This time of year is traditionally a time of change for students and University of Ulster undergraduate, Anna Loane is going further than most to seek out a new challenge for the next academic year.
Anna, who hails from Kesh in County Fermanagh, has just completed the first year of her BA Honours degree in English at Ulster’s Coleraine campus. Now, thanks to Erasmus, the EU's flagship educational exchange programme, she is off to Poland later this month to complete the second year of her three-year degree programme at the University of Silesia in Katowice.“When people ask me ‘why Poland’, I say ‘why not’?” says Anna, “I’ve been really fortunate to have done a lot of travelling and one of the countries I enjoyed visiting most was Poland.”
Since her first visit to the country a few years ago and in preparation for her year abroad, Anna started learning Polish and, with so many Polish people now living in Northern Ireland, she has had plenty of opportunities to practise.
“All modern language classes at the University of Silesia are taught through the target languages so my lectures will all be in English but it’ll still be a great help to have some knowledge of Polish.
“People laugh when I tell them I’m going to Poland to study English but language is just one aspect of a country’s culture. I’m really looking forward to living in Poland and I hope to absorb as much as I can about its culture and its people.”
Studying abroad is quite a challenge for any 22 year old student and Anna, who has mild cerebral palsy, admits to being just a little apprehensive. “I know it will be a challenge but it is one I’m really looking forward to. I’ll be living on campus in Sosnowiec, so this should make it easier to meet other students.” During her year as an Erasmus student, Anna is planning to do some travelling around Europe.
“Travelling abroad is almost a rite of passage of students these days so I hope to be able to take advantage of my base in Poland to explore other European countries.”
Professor Jan Jedrzejewski, Head of School of English, History and Politics said studying abroad was one of the greatest benefits of living in a united Europe and he was delighted that
Anna had decided to spend the coming academic year at the University of Silesia. “We have had a link with the English department there for eight years, with students and staff visiting Coleraine to study and do research with us here, but this is the first time we are sending a student across – and I do hope Anna will be the first of many.
“Being able to experience other countries and their cultures while at university is one of the greatest benefits of living in a united Europe; the opportunities are there, but we are not perhaps quite as good as we could be at taking them up. However, I would hope that Anna’s example will encourage other students to explore what the Erasmus scheme, and indeed other international exchange programmes in which we are involved, have to offer. In the meantime, though, I would like to wish Anna a happy journey to Poland – szczÃªœliwej podrÃ³¿y!”
The University of Silesia is one of the most prestigious universities in Upper Silesia With an enrolment of almost 40,000 students, it is one of the biggest public universities in Poland. Like the University of Ulster, it is a multi campus university with five campuses in the cities of Katowice, Sosnowiec, ChorzÃ³w, Cieszyn, and Rybnik.