The Republic of Poland is one of the sought-after destinations for higher education. The universities in Poland are known for their quality education and affordable fees. Popular cities like Warsaw and Krakow are popular for their student-friendly atmosphere and lively environment. Due to these reasons, Poland has become a hub of international students. However, if you have just started your academic journey in Poland and in your first year at a Polish university, you may face some challenges as you are away from your home and you might be completely overwhelmed with the changes. However, it is possible to overcome these challenges by planning and adapting yourself to the new ecosystem.
Tips for a Successful First Year at a Polish University
Here are some tips to make your first year at a Polish university a smooth and pleasant experience!
1. Be Confident and Open to Accept Change
As you know, studying in an international environment is truly rewarding; at the same time, you have to cope with new things. During your first year at a Polish university, be confident and believe in yourself that you will find your way. Try to understand the Polish culture and lifestyle. Try to learn the local language, as it will make your life a lot easier and give you a sense of belonging. Be flexible and receptive. After all, a new environment also means a world of opportunities to learn and grow.
2. Make Use of the Mentorship Programs and Student Networks
Staying true to its student-friendly stance, most of the polish universities have mentorship programs that help international students to settle down and feel at ease in Poland. The universities also have senior student networks, which facilitate the first-year students to interact and forge friendships with senior students. You can find what programs are available at your university to help you ease into your new surroundings and make new friends.
3. Look for Internships
Internships are a great way to gain practical experience and build a professional nexus. The universities have a dedicated centre to help you with internships and later with jobs. Taking up internships will boost your confidence and add value to your CV. In some cases, an internship can help you get a foot in the door of a company, which can offer you a job later.
4. Pack Your Bags and Travel Around Poland
There is no better way to get to know a place than exploring it yourself! Make use of the weekends and semester breaks for travel and sightseeing. Poland is home to as many as 16 UNESCO world heritage sites, so if you are a history buff, you are in for a treat. Even otherwise, Poland has several nature parks, breathtaking mountains and beautiful lakes that can capture your interest. Make sure to travel as a group so that you are safe and also more the merrier.
5. Look for Part-time Jobs
The good news is that you do not need a separate work permit to work in Poland while you are studying. As long as you are enrolled in an institution you are permitted to work. Even though the education cost in Poland is reasonable, if you have a part-time job, it will help you financially. Not just that, taking up a job will give you a chance to acquaint yourself with the local people. Again, knowing Polish will put you at an advantage while seeking a part-time job. You can find jobs like Teaching Assistant, Library Assistant, Waiter, Translator, Customer Service Executive, Foreign Language Teacher etc.
6. Understand the Polish Culture and Lifestyle
Poland has a unique history and a rich culture. During your first year at a Polish university, you can spend some time understanding the Polish people and their culture. For example, if you are in Krakow, you hang out in the city’s literary cafes to get some food for thought.
The Polish people are known for their hospitality, and it’s no different with international students. You can ask for assistance from a friendly neighbour should you have any issues while you are finding your footing in the new neighbourhood.
7. Choose the Right Accommodation
There are various accommodation options available for international students. You can choose the one that suits you based on your requirements. Both on-campus and off-campus accommodations are possible; however, the residence halls inside the campus get filled up quickly due to high demand and low availability.
You have plenty of choices if you choose to stay off-campus. There are paying guest accommodations, rented flats and private dormitories. Before choosing an accommodation, consider all the important factors like budget, accessibility to the university, the safety in the neighbourhood, availability of local eateries, grocery shops etc. You can use websites like ‘pepe housing’ and ‘easy renting’ to find your accommodation.
8. Keep a Tab of the Expenses
The first year at a Polish university is a good time for you to sort your expenses and find your average spending. It’s a huge relief that Poland is much less expensive than most of the European countries. Food and accommodation costs are moderate.
Your living expenses may range between 300 – 650 EUR/month, depending on your city. The cost of food is around 100 to 150 EUR/month, and transportation cost is 15 to 20 EUR/month. You can probably set aside 20 to 30 EUR/month for your weekend outing and entertainment. Make a list of all the standard expenses that you will incur every month and make a budget accordingly.
9. Learn About the Health Care and Medical Coverage
As an international student in Poland, you would already be having health insurance. Get to know what all your health insurance covers. Having private health insurance gives you some advantages like less waiting time and better quality of treatment; however, be aware that emergency medical care is free for everyone, with or without insurance, but the waiting time will be very long.
10. Strike a Balance
Striking a balance between academics and social life is undoubtedly a challenge during your first year at a Polish university. It is very easy to get swayed by the newfound freedom and lose track of academics. It is also possible to become uni-dimensional in a new set-up and focus only on studies. It is always good to find a middle ground that will keep you pivoted to your course while also allowing you to find new people and interests.
The first few months in any new place can be both intimidating and exhilarating. Your first year at a Polish university can lay a strong foundation for your future in Poland. Understanding the people, place and prospects in Poland is the key to your successful stay in the country. Use the first year to build some strong friendships along with building your knowledge. We hope these tips will help you have smooth sailing in your first year.
To know about the cost of living in Poland for international students, read: