Poland is located in the middle of Europe. It links East and West not only geographically but also culturally. The country’s territory is 322,575 sq km; inhabited by 38 million people. Poland is a member of the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United Nations (UN).
Poland is a dream country for those who love tourism. One day you can admire the sunrise on the coast of the Baltic Sea and another watch the sun hide behind the peaks of the mountains in the south of Poland.
From the cities full of sightseeing wonders you can take a trip to breathtaking wild primeval forests with unique flora and fauna. In Poland, everybody will find something for themselves. Love windsurfing? Make sure you visit the Hel Peninsula. Are you into climbing? The Swietokrzyskie Mountains are waiting for you. You can also sail amidst the beautiful scenery of the Warmia and Masuria Regions or climb to the tops of the Tatra Mountains – the highest mountain range in Poland.
Poland is one of the fastest growing economies. It is the 6th largest economy in the EU and 21st in the world. Poland was the only EU member state that showed a positive GDP growth during the recent great economic crisis.
Curious about how it is to live in Poland? Read more in theEveryday life section.
- Which festivals and concerts are taking place in Poland? Read more in Culture
- What are Polish cities like? Go to Cities to find out!
- Traveling around Poland? Check our top destinations in Tourism
EVERYDAY LIFE IN POLAND
Poland is a relatively safe country with a low crime rate. However, as in anywhere else in the world, it is recommended to use common sense and avoid situations where your own safety can be put at risk. Avoid walking alone at night in empty streets, do not carry large sums of money, or respond to random comments from strangers. You should always make sure your apartment or car is locked behind you, and never leave your debit or credit cards at home.
The Polish State Police together with the Municipal Police look after your safety in Poland. The police ensure the Polish law is adhered to. They are responsible for investigation, criminal prosecution and the protection of civilians. The policemen have the right to ask for your ID (if there is such a need) and to arrest people who constitute a threat to others. If you break the law, the policeman can give you a fine (mandat) or arrest you.
The municipal police look after public order in urban areas. They usually watch over the public safety during various events like concerts or festivals. If you encounter any problems, feel threatened, or simply get lost, you can always ask a policeman or a city guard for help.
COST OF LIVING
Even though Poland has been a member state of the European Union since 2004, it is still less expensive to live in Poland than in other EU countries.
The cost of everyday products.
It is best to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at a local market (every town in Poland hosts a market at least twice a week). Remember that everyday products are cheaper in the supermarkets and bigger grocery stores than in local housing estate shops.
Złoty is a Polish currency (zł, PLN). 1 złoty is 100 groszy (gr.) The banknotes are in values of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 PLN and the coins are in the value of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 gr. and 1, 2, and 5 PLN.
In the future, Poland plans to adopt the European currency Euro
Currency can be exchanged in many banks or currency exchange shops. They are easy to be found in the city centers, airports, railway stations, places of tourist attractions, and in some hotels. If you would like to know what today’s exchange rate with your home currency is, check the Polish National Bank’s websitehttp://www.nbp.pl/Kursy/Kursya.html
Every city in Poland has its own public transport, so the prices of tickets differ from town to town. The good news is that as a student, you are entitled to a discount on public transport. It is usually up to 50% and you need to have a student ID in your possession. You can buy a single ride, or daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly passes. If you are using public transport on a regular basis, it is the cheapest and most convenient to purchase a quarterly ticket.
You can travel by bus, tram, metro and train in Poland. However, please bear in mind that the tram and bus tickets may not be accepted on the trains as a valid form of payment. Therefore, in order to avoid a fine, always make sure you have the right type of ticket suitable for the means of transport you have picked.
Apart from buses, trams and trains, you can also travel by taxi in every Polish town. However, it is usually the most expensive means of transport. The fares vary between 2-4 PLN per km and go up to 3,5 – 4,5 PLN at a nighttime. You can call for a taxi or hail one on the street. Alternatively, you can just use a taxi parked on the street. The taxi ranks are usually located near railway stations, airports, shopping centers or near the city attractions.
Beware that some of the private transport companies are not registered as taxis. They may have a taxi sign, yet the phone number is usually missing from the side of the car. We do not recommend using these as they are usually a lot more expensive. It is better to call for a taxi from one of the many corporations or just use one which has a phone number clearly written on the side door of the car.
Studying in Poland, you must be insured in the National Health Fund (NHF) or possess a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Having medical insurance is one of the requirements when you apply for a visa (more information in the Requirements section). If you are sick, you need to go to a General Practitioner (GP) who has signed an agreement with the NHF (which in practice means any doctor in a public or university medical centre) and show your EHIC or another proof of health insurance. The GP will examine you and refer you to a specialist or to further specialist examination or to a hospital if need be.
In case of emergency (an accident, sudden serious disease or giving birth) you can call for an ambulance or get admitted to a hospital’s emergency room (SOR). In such cases the medical transport is free of charge. However, in the hospital you’ll need to present your health insurance.
The freedom of creed is guaranteed by constitution in Poland. Officially, there are 138 types of religion registered in Poland. Christianity (Roman Catholic Church) is the most widely practiced religion in Poland. The second most popular faith is The Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church, followed by Augsburg Evangelical Church, Pentecostal Church and Seventh-day Adventist Church and a few others. The Jehovah’s Witness faith is also quite popular. Additionally, the following religious groups have a presence in Poland: The Association of Jewish Communities in Poland, The Muslim Religious Association, Crimean Karaites Religious Association, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Sikhism and The Buddhism Association.
POST AND TELEPHONES
In today’s world, mobile phones are one of the most popular and convenient means of communication. There are a lot of mobile networks in Poland. Era, Orange and Plus GSM are among the biggest ones. For the duration of your studies you can buy a billed phone in one of the above-mentioned mobile networks, or just use a pre-paid phone. Alternatively, you can make inexpensive Internet calls (like Skype or Tlenofon). In Poland, you can still make calls from the phone booths on the streets. Special calling cards can be purchased in the kiosks, press salons, petrol stations or post offices.
The national post operator is the Polish Post. If you would like to post a letter or a parcel, you can do it at one of the many post offices. You have two sending options: economy and priority. The priority option will get your letter to the recipient the following day (provided that you post it before 3pm) and within 3 days to another European. If you would like to send a letter to a country outside of Europe, it can take up to 5 or even 7 days. Economy letters take even longer and are not recommended. If you would like to know how much you are paying for your letters, you can check them onlinehttp://www.poczta-polska.pl/cennik.htm
If you are sending important documents, it is recommended that you post them by registered post, where you can track the letter’s whereabouts. In this way you can be sure your parcel will not get lost on its way.
Curious to know more about how it is to live in Poland? Read more in the Everyday life section.
HISTORY OF POLAND