Life in Poland
Poland is located in the middle of Europe. It connects East and West not only geographically, but also culturally.
The country has a surface area of 322,575 square kilometres. It is inhabited by 38 million people. Poland is a member of the European Union, NATO and the UN.
Our country is a perfect place for those who love tourism. One day you can admire the sunrise at the seaside, and on the next one you can see how beautiful are the views from the mountain peaks. From cities full of amazing monuments you can quickly set out on a trip to the breathtaking wild forests with their unique flora and fauna. There’s something to be found for everyone here. Do you love windsurfing? Go to the Hel Peninsula. Do you like climbing? The Świętokrzyskie Mountains are waiting for you. In our country you can also sail through the waters of the beautiful lakes of Warmia and Mazury, which have been nominated for one of the twenty-eight most beautiful places in the world, or climb to the peaks of the Tatras – the highest Polish mountains.
Poland also has a dynamically developing economy. We are ranked on 6th position in the EU and the 21st in the world. We were one of the few countries in the European Union who has had economic growth despite last great economic crisis.
Each city has its own urban transport authority, so ticket prices vary from city to city. The good news, however, is that if you are a student (and therefore have a student ID), you are entitled to a large discount (usually 50%). You can use one-time, daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly tickets – depending on how often you have to travel. However, it is always best to have a quarterly ticket, which is also the most cost-effective one.
Public transport is covered by buses, trams, metro lines and city railways owned by the municipal transport authority, it also includes numerous train lines. To use the latter you usually need to use different tickets. Remember, when buying a ticket, you need to make sure that it is definitely a ticket for the means of transport that you are planning to use.
In every city you can also take a taxi, but the most expensive mean of transport – usually the price per 1 km is about 2-4 PLN during the day, at night it is about 3.5-4.5 PLN. You can order a taxi by phone or at a taxi rank (they are usually located in the vicinity of railway stations, airports, shopping malls or tourist attractions). You can also stop passing taxis, although they will not always stop on your request.
You should know that in Poland you can also find transport companies that are not registered as taxis but look almost the same. You will get to know them because, firstly, they do not have the inscription "Taxi" and, secondly, they do not have a phone number on their car written in Arabic numerals, or at least the address of a website. We do not recommend that you use their services. It is better to call for a taxi from one of the corporations or use one that is correctly marked (so it has the inscription "Taxi" and the phone number on the car).
In recent years, international corporations such as Uber, My Taxi or Taxify have become a very popular form of car transport in cities – they are much cheaper than taxis and can be ordered using simple mobile applications, so they do not require knowledge of Polish.
While studying in Poland, you must be insured – one of the choices can be the National Health Fund or private health insurance. This is one of the conditions for your arrival (more information can be found in the Requirements in the Study section). In order to receive basic medical care, you should go to an English speaking doctor (GP), who receive patients in public or university outpatient clinics, as well as in the private medical centers. Your GP will examine you and may refer you to a specialist, a diagnostic service or a hospital. Having local health insurance policy will enable you to get a refund of basic health care costs.
IIn an emergency situation, e.g. accident, injury, sudden illness or childbirth, you can call an ambulance or go directly to a hospital emergency unit (SOR) or, in the event of childbirth, to a maternity ward in a hospital. In such case, medical transport is free of charge. However, you will need to present proof of insurance at the hospital.
In Poland, freedom of religion and conscience is constitutionally guaranteed, so if you are a follower of one of the legal religions, you do not have to worry about practising it. Officially, 138 churches and religious associations are registered in Poland. The dominant religion is Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism. After the Catholic Church, the second largest is the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Another very numerous religion is Protestantism: the Evangelical-Augsburg Church, the Pentecostal Community, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and several smaller religious associations. The Association of Jehovah's Witnesses' Denomination is quite numerous in Poland. In addition, there are also religious groups in Poland, such as the Union of Jewish Religious Communities, the Muslim Religious Union, the Karaim Religious Union, the International Society for the Consciousness of Krishna, Sikhism and the Buddhist Association.
Mail and phone
In today's world, the most popular is the use of mobile phones, and this is also the most convenient way of communication. There are many mobile phone networks in Poland, the largest being Orange, Play and T-Mobile. For the duration of your studies, you can subscribe to a network or use a wide range of pre-paid fares. Another way to make cheap calls is Internet telephony (e.g. Skype or WhatsApp). You can still use telephone booths, for which you can buy the cards at kiosks, newspaper agencies, petrol stations and post offices.
In 2017 roaming charges in the European Union were abolished, so if you have a Polish phone number, you can call and use the Internet without additional charges while travelling in Europe.
Remember, however, that operators often impose data limits and charge extra fees if you exceed them.
The national postal operator in Poland is Poczta Polska. So if you want to send a letter or a parcel, the easiest way is to go to one of the numerous Polish Post offices and send it there. There are two service options to choose from – you can send your shipment by priority mail or economic letter. Priority shipment should be delivered on the Polish territory on the day following the day of shipment (if you send it before 15.00, shipments sent after this hour are considered to have been sent the next day), it should reach another European country within 3 working days. When you send a letter to other places, it can take up to 5 (and sometimes up to 7) days. However, delivery by economic letter takes longer and is not recommended.
Since sometimes letters and parcels happen to be lost (which luckily does not happen very often), important shipments should be sent in form of registered letters - in this case you can track your parcel or letter and you receive a confirmation of posting.
Voltage in Poland is the same as in other countries of the European Union, and thus 230 V. Polish electrical sockets are referred to as 2P+ Z (two current paths and earth, the protective contact - a cylindrical pin). So if you are going to use equipment with other plugs, be sure to purchase an adapter that will fit the equipment's plug into the socket in your home.
Units of measurement
Poland uses the metric system, i.e. units of the International System of Units (ISU), i.e. 1 metre (1 m = 100 cm), 1 kg (1 kg = 1,000 g), among others. The speed of means of transport is measured in kilometres per hour (km/h). The temperature in Poland is determined on the basis of the Celsius scale (C, i.e. degrees Celsius), and atmospheric pressure is expressed in hectopascals (hPa).