Thomas Randall, Wroclaw University, Wroclaw
Why should people choose the destination?
Poland is one of the best and most overlooked study abroad destinations available. It has many famous and well-renowned universities, many of which offer study abroad programs taught in English. The low cost of living and amazing cultural diversity also make this an attractive place to travel around.
What are the travel / cultural highlights?
As a country very much at the centre of Europe, Poland’s cultural and sightseeing opportunities are extremely varied, be it the mountains of the Tatry Gory, the medieval cities of Krakow and Torun or more modern history, such as the shipyards in Gdansk where the collapse of Communism arguably began. Many Polish cities have truly beautiful old towns, you may be lucky enough to live in such an area here. Poland has had many different cultural influences over the centuries and the major cities all have distinct cultures and atmospheres, from artistic and historic Krakow to modern and business-focused Warsaw.
How was the process of adjusting after being in the UK?
Polish culture and society is relatively easy for a British person to adapt to, although the linguistic barrier is higher than many other areas of Europe and some knowledge of Polish is essential, this is the only real barrier to a society surprisingly similar to our own. Universities will offer Polish language tuition to a fairly good level. Furthermore, Poland is excellent placed to explore the rest of Central Europe, such as Germany, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
How expensive is it to live there?
Student life in Poland is very similar to in Britain, although with a drinking culture to match, but there is still plenty for less outgoing students to get involved with, both Erasmus activities and as part of the wider society here. Another advantage is the excellent flight connections between here and Britain and the comparatively low cost of living, a pint of beer is typically around £1.30-50 and rent easily half what it is in Southampton.
Best piece of advice?
One tip to a student planning a year abroad in Poland, don’t dismiss local food. Many people stereotype Polish food as being heavily based on cabbage, potatoes, and soup, which although play a part, completely neglects the richness and diversity of food in this country, from the ‘pierogi’ dumplings to ‘bigos’, a hearty stew of apple, pork and vegetables. For travelling around the Polish rail network is very cheap for students registered at Polish universities, with a 51% fare discount, and extensive.
What are the study abroad options available?
Universities in Wroclaw, Warsaw, Lublin and Zielona Gora have departmental links to Southampton