Day 12: Graduation from Erasmus

Proudly displaying my Erasmus certificate

Today was wrapped up in a few surprises. We knew that we needed to be at the school near the city centre at 11 AM for a meeting but we didn’t know what the meeting would be about or what to expect. When we arrived (slightly late because of the tram hit so many red lights), we were greeted by some of the professors who have taught us or accompanied us during our time in Bydgoszcz – Roman, Mirłosaw, Anna B.C., and Richard. We discussed the trip, politics, and Polish history before they brought out certificates for us. These are our own little diplomas from UTP in recognition of our participation in their Erasmus program. Roman handed the certificates to each of us with three kisses on alternating cheeks followed by one on the hand. I had not expected any kind of gift from the university staff and was so surprised when they gave us a bag of small gifts along with the certificate, which I would have been perfectly content with receiving by itself. The bag has all sorts of items including a t-shirt, mug, frisbee, pen, and a few other items. Anna B.C. also gave us each a Bydgoszcz magnet. It was so incredibly thoughtful of them to give us anything and it was definitely unexpected.


Smalek and pickles to spread on bread.

After this miniature ceremony they treated us to lunch by bringing us to an adorable restaurant not far from the university which was decorated to look like a quaint cottage. The menu was not in English so the Polish professors ordered for us. This turned out to be quite the process of shuffling dishes, silverware, and food as one course was taken and another was brought. First, they brought us smalek, the lard spread which we tried at the restaurant on mill island with Simon (left). This smalek included mushrooms and olives and had a little more flavor to it than our last taste of it. Next the server took the bread and brought two trays full of Russian pierogis containing potatoes and cheese with bacon and onions on top. By this point in the meal, I was already getting full but I was honestly unsure of what to expect for the main course since we couldn’t read the menu so I tried to save room for it. The main course arrived on a series of trays with meat on one, potatoes on another, and buckwheat on another. They also brought bowls of salad and a tray of sweetened beets.

The main course served for lunch today.

The two meats were some sort of pork sausage patty and beef rolled around a pickle.We explained to Mirłosaw that the potatoes were basically french fries but he didn’t seem to like them cooked this way very much. The salad was fairly typical for what I have been served at other restaurants with a slight tang and cucumbers included in the mixture. Buckwheat and beets are both items which I have never tried before but I found them to be tolerable but not entirely desirable. Since I had no way of discerning what the provided gravy-like sauce was for, I ended up pouring it over pretty much everything on my plate. The professors provided this meal for us as a gift and I have to say that it was fun to eat what they chose for us since we probably would not have ordered it ourselves just from looking at the polish words on the menu.

We took the tram home so we can rest briefly before returning to the city centre for dinner, ice cream (lody), and coffee this evening with  Dr. McGahan and Dr. Lambert, who arrived this afternoon.


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