Poland - Better than you'd think, at Collegium Civitas Past Review

By (Political Violence, North Central College) for

Study Abroad Programs in Poland

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I had a lot of historical debates about things which in the US are 'studied' rather than lived. Things like historical memory, national identity and the legacy of history. It's fascinating, enlightening and humbling to speak with those who lived through late Stalinism, and whose childhoods were defined by 'the fall' in 1989. I began studying Eastern European/Russian history and politics while living in Warsaw, and am now a graduate student specializing in late 19th Russian Radicalism and political violence. My time in Poland was eye-opening and a wonderful opportunity to experience the society and lifestyle that the poles simply call 'culture.'

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Study Abroad Poland and Collegium Civitas were very helpful with the selection of courses, transfer of credits and with the overall fluidity in administering my stay. My professors at the university were extraordinary in their knowledge and understanding of the subjects taught and readily inserted relative, personal experiences into the curriculum to give a depth and insight helpful in understanding not only the material taught, but also the broader, underlying cultural implications so important in the growing global village of the early 21st Century.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My program director, Holly Bouma, was great. Friendly, knowledgeable and very approachable.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was set up in an apartment the first semester, and given a choice whether I wanted to stay there or move for the second semester. I chose to leave and find housing with local polish students, and was very pleased with the whole process.

* Food:

Once again Holly knew the city well and advised on the places to go and things to do.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Holly arranged tours around Warsaw as well as excursions south to Krakow and north to Gdansk which were inexpensive and very enjoyable.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

There are bad parts of the city, but certainly no where near as bad as places in Chicago where I live. A city is a city is a city, so keep your head up on the subways, don't dangle your purse around and stay smart when traveling at night and you won't have a problem. Basically - use good'ol fashioned common sense.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Living in Poland is the best way to learn polish - I believe that's true of any language. The students and faculty were accommodating in both English and Polish and enthusiastically helped me develop skills in my target language which otherwise would have lacked.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The easy transfer of credits. Allowed me to focus on the experience, not the administrative aspects.
* What could be improved?
  • Make it free. Or better yet, pay me to go.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Warsaw is a historic city, and those without a deep appreciation for history, art, architecture, culture, and romance need not apply. It's a wonderful city if you embrace it. Poland is rapidly modernizing so it's easy to miss Poland on account of The Hyatt, but it's there if you go with an open mind.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Twentieth Century World History

Course Department:
Instruction Language:
Credit Transfer Issues: