Shaun - Warsaw School of Economics

Academic experience

The academic system in Warsaw is very different to the one back in Australia. It is true that the English curriculum is not very representative of what local students go through; however, the teachers are mostly the same. On the positive side, the academic world is quite small in Eastern Europe, many of the teachers are therefore involved first hand in policy think tanks, and some were even involved in the initial design of the modern market economy of Poland after communism. As previously mentioned by others earlier, the course selection system means that it is not uncommon that you will end up with nine, or ten subjects in one semester and many have multiple assessment items. As such it could be quite daunting at first, but many marks are flexible and can be negotiated, or could be accumulated through class participation. Therefore many classes could be passed through talking in class alone.

Personal experience

Studying in Warsaw was great to also meet other students in Erasmus, and visit other countries around the EU thanks to the cheap transportation network in Poland.
Although many people around Poland and in Warsaw don't speak English, so it could be inconvenient or a great way of either learning a Slavic language or a great way to learn new ways to communicate.

Accommodation

The university has two accommodation dormitory buildings which are prioritised for non-EU students. However, I ended up trying to search for rent, which I was luckily able to find in the heart of Warsaw, though it was not easy. Very few landlords in Warsaw are inclined to let their houses for short-term (single semester) rent, and fewer were able to speak English. As there are many more Erasmus students looking for rent in the first few weeks, the competition is very fierce over the limited housing stock. Therefore it is wise to arrive in Warsaw before the large crowds, and don't be ashamed of seeking help from an English speaking agent, if you want to rent in Warsaw. This could save you a lot of hassle later.

Budget

Poland is actually a very popular destination for EU students in the Erasmus program, attracted by Poland's low prices, which is actually one of the lowest in the EU, thanks to its independent currency. Transportation is quite cheap, a monthly payment for all public transport in Warsaw was around 40-50PLN which is only between 14$-17$ per month. One meal in one of Poland's nostalgic "Milk Bars/Mleczny Bar", or cheaper meals costs you around 10-20PLN/3.5$-7$. Cooking at home could be even cheaper thanks to Poland's cheap supermarkets. While for travelling and long distance transportation, Warsaw Chopin Airport is well connected around Europe by the Hungarian budget airline, "Wizz Air". While on the intercity travel, and travelling to neighbouring countries, Poland is connected by the super cheap "Polski Bus" company where you could go to nearby capital cities like Prague, starting from 20$.

Professional development and employability

Exchange is a great way to explore the world, and gain a global perspective towards your own lives. Also as many of the teachers have great first-hand experience in economic reform, it provides a great perspective.

Highlight

The highlights of the exchange were the great opportunity to live a new lifestyle, meet new people and explore the corners of Warsaw.

Top tips

  • I suppose exchange is a great opportunity to throw yourself into another society, so try to not hold any prejudices and keep an open mind.
Shaun - Warsaw School of Economics