An hour before boarding the plane in Frankfurt, it became clear that I’m about to experience a new, friendly and pleasant cultural environment. Few young American Jewish guys had quite an orthodox prayer going on for some 30 minutes. As they finished, a Polish guy sitting just a few chairs from me enthusiastically praised them and asked if they lend him the artifacts, allowing him to do so as well.
“Just like home” town
Sunday afternoon allowed me a free stroll around the streets of Bydgoszcz. It is still impossible to describe, but one could say it is a Polish version of Austro Hungarian Norwegian American Russian Asian city. Then again, can we just call it “home”?
The town offers anything you want, from architectural marvels and cultural delights to all kinds of kitchens and preserved industrial era outlets. All along some relaxing, no-rush atmosphere that seems almost unreal in a town that holds quite a numerous population.
As our University welcome-tour-guide Victor from Zambia explained, there’s 0,0001 per cent chance you’ll get robbed here. Or lost, because the trams and busses are everywhere.
“Just like world” University
And trust me, Victor has Bydgoszcz in his pocket. He is welcoming students from all over the world and is part of the Welcome department at the Wyższa Szkoła Gospodarki w Bydgoszczy (WSG University). Together with colleagues from the International affairs office, he is assisting hundreds of students in understanding the basics of their facilities and programs, as well as much more specific problems of language and culture in Poland.
This is how they help the guest professors as well. A well-structured presentation with guided visits around the campus and town were pleasant and informative.
World and local community are important
University is really well thought of and organized. Various buildings that used to be industrial facilities were modernized and are now serving various purposes. As an “open university” they are providing kindergarten, sports, photography museum, medical services and – daytime programs for elderly people.
Students accept the challenges
My topic was strange and unusual: cemeteries tourism. Therefore I prepared some ice-breakers and constructed my lectures around many examples. Slide by slide we went from basics to complexity and structure. Ending in important thoughts on how cemeteries tourism is actually meaningful and can help tourism in general.
All the way students were actively participating with comments, provoking views and much enthusiasm when it was time for them to work. Developing their own solutions and opening their own visions of the future in cemeteries tourism and tourism in general.
It was just a start
Many students reflected their views afterwards in messages and comments on digital channels where we connected. As well as the staff of the University which kindly followed my journey all the way.
I am sure that my story in and with Bydgoszcz just started.