In Poland universities begin their semesters in October, and for me it meant that my language course would begin as well. It has been more than 5 years when I’ve entered an university building as an active student, so I was at the same time excited, little nervous and also maybe slightly nostalgic. But to become an Art student?!?! Sounds little peculiar for someone who has a degree from University of Technology – “teekkari ja humanisti” were far away from each other at least the attitude amongst the tech students back in the days in LUT :) So, I had certain doubts when I entered into Department of Polish Philology.
At first sight it felt little like being in Harry Potter movie… My Alma Mater being built in 1970’s and latest parts in 21st century, the atmosphere of 300 year old building was definitely different. But the lecturers I’ve this far met are definitely modern – sparkly, lively, fully committed to lead us into deep secrets of this mysterious language… In my group there is or has been (groups change every time) people from Europe (Germans, French, Turkish, British), from Africa (Morocco, Nigeria), and from Asia (China and Japan), some not speaking English but French or Arabic. Mindbroadening!
Cultural differences are obvious; once there was a debate of questioning the fairness of using names of famous Western world people in an exercise where the purpose was to rehearse nationalities. Other time one student refused to repeat most of the sentences explaining that he could not speak Polish. Trying to teach Asian people to pronounce strong ‘R’ is not simple, but neither it was simple to tell the French girl not to laugh to their pronunciation. When practicing numbers we ran into Polish speciality, a NIP code (tax code), and suddenly ended up discussing that if you as a foreign person you have to apply for the NIP code to pay taxes, why you actually would do that if without number you are not obliged to pay taxes… So it is not a piece of cake to teach such punch of people! But these amazing teacher pros throw themselves into it, showing talent in being a mime artist and having patience of an elephant – or a cow, which one has it better?
I have definitely learned useful expressions, and have already used my new language skills on some occasions. It will be very interesting to see how far do I get with Polish. Conditions for quick learning are there; being surrounded by the language all the time, good lessons and helpful native people near with who to practise. Unfortunately the original sin of being lazy is there also, and sticking with the easy option English is just so comfortable...