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Erasmus Experience in Warsaw, Poland by Federico


Why did you decide to go to Warsaw, Poland?

My university allowed me to study in English only in Greece and Eastern Europe. So, I decided to try a country with a very different climate and very different customs. I was curious about this country because of its troubled and unfortunate history. By evaluating sustainable materials, the cost of living, the habitability of the city, and the chance to see many vast green expanses and many other countries which are far away from Italy but close to Poland, I decided to try to go there.

Erasmus Experience in Warsaw, Poland by Federico

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How long was your stay? How much money did you receive as financial aid?

This is a sore point for me. I don't know how it works in other universities... but to have money, I had to wait and am still waiting (and have been waiting for over two months! ) According to the contract, I should receive 230€ a month but rather than giving it to me every month, they will send the whole amount to me in one go. Given that I am staying here 10 months, it should be 2300€ but it is actually less. I don't understand why...

What is the student atmosphere like in Warsaw?

Until now, I have had the impression that Poles and Erasmus live in two parallel worlds that rarely meet. It's like there is a barrier between the two. It can be difficult to meet local students. Perhaps this is also because their workload is much heavier than that of the Erasmus students.

Would you recommend the city and the University of Warsaw to other students?

Architecturally speaking, the city has little to offer because of the second world war. The city is dominated by large communist style buildings that make everything very grey and sad. But this aside, the city is really very livable and functional. Full of parks, green spaces, wide streets and airy. Public transport is very efficient. It is a large city but tailored to man and offers many opportunities. Some are easier to find, others more difficult, but there are many.

What is the food like there?

The food is generally fattier than Mediterranean food. However considering the climate, this is sensible and necessary. You have to get used to changing the ingredients if you want to eat fresh ingredients by buying them at the market. Being a capital city, however, you can find products from all over and at any time of the year. To date, every local dish I have tried, has been pleasant and tasty.

Erasmus Experience in Warsaw, Poland by Federico

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Was it difficult to find somewhere to live in Warsaw?

This is the most difficult thing. It's a big city. In theory, because of the huge communist buildings, there should be lots of apartments, but... Finding an apartment was truly frustrating. There are a certain number of websites to help you but the best ones are in polish. Because of its troubled history in the early years after independence, the culture has become a little closed off, and as a consequence, the generation running the country does not like foreigners. At the start if the year, there is a wild market where only the Poles can have a stand. Many do not care to offer nice houses, it's enough to rent them and they are able to do this because there is great demand. The Erasmus have to be patient and lucky. Without someone who can speak polish to help them, it is really difficult to find something good.

How much does it cost to live in Warsaw?

Food, transport, parties, alcohol, in short the large part of daily expenses are not very expensive. Indeed it is all very affordable. You can live comfortably on 200-250€ a month. Obviously this also depends on the standards you are looking for. For rentals, it depends. In a dormitory, you can save a lot of money. If you are renting, you need to be aware that you are in the capital (something that does not, however, particularly affect the price) and that foreigners are made to pay more money.

How did you get on with the language? Did you attend any courses at the university?

Once again because of the post-independence closure, you can only speak with young people in languages other than polish without difficulty. The university offers lots of courses, some of which are language courses and they are free. The university is very welcoming and generally functions well. There were a few problems with the computer system at the start but the staff are very helpful. The lessons I chose to attend are stimulating and encourage student participation.

What is the cheapest way to get to Warsaw from your city?

The easiest way to get there is by airplane with low-cost airlines. When I was going, there was a direct flight but afterwards they cancelled this probably because the climate is so different and not so appealing in the non-summer periods. Stopping over in other big cities is not particularly expensive, you just have to put up with more time in the airport.

Where would you recommend for going out at night in Warsaw?

It depends on what you like. The city offers everything. Whether it is drinking something somewhere cheap, live music, theatres, cinemas, discos... For every type of activity, you can find the 'level' you prefer. ESN constantly organizes activites for students. For something else, you can just look it up in the internet or information will be passed around. Walking around becomes very difficult when it gets colder.

And to eat in Warsaw? Can you tell us about your favorite places?

There are two restaurant chains that offer local dishes at a good price and the food is rather tasty. As well as these, there are also places such as the "Milkbar" where you can try local food. These are particularly cheap because they are financed by the state. They were the old communist dining hall that continue to offer food at low prices. The food they serve is traditional and also tasty but within them you can only understand something by knowing polish.

Erasmus Experience in Warsaw, Poland by Federico

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What cultural things are there to see?

There are many museums and they are all located in accessible places. The collections are not particularly splendid but in any case they are interesting. They deserve to be seen also because once a week they are free. The royal residences in the city parks are a bit further afield but are very beautiful both in terms of location and architecture. There are many libraries and the biggest is truly fantastic from every point of view.

Erasmus Experience in Warsaw, Poland by Federico

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Erasmus Experience in Warsaw, Poland by Federico

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What advice would you give to other students going to Warsaw in the future?

Come in advance to the city so you are able to try and find accommodation before the situation becomes too difficult. If you want to save money never cash in złoty but always in euros (which can unfortunately only be done at Chopin airport) and then go change them in "kantor" being aware of how much they offer you for the exchange because depending on where you go, as well as market fluctuations, they may agree or sometimes differ. The important thing would be to always pay in złoty so that you do not have to pay an arduous exchange rate. This can also happen when you pay with a credit card. Take clothes with you that are suitable for very low temperatures. You can also get these here too by going to the big stores which you will find at the edge of the city. Get the student card as soon as possible. This will allow you to pay for all public transport (subscriptions are very cheap) and cultural activities are half price. Get used to the idea that the sun is rare as soon as winter begins, which also happens to last a long time.


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