Erasmus-University of Warsaw Experience

Erasmus-University of Warsaw Experience by Evrim Uysal & Sibel Taşkın Şimşek 

During March 18-22, we had the first Staff Mobility experience at the University of Warsaw. The whole city of Warsaw has been under snow for months and during our stay it was all snowy. Despite the snow, we had a great time with the active participation of self-motivated learners to all of our sessions and the kindness of the staffroom at the College for English Language Teacher Education, which kept our hearts warm.  The student profile at the college was very different from those we have generally observed so far. They are not touching their phones during the lessons and they have 2-3 outside reading books in their back packs. We wanted to wrap them up and take home with us. 

The staffroom which offers only open shelves to the instructors and a big round table seems to increase communication across staff teaching a variety of courses. 

We started off with a presentation of technology as utopia vs dystopia, moving on to Creative Commons and the designing of a tailor-made evaluation tool for selecting the most effective educational technology tools for one’s institution. The learners in our classes expressed their likes about being encouraged to think at an institutional level. So far their experience has been more focused on materials design and classroom teaching practices and theories. 

We shared our actual classroom experience on the integration of technology with a specific focus on blogs and certain other Web 2.0 tools which can be easily integrated into teaching. They are all now familiar with online platforms such as Edmodo and Creative Commons. During some of our sessions the CALL Professors, Marcin Kleban and Małgorzata Al-Khatib were with us and we had the opportunity to exchange ideas about our teaching practices. Providing feedback to students’ written or audio-recorded work using Jing and recording students' oral performance in order to use it as a feedback tool came out as two of the ideas they wanted to integrate into their own system. 

Using “todaysmeet” to allow students to chat about the presented topics during the lessons enhanced communication of students with us. We also used this tool to get instant responses to the quizzes which made it easier to identify the first respondent. The winners received SU logoed pens, key chains, bookmarks, etc. which were welcomed as motivators. On our side, the team teaching experience during some of our sessions was quite rewarding, although having to do all the sessions in a computer-lab was a bit challenging in terms of classroom organization at times. 

Please click here to read some exchange samples from “todaysmeet” logs.

When it comes to reflecting on the overall experience, we can say that this is a very nice and emblematic cultural exchange experience as well. The restaurants, cafes and pubs around the campus offered us a good chance to taste local food, observe everyday life and interact with people. Young Polish people speak English, however the older ones usually do not know it. Even a restaurant which is considered to be a very cheap one is located on the main street something equivalent of Bagdat Street, İstanbul for example. The street offers options for people from a variety of social status not leaving anyone out which seems to be representing the close bond people of Poland may have developed after the World War 2 experience. References to the war are everywhere, sometimes in the form of an “Unknown Soldier Statue” making you cry, and sometimes in the form of a shelf of books saved from the war in a cafe or a grandma's traditional clothes exhibited in a local restaurant in which the “cyder” (home-made apple beer at “Specjaky Regionalle”, Nowy Świat no.44) to die for is served.

The churches are nice locations to warm up under the snow. The more you walk in the old city, and the more you eat “dumplings at Zapiecek restaurants” (something like the Turkish mantı), the more Polish you become and drinking vodka, especially “warming winter elixir XXL” becomes essential after an hour’s walk in “Nowy Świat” below -10 ° C. If you ever choose to visit University of Warsaw one day, you may wish to check our travel notes before you go ☺