Aleksandra, Poland/Northern Ireland

My name is Aleksandra Łojek, I am 40…almost 41 years old. I am from Poland, from a city which is called Kielce, between Warsaw and Kraków. In my home country I was a University teacher. I was doing my PhD and teaching at University. I was teaching Jihad and Islam. I left Poland in 2006 for a scholarship to London, and then decided to stay after it ended. I left with my then-husband, he accompanied me in London, and then we went together to Belfast as well. I have been living in Belfast since 2008, so almost – oh, it’s been five years, if I calculated well.

I didn’t choose Belfast, Belfast chose me. I came here just for a job, I was editor-in-chief of a Polish magazine for Polish people. The job lasted very short because there was a credit crunch later on, so everything collapsed. I want to say that it’s not my fault that the magazine collapsed (laughs) but you never know. I blame the credit crunch, strongly! At the moment I am on maternity leave, but in general I work for NICEM, and the Belfast Migrant Centre as a bilingual support worker. I help people who are victims of hate crime.

The object that I brought with me – it’s several objects, but they are all very important to me. So: it’s a pen that I brought from Poland, and a very funny notebook that looks like an old book, with the cover pretending to be a notebook. Inside of this pretending-book there are regular sheets of paper on which you can make notes. It’s very precious because I started my PhD studies and I really like to make notes, so it’s filled with my notes from my PhD studies. It reminds me that I should come back to University. But, aside of the scientific articles that I was making notes from, there are some articles that I started to read when I was already in England and then I came to Northern Ireland, so it’s not only about Jihad in Islam, though they are prevalent in here. There are also articles about the IRA – the things that are more relevant to this place – UVF, UVA, and so on. It’s really a kind of reminder for me that I should be coming back maybe to University, or just something that is very important for me because I like to make notes. And then this book that I have, that I discovered in London – I discovered Moleskines. So this is like the mother of my notebooks, and then I started to buy Moleskines which are very beautiful . So I have this book with me, Moleskines, and the pen I always use to make notes.