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Erasmus Experience in Warsaw, Itziar in Poland

Why did you choose to go to Warsaw, Poland?

Warsaw was the best option, although there were lots. I initially chose to go to the UK, but after a friend spoke to me about Poland, I chose Warsaw as my first choice as I wanted to live in a capital city and Poland has a lot of advantages over other countries, even the UK.

Mainly, its geographic location. Being in the centre of Europe means you can travel wherever you want, all for a ridiculous price, as even though it's the centre it's so cheap. This means you might end up spending more though, thinking everything is so cheap means you don't realise how much you are spending or how many things you are buying.

How long was the grant? How much money do you get?

I've come from Spain with a grant for the first semester, but I want to extend it for another, as the Erasmus experience is even better when you stay for the whole year.

To help with everything I get 1500€; 200€ a month for 5 months based on the economic situation of Poland and 100€ a month more for being part of the MEC scholarship the year before. For the first payment they gave me 800€, (80% of the 1000€) and I guess you get the remaining 20% when you pass the exams (I'm not entirely sure). As for the other 500€ from MEC... well I think every Erasmus student wants to know when we are actually going to get that.

What's the student atmosphere like in Warsaw?

It's really good, you always find friendly people as we are all in the same situation, we've just got here, we want to make friends and have a good time.

There are two types of Erasmus, the 'Orgasmus' people and the 'cultural Erasmus' people, but at the end of the day you end up to a bit of everything: loads of going out, going to classes with a hangover, visiting interesting museums, and when you finally think you're going to get home, relax, and go to bed... well, I can't even finish writing it without laughing, hahaha. Bed? I don't think so!

Would you recommend Warsaw and the University to other students?

I'm studying in the Academy of Fine Arts and I couldn't recommend it more.

For the Erasmus students, it's all a bit 'self-taught' in the sense that you work at home without actually having to go to every single class, and when you do go you have 'tutorials' with the professors to talk about your work.

The city itself I recommend 100%. It's a stunning city, I don't think I even need to speak about all the history it has.

What's the country's food like?

Very strange. I didn't try it until a month and a half in to my stay. But it's really good. They love their soups and pierogis, they're like little filled dough balls. My favourite are the spinach and cheese ones.

Was it hard to find accommodation in Warsaw?

In some ways; I was lucky as a friend had stayed here the year before and they put me in contact with their landlord.

You've got to be careful with certain parts (although the public transport is amazing), and most importantly be careful as they will try to mug you off for being an Erasmus student, but as a general rule you'll end up finding something that suits your needs.

How much does it cost to live in Warsaw?

I'm spending 200€ a month, heating included (very important), but all other bills aren't.

People I know spend between 250€ to €290 for their flats, with bills included in most of them, and they are all really good. They are huge, but they lounge is usually used as an extra bedroom; my third housemate stayed in ours.

What's the language like? Did you take any classes at the University?

I'll be honest. When I came I planned to sign up for the Polish classes the uni offered, but you get here and every day you've got a thousand things to do, and the last thing you want to do is spend hours trying to learn a language that by the second class you realise you're not going to learn any more than numbers 1 to 10, months if you're lucky, as well as the odd phrase like 'next stop', 'excuse me' and 'thanks'.

I can't even remember how to say hello.

What's the most economic way to get to Warsaw from your city?

Flying. For me it was easy as I went from Madrid. For my roommates (Málaga and Vitoria) not so much. There are flights from Málaga but from Vitoria you have to do some transfers.

Even then it's about 4 hours of inflight entertainment, but if you were nervous the night before and couldn't get any sleep, you'll sleep right through anyway.

Which places would you recommend for going out in Warsaw?

(One second while I ask my roommate, she knows more).

We recommend loads of places. Warsaw works in a strange way, every day of the week is assigned to a specific bar or club, and there's always an 'open bar' option most nights. For only 10 or 20 zlotys. At most 5 euros, which is 20 zlotys. Mental.

On Monday we usually go to Klubocabiarnia (sorry if I've written it wrong, it's really polish).

Tuesdays we go to Reemond... Redmond... Reed-... Whatever! Open bar.

Wednesdays, the Erasmus night, is when Park is at its fullest (It's Wednesday as I'm writing this).

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays... everything gets a bit more confusing, there's so many other places, some with an open bar, others without, like Multipub, Pijalnia; good for pre drinks, although they seem to have a problem with Spanish people, and there's always a problem between Erasmus students and the bartenders and bouncers.

All in all, it's pretty hard to remember all the names at the moment, especially after drinking this much orange juice.

And going out to eat in Warsaw? Can you give us some of your favourite places?

Miklybar (I think), is an amazing place with delicious food and some of the cheapest in Warsaw. We call it 'la lechería' (the dairy) for obvious reasons. It's a chain of restaurants throughout Warsaw. My correspondent to my right informs me it's called that as in the past the cheapest products were those that came from the cow. Interesting...

Also there's Powdale and its ridiculous offers. They practically pay you to eat. On Mondays they have this deal where you can get chicken + 1l beer + chips + some salad for 18 zlotys. Eighteen! Less than FIVE euros! They always give you a shot at the end too.

What about culturally?

It has loads of cultural places; loads of museums, guided tours of the city, free tours... For more touristy visits its better to come when it's not as cold, but that depends on what's cold for you.

Any advice you want to give to students going to Warsaw in the future?

Come to Warsaw. Don't even think about it. The cold is bearable, there's endless travelling, brings jumpers, but not thermals. They have heating in the bars etc (short sleeve temperature) and there's always a cloakroom in the museums, clubs, bars, etc.

Some people say the Erasmus experience is a year of partying, or a year of travelling, a year at another uni, but it's none of these things... it's all of them thrown together. A year in which you'll learn a lot about yourself as well.

Share your Erasmus Experience in Warsaw!

If you know Warsaw as native, traveler or as exchange student... share your opinion on Warsaw! Rate different characteristics and share your experience.

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