TravelnStudy

Program Reviews

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Michaela
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Internship at a tech company in Poland

After completing my junior year, I knew Poland with TravelNStudy was the perfect place for me to pursue my summer internship. I felt it was the right decision because of the many unique experiences I couldn't have gotten in other internship programs. TravelNStudy has provided opportunities for me to travel to Wroclaw, Gdansk, and Warsaw, and intern in one of the major tech companies. I got an exposure to the technology industry and was provided with an opportunity for professional development. I was definitely challenged, worked in an international team and made an impact. I made some great friends with locals and interns from all over. The company provided us with lunch buffet on Fridays, and we celebrated everyone's birthday or namesday (that is a Polish celebration) in a local restaurant or a bar after hours. My internship in Poland was definitely the best experience in the field I've had so far and I really enjoyed my summer there. Honestly, I am a little sad to be back at school now. I love the city life and I will be applying for jobs in Poland once I graduate with my bachelor's degree.

What would you improve about this program?
This is a customized internship program and I wish I highlighted that I am a vegetarian. Not a big thing, but...
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Catherine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What to Expect When Teaching English at a Polish Summer Camp

I stepped further outside my comfort zone than I’d ever been when I disembarked from my arrival plane at Gdansk airport in late June, 2016. I had only a vague knowledge of where I would be in Poland and what I would be doing, some scant words and phrases of Polish, and my only contact with the people at the camp was via the manager’s phone number. Stepping off that plane was terrifying. It was also, without a doubt, one of the best choices I’ve made in my life.

My purpose at the camp was to teach students from ages 12-18 about the English language and American culture. While I was there, I learned about Polish perspectives on American culture, music, and politics. I learned about Polish customs, Polish food, and picked up enough words and phrases in Polish to communicate as a tourist outside the camp. I learned some new things about my own language, specifically related to the formal study of its grammar and phonetics. I also grew in my teaching and leadership skills.

It wasn’t always easy. Some lessons came as a result of culture shock, others because of silly tourist/foreigner mistakes, and others because of my own inexperience. However, spending four weeks at that youth camp was life-changing, and I would highly recommend the experience to anyone who wants full immersion in another country’s culture while gaining valuable life and work skills. So, for all those planning on making the same trip (or doing a similar volunteer experience at a Polish youth camp), here’s a rough outline of what to expect.

1. The kids and the counselors are the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.

On my first morning at the camp, I was completely dazed. I was surrounded by people talking, joking, and chatting to each other in a language that was utterly incomprehensible to me. Only a few of the counselors spoke fluent English, and I felt overwhelmed by the cacophony of voices around me. For a short while that morning I wondered if I’d made a huge mistake in choosing to volunteer for four weeks in an environment where, apparently, I wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone. That worry was put to rest when I did my first activity with the kids.

It wasn’t the fact that many of them spoke English at a conversational level that assuaged my fears. It was the fact that the majority of the students were friendly, enthusiastic, and eager to find out what we had in common. In the span of 45 minutes I went from worrying that I’d be trapped and lonely with no one to talk to for four weeks to sitting in a circle with about fifteen happy teenagers, chatting about Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.

Volunteering at a Polish youth camp, you won’t find yourself without a friendly face. Kids will enthusiastically come up and talk to you, and the counselors who speak English fluently are welcoming and willing to converse about a wide variety of topics. And even though many don’t speak English fluently…

2. You will still make friends, despite language barriers.

People are people. They laugh, they play games, they make jokes, they sing, and sometimes they need hugs. No matter what language anyone speaks, those things are universal for human beings. And it’s no different for Polish people.

There were a lot of counselors and kids who were shy about speaking English, or didn’t know enough to make conversation. So we befriended each other in different ways. We played ping-pong and basketball. We shared our favorite music. We taught each other games. We drew and painted. We laughed over my halting attempts at pronouncing Polish words. We swam and played in the lake. We danced to Beyoncé and Lady Gaga.

Many times, making the effort to form those relationships required me to step outside my comfort zone. And every time, I was glad I took the risk.

So when you’re invited to dance at the camp parties, or find yourself pulled into a group of teenagers determined to win a karaoke competition: dance, and sing. Even if you think you look awkward dancing. Even if you don’t think much of your voice. Because it’s not just about the experience of the activity itself: it’s also about doing things with the people you’ve elected to spend time with in their own country. It’s about engaging with them, learning what they like, participating in the activities they enjoy, and making memories with them.

3. You will have a lot of down time.

Some activities with the kids don’t require the presence of a native English speaker, which means that some days you’ll have a lot of time on your hands. You also might not be guaranteed 24/7 functional internet. So use your free time well. Read a book. Write. Practice your Polish. Take pictures. Come up with interesting games/activities for the kids. The possibilities are limitless!

4. It behooves you to know at least a few Polish words and phrases.

Polish is a beautiful language - and it’s also very different from most of the languages you’ve probably had exposure to, such as Spanish and French. It has different rhythms, a slightly different alphabet, and a heavier emphasis on consonants than vowels. Watch some videos, and set aside at least a few days to learn some basic pronunciation. You’ll want to know how to say "przepraszam" and "dziękuję" before you have to use them.

5. You will need to be flexible.

Working at a camp means that the day has a definitive schedule. However, what happens within the time slots for lessons and activities can change very quickly. Sometimes lesson plans just don’t work out, sometimes you’ll finish an activity quicker than you expected, or sometimes the counselor you’re working with might have to leave you in charge; and when that happens, you’ll have to improvise.

A lesson about Shakespeare might easily turn into a madcap adventure where you end up the assistant director of a two-minute sci-fi/time travel Romeo and Juliet skit. A Q&A about what living in America is actually like might turn into designing and setting up an obstacle course under a tight time constraint. You might even have to lead a whole lesson by yourself - which could mean anything from facilitating a conversation about the differences between Polish and American holidays to coming up with an English-learning activity for the kids with nothing but paper and colored pencils.

If you’re not used to presenting in front of people or leading groups, it might be scary at first. But then it becomes easier. And then, very quickly, it becomes enjoyable.

6. Have fun!

Remember: you’re here to teach the kids about American culture, and learn about theirs. You’ll be working in a very relaxed atmosphere; the kids are polite and interested in what you have to say and in interacting with you, and the counselors are friendly and understanding. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to ask for help when you need it. You will have support, you will have friends, and you will have an amazing time growing your skills, teaching kids and learning new things yourself.

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MaryCarmen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Summer in Poland

I’ve never felt more thankful to a program than this one. I had the opportunity to help teach English in Wroclaw and Krynica, Poland. I started out in Wroclaw and fell in love with both the city and the countryside. Also, the people were very passionate about learning English and there was never a dull moment! Afterwards, I went to a summer camp in Krynica that focused mostly on music, theatre and art. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the landscape was. It was a bit nerve-racking on the way there because I felt kind of lonely, but after settling down I got to fully enjoy Krynica! The kids were a bit shy at first but after they warmed up to me, they started to speak English more each day! Even kids and teenagers that weren’t in the English program wanted to speak English with me. The camp counselors tried to help me any chance they got and even the ones that didn’t speak English tried to greet me. The language barrier was a struggle sometimes, but we all connected in other ways. I got to meet so many different people and make many friends. They’ve even offered to show me around their hometown when I go back! I say “when” because I definitely want to go back to Poland. I love this program because I got to fully immerse myself into a whole other culture and I wouldn’t have gotten the chance any other way. It has also helped me with being more courageous. Poland is such a hidden gem and I’m grateful that this program has shown me how aesthetically pleasing it is!

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Chris
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

TravelnStudy- Szkoła Języków Obcych The Best Summer Camp

I traveled to Poland for 3 weeks to teach English at a summer camp. I went up a week early and met the camp director and the others teachers and counselors to prepare for camp. Afterwards, we took a bus from Kostrzyn nad Orda to Zakopane. The area was absolutely beautiful; it felt like a fairy tale village. My students were amazing. They were between 10 and 15 years old and they all spoke English very well. They were all so funny and nice, and they taught me some cool polish phrases. Several of them said how much I helped them, that I was the best teacher they ever had, and that their English was improving just by talking to me. At the end of camp, several of them put their money together and bought me a pair of wool knit slippers :) Things like that are so rare and hard to come by. It makes me feel like I'm doing something very worthwhile and makes me want to continue teaching. THANK YOU!

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Jordan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My summer internship

After a very thorough interview with the internship advisor from TravelNstudy, highlighted by my needs and the area of interest, several options in financial field were presented to me! I made my final decision and agreed that the placement in one of the international banks in Poland will be the best for me. I was placed in Gdansk, in a city branch, and worked directly with my supervisor. Finally I had the opportunity to connect the relevancy of classroom studies to the real world! I was not surprised to see that economy in Poland is one of the strongest in EU and that the country was not hit by the economic crisis. The market is open for major investments from the European Union. About my internship and my life after work. The everyday work in Gdansk was pretty standard 8-5, with most weekends being off. I was able to contribute directly to the bank at which I interned. I worked with Polish interns from a business school in Gdansk and I spent most of my weekends with them on sightseeing, going to the beach, and going out at night (the city has fantastic bars and clubs). The Polish students seem to be very independent, well educated, one of them was fluent in three languages and just recently got accepted to London School of Economics. They were my guides, best companions, and made my overall stay really great and stress free. One weekend they surprised me and took me for a short trip to Berlin, Germany. I love traveling and seeing new places!
Great part of my internship were the visits to the capital of Poland! Twice a month I went with my boss to Warsaw to the main quarter for meetings! I must say I really enjoyed the experience! The morning rush, the busy life in Warsaw, the center of Europe, international environment, listening to my boss switching between Polish, English, and German, made a tremendous impact on me!
What did I gain in two months in Poland? Definitely confidence, independence, maturity and a mentoring from friendly people who just like me love finances and investments!

What would you improve about this program?
I wish I got to meet the other Polish interns at least a week before the start of the formal internship. It would be helpful to know the city and the transportation system in advance. I am from a small town and the city of Gdansk, which is actually Tri-city Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot is like New York or Washington, large, very vibrant, dominated by young people and families, and at the end pretty easy to navigate when you get to know it.
Carolina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Polish Journey!

I feel extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to volunteer as a native speaker in both Wrocław and Łeba, Poland. Starting off in Wrocław, this year’s European Capital of Culture, I fell in love with everything the city had to offer. Unlike other European cities, it isn’t inundated with Americans and other tourists which can take away from the authenticity of the place. It was beautiful, modern, and yet traditionally Polish. There was truly never a dull moment for me there! Once leaving the city, I spent the majority of my time in Łeba, a seaside town on the coast. Throughout the program, I worked with the children on their English skills, swam in the Baltic Sea, ate traditional Polish meals, visited National Parks and historical landmarks, and ventured through town. I learned more Polish than I thought was possible during my short stay, and discovered a true appreciation for Polish hospitality and of course Polish dishes. As an International Relations major, I took this journey with the intention of teaching myself the necessary skills to cross-culturally communicate as well as to experience a new place. A place that is a little off the beaten path rather than the go-to countries for most Americans like Italy and the United Kingdom. Don’t get me wrong those places are wonderful, but Poland was authentic, diverse in its landscapes, and rich in its history. Often overlooked by those who do know what treasures it holds. With that being said, I will not say I didn’t struggle. When I first arrived at the camp I found it difficult to communicate and felt isolated; but time progressed, and I found other ways besides language to connect with the kids and adults alike. I think most of all, I discovered that human connection was much greater than any language barrier and that is something I will take with me to every place I travel moving forward.

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Madelyn
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My adventure in Lugano

My experience in Switzerland was truly one of a kind! I had the most hospitable host family and was given an entire room to myself in their home, while also being treated to the most amazing home-cooked meals I have ever tasted. Breakfasts consisted of fresh squeezed orange juice and croissants with fresh jam or Swiss chocolate Nutella, and lunches and dinners ranged from delectable mushroom pasta dishes to fresh Caprese with Italian mozzarella cheese and a glass of wine to top it off. I felt so spoiled.
It took a few days for me to get used to the structure of my days. During the week, while the mom and dad went to work and the son Riccardo went to school, I’d head to the city centre using public transportation and would wander around, plop myself into coffee shops for some writing, and enjoy the beautiful sights of Lugano. Unfortunately, I endured a random four-day rain spree, which apparently was an anomaly for May, so I was not able to do as much outdoor exploring as I would have liked. But Lugano has so many nooks and crannies, and there were always places for me to visit even despite the rain.
I’d usually get home an hour or so before dinnertime to teach Riccardo his daily English lesson. One of the things I learned quickly is that children in Switzerland know many languages. Schools in Lugano teach them three to four languages, starting with Italian and adding on languages as they mature. English is the last language they learn, and these lessons usually don’t start until students are fourteen. So, with Riccardo only being twelve, it was a very new experience for me to teach English lessons to someone who essentially didn’t know the language. It forced me to be creative in my approaches with him, but ended up being so rewarding when I saw how quickly he was catching on and how certain phrases would “click” once he understood the context. We’d even have mock conversations in English so he could practice believable day-to-day situations, and he learned so quickly.
On the weekends, my host family was gracious enough to drop everything and take me to some of the most beautiful places. The days were packed with driving and exploring new cities, and I loved every second of it. Some of my adventures included visiting Locarno, and walking around the colorful Piazza Grande and taking the trolley up to to Chiesa Santa Maria Assunta, which is one of most incredible views of Switzerland. I visited the quaint arched-stone bridges of Valle Verzasca and marveled at the clear turquoise waters that ran along the highway. I was treated to a day trip to Lucerne and spent time wandering the narrow, cobblestone streets of the city, and also got the chance to cross the border into Italy to drive around Lake Como, take the ferry to Bellagio, and eat fresh fish while overlooking the tranquil lake. Switzerland and Italy are absolutely stunning countries; every place I visited looked like it could have been on a postcard and I felt as though I were walking around with my jaw dropped to the ground in awe.
All in all, this program ended up being one of the most rewarding experiences. It was not without its challenges—any time you go to a country where you do not speak the language, it’s a bit of an adjustment—but I feel as though I learned so much about the culture and about myself and would certainly recommend this experience.

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Jennifer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Most incredible summer ever

As I just turned 18 I was qualified for the TravelNStudy volunteer programs in Central Europe. I finished my freshman year in college, inspired by other students to do some study abroad, however not ready yet to go away for the whole semester. My family actually encouraged me to travel abroad over the summer and we thought that Europe would be the perfect place for a novice traveler like me.
Christina from the admission office at TravelNstudy was extremely helpful, patient and thorough with answering my questions. She actually suggested considering both Switzerland and Poland discovery programs for my first summer abroad. Combining both programs worked out perfectly for my summer break since the Swiss program is in June and the Polish program is in July and August. I also had some time to travel by trains in Europe between the programs. The program is relatively small with six Americans participating, which made it a very unique experience in a more intimate setting. Every morning we met in Lugano and we either explored the city, went for a hike, a boat ride, or visited places of our interests (schools, local universities, banks, NGO’s). The location itself is absolutely stunning, palm trees, beautiful lake surrounded by Alps and the town of Lugano with it's colorful Piazza della Riforma! In the afternoon we thought English to kids of our hosts for about 2-3 hours every day. We came up with all kind of American games to get them more excited and involved. Most of the host families know each other since their children go to the same elementary school. I stayed with a lovely Italian-Swiss family with 2 kids ages 10 and 12 in a beautiful village near Lugano. The family spoke both Italian and French. During my 3-week stay, I improved my French, picked up some Italian and thought basics of English to the kids. The father spoke pretty good English but I learned later that English is not being introduced to Swiss students until high school. Reason? Swiss kids should master their French and German first. I was amazed and somehow inspired by the fact that an average college student in Lugano is fluent in Italian, French, German, and English. I very much enjoyed my stay with the Bollino family, practicing my French, conversing in English with Carla and Gorgio and I really hope to visit them again in the future. They cooked the best food in the world, shared their recipes with me, and even took me for a weekend trip to Milan and Venice. Thanks to them I learned how to take the train when in Europe and inspired by the awesome time in Italy I decided to travel more after the program was over. Before I started my next adventure in Poland I traveled by train to Austria and Germany. I highly recommend this program to anyone interested in touring Europe inexpensively, learning more about Swiss culture and teaching English to multilingual kids. Thank you TravelNStudy for the rewarding experience!

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Jennifer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great learning experience!

Discovering Poland volunteer program was a continuation of my European adventure with TravelNstudy! Last June after a month in Lugano (another program by TravelNStudy that I highly recommend) I arrived at the GDN airport not knowing what to expect. Will my stay in Poland be similar to my previous one in Switzerland? It was different! But Discovering Poland was better than anything I could have imagined. My first two weeks in Poland I spent on interning at a language school in Gdansk. This was a fantastic time because I was given an opportunity to run my own classes on several occasions and experience all the hands-on learning! Teaching a group of adults in Gdansk was kind of a different experience that teaching children in Lugano, Switzerland! From mid July to mid August I volunteered at a summer camp for Polish kids in a small village in northern Poland. Not only did I find out that I am passionate about teaching English, I learned an incredible amount about who I am and have made friendships with Polish counselors and teachers that will hopefully last a lifetime. I am thankful to TravelNStudy for the incredible opportunity and for the best summer of my life. I am looking forward to teach English in Poland after I graduate from the university.

What would you improve about this program?
It would be good to have more sightseeing tours of Gdansk for the volunteers.
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Ewa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

It's been an adventure to say the least

Thinking back to when it all began, I truly believe that this program has been a blessing in disguise. What was suppose to be a two month trip turned into something a little more permanent. This is the most rewarding journey I have been through. I have met amazing people, made great contacts and even landed a job teaching at an elementary school outside of Wroclaw. I have grew as a person, became more independent and so much more open-minded. Polish people inspire me and give me motivation. I look at these people and I see such hard workers, not only are they educated but most speak over three languages, if not more.
No words could express the opportunities that I have gained throughout this internship. Traveling and volunteering is the most precious gift that one could give himself. Looking back at where I started, I can say that I lived more in these past few years than I have in all of my lifetime. I thank TravelnStudy for helping me pursue my dreams in volunteering,teaching, and of course, traveling!