A Chance to Discover Myself and My Potential Past Review

By (Cedar Crest College) - abroad from 09/22/2016 to 01/15/2017 with

University of Warsaw: Warszawa - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned first and foremost how to speak Polish and used it often, something that would be very difficult to do in the US. Second, I learned a lot more about myself. It was absolutely worth it to travel abroad for the semester.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes I took were very interesting and certainly had some academic merit to it, but I did not have access to the library or any resources, nor did my class seem rigorous. It was just enough academic rigor, but I would have liked to see more educational resources and access.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I loved my on-site coordinator, Ula was very helpful and kind and would check up on me every so often. I would have liked a little more order or guidance on coordinating my trips around Poland, but it certainly did not bother me too much. See also food for more that she could have done.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I stayed with a retired lady in the middle of Warsaw, right next to the bus stop that takes me to school and a block away from the Metro station. The lady living there was very nice and gave me an opportunity to practice my Polish language skills, as well as offered me some Polish food while there. I would have liked perhaps having a roommate my age to hang out with, but I did like having an older, truly Polish lady in the house.

* Food:

The program does not come with any food or meals taken care of, which was a bit disappointing. All of it was out of pocket for me. Regardless, the program could have done better to give me an idea of what restaurants to go to for Polish dining, average cost of meals before my trip, general shopping experience, and/ or maybe a small cookbook of Polish food just so that I could somehow start getting into the real Polish cuisine. I gave it half because I love Polish food and it was very cheap to get big, nice, filling meals. My host lady also showed me the shopping experience and one really cheap restaurant to go to, which was really helpful.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Unfortunately, the lack of being a registered student at the University caused me to not be able to engage in clubs or events on campus, which certainly prevented a cleaner transition. However, I was able to wander the city freely, and I found different groups and events on Facebook, which eventually helped me to start intergrading into Warsaw. I only wish I had more chances to meet Polish people my age and engage with them.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not use the local healthcare since I did not get sick, but I did get health insurance through the program so I was covered in case of anything.

* Safety:

I felt completely safe, I would be out in the middle of the night and feel safe walking around. If anything, just avoid people trying to hackle you by the station that takes you to the airport.

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

I absolutely loved being in Poland and have the chance to travel around and learn more about Poland, film, and myself. It was just incredible being there.


* 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)

It was very easy to live on a budget. I had brought $600 total with me for around 3 to 4 months abroad and had around 1,000 saved up in my account. I probably spend more on going to movies, fancy restaurants, and traveling on my own around Europe, so if someone was really trying hard to save money. Honestly, if you are doing a semester abroad and money is an issue and you have to cover food costs, then $600 should be enough. The program I went with covered transportation, housing, and certain travel around the country.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I probably spent around $50 a week on all my meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Of course, save up your money before going abroad just so you have that to fall back on. Research what is better in the country you are going to, because I actually saved money by converting my US dollars in Warsaw. The conversion is better and I don't get hit with international transaction fees every time I went to eat. If you are a credit card kind of person, you can maybe open an account at a bank in the country. Eating in and making your own meal will almost always be cheaper than eating out. When traveling, look at hostels, night bus travels, and student flight websites for discounted tickets. Also, use your student discount! Makes things a lot cheaper.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

While I did have two language classes, my other classes were in English and the one language course was taught in English. The intensive language course we were heavily encouraged to use the language. Outside of that, most people that I met were not Polish, so our shared language was English. My host lady mostly spoke in Polish, but she would also ask for English translations or attempt to speak English. My on-site coordinator spoke to me in English.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I took high school Spanish
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Absolutely! First, be adamant about using your language in interactions in stores and coffee shops. Second, separate yourself from all English media, so TV shows, movies, music, books, etc all in your program's language. Lastly, and this might be the hardest, try to find yourself a language partner or native speaker friend, better yet a group of native friend speakers, and just practice with them. The more you use the language, the better and easier it gets. And keep up with the language after the end of your program! You will lose it! So bring back souvenirs of books, music, movies, and shows instead of trinkets so that you hold onto something from the language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Being in Poland
  • Cost
  • Trips
* What could be improved?
  • Pre-departure procedures
  • Organization
  • Agreement between the University and program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish someone would have told me how I could do the most to improve my language development.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'