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5 Tips For the Incoming Foreign Students in Poland

01.10.2020

Today is the 1st of October, and it means that more and more foreign students arrive in Poland for their studies as the academic year starts. Moving abroad is a brave and serious step in the life of any person. Unfortunately, for many, it is associated with stress and a lengthy adaptation process that makes it difficult to immediately enjoy new experiences. However, as they say, everything depends only on YOU and your attitude.

Group of students at a library smiling and holding some notebooks

My name is Anastasiia, and I study International Marketing at the University of Lodz. Last year I moved to Poland from Ukraine in order to get European education. In this article, I would like to share my tips for the incoming students who are at the beginning of their way.

A few interesting facts about what benefits higher education abroad can bring to the students (according to IES Abroad research):

95% of the students noticed that they became more independent

       -      96% of students noted that they became more confident in themselves

       -      98% of students confirmed that their study abroad experience helped them to better understand and accept foreign cultures

       -      50% of the students took part in international projects and did volunteer work during their studies, which helped them find work after graduation

       -      75% said the university's career development program helped them find work abroad after graduation

As you see studying abroad brings new opportunities and an amazing experience, but at the same time, it is a life in unfamiliar conditions away from family and friends. It will take some time to adapt. Here are some tips to make this process faster and easier:

1) Keep your chin up!

When you are coming to a completely new country you are surrounded by many unknown things.

Many foreign students coming the first time to Poland wonder:

Why all the stores and services are closed on Sunday?
Why are there so many words with two or three meanings?
Why Polish people always talk about politics?
What means “K+M+B” on the doors of people`s houses?

My advice is to be open-minded in understanding these cultural differences.

The basic rule I was following while moving abroad (and I did it a lot of times) looks like this:

“Not better, not worse, just different”

2) Take everything from your university

If you are a foreign student your main purpose in Poland is getting your higher education. In my opinion, if you study at university it is crucial to take everything from it.

What do I mean by mentioning “everything”? I mean participating in research clubs, visiting university`s events and conferences, being active in the student councils, performing internships while studying.

These few activities could make your student life brighter and full of new people. I am concerned that the second most vital thing that the university can give your after education is life-long connections. Polish universities could gift you an opportunity to feel diversity. For example, at the University of Lodz, there more than 180 nationalities are getting a higher education.

3) Dive into the Polish culture and language

Honestly speaking I fell in love with Polish culture and people.

Holidays are usually an integral part of Polish culture and traditions. Poles are Catholics, and most of their holidays are religious. Among the most important, of course, are Christmas and Easter. Among the most famous public holidays - National Flag Day, Constitution Day, and Labor Day. Poles celebrate all major holidays with their families. Remember that shops in Poland are closed on public holidays, and even entertainment centers and cafés may be closed.

I strongly recommend you to try Polish food, because it is fabulous.

In order to learn the Polish language, you need to dedicate some time and effort. There is even a joke among foreign students that if you have learned Polish you have a superpower. As per me, I have been learning and practicing the Polish language to the C1 level for 1 year. However, I am a lucky person, because there are many Ukrainian words that are similar in the Polish language. It is important not to hesitate to speak and practice more. Of course, you will make mistakes, but this is normal, no one will condemn you, on the contrary, people will respect you for trying to learn the foreign language.

As you will dive into the Polish culture you will see all the colors of this country.

4) Travel in Poland

It is hardly possible to imagine how many places you can find to visit in Poland. In fact, sixteen destinations in Poland have been awarded Google Maps’ coveted Golden Pin award. If you still think you need a lot of money to travel here, you are wrong.

For sure, I can recommend you to visit extremely popular cities like Kraków, Wrocław, Warsaw, and Gdańsk. However, I could confidently state that every Voivodeship has its unique history and background, for example:

- Podlaskie Voivodeship is famous for its forests, some of which are the only ones in Europe have retained their original character
- Pomorskie Voivodeship was historically settled by Teutonic order. The Malbork castle built by Teutonic knights is considered to be the largest castle in the world
Kashubia or Cassubia is a language area in northwestern Poland. It is defined by the widespread use of the Kashubian language which usual Polish person would not be able to understand

In addition, if you are a student at a Polish university you are able to get a 51% discount on public communications including trains.

5) Look for the internship opportunities

My positive experience of studying in the Polish university was highly connected with getting the internships in the international companies where I could practice my theoretical knowledge.

According to the latest figures from The Global List, Poland’s growth and economy continues to rise year on year. From 1995 onwards Poland has, “become the fastest-growing large economy in the world among large countries at a similar level of development.”

The country has also become one of the largest business process outsourcing/shared services centers (BPO/SSCs) in Europe, meaning a high number of foreigners are considering Poland for work. I suggest you using the opportunities these companies are offering to the students. Thus, you could invest In your future and find your first job having professional experience as a background.

By NAWA