What is life in Warsaw really like? To help you stay up to date, we’ve asked our students to share what they found while abroad in the Polish capital!
SRAS: First, think of the city – what was available in terms of culture, shopping, and services. Were you able to find things to do and the goods and services you needed? What was missing? Were there any pleasant surprises?
Allie Schauer (Summer, 2019): Warsaw has a little bit of everything! There were enough museums, memorials, nightlife, and parks to stay busy. My most exciting and surprising find was Pinball Station, a pinball and video game arcade in Warsaw near the Night Market. Going to the arcade for a couple hours before grabbing a late-night snack at the market is an awesome way to start the weekend, and a really nice way to balance out some of the more emotionally heavy history museums and memorials. The Złote Tarasy mall is right across the street from the school – the food court and movie theater there are great. There were also stores at the mall and all around Warsaw where you could buy just about anything you need.
SRAS: How were the prices abroad? Did you find your host city affordable in terms of food and entertainment?
Allie Schauer (Summer, 2019): Prices in Warsaw are extremely affordable, especially compared to those in Austin, Texas, where I go to school in the US. You can get a nice traditional meal at a sit-down restaurant for less than 15USD and a quick lunch from a food truck for around 4-5USD. On weeks where I made my own food for every meal, I would spend about 20-30USD on groceries. Entertainment is also affordable. Movie tickets range in price depending on movie and showtime, but are about 8-10USD. Most museums and other entertainment options with entrance fees have student prices with a valid school ID, and tend to cost about 3USD.
SRAS: How were the people you met? Were you able to generally complete transactions with any professionals you interacted with (at offices, cafes, shops)? Did you find local friends to share your free time with?
Allie Schauer (Summer, 2019): I have been studying Polish and so had no problem speaking and being understood in Polish; other people on the trip didn’t speak any Polish but had very few if any issues with speaking English with professionals in Warsaw. This was not the case in smaller, less international cities and towns, like Łódź and Zakopane, where English is less common. However, we were able to work together to translate and communicate, so the language barrier was navigable. I tended to spend my free time with the friends I was making through Collegium Civitas and the study abroad program. However, I became good friends with my coworkers during my internship at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and enjoyed my time and conversations with them.
SRAS: What modes of transport did you use? Did you generally find them convenient and affordable? Did you travel outside the city during your stay?
Allie Schauer (Summer, 2019): I took the tram every day, and frequented the bus, train, and subway systems as well. They do not always stick to their time tables, so you have to be patient and flexible. Additionally, most don’t have air conditioning, which was a little rough during the heatwave we had this summer. Despite these little things, all the transport systems are convenient, easy to figure out, and have affordable tickets. I traveled within Poland to Krakow, Zakopane, Łódź, and Gdańsk, and outside of Poland to Berlin and Prague.
Best and Worst Things
SRAS: What was the best thing about your stay in St. Petersburg? What was the worst?
Allie Schauer (Summer, 2019): The best part of my stay in Warsaw were the cultural events that I didn’t expect or plan for. Just by exploring and being in the right places at the right times, I was able to see protests, parades, festivals, and concerts. The most memorable to me were the set of concerts in front of the Palace of Science and Culture on Constitution Day and the March of Remembrance around the former Warsaw Ghetto areas on the anniversary of the liquidation of the ghetto. I genuinely can’t think of a “worst part.” It got really hot for about a week and we had several days of heavy rainstorms, but the weather never stopped us from enjoying our time in Warsaw.