Poland wel­comes Viet­namese

Pur­su­ing an over­seas ed­u­ca­tion is the dream of many Viet­namese stu­dents who wish to get a step ahead us­ing the pres­tige of a for­eign qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Since the sev­en­ties, as­pir­ing learn­ers have been head­ing to Poland from Vieät Nam, and the pos­i­tive im­press

Outlook - - VIETNAM AROUND THE WORLD - By Nguyeãn Myõ Haø

Most Viet­namese be­lieve their future lies in the way they are trained, that the power of knowl­edge over-rides all phys­i­cal mat­ters. They also know they can get bet­ter paid jobs with a higher ed­u­ca­tion de­gree.

So when you talk to young stu­dents, they all seem to want to spend some time study­ing abroad, ei­ther as ex­change stu­dents or pur­su­ing a higher de­gree.

We vis­ited the Univer­sity of War­saw re­cently and met a 20year-old ex­change stu­dent from Vieät Nam in its In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Of­fice.

"I love ev­ery­thing here in Poland," says Ñoã Leâ Taân, a stu­dent from Haø Noäi Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy ma­jor­ing in en­vi­ron­men­tal geog­ra­phy stud­ies.

"From the minute I landed at the air­port," he says, "I ab­so­lutely loved the green fo­liage of the trees in War­saw. It's very peace­ful!"

An ex­change stu­dent for only one year, Taân says he tries to travel out of the coun­try as much as pos­si­ble.

Poland is no longer a dream des­ti­na­tion for Viet­namese stu­dents. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Poland and Vieät Nam signed an ed­u­ca­tion and labour agree­ment that at­tracted hun­dreds of stu­dents to Poland ev­ery year to study in col­leges or learn a craft.

In the early 1990’s the agree- ment ended and the num­ber of Viet­namese stu­dents fell dra­mat­i­cally, but they left good im­pres­sions in the minds of Pol­ish pro­fes­sors.

The Univer­sity of War­saw now ad­min­is­ters sev­eral schol­ar­ship pro­grammes, in­clud­ing the Eur­op­eran Eras­mus Mun­dus, which al­lows Asian stu­dents to study in Pol­ish in­sti­tu­tions for one year or more.

As a re­sult, Taân was more than wel­come when he ar­rived in the coun­try. But in re­turn, he has also worked hard to leave be­hind his own good im­pres­sions.

As we walked up the stairs at the univer­sity, a sign states that

Frederic Chopin's fa­ther once stud­ied mu­sic there. In the high­ceil­ing of­fice of an es­tab­lish­ment about to cel­e­brate its 200th an­niver­sary, Kle­men­tyna Kielak, head of the In­ter­na­tional Short­Term Stu­dents Sec­tion, says, "We are look­ing for more stu­dents from Vieät Nam."

Kielak says the school of­fers schol­ar­ships and tu­ition-free pro­grammes for PhD de­grees and it also of­fers other full-de­gree pro­grammes in English.

"The pro­fes­sors are won­der­ful," Taân adds. "When­ever I ask them ques­tions, they spare no ef­fort to help me find the an­swers. They speak English, Rus­sian and Dutch. I rec­om­mend that Viet­namese stu­dents study in War­saw."

Like any stu­dent com­ing from a mod­est back­ground in Vieät Nam, Taân is prac­ti­cal and knows why he is in a for­eign coun­try. "Life here is peace­ful and the liv­ing costs are af­ford­able," Taân says, "So I can save more from my schol­ar­ship. Dur­ing my time here, I've been to Paris, Ber­lin, Rome, but I like War­saw most be­cause I re­ally feel safe and peace­ful. And I'm here to study, I need to fo­cus on my work.

"Pol­ish peo­ple are de­vout Catholics. They be­lieve in God and they tend only to do good deeds. The Viet­namese com­mu­nity here is quite strong and I feel very con­nected. Viet­namese food is also avail­able and I can have it when­ever I miss home.

"I have not trav­elled much in Poland, I've been to Zakopane, a beau­ti­ful snow-capped moun­tain re­gion. Poland was heav­ily de­stroyed dur­ing World War II and War­saw was bombed to the ground, and they had re­built it from scratch and I re­ally ad­mire them."

Taân says his pro­gramme is not dif­fi­cult, but he is ac­tively in­volved. He said that he joined a mas­ter's course in English in Vieät Nam, so he was not over­whelmed by the pro­gramme. Pol­ish friends are also very help­ful.

"The weather is dry cold, very dif­fer­ent from the hu­mid damp cli­mate at home, but I'm young, so it doesn't mat­ter at all, re­ally. The only un­pleas­ant time here is when snow melts," Taân says.

"Some­times the snow can be a me­tre deep - and it's very cold. The first snow can be very beau­ti­ful and ro­man­tic, but when it melts in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary, it can get very dirty.

"When it's too cold, I cook in my dorm, which is good, I can sleep-in all day and al­low my­self to be lazy!"

Chal­leng­ing lan­guage

"Many peo­ple say that the Pol­ish lan­guage is one of the most dif­fi­cult lan­guages in the world," Taân says. "But if you're con­fi­dent, then you're not afraid of speak­ing it.

"I had a short course in Pol­ish when I first got here," Taân says. "At the end of it, I was still very clumsy and could not speak well. But I tried ev­ery chance to speak in su­per­makets, to the dorm su­per­in­ten­dent or when ask­ing for di­rec­tions.

"Young peo­ple here speak English well, but the older gen­er­a­tions speak only Pol­ish or Ger­man, or Rus­sian. So it makes my life much eas­ier if I can speak Pol­ish. I made a lot of mis­takes when I speak to the door lady at my dorm, but she does not mind at all. She even teased me! You see, when we try to speak their lan­guage, they know that you care!"

Eye-open­ing

As a stu­dent, Taân has vis­ited many coun­tries in Europe dur­ing his 10-month stay. "I've been to France, Italy, the Nether­lands, Ger­many, Bel­gium, Lithua­nia, Greece and Aus­tria.

"The most im­pres­sive coun­try for me was Aus­tria. It is rich and beau­ti­ful. The mag­nif­i­cent his­tor­i­cal build­ings are well pre­served and the en­vi­ron­ment is well pro­tected. I was most im­pressed when I was on the train trav­el­ling from Vi­enna to Salzburg on a sunny Oc­to­ber day, the fields spread out peace­fully with wooden houses hid­den in the for­est and cows graz­ing nearby."

Taân says he stays in touch with his par­ents via Skype chats. "When I asked if they would like me to cook some Pol­ish dishes when I get home, they said no, we're full. Just bring your­self here!"

Pol­ish uni­ver­si­ties say thay would like to have more stu­dents from Viet Nam like Ñoã Leâ Taân, who works hard, in­te­grates well and above all, dares to make mis­takes to learn the lo­cal lan­guage.

Jagiel­lonyan Univer­sity, Poland’s old­est higher ed­u­ca­tion es­tab­lish­ment in Krakow, cel­e­brated its 650th an­niver­sary last May. Col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in Krakow pro­vide young pro­fes­sion­als for an IT park in the city.

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