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Foreign students experiences from the Erasmus+ at MBU in Banská Bystrica.

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Published by Univerzita Mateja Bela v Banskej Bystrici, 2016-09-20 04:32:52

Banska2Go

Foreign students experiences from the Erasmus+ at MBU in Banská Bystrica.

Leaveordinarybehind.

Banska2GoPartII.

ByMiroslavaBohatová

Copyright © 2016 by the Erasmus Student Network Slovakia (ESN Slovakia).
All rights reserved.
Banska2GO - Leave ordinary behind. Part II.
By Miroslava Bohatová
Inspired by: Banska 2 Go. Miroslav Hajnoš
Published by Matej Bel University
Design: Miroslava Bohatová
Language proofreading : Mária Blažeková
Editing: Miroslava Bohatová
Cover picture: Public source
This information can be freely used and copied for non-commercial purposes,
provided that the source is acknowledged(© ESN Slovakia)
ESN UMB Banská Bystrica
ŠD 3 Tajovského 51,
974 01 Banská Bystrica Slovakia

“There are some people who live in a dream world,
and there are some who face reality; and then there

are those who turn one into the other.”
Desiderius Erasmus

2

Obsah

Acknowledgements.................................................................................................................... 4
At a Glance ................................................................................................................................ 5
Meeting New People .................................................................................................................. 8
Be the Right Erasmus Student! .................................................................................................11
Easter According To Us ............................................................................................................14
Erasmus Family ........................................................................................................................16
Banská Bystrica? DOBRE !.......................................................................................................18
Take the Chance.......................................................................................................................23
A Bit of Everything ....................................................................................................................25
Memories Will Stay Forever ......................................................................................................27
The Best Choice .......................................................................................................................29
My way in ESN..........................................................................................................................31
Something New and Awesome! ................................................................................................33
The Warmth I Didn’t Expect ......................................................................................................35
Presidents of ESN UMB Banská Bystrica..................................................................................38
About Banska2Go II. .................................................................................................................49

3

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Matej Bel University and the team at Erasmus Student
Network in Banská Bystrica for their support, especially to Lucia Gandžalová for her
help with this book and to Veronika Valčáková for being my motivator during this
extremely difficult year.

Thanks to all current active members of our organisation – for being supportive
and helpful all year long. Especially to the current Section Board of 2015/2016: Eva
Midlíková, Timotej Hossa, Dušana Hamráková, Lucia Gandžalová, Lucia Kubaľáková,
Monika Tokolyová, Taygun Tiryaki, Annamária Košutová, Lucia Jakubová, Veronika
Kusá, Barbora Osvaldová, Veronika Valčáková, Maroš Valčák, Jakub Trojnar, Martin
Juščák, and Marek Vajdiar.

Thanks to exchange students, who wrote these articles: Miroslav Dimitrov,
Denitsa Parneva, Zaiga Zirnite, Erwin Peray, Fleur Lievevrouw, Ines Barge, Jiří
Kedluben, Taras Repytskyi.

Thanks to all ex-presidents of ESN UMB BB for writing their articles and helping
us create this book: Miroslav Hajnoš, Michal Straňák, Jaroslava Kjara Krutaková,
Simonka Ježíková, Zuzana Gáliková, Veronika Valčáková.

Special thanks to the vice-dean of International relations, doc. Katarína
Chovancová, and to referent for international cooperation and Erasmus coordinator,
Lucia Oboňová, for their support during all these years and for motivating us to continue
our work.

Thanks to ESN Slovakia and the current National Board for advice during editing
this book.

And last, but not least, big thanks to all the readers.

4

At a Glance

There are around 70 students in the room, waiting for us to say something. They
came from different parts of Europe and they are visiting Banská Bytsrica for the first
time. For most of them, Erasmus is something new and they don´t know what to expect.
And this is the reason why we called them here. The host starts the program and the
vice-dean gets on stage, welcoming the students at our university. My time will come
soon. I should speak about us, explain to them what Erasmus Student Network is and
what we do. I will try to explain to them that we want nothing more than to just be their
friends and help them with everything they need. I admit, this is the most difficult part.
First of all, today you don´t find people who want to help you just like that everywhere.
So to trust us with their personal information is very hard. Second of all, it must sound a
lot like a group of extremely motivated youngsters who push them to do all the activities
together. How do you explain in one sentence that you are just happy to find new
friends from different parts of the world? Well, probably I will be not able to explain it
today, but I believe that during the semester we will find a way to communicate, to
spend some time together and that it will turn into a never-ending friendship. And here
we go. It is my turn to welcome all these exchange students at the Matej Bel University.
My first speech as the president of our organisation is about to take place.

5

The story of founding ESN and its meaning is magnificent and when we look
back, it brings out a whole array of emotions and every single person should be proud
of himself/herself for empowering the network. Let me tell you about it.

“We are not the same, we are different, all of us. Yet we are united in working for
the same cause. It all starts with Erasmus, that´s the origin. When we take the first step
abroad into the unknown and leave behind everything we know. It may sound funny, but
in this separation we are truly coming together, we forgot about those differences, we
were curious for each other as who we are, we understood that difference is not a
reason for division after all, we were united in diversity. This experience keeps us going
for a long time. It makes us stronger to face the issue of an unknown future. We are not
asking anymore what we can get but rather how we can contribute - that´s how you
solve problems, that´s how you move forward.

There was a moment in history when a group of homecoming Erasmus students
joined forces to help their local exchange students. A new era began back in 1989 when
the Erasmus Student Network was born, over the course of 25 years the initiative of
only one group of students has grown to become what is now the biggest student
organisation in Europe. We are at hundreds of universities all across Europe, helping
hundreds of thousands of students every single day! We are the Erasmus generation;
we are the first generation of Europeans. It is the first time in history that we are all
united in one network. It is our time and we act with one vision: to enrich the society
through international students. Our movements influence the decisions of European
politicians, that not only affect us but also millions of students in the generations to
come.

Yet at the end of the day, it is not just about the big decisions at the international
level. From the international to the local level – everything is connected within the
network. The big decisions make change possible and what bring the mightiest change

6

are the smallest acts of students helping students, every day, at home. At the local level
we are uniting different people all across Europe. This is Mov´in Europe together. This
is the movement of the Erasmus Student Network. This is ESN.”

(#THISisESN - the Erasmus Student Network)

Now, when students know who we are and what we do here, it is time to get to
know each other a little bit better. There have been enough speeches and
presentations. It is time to start Erasmus. It is time to create memories. Because one
day every single one of them will remember this as the best decision they ever made.
Because there is no doubt about the sentence: “Once Erasmus, always Erasmus”.

‘Welcome Day’, as we call it, is just a common part of our semester with
exchange students. It is the beginning of their Erasmus. But what should they take from
this experience? First of all, there is the value of education. They are the chosen ones,
spending half a year in a whole new country with different habits, with people who do
not speak their language. They are not just visitors of this new city. They are students
responsible for their decisions. They have the chance to enrich their knowledge and
understand another culture. Second of all, there is the value of experience. The things
you will experience during your Erasmus will turn into the best memories of your life.

New friendships will show you how different people are. Living at dormitories will
make you one big family. And leaving back home will become one of the most difficult
things in your life. You can have all of this, you just have to make the first step and fill
out the application form for Erasmus+ programme.

7

Miroslava Bohatová,
President of ESN UMB BB,

2015/2016

Meeting New People

Miroslav Dimitrov, Bulgaria

8

Summer 2015

Erasmus is an adventure, which I think everyone should try once in their lives. It’s
an opportunity to meet many new people, experience a new culture and to learn
something new. Personally, I had the best experience of my life. Everything was so
perfectly organised that I felt like I didn’t want to leave that wonderful place! For me, the
most exciting moment was the first day; the day you start to explore the new land and
meet with others who have also chosen this place for their exchange studies.

I remember it like it was yesterday; the moment I first woke up there and looked
through my balcony on the 8th floor and saw all the small houses covered with snow and
the beautiful snowy mountain of Urpín. It was like a view you see in paintings or
dreams, a really lovely view. The next day, we visited the town’s city centre. It was a
cold day and there was snow everywhere. My friends and I were amazed by the city’s
beauty. We took a lot of pictures and had lunch in a small restaurant. The day was
tough from all the walking but on our way back, my roommate (Spas) and I met some
people from our floor. Surprisingly, one of the people was a Bulgarian girl who had lived

9

in Spain for a long time. This charming and bright girl showed us around and we quickly
had a warm atmosphere in the house.

After some chatting, they invited us to our very first party and we agreed to join
them. We were the first to arrive, which was good because we met every new person
who came in. People were smiling, having fun, and speaking with you. They were
interested about you and your culture. One of the girls standing alone next to the
window caught my eye. I didn’t know her but the curiosity in me made me want to go to
this lonely girl and speak to her. We chatted for the whole night and I felt we had a lot in
common. I can say she got my attention and interest. The night was wild with music and
dancing, but the memory which will always stay in my mind is this girl with whom I had
the chance to spend my time there.

Once again, I would like to THANK the wonderful organisation from ESN Banská
Bystrica. THANK YOU one more time for all the memories you gave me. I miss you and
hope I will see you again one day!

10

Be the Right Erasmus Student!

Erwin Peray, France
Summer 2014

11

You – the person who is reading this – you’re the lucky one who is in Banská
Bystrica (or will be there at least!). I have so many great things to say about this place.
You will discover Ministry of Fun, Ponorka, Njoy, Kapitol, Tour Club – all the great
places you are going to love. My experience there was amazing, with great people, a
great ESN team, a great place and of course Erasmus life style.

I would like to be more precise about two aspects – the social events and living in
Banská Bystrica.

First, ESN organises a lot of events like trips, parties and social events. Usually,
people like trips and parties more because it’s the first thing that comes to their mind
when they think of Erasmus. However, I think social events are the most fun for several
reasons. First of all, it gives you a break from the parties and trust me – you will need it.
Second of all, it allows you to experience something different. During my term, I cooked
for homeless, walked dogs, collected money for curing cancer, visited children in

12

kindergarten, and I also gave free hugs. It gives you the feeling of being more than a
selfish student! It also gives you the opportunity to meet and talk with people in a
different context than parties or lessons and it provides great memories because you
are always with other fun students! Third of all, if you participate in all the
SocialErasmus events, you will earn the Erastar for the best social volunteer, for which
you will get an amazing present (I’ll let you find out what that present is). It’s also great
to work with the ESN team. They put a lot of effort into organising good events and they
are very good at it.

Next, let me tell you a few things about living in Banská Bystrica. Just a list of
things that you MUST do to be a real Slovak and a real inhabitant of Banská – the 10
commandments of Erasmus:

 If you’re hungry, go eat at Halušky or Mašla (local fast food), my two
favourite food places (and I’m French so I know what I’m talking about),

 If you’re thirsty, drink a Radler, Zlatý Bažant (or for crazy people, drink
Tatratea),

 If you are a real Erasmus student, you’ll get taxis back from parties,
13

 Be social,
 Take part in all the ESN events,
 Go to your lessons, but don’t work too much,
 Be a true hockey fan,
 Go do some sports, in Tatras for winter or Tatralandia for summer,
 Learn Slovak traditions, which are all very interesting, especially the

Easter ones.
 “Erasmus is not a year in a life, but a life in a year” … enjoy it every day!

To conclude, I have only one thing to say – milujem Banská Bystrica – a great
country, great city, with great people; you’ll never forget it.

Easter According To Us

Denitsa Parneva, Bulgaria
Summer 2015

14

I have hundreds of stories from my 3 months in Banská Bystrica. I loved
everything about my experience there and I would give anything to turn back time!

From sharing Bulgarian traditions with fellow Erasmus students and our Slovak
buddies, to travelling around Europe with my best Erasmus friends – every moment was
simply amazing.

If I would have to choose a particular memory, it would probably be the Easter
celebrations. Bulgarians are orthodox and most of our Erasmus friends were Catholics
or Lutherans. Orthodox Easter and Catholic/Lutheran Easter are a week apart from
each other. So in 2015, our Erasmus family had 2 Easter celebrations. It was amazing,
because even though I was far away from home, I felt like I was in such an amazing
environment to celebrate such a big holiday. We had 2 Easter dinners, we painted two
sets of eggs and we shared a Bulgarian Easter tradition – “tapping with eggs” (or egg
battle), something that our friends liked very much.

15

But really, every moment was great. Moments like eating in Olivo Restaurant,
drinking Tatratea, going to Tesco, playing games in the Break Bar, or sharing a room
with Slovaks, who don't speak English.

I can assure you, the period from 7th of February till 10th of May was the time of
my life. I can only wish everybody the same great Erasmus experience in Banská
Bystrica.

Erasmus Family

Fleur Lievevrouw, Belguim
2013/2014

16

Well. Where do I start? I’m an economic student from Belgium called Fleur. I
started looking to go on Erasmus at a pretty young age, but my study plan didn’t go as
well as I had planned it to. You could say that I really fought for going abroad. As soon
as I knew I could go on Erasmus, I was over the moon and couldn’t wait to spread the
word.

I started telling my friends and family, overjoyed. ‘I am going on Erasmus to
Slovakia for one year!’ Reactions were as following: ‘oh, Slovakia was once in
Slovenia... Oh, Czechoslovakia…. Oh, communists…Are they in the European Union?
Do they have the euro?’

The answers were very clear to me, nobody knows what Slovakia actually is. As
the first Belgian girl in Banská Bystrica, I was determined to show the Belgians how
awesomely different Slovakia is.
But once I arrived in Banská Bystrica, the most asked question by natives was “WHY
Slovakia?!?”

17

Slovakia is heaven on Earth for me. Everything is super, super cheap in
comparison with Belgium, it doesn’t rain so much here, going skiing is 20 minutes away,
and school is fun, etc…

Banská Bystrica is the ideal place to go on Erasmus. You can travel around very
easily to Krakow, Bratislava, Prague, Vienna and Budapest which are just a wink away!

The Erasmus experience here is the best! We were not with a big group of
students, which means everybody knew everybody! You could really speak of an
Erasmus family, a great feeling!

Well, but WHY Slovakia? - Because I wanted something different... Slovakia is
sooo much more... What an atmosphere, such a different kind of people, the climate,
the cheapness of the goods, I could go on and on! I just fell in love with Slovakia and I
look forward to a second semester in this lovely town.

Banská Bystrica? DOBRE !

Wiktoria Bala, Poland

18

Summer 2016

What can I say about Erasmus in Banská Bystrica? It was the best period of my
life! I met the best people in the world! Now Erasmus is over but I know that we are still
one big family and I have friends for life. That semester was crazy but maybe I should
start from the beginning.

I am Wiktoria from Poland and that was already my 4th Erasmus (2nd time in
Banská Bystrica). A lot of people asked me, “Why are you going to Slavic countries for
Erasmus?” “Is it not better to go to Spain or Italy or wherever, but Slovakia or Czech
Republic?!” Before my first Erasmus, I was also suprised why I chose that. But now I
know that it was the best choice in my life!

That semester was crazy. I came a little bit later but it was not a problem, I met
great people during the first few days already. The best thing was that you could find
totally international company. There were people from Poland, France, Greece, Spain,
Italy, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Latvia, Turkey and many other countries. We
spent all our time together. Our relationships got especially close during the last two
weeks when we knew that we had to leave soon. I would wake up every morning and
go to the balcony to listen if I could hear any people. You could always hear Erasmus

19

people! So I would just go downstairs to some kitchen to talk to them. That is how every
day started. We were just doing everything together. We were cooking together, going
to Lidl together (btw, Lidl was our paradise – the closest shop from the dormitory),
partying together, drinking together, but also crying together! Sometimes, when I was in
bad condition becauce I was sick, I knew that people would call me, my Latvian brother
would cook incredibly good pasta for me, my French son would bring me pills to kill the
virus and my Italian daughter would make the best tea in the world for me. That is why I
love them! I know that we would do everything for each other!

ESN in Banská Bystrica did a great job! They always had something planned.
You want to go to Bojnice Castle? No problem, ESN will do it! You want go to…
Kraków? Dobre! ESN is already working on it! Are you bored in the dormintory? Bored
of kitchen parties? Lets organise some outdoor competitions! (It’s a great opportunity to
have a lot of fun and get closer with people if you are playing against the Slovak team).
Also, ESN members are so great! They were always with you when you needed them. If
something happened, you just had to call your buddy (actually, anyone from ESN
because everyone would help you) and say: “please don’t laugh, but I think I need to go
to the hospital… again” and in a few minutes an ESNer would teleport just to be with
you and help you out! All ESN members are really great! I can simply say that I love
them! #katastrófa!
It was a time for parties but it was also a time for doing something good for other
people. Welcome to SOCIAL ERASMUS !

20

ESN organised a great event to help out at St. Elisabeth house. It is a house for
abused women and their kids. Some Erasmus students together with ESN members
went there to help out on a beautiful Saturday morning (of course I was also there!).
Around 15 of us were ready to help people at 9 o’clock. We knocked on the door of the
house which had a beautiful big garden and kids playing on the playground; just
screaming and watching us. Who are those people?! Workers welcomed us with
everything they could offer! We could see that they really appreciated our help and that
we woke up so early just for them (trust me, for Erasmus people to wake up at 7:30 is
like waking up in the middle of the night and it’s kind of hell!) . Finally, after welcoming
and after a lot of great stories, we decide to start working . We separated ourselves into
2 groups, one which worked inside the house and one which worked outside in the
garden. I decided to go outside because the weather was perfect and wasting sun
inside was not such a good idea. The job inside was general – to clean a few rooms
(clean windows, floors, clean the dust, move some furniture). Girls there (yep, there
were only girls since the only guy was with us in the garden) did a great job. Everything
was clean and it all looked new. But outside, for most of the time, we had a lot of
laughs. Our job was basically to clean the garden from leaves and some other small
things which I have no idea what to call them. We hadn’t even started and already in the
first few seconds the only guy with us (greetings to you Dāvis ), broke the only shovel
and threw it in the container! But as a real Latvian man, he fixed it so we could start

21

working. The atmosphere there was great. We had a lot of fun laughing and of course a
little bit of cheating (greetings to Lucia. But it was ok; she studies law so she doesn’t
really know what physical work is). After we finished everything, the workers invited us
for a nice lunch with them (guláš – the best meal!). We spent some time with the kids
and also with the workers. Again they told us some amazing stories. It was great day!
We spent it together as Erasmus people but we could also help people who needed it
and could see big smiles on their faces. Even until the end of our Erasmus, we didn’t
forget about them. During the International Village event (cultural event with benefit
concert), we collected money for them to make their lives better!

You can see that on Erasmus there is time for everything. For parties, trips but
also for helping.

I really want to recommend Banská Bystrica for Erasmus! You will never regret it
because the city is beautiful, people are great. It is just the best place for Erasmus!

For me, it is now over (not for that long since I will be coming back here). And of
course I am sad but remember – the end of something is only the beginning of
something new! Maybe for you it will be Banská Bystrica!
And just remember: PEOPLE STAY IN A CIRCLE!

22

Take the Chance

Inês Barge, Portugal
Winter 2015

My name is Inês Barge and I studied Languages and International Relations at
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto in Portugal. I was the first one to go to
Banská Bystrica from my faculty. So why did I pick a place where nobody I knew had
been and that I knew nothing about? Well, the answer is quite simple: practical reasons!
I wanted to study abroad for a semester. That was it; I had no pre-requisite to which
place or whatsoever. I analysed all the options available and this one suited me best. I’ll
tell you why: first of all, the faculty was a perfect match for my studies; second of all, the
location of the city and the country itself was perfect for travelling; third of all, the

23

currency is the same as in Portugal and last but certainly not least, the cost of living is
(slightly) lower.

Choosing Slovakia, and specifically a city as small as Banská Bystrica, came as
a shock to my family and friends. I took a leap of faith and I don’t regret it! It was one of
the best experiences in my life, in all aspects. I was able to study subjects I didn’t have
at my home university and I made friends from all over the place! We travelled together
around the country and I know I will cherish these memories forever. And, most
importantly, I was able to grow, to learn how to deal with mixed emotions, new
challenges, how to be on my own, etc.

It sounds cliché, I know. But it’s true. I encourage anyone who has the
opportunity to study abroad, even if it’s just one semester, to do so. It takes effort, some
paperwork, a great dose of patience and courage, but it’s definitely worth it!

24

A Bit of Everything

Jiří Kadlubiec, Czechia
Summer 2014

There are not enough words to explain how I ended up in that city – surrounded
by mountains, sparkling with the unmistakable roughness of socialistic realism, with its
big black ‘thing’ in the middle of the main square – the city gets into your heart. Today, I
am a foreigner over there, but when I was born, the Slovaks were my countrymen and
still these days we refer to each other as brothers, bratři or bratia. Their women are
doubtlessly the most beautiful in the world and their men are… well, they are also
unique.

The members of the ESN team of BB take amazing care of you; they know that
living in the city is an adventure. A great proportion of the population does not speak
English, especially the dormitory workers who provide accommodation for international
students. So your buddy and your state-of-the-art design ID card become your best

25

friends. Reaching your room is a bit like a spy game, you have to be clever, timing is
valuable and there is a bit of fear and tension involved, but when you make it, you feel
heroic.

Once you meet your colleagues, the fun starts. You share your stories, learn to
tolerate others since you have no choice, and discover new things, like how many
methods of cooking pasta there are, how many times you can convince yourself you’ll
never drink again and then break it a few hours later (there are parties where alcohol is
free!) and how flexible the trains can be to your schedule.

Fun aside, Banská Bystrica and Slovakia are also fantastic locations for
travelling. The country itself has much to offer to the outdoor lovers and it lies in the
centre of Europe with some wonderful locations at hand. Things are fairly cheap and the
studies are not that demanding, so if you don’t mind things a bit rough, the Erasmus in
BB offers lasting friendships, an understanding of the Slavic way of life and provides
memories to laugh over for years to come.

26

Memories Will Stay Forever

Irena Dimova, Bulgaria
Summer 2016

I left Banská Bystrica two weeks ago. It was my second experience abroad and
actually the second in the same country, the same city. Even not in my most thoughtful
mood, I feel obligated to share my favourite moments from these four months, just
because this way I will summarise it for myself, too.

I definitely won’t start with talking about some kind of group studying in the
kitchen, for example. But I can easily finish with it because it happens, no matter how
hard it is for others to believe it, when it’s up to Erasmus.

First of all, thanks to all the great members of ESN. I met these people, who now
I can call my friends. It’s about the first event, during which you meet your favourite
guys. Everything else is unimportant, I promise. You need to spend at least one evening
with them and after that somebody will probably wake you up for a morning tea. And
this way you will easily get swept away by the next idea your new friends suggest to

27

you. I’m happy to remember all my morning teas and even all my hot midnight drinks
and the small talks we had.

The best part is, you can do a lot of things you’ve never done before with these
people. And, as you know, sharing moments is like leaving pieces of yourself for the
ones you’re with. I can’t imagine a better way to spend one day in Bojnice, than
enjoying it with all these Erasmus people. Or the wedding ESN organised. For a
moment, I was totally sure that we would be back in a year and someone would really
be getting married. Just because we’re a family after all this time together, so we must
share the wedding cake of course…

I’m home now and the first week I was almost sure that I could hear someone
calling me from the kitchen (yes, that’s my Giovanellka), exactly like in the dorm. But it
was only in my head. It is still there, and trust me, I can hear all of my Erasmus friends. I
hope that it won’t stop until our next meeting, maybe in Banská, who knows…

I’d love to chase after my Erasmus memories, because it definitely gets my blood
racing.

P.S. We will meet - all of us - I’m sure.

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The Best Choice

Zaiga Zirnīte, Latvia
Summer 2015

I gained hundreds of incredible moments and thousands of unforgettable
memories with my Erasmus family during the summer semester 2015 at Matej Bel
University!

There is no other place where you can experience such significant cross-cultural
events as in Banská. Whether it is an ESN organised culture/sport/quiz/karaoke evening
or trip, a birthday party, a night out at the club, table football evening in the dorms,
experimenting in the kitchen, conversing with your buddy, travelling to one of Slovakia’s
neighbouring countries, or just admiring the view of the mountains after lectures - you
will always feel that you are in the right place at the right time.

29

Banská Bystrica- my greatest decision so far! The heart of Slovakia, where the
youngsters come together and experience one of the best moments of their student life!
Keep calm and join Erasmus+!

30

My way in ESN

Eva Midlíková, Slovakia
Member of ESN

Posterasmus syndrom was the main point that influenced my decision to join ESN. I
spent half a year in Germany and it completely changed my life. I have met many great
people, new cultures, new ways of thinking and new opportunities. I got such a great
care and help that I realized that exactly something I want to share and give to other
people. After coming back to Slovakia I joined ESN and my first challenge started. I
became SocialErasmus Coordinator in our section ESN UMB BB and I had one
Erasmus student to take care of. It was a very nice experience because I was part of a
great group working together and I felt that ESN and its members became my new
family.

There are many events, trips we organize for Erasmus students. One that it is
my favourite is The International Village. It is the event where students present their
countries and culture. It is always nice to see how they perceive their country, how
proud they are of them, how they actually miss some particular things, usually traditional
cuisine. It is usually connected with some dances and music as well.

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I would like to also mention SE events. Since I have been SocialErasmus
Coordinator I understood what this project is all about. There is SE Week organized
every semester and we try to organize some events within SE project. The most
favourite one is dog walking, so students can take some abandoned dogs for a walk
and make them feel like home. Or there was The International Day of Generousity,
students made or bought some food and we went together to the house where
homeless people get something to eat for lunch. It was so nice to see how generous,
helpful students were and how they made the homeless people happy. At least for a
while but it was worth it.

The best thing about being part of ESN and Erasmus life is that you always learn
something new, no matter which countries people are from, you can find soulmates
among them. From the ESN point of view the greatest thing for me is when after coming
back to their home countries and universities they try to do something, they join ESN or
other organisation that offer them to develop and gain new skills and they try to be a
part of a group because Erasmus and ESN are about that – about being part of a group
of people, friends with the common ideas and goals but on the other hand it is about
differences that make people special.

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Something New and Awesome!

Taras Repytskyi, Ukraine
2013-2015

Banská Bystrica. It is a city which you have never heard of before, but which you
will remember forever. At least, it was so in my case. It became my choice because of
many reasons. Mainly because I wanted something new and awesome, but also close
to my Slavic nature (I really like exploring these cultures, as they are so close, but
sometimes so different). The city also has a good location in Central Europe surrounded
by other big cities such as Bratislava, Budapest, Vienna and Krakow for example. So it
would bring more opportunities to travel and explore.

For European standards, I must say, it is a small city. But all the students, all the
parties and crazy atmosphere will make you forget that! Wait. Even one visit to the
Ministry of Fun will do the trick!

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I spent a year here and it opened so many doors for me. Not only to see new
things and meet new people, but to also acquire knowledge which has helped me in my
career.

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The Warmth I Didn’t Expect

Giovanna Bucceri, Italy
Summer 2016

My name is Giovanna, I’m from Italy and I spent the most amazing months of my
life in Banská Bystrica thanks to the Erasmus+ project. I clearly remember the day when
I had to choose the country for my Erasmus. I was in front of a paper full of different
destinations and suddenly, I still don’t know why, I did a big cross near the name
Banská Bystrica. I din’t know anything about this city, about the country, about the
university or the culture. But I don’t regret absolutely anything. Sometimes, the light
decisions are the best. And for me it was.

When I arrived in Banská Bystrica, it was really cold (I’m not used to the cold
because I live in the southern part of Italy and I saw snow once in my life before the
Erasmus) and foggy, and the first thing that I thought was “I will not survive with this
weather more than two months!” but time proved me wrong. Not only did I get used to
the weather, but I also found another kind of warmth I didn’t expect. It was the warmth
of the other Erasmus students and the guys from ESN. I think that who hasn’t
experienced Erasmus is not able to understand the feelings that you take with you when

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it ends. How can you explain to someone what you experienced there? I was always
surrounded by people; people who, little by little, first became friends, and later
members of a family. When I needed something, I knew that they were there for me.

I could tell a lot of stories about each one of them to prove it, since everyone did
something nice for me from the beginning to the end of this incredible experience. Also,
the members of ESN were always ready to help us and to organise events and enjoy
them with us. I took part in a lot of trips organised by ESN, like the one in Krakow,
where we stayed for four days and had the chance to visit the city centre, museums and
also Auschwitz. ESNers were able to combine fun, culture and history all into one trip. I
learnt a lot of things that I didn’t know before. It was also a good occasion to become
closer with the other Erasmus students. Another great trip was to the Bojnice Castle.
Slovakia is a country full of castles, and in my opinion Bojnice is one of the most
beautiful ones and it’s really close to Banská Bystrica. The castle is surrounded by a big
zoo where we spent the morning. It was like we became kids again. After lunch, we
visited the castle with an English guide who explained the story of the castle to us. But
my prefered trip was to Banská Štiavnica, where we visited an underground mine for
two hours. I have never been underground before and it was amazing. The employees
in the mine gave us the equipment to go underground: a helmet, raincoat and lamp. It
was funny also because of that. The ESN is very dynamic in Banská Bystrica. Every

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week they organised something for us. But even on days we didn’t have official events,
staying in the kitchen or in the bar inside the dormitory was also fun. We always found
something to do all together. Especially the last months when we realised that Erasmus
was almost over, we started to spend every single minute together. We started cooking
and eating all together in one kitchen or sunbathing on the balcony. Even the exam
period was less stressful with the company of my Erasmus friends, who helped and
motivated me and I have to thank all of them for passing all of my exams.

I took a lot of good memories back with me to Italy, as well as one big bag full of
gifts from my friends and the desire to travel around Europe to visit all of them. I also left
a big piece of my heart in Banská Bystrica, and for this reason I decided to apply again
for a second Erasmus in that city. It’s a city which once you have visited, you cannot
stay away from for too long afterwards.

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Presidents of ESN UMB Banská Bystrica

Miroslav Hajnoš, 2009/2010

I was looking at the screen of departure flights at the Helsinki Airport - I have to
say it was one of the most painful flights ever. I flew back from my Erasmus city after an
amazing semester. The post-Erasmus return back to my homeland was followed by a
period of grieving and then by an incredible lightness, freedom, and mobility, since I
recognised one of the most important things in life and that’s helping others.

When I was walking to the office of the Erasmus Programme at our Matej Bel
University in Banská Bystrica to negotiate the establishment of Erasmus Student
Network at our university I didn't know that this would be a new age of my life. It was not
so complicated; I just connected already known colleagues and students who already

38

took care of incoming students, set up the structure and with the support of the
university, the section of ESN became a reality. It was also thanks to students, teachers
and staff of the university, who more than welcomed the idea to build a strong ESN
Section.

We have to promote Erasmus mobility, starting with solutions that speak about
the differences in the education system in member states that participate in the
Erasmus Programme. We also need to speak about helping students get on their feet in
life and about understanding the multicultural European Project – the EU. This was the
core of ESN for me.
All of us have to accept the challenges so that we can feel the exhilaration of victory, the
victory to help others. And that´s what is waiting for you in Banská Bystrica. So don´t
hesitate and come.

Michal Straňák, 2010/2011

Do you like beautiful nature, historical places, outdoor activities and meeting
friendly people? So do I and Banská Bystrica, my hometown, is the right place for your
Erasmus exchange to realise these activities. What I love the most there are the hills

39

which surround the city. There is a particular feeling in walking up a hill and enjoying the
view below with the Low Tatras (the mountain range) in the distance. During your stay
in Slovakia you will have possibilities to visit amazing old castles and to experience
adventures in its national parks.

There is more on offer in Banská Bystrica. It is a small college town which lives a
crazy nightlife. You can go to plenty of different clubs, ranging from classical music jazz
to hardcore or metal. If you do not like concerts, you can go to Ministry, the largest
music club in the country. The town centre is full of bars, pubs, cafes, and their location
can be almost shocking for visitors. Banská Bystrica, as most places in Slovakia, has
two sides. You have a welcoming historical center, then neighbourhoods consisting
mostly of socialist modernism architecture (our heritage from the past). It is a place of
contrasts.

I joined the Erasmus Student Network to meet new people, to make new friends
and to become more open minded. I was very fortunate during my stay at Matej Bel
University to meet all these great Erasmus students who have enriched my life. I didn’t
live together with the Erasmus student in the dormitories. It didn’t make much sense to
do it because I could live at home for free. I wish I had spent more time with them.
There was a really stupid rule for visitors at the dormitories. I am not sure if it has
changed or not. You could only stay in the dormitories until 10pm if you were a guest. I
really despised this regulation because most of the parties started after that hour. But it
won’t affect you if you live at the dormitory.

I became the ESN president after my good friend Mirko. We spent so much time
together talking, drinking beer and chasing girls. After he went for an Erasmus
Internship to Spain, I took over his job somehow. It was an amazing experience and
opportunity to work in a team with other great and motivated people and we tried to
make the stay for Erasmus students in Banská Bystrica as good as possible. I believe
that we did well. It helped me to figure out what I am good at. Luckily, our awesome
ESN team was always there for me and for all the students. I can only advise you to join
the ESN network and to become an active member. It will help you to make stronger
and valuable friendships faster and together you will create unforgettable memories.

40

There is also the romance that comes with the Erasmus experience and it makes me
happy to see these relationships – formed while I was president – continue today.

Jaroslava (Kjara) Krutaková 2011/2012

I was part of ESN UMB BB from its very beginnings. I felt that helping out foreign
students, taking care of them, arranging trips and administration and doing it with a
bunch of other people (later friends :) was a natural part of my personality and of my life.
I loved it and somehow, naturally with the support of other section members, I decided
to lead the section as president. I hoped to ensure that exchange students and buddies
would have a great time together. I hoped that all of them would enjoy and learn to love
Slovakia. I wanted to create a trusting relationship with the management of the
university and the faculties. I think it all went quite well and at the end we were all doing
things with people we liked and for people we liked. And that is the advantage of doing
the Erasmus exchange in Banská Bystrica. With the number of exchange students and
buddies it is possible to create a big loving and supporting family, so you always have
someone to rely on. Do not hesitate and come to Banská Bystrica!

Simona Ježíková, 2012/2013

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I became a member of ESN UMB when it first started in January 2010 with Mirko
Hajnoš as president. I liked the idea of ESN – students helping students. We have 2
main aims - to ensure that Erasmus students have the best time of their lives and that
Slovakia will become their second home.

At that time, there were no differences between buddies and ESN members. We
were all active. We were so happy and motivated that we could be in touch with
foreigners daily, especially since we could practice foreign languages on a daily basis.
Although the Erasmus students’ English wasn’t perfect, neither was ours and together
our confidence grew. We learned a lot about their culture and habits. It was something
totally new for us, something new for me.

I started as an active member, organising various events. My boyfriend and I were the
coordinators of the project ‘Trip2Somewhere’ – we organised big international trips for
Erasmus students from all over Slovakia to famous cities such as Budapest, Venice,

42

and Barcelona. Later on, I became the PR Manager of ESN UMB BB and then
President of ESN UMB BB.

This is the best thing in student organisations. You can try out a lot of positions,
develop yourself and find what you are good at and work on it.

Why did I want to become a President of ESN UMB? At that time, I had already
been in ESN for 2 and half years, I had experience and I have always been the one who
likes to take the opportunities life brings. I consider it self-development. ESN UMB BB
was part of my life and I wanted it to continue. The former president Kjara was in her
last year of studies and she needed a successor.

So it happened; I became president of ESN UMB BB. It was a LOT of work, loads
of failures but also plenty of victories. I learned so much during that period. It was about
how to coordinate 30 members, keep them motivated and active. I tried to develop their
strengths and work with them on their weaknesses. As president, I tried to reveal their
talents. Communication with the university, representation of our organisation, our
section; there really is a lot of work you need to do as a president. However, when you
love it and believe in what you do, you can enjoy it, learn a lot and help out at the same
time.

My aims as president were to build a strong community of people with solid
foundations which would be known among the students, and Erasmus students could
rely on them so that their stay in Banská Bystrica would be unforgettable!

I spent all my studies in Banská Bystrica and I can truly recommend this city for
Erasmus stay. I love the town for many reasons. Banská Bystrica is a student town -
many young people with many party places. :) It is a cheap town with a beautiful square.
It is located in the middle of Slovakia, so it is a great starting point for travelling. Banská
Bystrica is located in a valley, so it’s surrounded by amazing mountains. You can go

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skiing in the winter, and hiking during the summer. It is the best country for your
Erasmus because of all these aspects which will ensure amazing trips for you.

Zuzana Galíková, 2013/2014

Hello, my name is Zuzana Gáliková and I was elected as President of ESN UMB
section in 2013. Firstly, let me briefly introduce myself. I am 24 years old and I currently
study Marketing Management of Business at University of Matej Bel in Banská Bystrica.
All my life I have been attracted to travelling, international environments and to all the
different cultures this world has to offer. This particular desire has brought me to ESN,
to my second family.

My ESN journey started off by me being an active member of ESN UMB Banská
Bystrica. I remember the first day I was introduced to this local section as if it were just
yesterday! I was never an extremely active student but deep in my mind I knew that
there came a point in my life when I needed to change myself and contribute to
something meaningful. I realised that ESN is not just about hanging out with Erasmus

44

students, organising events for them and having fun in general. I had the chance to see
a group of young, initiative and motivated people, spending their free time to improve
students’ mobility and to bring Slovakia into the light.

Throughout my mandate with the best team, we put all our efforts together to
make Erasmus in Banská Bystrica the best experience for incoming international
students under the principle “students helping students.” Volunteering, getting to know
new people, the uniqueness of their cultures, great opportunities for language
improvement and promoting the beauty of cultural diversity is what we love to do and
what we want to share with all of you!

So why Banská Bystrica? University of Matej Bel, together with our local ESN
UMB section are doing their best to develope and maintain international relations in
order to bring students from different parts of the world together. Besides the studies,
we dedicate our time and efforts to you to learn and experience as much of Slovakia as
possible. Moreover, not everyone can say they lived in the heart of Europe, in lovely
Banská Bystrica! Education, growth in personality, unforgettable memories,
adventurous travelling and everlasting friendships is what awaits you, so take the first
step!

Veronika Valčáková, 2014/2015

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Hello everyone. Who am I? First of all, I am a proud ex-president of the section
ESN UMB Banská Bystrica. My role in ESN started in the first year of my bachelor
studies at Matej Bel University. I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a poster
where they had written that ESN UMB was looking for new members. At first, I opened
its fanpage and started to read some articles because I didn’t have any idea about the
organisation. It was my first year in Banská Bystrica so I didn´t know many people there
and I wanted to try something new. I decided to write an e-mail saying that I wanted to
become a member of ESN UMB. After a few days, it became real (btw.: I don´t know
how it happened because I couldn´t come for recruitment. However, Simonka trusted
me that I was suitable enough to be a buddy, ha-ha. THANK YOU SIMONKA). During
my membership in ESN I had the opportunity to try various positions. In the beginning, I
was a buddy active member. I liked it a lot because I met new people. However, the
main reason I enjoyed it was that I finally didn´t have much time for sitting around in my
room in the dormitory because of the ESN events and trips with Erasmus students. As
time went by, ESN became a part of my social life. After a couple of months, Simonka
came up to me with the idea to take a step forward and submit an application for the
position ‘Vice-President for the Faculty of Economics’. Why not? So I had a new position
in our section. It was, again, something new for me because I got a chance to
participate in some conferences, where members of ESN Slovakia shared ideas, know-
how and other things. What is more important, they tried to make the stay for Erasmus
students more simple and pleasant so that once they left Slovakia, they would be full of
experiences, new friendships and memories which they could bring back later to
Slovakia and of course, to Banská Bystrica. Anyway, over time, my knowledge
surrounding the organisation grew and I had the opportunity to become president which
happened in 2014.

What were my goals during my position as president? First of all, to motivate
people to be active, to organise trips, events and to watch happy, satisfied students´
faces of the people who came to Banská Bystrica. The next goal was looking for

46

someone who would be suitable for this position for the following mandate. Having good
people around me was the most important thing because without their help I couldn´t do
anything. It was a really nice and productive year for me because I had been able to
lead a group of people. I could say that I had spent my own Erasmus in Slovakia. Of
course, there were also difficult moments, but those were forgotten. Let´s say it quickly.
We had successful times: our section was awarded by the sword as the best section
during the National Platform in Nitra, we were thanked for doing a good job both by the
National Board and by the Matej Bel University. I'm also very proud of our most
successful event – International Village. We managed to start organising this event in
co-operation with the city of Banská Bystrica and now it has made a name for itself.
International Village is an event where students from different countries present their
culture in an interesting way and the specialties from every country´s cuisine are tasted
while people talk to each other. The most amazing moment for me was the Goodbye
Evening, when Erasmus students came over and thanked us. There I realised that we
had done a really good job during the year.

To sum up, why YOU SHOULD come to Banská Bystrica for your Erasmus? As
you may have already found out, Banská Bystrica is a small city and that could be the
reason why we are like one big family. I could write many pages about the perfect
moments you are about to spend there, such as various events, parties, trips and
studying.  But it cannot be described – you have to come and experience it.

Miroslava Bohatová, 2015/2016

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Hello, my name is Mirka and I had the honor of being a president of ESN UMB
BB. During my mandate, I tried to make people co-operate. I tried to persuade our
ESNers that together they can achieve more. And as I look back, I know I am leaving
behind me a wonderful team – people, who are ready to solve any kind of problem;
people, who reach higher than their classmates or friends; people, who don´t cry but
find better solutions. And I believe they will carry on the good name of ESN and achieve
a lot of success. That’s why you should come to Banská Bytsrica – because year by
year, there are more qualified people to help you with your mobility. As you could have
read in the previous articles, Banská Bystrica is surrounded by beautiful mountains and
Slovakia as a whole, has a lot to offer, too. Historical castles, wild nature, cultural events
are just the tip of the iceberg. I have travelled around but I still come back because
of the people. Maybe they are not great English speakers, but they are warm-
hearted, helpful and they will welcome you into their homes. That´s what you can expect
in this small country. And Banská Bystrica is located in the middle of Slovakia so you
can reach every single corner of it. If you are still hesitating, just google us. You will be
enchanted by the beauty of Slovak girls, Slovak nature and Slovak traditions.

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About Banska2Go II.

Michal Kuciak
ESN alumni, Comenius University in Bratislava

I am really happy that I was one of the first who got the chance to read this book.
It is amazing summary of what coming erasmus students can expect in Banska
Bystrica. I am proud that I was able to cooperate with ESN UMB BB who is helping all
coming students. If you are wondering how it looks there, just read through these nice
stories and apply for Erasmus in Banska Bystrica.

One more advice- if you choose Banska as your Erasmus city, enjoy every
moment, event and trip with ESN UMB BB because they are simply the best!

Andrea Peťková
ESN alumni, Matej Bel university in Banská Bystrica

When I am reading all the stories, it brings me back to the best parts of my life.
Living with my stunning ESN friends, together with the Erasmus students and the hard
work I put into ESN UMB. I miss all of it! Everybody who will become a part of ESN-

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