Our arrival at Poland was around 20:30 pm, after a long travel by plane, with a stop in London. We were received by teacher Greg and we met the hosting families in the school. José Luis Freitas, from the ninth grade class A, stayed in Krzysztof’s flat. His family was really nice, welcoming and helpful. He had a sister and a guinea pig. Cristina Ribeiro, from the ninth grade class A, stayed in Robert Peter’s flat. She had a very welcoming and impeccable family. André, from the ninth grade class D, stayed in a flat at the fifth floor, with Alexsander’s family, they were welcoming and cool. He had a brother and two fish. He also had the opportunity to be with an Estonian student that stayed in the same flat he did, his name was Olgar. Lúcia, from the eighth grade class B, stayed in Michael’s flat, his family was very nice, friendly, funny and welcoming. This family had a dog named Bello and a squirrel. Francisco, from the eighth grade class B, stayed with Andrezc, his family was really nice, amazing and spectacular. They had a black and brown stripped cat, with him stayed Lustas another student. Every student had the chance to be with the families outside their houses doing leisure activities like: going bowling, playing billiards, table soccer, and ice skating (among others).
On the first day, we had a tour visit at the school. We attended English, Sciences and History classes and after that we had lunch in the school’s canteen. The Polish food was different from the one we are used to in Portugal but equally tasty. In the afternoon we attended a Robotics workshop. There, we watched a robotics demonstration and we programmed robots that were given to us. It was very interesting to program robots with colleagues from the other countries. We have different cultures but we share the same passion for robotics.On the second day, we went to the University of Technology in Gliwice, where we had the chance to visit several departments of robotics and electronics. Then we went to the coal mine Guido. We were able to know a little bit of the history of coal extraction and the miners’ hard life. It was a fantastic experience.
On the third day, we went to Auschwitz, one of the main concentration camps in the world, where thousands of Jews, Gypsies and other minorities were decimated in a cruel and inhuman way. This sight was disturbing but very mind clearing about one of Europe’s darkest period. This visit will stay in our memory. After all, this horrible place, where thousands of people died, doesn’t only exist in films. We can say “I was in Auschwitz I saw that place with my own eyes!”. Then, we continued to Krakow, the second biggest city in Poland. This city was the capital of Poland for centuries. It is an extremely beautiful city with hundreds of years of history that perpetuates in its magnificent buildings. This was one of the high moments of the trip, visiting a city so beautiful and so rich in history.
On the last day, at school in Bytom, we programmed again in a Robotics Workshop and then we participated in one of the most competitive and thrilling moments of the trip, the soccer tournament. Portugal won the fabulous third place right after the two home teams. We were in third place right behind the polish teachers, who played really well (although it didn’t look like they did!), and the polish students team, who were all older than us. It was very exciting! Lastly we had a Robotics competition where the programs made by the participating students were presented.
On Friday, we returned to Portugal. This trip enriched our culture, diversified our vocabulary and we had the opportunity to live a week in the snow, a rare phenomenon in Portugal. This trip was unique, unrepeatable and memorable. We are very thankful from the families that received us in Poland, and mainly the teachers that gave us this experience that will stay forever in our memory.
José Luís Freitas