Nestled in Central Europe bordered by Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Kaliningrad Oblast, multicultural Poland presents itself like no other. One of the last Communist bloc countries now turning towards modern Europe, the dark days of Polish history are matched only by the beauty of her current self.
Experience the welcoming Polish people, eat up the hearty cuisine (it's not just your grandmothers pirogues anymore!), and get outside to experience one of Poland's natural wonders! From the Lake District, to the Tatra National Park, to the preserved old cities, travel easily and affordably from one landmark to the next.
This fascinating capital captivates any and all study abroad students. A walk through Warsaw includes the old Jewish Ghettos, a former Gestapo prison, the Warsaw Citadel, and the Monument of the Ghetto Heroes, just some of the many relics to Warsaw's sometimes tragic past.
Known as the "phoenix city" because of how many times it has had to rebuild itself, today Warsaw is an important global tourist destination, known for giving its name to the Warsaw Confederation, the Warsaw Pact, the Duchy of Warsaw, the Warsaw Convention, the Treaty of Warsaw, the Warsaw Uprising and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Warsaw is home to four major universities and over 62 smaller schools of higher education with an overall student population of 500,000.
- The University of Warsaw: Established in 1816, this historic and prestigious academic hub employs over 6,200 people and educates almost 53,700 students. In 2011, UW was voted the #1 university in Poland by the national daily Rzeczpospolita and the education monthly Perspektywy. The university offers 37 major fields of study and over 100 specializations in the Humanities and Earth, Social, and Natural Sciences. Currently, the university has 19 faculties and 25 independent research and education units. UW is housed in over 100 buildings within three campuses in different parts of Warsaw: the main Campus (central Warsaw), Ochota Campus, and Sluzew Campus.
- Warsaw University of Technology: This largest school of technology in Central Europe employs 2,000 professors and boasts a student body numbering over 36,000. Warsaw University of Technology is a research intense, doctoral level academic institution focused on undergraduate and graduate programs almost exclusively in engineering and applied sciences.
- Warsaw School of Economics: The oldest and most renowned economic university in the country, the School offers courses leading to Bachelor's or Master's degrees in the fields of Business and Economics. Its Finance and Accounting program was ranked among the Top 40 European Masters in Management by the Financial Times, 2008.
Krakow was named the official European Capital of Culture for the year 2000 and for good reason. Long known as the "new" Prague, students are able to enjoy cultural attractions such as the Main Market Square with St. Mary's Basilica or the Czartoryski Museum, which features works by Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt. The student population of the city numbers almost 100,000 that fires a lively nightlife scene that burns brightly in the atmospheric cellar bars away from the tourists above.
Jagiellonian University: Study at the oldest university in Poland. The university is divided into 15 faculties, including:
- Law and Administration
- Medicine, Pharmacy and Medical Analysis, Health Care
- Philosophy, History, Philology
- Polish Language and Literature
- Physics, Astronomy and Applied Computer Science
- Mathematics and Computer Science
- Chemistry, Biology and Earth Sciences, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology
- Management and Social Communication
- International and Political Studies
The Cracow University of Economics (CUE): With an enrollment of about 20,000 students, this is the largest school of economics in Poland, and the third biggest university in Krakow. It has four faculties:
- Faculty of Economics and International Relations
- Faculty of Finance
- Faculty of Commodity Science
- Faculty of Management
Student Government, the Independent Students Association, AIESEC (International Association of Economics and Commerce Students), the University Club of the Academic Sport Association, Dominanta Choir and many more are all active student clubs on campus.
Wroclaw is quickly establishing itself as one of Poland's brightest spots for culture. In the Market Square, chance upon an impromptu concert or street-performers entertaining the crowds with fire-juggling, break-dancing, or folk music. Take in the scene best enjoyed with a cold beer from the comfort of the square's bars and cafes. The city also hosts more than it's fair share of festivals, including the internationally renowned Wratislavia Cantans, the Jazz on the Oder Festival and the cultural marathon that is Wroclaw Non-Stop. Wroclaw is one of the leading academic centers of Poland with over 120,000 students enrolled in the city's thirteen major schools.
- University of Wroclaw: With 10 faculties and 38,000 students, Wroclaw provides a broad range of courses taught in Polish and in English in over 55 areas: philology, history and pedagogy, social sciences, law, administration and economics, mathematics and computer science, chemistry, physics and astronomy, biotechnology, biological sciences, and earth science and environmental management.
- Wroclaw University of Technology: With over 33,000 students in almost 50 different programs, the University boasts over 80,000 graduates since its foundation. Today, it belongs to the best technical universities in Poland and was announced the best technical university in Poland in the oldest Polish ranking of higher education schools carried out by the "Wprost" magazine in 2006 and 2007. The university also ranks highly in the modern technologies group (Computer Science, Electronics, Materials Science).
Planning Your Trip
Student Visa/Residence Permit
All students studying in Poland are required to have a residence visa. Visa regulations and fees change often. Please contact the embassy or consulate general with jurisdiction over your permanent address in order to verify this information before submitting your documents and fees. For Consular information, please go to: Poland Embassy Website
When applying for a visa:
- Passport. It must be signed and valid for at least 3 months from the date of intended departure from Poland, with at least one blank visa page (excluding the amendments/endorsements pages at the back)
- Visa Application Form filled out and signed by the applicant.
- One passport size photograph
- Document confirming purpose of the trip to Poland
- Document confirming place of residence
- Visa fee in the specified amount (see consular webpage for more information). Acceptable forms of payment for consular fees are: cash, Money Order, Traveler's Checks or certified checks payable to The Embassy of Poland. Personal checks are not accepted. Please note that visa fees are not refundable.
- SAS envelope or prepaid airway bill of the carrier of one's choice. Applicants, who fail to do so, will receive their passport and visa by regular first-class mail.
Academics in Poland
The Polish academic year runs in two semesters; the first semester runs from approximately late September to late January, with a one month winter break. The Spring semester runs from February/March until the end of June. Exams are taken over a period of a few weeks at the end of the semester depending on faculty.
Social Life Beyond the Classroom
Join up with the international students clubs on your campus and fill up both your days and nights! Stroll along the shores of the Odra River in Wroclaw or hike through any number of Poland's outdoor parks, mountains or trails in the vicinity of Krakow and Warsaw. Take weekend trips to surrounding cites like Gdansk, home of the namesake Dansk chinaware, or Lodz, where you can see Roman Polanski's star on the Lodz walk of fame!
Lying on the border of European "vodka" and "beer culture," it is not hard to find a comfy and cheap pub or restaurant to cozy up and relax in after a long day anywhere in Poland. Most cities with a plethora of students will offer an abundance of pubs and cafe's that throw student parties during the week with cheap food and drink specials. Grab a study buddy and practice your Polish like a local!
Contributed by Alissa Kramer
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