Step back to the 14th century in one of Europe's most beautiful cities. Stoll along the Odra River's canals as you explore magnificent gardens, museums, galleries and cathedrals. With one in six residents attending the university, student activities amd festivals are in abundance. On the border of Central and Easter Europe, you're only a train ride away from Berlin, Krakow, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Minsk and Vilnius.



Languages Spoken:

Polish

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW 

Wroclaw is one of the leading academic centers of Poland with over 120,000 students enrolled in the city's 13 major schools, the biggest being the 300-year-old University of Medicine, which has around 42,000 students, and the Wroclaw University of Technology, with 33,000 students. Other famous institutions include the Academy of Agriculture, Medical Academy, Fine Arts Academy, Academy of Music and the Academy of Economics, all of which enjoy an enviable reputation in Poland and abroad. The University of Wroclaw offers ten faculties, has 38,000 students, 1350 Ph.D. students and approximately 1,800 academic instructors. 

Students that elected basic vocational school or technical secondary school during their high school years have the option of continuing on to supplementary general secondary school (uzupelniajace liceum ogolnoksztalcace) or supplementary technical secondary school (technikum uzupelniajace). A secondary school certificate (swiadectwo dojrzalosci) is necessary for entrance into an institution of higher education and is available to all students following the completion of undergraduate study in either academic or technical fields. Specialized secondary school, general secondary school, and technical secondary school attendees may elect to go to one of the many academic schools (szkoly wyzsze). 

Due to the Bologna Process of 2007/2008, the Polish higher education system has been divided into three stages, which are bachelor (licencjat, inzynier), master (magister), and doctor (doktor). This system applies to all fields of education except law, pharmacy, psychology, medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry, which are still based on two-stage system (master and doctorate). 

The academic schools are divided by field of study and are similar to undergraduate institutions in the United States. General secondary school students may also choose to attend post-secondary school (szkola policealna). A title of licencjat is awarded upon completion of professional academic studies; inzynier is given to those that complete undergraduate studies in a technical area. The option to earn a master's degree (magister) or a doctorate degree (doktor) is available to all students who hold the title of licencjat or inzynier

The majority of private higher educational institutions offer three-year courses of study for a bachelor's degree. Only about twelve institutions offer a five-year course of study, which leads to a master's degree. 

The languages of instruction in Polish higher-education institutions include Polish, English and German. 

STUDYING IN POLAND 

Courses 

Course offerings will be listed online prior to your arrival in Poland, with courses at the bachelor's and master's level in English. All courses are open to visiting students, though some may be unavailable due to limited space. The most common courses of study for visiting students include political science, international relations, economics and history.  

Registration 

Students will receive their personal UWr student number and access to account in USOSWEB system at the beginning of semester. You will need to register for courses using this number (the process for this will be explained during orientation). 

Course Load 

The Polish academic year runs in two semesters; the first semester runs from approximately late September to late January, with a one-month winter break, and the spring semester runs from February or March until the end of June. Exams are taken over a period of a few weeks at the end of the semester (depending on the faculty). 

A typical student takes four to seven classes per term, spending ten to 20 hours per week in class. 

Exams & Grading 

University-level education uses numeric grades from two to five with half-point intervals. A 2.0 is a failing grade, the lowest passing grade is 3.0, and the highest mark achievable is 5.0. There is no 2.5 grade. A 5.5 is rarely given as an "exceeds expectation" grade, but for all official purposes is equivalent to 5.0. Grading occurs every semester (twice a year). Depending upon the subject, the final grade may be based upon a single exam or upon the student's performance during the whole semester. 

Wroclaw University uses the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation (ECTS) credit system. Students have their own student booklet (indeks), with all classes and marks they gained (marks come from the professors). Based on this booklet, the International Relations Office prepares an official transcript of records. 

Transcripts 

At the end of semester, your instructors will record your grades into the USOSWEB system. A Transcript of Records will be printed by student and submitted to the Dean's office at your respective faculty to have it checked and approved. Students must fill in an address form at their dean's office so the Transcript can be sent to ISEP, and then forwarded to the student's home university. 

Visa and Residency

COVID-19 Update: Visa and Residency guidelines are subject to change and may be updated without warning a result of COVID-19 governmental regulations. Students should review the Special Conditions of Placement in their ISEP Acceptance Package for the most current information.

Please note that students should ALWAYS check the website of the embassy/consulate with jurisdiction over their place of residence first, as the information in this handbook regarding visa application instructions is subject to change without warning. 

 

STUDENT VISA

Type of visa for Semester or Full Year: National (Type D) Visa

Visa fee: up to 70€

Expected processing time: 15 days from submission at in-person interview

 

When to apply: students should begin collecting documents immediately, but will not be able to apply until after they receive the acceptance letter and any admission documents from the host university

 

HOW TO APPLY

You should contact your local nearest Embassy/Consulate of Poland to determine which documents will be needed for your visa application, as this varies from country to country. At a minimum, students will be required to provide:

- the acceptance letter from the university

- visa supporting letter

- proof of medical insurance

- bank statement confirming proof of sufficient means for living and returning from Poland

- original passport

- return plane tickets

- visa fee

- visa application

Students can find their consulate or embassy and schedule an appointment at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs webpage. If your country does not have an embassy or consulate, please find the nearest one. You will need to submit all required documents at your in-person visa appointment.

 

IMPORTANT NOTES

- The Polish national/student visa allows you to study in Poland and travel for a short period to other Schengen countries only. If you plan to exit and enter Poland multiple times, apply for a multiple-entry visa.  

- Poland is a member of the Schengen area. Students should review the important regulations that dictate travel and visas within the Schengen area.

- If you are granted a student visa, you should still carry your acceptance letter from the university when traveling to Poland. At Border Control you will be asked the purpose of your travel, and may be requested to show proof of your acceptance to the university.

- Remember, your local Polish Consulate is the official source of all visa information.  If you have questions regarding the visa application, you must contact your local Consulate.  ISEP Cannot contact Consulates on behalf of students.
For Consular information, please visit the Polish Embassy’s website.

 

RESOURCES

- Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Schedule a Visa Appointment

- Embassies and Consulates of Poland Around the World

- Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland

 

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Updated February 2021

Culture

CULTURE

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska), is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north. The total area of Poland is 312,679 square kilometres (120,726 sq mi), making it the 69th largest country in the world and the 9th largest in Europe. Poland has a population of over 38 million people, which makes it the 34th most populous country in the world and one of the most populous members of the European Union. Poland is considered to have one of the healthiest economies of the post-communist countries, and is currently the fastest growing country within the EU. Since the fall of the communist government.

Wroclaw

Wroclaw is quickly establishing itself as one of Poland's brightest spots for culture. Amongst the many Gothic and Baroque churches, the beautiful parks and newly restored Gothic Market Square there are lots of museums, galleries, cinemas and theatres in Wroclaw to enrich your mind. In the Market Square itself you will almost always chance upon an impromptu concert or troops of street-performers entertaining the crowds with fire-juggling, break-dancing, or folk music - all of which is best enjoyed with a cold beer from the comfort of the square's bars and cafes. The city hosts more than it's fair share of festivals, including the international renowned Wratislavia Cantans, the Jazz on the Oder Festival and the cultural marathon that is Wroclaw Non-Stop.

Religion

Because of the Holocaust and the post-World War II flight and expulsion of German and Ukrainian populations, Poland has become almost uniformly Roman Catholic. Most Poles - approximately 88,4% in 2007 down 0,4% compared to 2006 - are members of the Roman Catholic Church. Though rates of religious observance (with 40.4% Sunday mass attendance in 2008) are currently lower than they have been in the past, Poland remains one of the most devoutly religious countries in Europe.

Holidays

Note that Catholic religious holidays are widely observed in Poland. Stores, malls, and restaurants are likely to be closed or have very limited business hours on Easter, All Saints Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Easter happens in March or April. Like Christmas, it is primarily a meaningful Christian holiday. On the Saturday before Easter, churches offer special services in anticipation of the holiday, including blessing of food.. On Easter Sunday itself, practicing Catholics go to the morning mass, followed by a celebratory breakfast made of foods blessed the day before. On Easter Sunday, shops, malls, and restaurants are commonly closed.

Lany Poniedziałek, or Śmigus Dyngus, is the Monday after Easter, and also a holiday. It's the day of an old tradition with pagan roots.Often groups of boys will try to catch groups of girls, and vice versa; but innocent passers-by are not exempt from the game, and are expected to play along. Common 'weapons' include water guns and water baloons, but children, especially outdoors and in the countryside, like to use buckets and have no mercy on passers-by.

Constitution Day falls on May 3rd, in rememberance of the Constitution of May 3rd, 1791. The document itself was a highly progressive attempt at political reform, and it was Europe's first constitution (and world's second, after the US). Today, May 3rd is a national holiday, often combined with the May 1 (Labor Day) into a larger celebration.

All Saints Day falls on the 1st of November. In the afternoon and evening, people visit graves of their relatives and light candles. After dusk cemeteries glow with thousands of lights and offer a very picturesque scene. If you have the chance, be sure to visit a cemetery to witness the holiday. Many restaurants, malls, and stores will either be closed or close earlier than usual on this holiday.

National Independence Day (Narodowe Święto Niepodległości) is a public holiday celebrated every year on 11 November to commemorate the anniversary of Poland's assumption of independent statehood in 1918 after 123 after being partitioned by Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia. As with most other holidays, many businesses will be closed on this day.

Christmas Eve (Wigilia), December 24th. One of the most important days of the year, and the most important feast. This is the day when everything closes down as people go home to celebrate Christmas with friends and family. It's also one of the most interesting holidays due to the customs. Typically, Poles will prepare a twelve (representing the twelve apostles) course vegetarian meal and will begin eating after they see the first star in the night sky. In Poland, Wigilia is more important than Christmas Day, but also a working day - shops are usually open till early afternoon.

New Year's Eve (Sylwester) December 31st. One of the party nights of the year.

Food

Generally speaking, Polish cuisine is hearty. With influences from France and Italy, as well as Armenian, Lithuanian, Cossack, Hungarian and Jewish flavors, it is rich in meat, especially chicken and pork, and winter vegetables and spices, as well as different kinds of noodles, the most notable of which are the pierogi. It is related to other Slavic cuisines in usage of kasza and other cereals. The traditional cuisine generally is demanding and Poles allow themselves a generous amount of time to prepare and enjoy their festive meals, with some meals (like Christmas eve or Easter Breakfast) taking a number of days to prepare in their entirety.

Notable foods in Polish cuisine include kiełbasa, barszcz, pierogi, flaczki (tripe soup), gołąbki, oscypek, pork chops, bigos, various potato dishes, a fast food sandwich (zapiekanka) and many more. Traditional Polish desserts include pączki, gingerbread and others.

Drink

Poland is on the border of European "vodka" and "beer culture". Poles enjoy alcoholic drinks at least as much as other Europeans. You can buy beer, vodka and wine.

Officially, in order to buy alcohol one should be over 18 years old and be able to prove it with a valid ID (which is strictly enforced).

Milk bars

If you want to eat cheaply, you should visit a milk bar (bar mleczny). A milk bar is very basic sort of fast food restaurant that serves cheap Polish fare and are usually subsidized by the state. Nowadays it has become harder and harder to find a milk bar, but eating there is a unique experience - it is not uncommon that you will encounter people from various social classes - students, businessmen, university professors, elderly people, sometimes even homeless, all eating side-by-side in a 1970s-like environment.

Customs

Some men, particularly older men, may kiss a woman's hand when greeting or saying goodbye. Kissing a woman's hand is considered to be chivalrous, but you will not go wrong shaking hands. For a more heartfelt greeting or goodbye, close friends of either sex will kiss three times, alternating cheeks.

A fairly common practice is for people to greet each other with a dzień dobry (Good day) when entering elevators, or, at the very least, saying do widzenia (Good bye) when exiting the elevator.

Toilets

Most public toilets have turned to pay-per-use schemes; expect to pay 1 - 2 zł to use a public restroom, eg. at a bus station or at a fast-food place. Toilets for women are marked with a circle on the door, and toilets for men are marked with a triangle. All restaurants and bars are forced by law to have toilets inside (but not all comply). It's not a common practice to use their toilet without ordering (at least coffee), but if you ask a waiter, he wouldn't mind in most cases. Sometimes you have to get a key to the toilet at the counter. If there seems to be a lack of public toilets you may want to try to visit McDonald's (or another fast food place) just to use the toilet.

LGBT

LGBT issues remain very controversial, still very much taboo (although decreasingly so), and routinely exploited by conservative politicians. Polish culture also has a long tradition of chivalry and strong, traditional gender roles. That said, in larger, cosmopolitan areas, gays and lesbians shouldn't have a hard time fitting in, although trans visitors will immediately attract attention.

Daily Life

CULTURE

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska), is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north. The total area of Poland is 312,679 square kilometres (120,726 sq mi), making it the 69th largest country in the world and the 9th largest in Europe. Poland has a population of over 38 million people, which makes it the 34th most populous country in the world and one of the most populous members of the European Union. Poland is considered to have one of the healthiest economies of the post-communist countries, and is currently the fastest growing country within the EU. Since the fall of the communist government.

Wroclaw

Wroclaw is quickly establishing itself as one of Poland's brightest spots for culture. Amongst the many Gothic and Baroque churches, the beautiful parks and newly restored Gothic Market Square there are lots of museums, galleries, cinemas and theatres in Wroclaw to enrich your mind. In the Market Square itself you will almost always chance upon an impromptu concert or troops of street-performers entertaining the crowds with fire-juggling, break-dancing, or folk music - all of which is best enjoyed with a cold beer from the comfort of the square's bars and cafes. The city hosts more than it's fair share of festivals, including the international renowned Wratislavia Cantans, the Jazz on the Oder Festival and the cultural marathon that is Wroclaw Non-Stop.

Religion

Because of the Holocaust and the post-World War II flight and expulsion of German and Ukrainian populations, Poland has become almost uniformly Roman Catholic. Most Poles - approximately 88,4% in 2007 down 0,4% compared to 2006 - are members of the Roman Catholic Church. Though rates of religious observance (with 40.4% Sunday mass attendance in 2008) are currently lower than they have been in the past, Poland remains one of the most devoutly religious countries in Europe.

Holidays

Note that Catholic religious holidays are widely observed in Poland. Stores, malls, and restaurants are likely to be closed or have very limited business hours on Easter, All Saints Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Easter happens in March or April. Like Christmas, it is primarily a meaningful Christian holiday. On the Saturday before Easter, churches offer special services in anticipation of the holiday, including blessing of food.. On Easter Sunday itself, practicing Catholics go to the morning mass, followed by a celebratory breakfast made of foods blessed the day before. On Easter Sunday, shops, malls, and restaurants are commonly closed.

Lany Poniedziałek, or Śmigus Dyngus, is the Monday after Easter, and also a holiday. It's the day of an old tradition with pagan roots.Often groups of boys will try to catch groups of girls, and vice versa; but innocent passers-by are not exempt from the game, and are expected to play along. Common 'weapons' include water guns and water baloons, but children, especially outdoors and in the countryside, like to use buckets and have no mercy on passers-by.

Constitution Day falls on May 3rd, in rememberance of the Constitution of May 3rd, 1791. The document itself was a highly progressive attempt at political reform, and it was Europe's first constitution (and world's second, after the US). Today, May 3rd is a national holiday, often combined with the May 1 (Labor Day) into a larger celebration.

All Saints Day falls on the 1st of November. In the afternoon and evening, people visit graves of their relatives and light candles. After dusk cemeteries glow with thousands of lights and offer a very picturesque scene. If you have the chance, be sure to visit a cemetery to witness the holiday. Many restaurants, malls, and stores will either be closed or close earlier than usual on this holiday.

National Independence Day (Narodowe Święto Niepodległości) is a public holiday celebrated every year on 11 November to commemorate the anniversary of Poland's assumption of independent statehood in 1918 after 123 after being partitioned by Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia. As with most other holidays, many businesses will be closed on this day.

Christmas Eve (Wigilia), December 24th. One of the most important days of the year, and the most important feast. This is the day when everything closes down as people go home to celebrate Christmas with friends and family. It's also one of the most interesting holidays due to the customs. Typically, Poles will prepare a twelve (representing the twelve apostles) course vegetarian meal and will begin eating after they see the first star in the night sky. In Poland, Wigilia is more important than Christmas Day, but also a working day - shops are usually open till early afternoon.

New Year's Eve (Sylwester) December 31st. One of the party nights of the year.

Food

Generally speaking, Polish cuisine is hearty. With influences from France and Italy, as well as Armenian, Lithuanian, Cossack, Hungarian and Jewish flavors, it is rich in meat, especially chicken and pork, and winter vegetables and spices, as well as different kinds of noodles, the most notable of which are the pierogi. It is related to other Slavic cuisines in usage of kasza and other cereals. The traditional cuisine generally is demanding and Poles allow themselves a generous amount of time to prepare and enjoy their festive meals, with some meals (like Christmas eve or Easter Breakfast) taking a number of days to prepare in their entirety.

Notable foods in Polish cuisine include kiełbasa, barszcz, pierogi, flaczki (tripe soup), gołąbki, oscypek, pork chops, bigos, various potato dishes, a fast food sandwich (zapiekanka) and many more. Traditional Polish desserts include pączki, gingerbread and others.

Drink

Poland is on the border of European "vodka" and "beer culture". Poles enjoy alcoholic drinks at least as much as other Europeans. You can buy beer, vodka and wine.

Officially, in order to buy alcohol one should be over 18 years old and be able to prove it with a valid ID (which is strictly enforced).

Milk bars

If you want to eat cheaply, you should visit a milk bar (bar mleczny). A milk bar is very basic sort of fast food restaurant that serves cheap Polish fare and are usually subsidized by the state. Nowadays it has become harder and harder to find a milk bar, but eating there is a unique experience - it is not uncommon that you will encounter people from various social classes - students, businessmen, university professors, elderly people, sometimes even homeless, all eating side-by-side in a 1970s-like environment.

Customs

Some men, particularly older men, may kiss a woman's hand when greeting or saying goodbye. Kissing a woman's hand is considered to be chivalrous, but you will not go wrong shaking hands. For a more heartfelt greeting or goodbye, close friends of either sex will kiss three times, alternating cheeks.

A fairly common practice is for people to greet each other with a dzień dobry (Good day) when entering elevators, or, at the very least, saying do widzenia (Good bye) when exiting the elevator.

Toilets

Most public toilets have turned to pay-per-use schemes; expect to pay 1 - 2 zł to use a public restroom, eg. at a bus station or at a fast-food place. Toilets for women are marked with a circle on the door, and toilets for men are marked with a triangle. All restaurants and bars are forced by law to have toilets inside (but not all comply). It's not a common practice to use their toilet without ordering (at least coffee), but if you ask a waiter, he wouldn't mind in most cases. Sometimes you have to get a key to the toilet at the counter. If there seems to be a lack of public toilets you may want to try to visit McDonald's (or another fast food place) just to use the toilet.

LGBT

LGBT issues remain very controversial, still very much taboo (although decreasingly so), and routinely exploited by conservative politicians. Polish culture also has a long tradition of chivalry and strong, traditional gender roles. That said, in larger, cosmopolitan areas, gays and lesbians shouldn't have a hard time fitting in, although trans visitors will immediately attract attention.

Health and Safety

COVID-19 Note: ISEP expects changes to COVID-19 vaccine requirements for 2021 and 2022 programs. If the student's host country, host university, home university, home country, or travel provider require a COVID-19 vaccination, students must comply with that requirement. ISEP will notify students if we become aware of changes in the terms of participation for their program.

Prescription Medications: If you’re planning to bring your prescription or over-the-counter medicine on your trip, you need to make sure your medicine is travel-ready. More information can be found here, and please contact your Student Services Coordinator and ISEP Coordinator with any additional questions.

General Health Guidelines: Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference our Guides and Tips section for general information regarding health and safety abroad. 

Detailed information about Poland can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and SecurityLocal Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections. 

Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State. Non-U.S. nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections. 

Currency

CURRENCY

The official Polish currency is the złoty (literally, ‘golden’), abbreviated to zł and pronounced zwo-ti. It is divided into 100 groszy, which are abbreviated to gr. The coins, apart from groszy, are: 1, 2, 5 zloty. Notes are in 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200. It is a quite stable currency that has remained fairly constant in the last few years.

You can change foreign currency to zloty at kantors. Some of them, especially at the train stations, are open 24 hours a day. You can also go to a bank. In addition, ATMs (bankomat) are becoming more common and can be used to draw money directly from a home account. The exchange rate you receive using a bankomat will often be the most current rate. If you plan to withdrawal money from a home account while in Poland, be sure to notify your bank first.

BANKS

Banks are generally open Mondays to Fridays: 08:00 - 16:00
Saturdays: 09:00 - 13:00

CREDIT CARDS

Many hotels, restaurants, shops, travel agencies, airline offices and filling stations accept major credit cards, such as American Express, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, Eurocard, JCB, MasterCard, PolCard, or Visa. This is indicated by respective stickers placed in the window of the entrance door.

ATM/CASH POINTS

Most towns in Poland have a couple of bankomaty (ATMs), and the majority accept Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro cards. The easiest and cheapest way to carry money is in the form of a debit card, with which you can withdraw cash either over the counter in a bank or from an ATM. Charges are minimal at major Polish banks (typically from zero to about 2%) and some home banks charge nothing at all for the use of their cards overseas. Check with your bank about transaction fees and withdrawal limits.

International transfers

You can have money sent to you through the Western Union money transfer service. Money is received within 15 minutes of the sender transferring it (along with the transaction fee) at any of the 30, 000 Western Union agents scattered ¬ worldwide. Western Union outlets can be found in all Polish cities and most large towns. Information on locations and conditions can be obtained toll-free on 0800 120 224.

PRACTICAL TIPS

Tipping: It is customary to leave a tip in restaurants and cafes. About 10% is customary. Tipping in self-service restaurants is not expected. Tips for porter's services in hotels and train stations are expected but amounts for services rendered are at the traveler's discretion.

Safety: Be aware of the potential for petty street crime and con artists. Be sure to follow common safety precautions at all times. If you lose your passport, please immediately contact your embassy and the local police.

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