Poland’s capital city of Warsaw is a teeming urban expanse brimming with history and culture. Spend just five minutes in Warsaw and you will feel the energy and buzz that surrounds its gothic neighborhoods; the city’s culture is palpable. Known for its music scene, both classical and underground, as well as thriving nightlife and stunning architecture, Warsaw is an exceptional place to study abroad in Poland.
Study Abroad in Warsaw
There are about four major universities located in Warsaw: the University of Warsaw, the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music, Warsaw School of Economics, and Warsaw University of Technolog. International students will benefit from studying at any of these universities, but it is best for students to align their university choice with their major in order to make the most of study abroad in Warsaw. Outlined below are some of the most popular subjects of study in Warsaw, but this is merely an overview of the broad spectrum of courses that will be available to international students in Warsaw, as almost any topic is fair game.
Music. Most well known for being the birthplace of namesake and celebrated romantic composer Fryderyk Chopin, the Chopin University of Music is an exceptional place to study abroad in Warsaw for students in the process of earning a music degree. Though most noted for its composition program, performers and conductors alike can also find plenty of beneficial courses of study in Warsaw.
History. There truly is nothing that compares to the feeling of studying a portion of history where it actually took place, and living and studying in Warsaw will award students with many opportunities to do just that. As a pivotal city, and country for that matter, during WWII, students will have access to a number of historical landmarks and artifacts during any study abroad program in Warsaw. Warsaw is an especially fascinating place to study history abroad (particularly the events surrounding WWII), as it was completely destroyed during World War II and then completely re-built into the sprawling metropolis that it is today. The opportunity to literally walk through history cannot be taken advantage of enough by any study abroad student, no matter where they choose to travel to.
Archaeology. Working somewhat symbiotically alongside the history department, there are an impressive amount of research and archaeological study abroad program opportunities available throughout the city of Warsaw. Several universities lead research expeditions to outlying countries too, even as far as the Sudan, Egypt, and Peru, and there is also considerable funding from the EU and other governmental agencies for these types of programs.
Life in Warsaw
Warsaw is very much a “walking city,” in the same vein as cities like Amsterdam or Dubrovnik. Exploring is very much encouraged, and students will be able to find bustling market squares, street musicians, and gorgeous historic architecture around every corner. For those not interested in a life lived completely “by foot”, public transport abounds in Warsaw, which is home to a variety of taxicabs and buses as well as the Warsaw metro.
Warsaw is well-known for its nightlife, ranging from dancehalls and clubs to underground music venues. Warsaw is home to a large underground punk rock scene as well as a strong jazz community. Built inside large gothic structures, Warsaw’s nightclubs are nothing short of memorable.
One small caveat, there is a slight stigma amongst the older generation of Polish locals regarding foreigners, specifically Americans, so while you will encounter numerous friendly locals, it would be wise to be aware of your actions and your surroundings during your time in Warsaw. Don’t worry too much about confronting negative situations during your study abroad program in Warsaw though, for the most part this stigma will only lead to some people being a bit naturally gruff toward you initially.
An average day for study abroad students in Warsaw will typically include morning courses, perhaps staying on campus for lunch or (if there is a longer break between classes) venturing out into the city to grab some street food and a walk, and then heading back to campus for more coursework in the afternoon. In terms of nightly activities, the options are nearly endless.
Accommodation & Visas
In order to study abroad in Warsaw, all non-EU and EEA citizens must have a long-term student visa. Specific application information and procedures can be inquired about at your local Polish consulate or from your host institution.
Many academic institutions will include housing arrangements in program fees, along with tuition costs, and place students in “dorm-style” apartment units. Not every university or study abroad program in Warsaw operates the same way though, so it is important to read the fine print and make sure you are aware of what the details of your specific program are before committing to a program or university.
Benefits & Challenges
Water. The Polish water system has been overhauled since the mid 2000s, which means it is generally assumed that tap water is now safe to drink. That being said, students and travelers alike should generally err on the side of caution when it comes to tap water, and purified drinking water will be widely available anyway.
Discrimination. Poland has a reputation of being a fairly conservative, homogenous country, so there have unfortunately been several high-profile instances of racist or anti-Semitic acts even in recent years. This is, of course, not to say all Polish citizens are racist or that you should make any snap judgments, but if you are minority and you want to study abroad in Poland you should consider your ability to take on these additional challenges and cultural barriers.
Like Nothing Else You’ve Seen. Warsaw is a typical European city, in its layout, infrastructure, attitude, and culture. International students will be able to explore the city and take advantage of all the cultural events Warsaw has to offer during their study abroad program.