning environment – I think I found myself in those things. I have always remembered my Erasmus adventure. If it comes to future prospects, Erasmus shapes minds and it contributes to better career advancement.

    1. Would you add any additional comments?

    Yes, I do love Ruzomberok and Slovakia. Beatiful breathtaking views, charming environment and the most tasty food I have ever eaten. Especially bryndza sheep cheese. :D apart from being a food lover, I would like to appreciate the staff who had some time to meet me and exchange a few nice words. Thank you  teachers Jela and John Kehoe, priest Jozef Žvanda, Michaela Moldova Chovancová, Lucia Kravčáková for the International Office. I will always remember!


    Michaela Moldová Chovancová