For our latest version, we’re interviewing Grzegorz Witek, originally from Poland and now working on our Engineering team. As he is in our Valencia office, we couldn’t quite have a “sit down,” but here’s what was discussed:
Where did you study and why?
Actually, I’m still a student and I’m currently participating in Erasmus program. I’m studying in Valencia, Spain.The oxygen at this altitude might be too sparse for some, but not for Grzegorz, who is superhuman.
Now, why did I choose Valencia? I was looking for a university that offered software engineering studies and one that would sign a partnership contract with my school. There were a few, but I chose Universidad Politecnica de Valencia as I spoke some Spanish and wanted to improve my language skills. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the city and university until I came here!
It’s great to hear how you just “dove in.” Not many others could do that! Why did you decide to study abroad?
The truth is that I don’t like the studies at my previous university. I’m keen on programming, on computer science, but not on studying it at a university. I didn’t want my last year at my university to look like years past, so I decided to finish my masters abroad to see how studies look like in different countries. I also wanted to experience something different and I enjoy finding myself in new and unknown situations.
Very interesting! There really is nothing like “real world” experience once you graduate from school. What was the best or most rewarding aspect of this experience?
There were actually a few things I will always remember from being here. The first one are people – I made a few real friendships here and I’m sure I’ll keep in touch with people that I met in Valencia. I hope to meet them again someday.
The second thing is my internship with peerTransfer – in the second semester I had few classes and a lot of free time, so I decided to find some work and that’s how I joined the company. It’s a great experience to work in a multinational environment on a real project, not just a study task, with a group of professionals. I think it was the best use of my time!
Did you experience culture shock? If so, how did you deal with it?
In the beginning it was hard to switch to Spanish time. Although Valencia is far west from Poland, it’s still in the same timezone, which means that sun rises and sets much later than in my country. That really changes a lot as people in Spain eat dinners at 10-11pm, while in Poland most people eat their last meal about 7-8pm.
Apart from that, I didn’t experience culture shock. I had already been to Spain some time ago and I had been learning about the culture in language courses, so I knew what I could expect.
What was the toughest part of studying abroad?
In the beginning – understanding my classmates! People in Spain spoke more quickly than I was used to, even though I had been learning Spanish. For the first few weeks it was very difficult to communicate with them. What’s more, in the beginning they didn’t speak to me in English at all. After a month I realized that they actually knew English, but they were hesitant to speak the language because they felt they made a lot of mistakes.
What was the craziest/funniest/most amazing moment you experienced during your stay abroad?
Without a doubt, the best moment was my trip to Mallorca. I went there with my friend for a few days, and I must say Mallorca is really amazing. Most of the people go there to spend time lying on the beach and swimming in the sea, but we decided to visit the western part of island, full of mountains, small villages and beautiful views. I’m sure that one day I’ll go there again!
That sounds like a great time. Our last question, do you think that studying abroad has had a positive impact on your professional development and career opportunities?
I’m not sure exactly about studying abroad, but living in another country for a few months changes a lot. You start paying attention to details that you never noticed while being in the same culture. You learn how to deal with different people, to solve the problems caused by the differences. It makes you think more broadly, and that’s a fantastic experience.