Posted by: studyinkrakow | October 23, 2012

Where to eat. Short guide for students in Krakow

You’ve already decided to move to Krakow for one or maybe for two semesters. You’ve finally found an apartment or a room to live. You’ve even come here and started to get to know the city and people a little bit. Now you have to find out where to eat and do not lose a fortune, or at least all your scholarship that should be enough for a month.

Fortunately Krakow is student city. That’s why it’s quite well prepared to feed a large number of people. If you’ve decide to live in a dorm, you should start your search from campus. This is actually a rule that next to the dorms there are canteens. The food served here is not particularly sophisticated but it will satisfy the expectations of a hungry student. And what’s maybe more important you can eat here a dinner for 2-3 euros. To mention only a few canteens we recommend checking: canteen in Zaczek dorm (Oleandry Street 1), canteen in Krakowiak dorm (Armii Krajowej Street 9), academic bistro Krakus (Reymonta Street 5), Nawojka canteen (Reymonta Street 11) and the canteen of Cracow University of Economics (Rakowicka 27).

The alternatives for student’s canteens are so called ‘milk bars’ (bary mleczne). They are small, inexpensive restaurants providing good quality food. Some people even say they are better than fast-food restaurants thanks to the homemade-style food and low prices (lunch costs about 2-3 euro). In the center of Krakow you can find at least three milk bars: ‘U Pani Stasi’ (Mikolajska Street 6), ‘Gornik’ (Czysta Street 1) and ‘pod Temida’ (Grodzka Street 43). The latter one was once transformed into the stage for Capella Cracoviensis, but it’s the story for another time…

The other problem are late-night eating. And we don’t mean the habit to ‘visit’ the refrigerator in the middle of the night. It’s rather about the hunger that comes when returning home after a party. Krakow has a cheap solution for night owls too. First of all you have to try the best sausages in Krakow: grilled sausages from blue Nyska. You can find it every day near Targowa Hall between 8 pm and 3 am and they cost only 2 euros (http://pl-pl.facebook.com/pages/Kielbaski-z-Niebieskiej-Nyski/81870918821). The second place to visit late at night is Nowy Square at the Kazimierz district. In the middle of the square there is round building called ‘Okraglak’ where you can buy another delicacy: zapiekanki. Zapiekanka is a Polish halved baguette or bread topped mainly with mushrooms, cheese, ham (or other type of meat) and vegetables. But beside this basic version you can find many others (e.g: ‘Goralska’ with oscypek, ‘Hawaiian’ with pineapple or Greek’ with olives and feta cheese). The price of zapiekanka ranges between 1 and 3 euro depends on its ingredients and size. The third option for hunger – if you’re far away from Kazimierz district or Targowa Hall – is to buy kebab in one of the ‘million’ kebab places in Krakow.

In the meantime, when you’ll have a craving for something delicious, more sophisticated and unfortunately more expensive, it’s worth to check the list of restaurants choose by Michelin Guide. In Krakow there are 20 restaurants that have received Michelin recommendations and all of them can be found in the city center or at the Kazimierz district. Culinary travels around Krakow can also be interesting!

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Posted by: studyinkrakow | October 9, 2012

Krakow – city of the festivals

While Warsaw is the administrative capital city of Poland, Krakow is definitely the capital of culture. Concerts, exhibitions, movie screenings, and almost every day something is going on in our city. What’s more the schedule of events is so tight, that hardly a month goes by without the festival. Some of them are new, other have been present on cultural map of Krakow for years. They are devoted to music, literature, theater, cinema and art, but each one is different and has something special to offer to its participants. Thanks to this diversity everyone can find something interesting and everyone has a reason to visit Krakow, at least once a year.

The most intriguing among music festivals is Sacrum Profanum devoted to the music of the twentieth century. The main idea of the Festival is the collision of two trends: the theme of sacred (sacrum) with a secular theme (profanum). Every year presented music comes from particular country or cultural sphere and is presented in diverse location that are adapted to serve as a concert venues (e.g. ArcelorMittal steel mill)

Another music festival Misteria Paschalia is one of the most important European festivals featuring the music of antiquity. The festival is based on the presentation of music associated with Holy Week and Easter, performed by established music masters and the most talented interpreters of early music. Festival participants can always expect an unobvious program and marvelous performances.

Slightly different sounds are expected by the participants of Coke Live Music Festival. This festival started with promoting hip-hop, R’n’B and pop music. But gradually from year to year, the rock fans have been able to find more and more interesting sounds for themselves. You can be sure that the greatest stars of mentioned genres will appear on the Coke Live Music Festival stages.

Burn Selector Festival is quite young event on the cultural map of Krakow. Its main idea was to create in Krakow a large, modern electronic and dance music event. And it worked! What’s more the festival has become a forum for the presentation of works at the crossroads of music and multimedia arts. It means that in one place you can find: new music trends, multimedia arts, music enriched with intriguing visual forms, Avant – garde spatial installations.

The festival that is in the middle between the music and cinema is Film Music Festival. It is dedicated to the music created especially for the movies. The organizers ensure the program diversity: ranging from retrospectives and gala events to monograph concerts of works by recognized composers to mass outdoor concerts. What distinguishes this festival from others is bold production, innovative approaches to the sphere of technology and image and also artistic quality of presented pieces.

As for the festivals entirely dedicated to film, two most important are Krakow Film Festival and Off Plus Camera. The first one is one of the oldest film events dedicated to documentary, animated and short films in Europe. During seven days of this festival about 250 movies from Poland and abroad are presented in competitions and in special sections like retrospectives, thematic cycles, and archive screenings. The second mentioned festival, Off Plus Camera brings viewer original, intriguing and often challenging films. The organizers aims in presenting niche movies to a broad audience and they succeeded.

On the cultural map of Krakow there are at least two theater festivals. During first one, called Divine Comedy, you can watch the best Polish performances of the last season and the pieces performed by foreign artists. The second one – Ulica Street Art – is annually organized at the beginning of summer and is devoted to the street theaters. The festival is open to many forms of theatrical expression and wide spectrum of artistic performances. Speaking of art, one can’t miss ArtBoom that is visual festival entirely dedicated to contemporary art, design and architecture. It is interdisciplinary and international in nature ― projects combine contemporary art, performance and happenings with music and social activities.

In Krakow every June belongs to the art and every autumn belongs to books. This time of year Conrad Festival the most important large-scale literature event is organized. Writers from different countries can be found among the festival’s guests, writing in different languages, representing various points of views and cultures. The organizers want to present at least a little piece of riches of world literature and expose the Polish readers to little known ways of thinking and sensitivities.

These are just some of Krakow’s festivals, but those few described give a picture of how varied is the cultural offer of Krakow. All you have to do is check the calendar and choose the most interesting one. Or just come to Krakow, any time you’ll choose there is a good chance that some festival will be held.

Posted by: gianmarcocostanzo | September 26, 2012

Fears and expectations of youth in turbulent times

Recently I participated in an intensive IP (international programme) of two weeks organized by my university (Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny w Krakowie) and other three universities from Germany, Croatia and Slovak Republic, funded by the European Commission:

SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OF GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISES OF EUROPEAN YOUTH

The program took place in Krakow. We hosted students from these countries I mentioned and we had lectures and workshops with guests lecturers from these universities, plus two lecturers from England and Turkey. We dealt with topics such as: leadership, cross-cultural communication, social movements, psychology of crowds, international finance and capital flows, the global financial crisis and the sovereign debt crisis, promoting youth’s self, personal branding, private sector and public sector as an opportunity during crisis time, as well as some sociology.

The core of the programme was then a series of workshops in which we discussed “Fears and expectations of youth in turbulent time”. Each of us was asked to write a paper with his/her own conclusions and I’m going to paste my personal one at the end of this post for anyone who’s interested in reading it. We also presented our ideas in a kind of students’ conference which was held in one of our university’s most prestigious room (you can see us in the picture).

I take advantage of this post to write a feedback to the developer/creator of this programme, Dr Remigiusz Gawlik from UEK. I believe it was a motivational workshop. It helped me to consciously distinguish that part of personal problems derived by the crisis from what is otherwise perceived just as a socio-economic problem for the European youth. Spreading the word, that is what I can do for the society, starts from here:

Fears and expectations of youth in turbulent times (by Gianmarco Costanzo)

The European Youth, of which I am a member, is clearly experiencing a transition period. They used to refer to us as the “lucky generation”, the one who got everything without fighting for it or simply those who did not have to work hard to obtain what we enjoyed and still, however, enjoy. We have the opportunity to study what we want, our lives are made easier thanks to the new technologies, especially referred to communication and transportation. At some point in the recent history something changed and we realized that, after all, we were not that lucky. I would not say it is all about the global financial crisis and its consequences for the economy. Some issues, such as contract work (in the meaning that it brings unstable conditions and no certainties), the “abuse” of interns, the underdevelopment of certain regions, are problems that have been there even before the official beginning of the crisis in September 2008. However, it is clear that the economic circumstances brought about by the so-called “great recession” have aggravated the condition of the European Youth, causing that feeling of uncertainty and fear that characterizes us young people.

If I am asked to make a list of what is problematic for me, as an individual, finishing studies and entering the labor market nowadays, I would mention as first the high level of youth unemployment. The current situation also requires mobility, that is being in the right place where my expertise/skills/knowledge is required. Another issue is the fact that entry level jobs pay very little and, what is more, the value of a student is not rewarded (whether I have the best grades or not, corporations will look at the CV and not at my transcript of academic record). In addition, raising the retirement age does not encourage the generational turnover and, in such a limited labor force demand, one should spend more time networking with the right people who might help you rather than developing other skills.

The institutions involved in solving such issues are, among others: Governments (local and national level), relatively to boosting the economy through public spending, undertaking labor law reforms that promote hiring young people; central banks, through the effects of “easing” monetary policy that make the coming out of the crisis easier and overturn the fate of high unemployment; Ministries of Education, in cooperation with the Private Sector, in order to promote hiring the most talented students.

However, a young person might choose to find the strength inside him/herself and try harder to solve these issues for his/her personal best, and not wait endlessly for institutions to solve everything. In this case it is necessary to activate the brain, try harder, wait for the right moment and occasion, even if it would represent a cost for the family. If the mobility is now a must, one should start looking for information about perspectives and job opportunities in other regions, countries or even continents. Important would be accepting the risk related to moving away from the motherland. Relatively to low salaries, one can try to negotiate (trying, at least, is still for free) or wait before earning more. If the value of a student is not “automatically” recognized, one should learn how to “promote” his/her own person , perhaps studying how to perform at job interviews or how to write excellent CV and cover-letters. After all, seeking success without the help of institutions, might represent big gains, such as: learning how to cope with tight budgets, learning how to look and get a job (in the future one will need to find other jobs anyway), learning not to take things for granted, learning how to have connections. Learning but also taking advantage of the opportunities that the turbulent time offers, such as the push to move abroad and enjoy a life experience.

Making a personal balance and comparing costs of waiting for institutions with the gains I get from having a problem related to turbulent times, I say that I prefer taking a step forward, consciously understanding these gains and taking advantage of them. There is already some level of cooperation between institutions that prepare students to the mobility issue. Programs such as the European Union’s Erasmus allow students to experience living and studying for a period abroad. It is a great chance to explore a new country, investigate its job opportunities, its quality of life. Secondly, if I see opportunities of self-development on one side, and endless blame on institutions on the other, I say that, especially during such economic situation, the second option is fool.

The personal path undertaken during the workshop that guided me to this conclusion had a specific turning point: writing down the words “my-self”. A deep analysis of the issues that I am facing was helpful, as well as confronting my ideas with others’ opinions. However, when I had to confront my-self with “my-self” written on the paper, something changed. It became clear that institutions are just a mean and if I fear the future under turbulent times, the best would be to roll up my sleeves and decide for my-self.

Social movements are not for me. Trying to have an influence, in this particular way, on the government or other institutions decisions would be, I believe, a big distraction from what the real point is: developing my-self and seeking the best. There is no time to waste.

Another word convinced me: “consciously”. I believe that a personal analysis of the problem, a “conscious”  understanding of it and of my personal solutions, works even better than the good advices and motivation provided by parents or friends. Or, at least, such consciousness works as a strengthening of those exhortations.

I have already taken part of the risk of moving away from my family and my motherland. As soon as I realized that there were no perspectives for me there, I decided that moving abroad would be the first step. I enjoy the international cooperation between Universities that is facilitated by EU programs. As soon as I finish my studies I already know who my potential employers may be. If asked whether I am “consciously” undertaking actions and activities towards my goals I answer: yes. I already knew I was, but reminding my-self from time to time is helpful in fighting the fear and uncertainty of the present time. A deep analysis of the problem, if a problem is definable, helps delineate the issues and find a realistic solution. 

Posted by: Artem on ERASMUS | August 25, 2012

Polish cuisine

This one of the biggest question probably on when leaving the comfort of the own nation and setting into a new country. The question is on what do the Polish people eat and can I eat it also? The main aspect I just always mention – how you gonna explore culture by not trying Polish food? The best way to get to know Krakow or Poland is by eating local dishes – which are all across the town.

Most dishes include a salad and is already included in price in most places. It sometimes served on a different plate due to its size or I did not manage to figure out why on a second plate as on this one is clearly visible lots of free space. Let me recommend you a few dishes.  Read More…

Posted by: gianmarcocostanzo | August 21, 2012

Krakow by car

Krakow 170.000 students use mainly the public transport system, composed by well functioning and punctual trams and buses. When someone asks me how I like Krakow, the first thing I always mention is, indeed, the fact that I can move freely in the city using trams and buses. It is not really necessary to have a car when you’re just a student. You can go to classes by tram (for students it is very cheap, something like €6 for a monthly ticket for one line, €12 a month for all the city lines, bus/tram) . You can go out at night and come back home by night-bus (there’s one every 30 minutes on Friday and Saturday nights going to the main directions of the city). You can go out at night and drink and come back home safe without the need of driving the car or sacrificing one friend who’s supposed just to spend his time looking after others having fun.

In my home-town, in Italy, there’s no bus at night and young people usually drive/ride even if they have enjoyed their time drinking alcohol. There’s no need to comment further.

However, what I really wanted to write about today was driving the car in Krakow. During these 2 weeks I rented a car so I’m experiencing Krakow from a very different perspective. No need to calculate the time distance to the tram-stop, no need to wait for the bus to pass by and so on. But what is very peculiar of this experience is discovering that the Stare Miasto (old town city center) is really OFF-LIMITS. When you’re used to go there walking you don’t really understand how much it is a restricted traffic zone. Parking the car nearby, as well, is prohibitive. You can live in Krakow for a quite long period of time and don’t really know the streets and, therefore, the best way to get to places without the tram.

Another traumatic experience, for anyone who’s not used to it, is driving close to tram tracks. You have to be very careful. After just a few days you get used to it, but the beginning is a bit scary. What is more, I believe that the way of driving and the attitude towards road signs (generally rules) changes depending on the country, or part of the country it-self. You have to pay attention to the fact that people drive according to some (let’s call it) “national social harmony”, made also by unwritten rules, such as not stopping when the car in front of you turns the indicators on to park the car, or the attitude towards pedestrians crossing on zebras.

This one thing, then, is hilarious: Polish cars, differently from Italian cars, have the city of origin which can be recognized from the license plate, and it happens that if you are slightly committing some minor violation (which in normal circumstances can be excused) there’s some other car driver who recognize you come from another city and honk at you.

My car is rented, and the plates are from Warsaw.

Posted by: gianmarcocostanzo | August 8, 2012

Tourist destinations

I’ve already told you, Krakow is literally invaded by tourists during the summer. Every time I have some relative or friend of mine coming to visit me, I have to (it is a pleasure) show them the main touristic attractions that the city with the dragon offers. I can say I’m beginning to be quite an expert and there aren’t many things I still have to visit. However, I must admit that I still enjoy discovering new views of the same place.

This summer, in particular, a good friend of mine came to visit me. Despite not being his first time in Krakow, there were many specific places he still had to discover. For example we went by bike to the Krakus Mound, which is an artificial small mountain in the South part of the city (you can see it in the picture below). It is said to be the burial place of Krakus, the legendary founder of the city. From the top of it there’s a great view of Krakow and surroundings. There’s another artificial mound, named Kopiec  Kościuszki, which is in the West part of Krakow. To access this one, however, you have to pay a small fee, but the advantage is that there’s a city bus driving you up there so it is far more accessible. Overall I prefer going  to the Krakus one (if I’m on a bike).  

Other places worth a visit are definitely the museum inside the original Schindler’s factory (located in Podgorze as well) which is devoted to showing Krakow under the Nazi occupation, and the museum “Under the Main Square”, which shows the remains of the medieval buildings and streets of the city, as well as medieval time life. This one is located just under the ground of the Main Market square. Still talking about museums, visit the one inside the Wawel Castle, which is currently hosting an exhibition of the famous Leonardo’s  “Lady with an Ermine” (painting which belongs to another museum in Krakow, under renovation at the moment). I’ve been to the Wawel Castle just yesterday, and this is a picture I took.

Just outside Krakow there’s a fantastic place you should definitely visit if you plan to come to Krakow. I’m talking about the Salt Mine of Wieliczka. I believe you should google it and see with your eyes what you missed or are going to miss in case. I’ve been there already twice in just 3 years, but I think I will go this summer as well when my parents will come to visit me.

Less than one hour by car there’s the most famous, unfortunately, touristic destination of the surroundings of Krakow. I say “unfortunately” because such events in the history should never occur, even though I must recognize that part of nowadays’ touristic wealth of Krakow comes also from this site. I’m talking about the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. The day of your visit there will stay impressed in your memories for a long time. It gives you strong feelings. I can tell you that I’ve been there 3 times already but if someone who comes see me is willing to go I will go as well.

There are, of course, many other places to visit in Krakow and surroundings. I don’t have much space here to write about all of them. Together with all the other activities that I’ve already written about in the last post, I believe you have plenty of things to do here in Krakow, in case you decide to come and study here (which I truly recommend).

By the way, it is August, two months still to the beginning of classes. It’s a never-ending holiday in Poland. Good for me. Bye bye.

Posted by: Artem on ERASMUS | August 3, 2012

Culture in Krakow

Show Time a group of dancers at Main Market SquareWhat is culture? Some of us can explain it really fast and some of us not. All nations have a sort of culture into which extend is popular over the border and some are just domestic (localy) known.

I was walking around in the recent sunny days in Krakow and notice something strange – the artists. This article is about on what you can expect to see when walking around or waiting for friends in Krakow.  Read More…

Posted by: gianmarcocostanzo | July 31, 2012

Summer time in Krakow

Hi guys! How is it going with your summer holidays in your cities/countries? Here in Krakow we are having a very enjoyable summer time. The weather has been quite warm and dry so far, despite some showers and very hot days. Summer is definitely my favourite season here in Poland: good weather conditions let you stay out longer than in other periods of the year, evenings are longer (light till around 9pm), so it is perfect for enjoying every attraction that Krakow and surroundings can offer you.

In particular, you can surely walk and discover the city more than you can do during the winter. Bike trips are facilitated, therefore I truly recommend the route along the river Wisla and to go and discover more of the district of Podgorze on the other side of the river.  The Stare Miasto is populated by tourists even more than during the rest of the year (it’s always “tourism time” in Krakow), but this doesn’t mean that it’s not as enjoyable as it is when the city center is emptier (well, it’s never empty, not even in February when it is “kind of” cold).

During the very hot days you can go to some of the few lakes around the city where you can swim. There are also outdoor swimming pools that charges a small fee for the entrance. A picturesque sandy beach (with a beach volley field) is artificially made on the river side as well. I know it doesn’t sound like escaping to some tropical location, but it is something when you feel like splashing in the water and then you have to go back fast to your commitments.

About concerts and events. Summer is the perfect period of the year for open air concerts: we have the Coke live Festival (The Killers, Placebo and Snoop Dogg will play, 11th and 12th August), but also “Selector” festival for those who prefer more underground genres (it is every year in June). Very good initiatives are also the discounted movies (cinema for 6zl – 1,50€) at Kino Ars (the very characteristic “old style” cinema in the very city center) , or the “Noc Kina” (“night of the cinema”) where you pay the entrance and then you pick 3 movies out of a bigger selection and watch them all night long (from 11pm to 6am). In particular at the end of August there’s going to be the night of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy (director’s cut, original audio with subtitles – something like 12 hours continuously…) .By the way, in Poland we watch movies at the cinema without dubbing so it is possible for foreigners to go and enjoy it, as I often do (sometimes I even catch Italian movies).

To conclude, you should definitely pay a visit to Krakow during the summer, it’s worth it. If you plan to come just for the Erasmus programme, consider to come a bit earlier (don’t do as everyone does, that is coming here just a few days before the beginning of classes), or if you stay all year long till June, don’t book your flight back home for the very day after the last exam. This is my advice.

Again, enjoy your summer time. Bye bye.

Posted by: gianmarcocostanzo | July 25, 2012

Studying in Krakow, how hard is it?

Hello everybody, being back from my holidays back home, today I can tell you more about the university system here in Krakow, making a comparison with my previous studies in Italy.

As in the rest of the European Union (of which Poland is a member since 2004), the degrees are divided into three-year bachelor degree and 2 years master degree. The difference I found, especially as compared to my previous university in Italy, is that students take exactly the expected number of years to graduate (except for exceptional cases). I know for many of you it may seems obvious what I’m saying but, believe me, the University system that I’m used to in my home town doesn’t help you to finish studies in time (for several reasons, like strict professors, number of pages to study for each exam, number of exams, small “incentives” to passing all the exams during a given year and so on). Here in Krakow it is very much different. Very important for passing all the exams are: attendance, interaction, participation in group work, presentations. If a student works sufficiently well during the semester, then the final exams will be rather easy (I mean passing all of them without problems). If you want higher grades, of course, you need to study more than sufficiently hard, but it is not impossible (as it was in my previous studies).

A big difference is, therefore, related to the “incentives” to passing all the exams. As I said I was not used to it and I’ll tell you why. I used to pay very little money for my studies and, what’s more, I could take my time for passing exams, meaning that it was not necessary to pass all the exams during the year. The result is that students in my previous university usually take much longer than 3 years to get a bachelor degree. Here in Krakow (I repeat, it might sound normal for most of you, not for me) you need to pass all the exams, otherwise you will have to pay an expensive fee for the single exam you didn’t pass (as I understood, in my Faculty there’s no risk, however, of being kicked out of the University for not passing one or more subjects, but you should ask someone who knows better than me, since I didn’t have, fortunately, that kind of problems). Another incentive to studying is that a negative grade is registered in the transcript of records and it counts for the average, so that it is better to avoid such situations if interested in obtaining a scholarship (and there are scholarships for foreigners).

The classes consist of a small number of students and this makes it possible to establish a relationship between students and lecturers, who remember your name, your commitment and implement a constant check on your level of learning. I find that Polish teachers are highly trained, like their Italian colleagues, with, in addition, a good level of English language. Another difference is that here in Krakow (remember, I’m talking about UEK, University of Economics) we focus more on practice, research and presentations, while in Italy we are lost in endless pages of theory. I must admit, that method of studying helped me to get used to study long each subject, and this allowed me to be ready here and get good results.

To sum up, we study here in a very friendly environment. Study already during the semester (not particularly hard) and you will be prepared for good grades. Lecturers know you and your commitment, and check constantly your knowledge via research projects, presentations, tests and so on, so that exams are not that hard and you can surely pass all of them. Students have incentives to passing all the exams, and if your grades are good you can get also a scholarship for the next year of studies (it applies to regular students, even if foreigners).

That’s it for this week. Enjoy your summer time.

Posted by: gianmarcocostanzo | July 10, 2012

Language skills needed when studying in Krakow

Here we are, this will be my very first post about studying in Krakow. There are many things to say, and I will divide the whole into a few parts. Today I’ll write about the language skills needed. In future I will talk about the differences between my previous studying experiences relatively to marks, how hard it is here, classes and exams and so on.

Preparing for an eventual entry test

It seems a life ago when I tried the entry test (to be a full time regular student you need to pass the entry test). Actually, it was exactly one year ago. I remember studying at least all June and half July in order to be sure 100% to be able to pass it without problems. The fact is that my previous studies were in Italian and I needed a big translation process inside my brain of all the specific words. I also had to study in order to obtain a C1 level English certificate. I can tell you, if you take 2 months of your summer to study hard both language and specific vocabulary, then everything during the studies will be much easier.

Do you need to speak Polish?

In order to live an experience like this it is not necessary to know the local language. You already know that the courses are in English but, what is more, the secretariat of the university has special departments for foreign students, and there are also libraries with course books in English. Krakow is a big destination for foreign students of the Erasmus programme as well, so there’s plenty of foreigners willing to enjoy their time (after studying hard all day…) and speak English with you.

What about English language skills?

A B2 level (it’s the Cambridge First Certificate) is required by my university (UEK). Other universities might require a higher level though. I think that it can be enough if you also have a good knowledge of the specific vocabulary and if you’re good in communicating. What is more, if you’re a passionate reader start reading English books (not necessarily course books), so that you will be familiar with reading and understanding many pages a day and you won’t have big problems during the exam session. Yes, definitely reading skills are the most important in my opinion. Listening skills are not as important, since your lecturers are easy to understand (if you know the vocabulary): they’re not fast speaking Englishmen from Manchester (nothing against British people, just they speak fast and with a strong accent). Speaking skills are more important in personal relationships with other foreigners, since there are no oral exams (except rare cases). You may have to prepare some presentation as well or write some essay (or your thesis), so be ready for it.

Living and working in Poland

Krakow is a city that thrives on tourism and outsourcing. Many multinational companies are located in the large “business park”, born in recent years in the city, and they work in contact with foreign customers from all over the world. For this reason it is not necessary to speak Polish even for finding a job, in case you decide to stay after studies. However, it is recommended to attend a Polish language course. In Poland young people speak English, but you can’t expect everyone to do so and in my opinion if you decide to stay for a longer period it is respectful to know at least some basic Polish for everyday life situations (supermarket, hairdresser, bank or post office, in the tram with the old lady talking to you and so on…).

Recap

I conclude with a fast recap: B2 level or higher, good communication skills, reading is the most important skill, learn the specific vocabulary, listening not very challenging, be prepared to speak publicly and write essays, Polish language course recommended for everyday life situations, consider staying here for finding a job.

That’s it. Bye bye.

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