Why you should consider studying in Poland: affordable tuition and amazing exchange opportunities
Jan 11, 2023
6 mins read
University of Lodz
💼 Bachelor: International Relations & Political Studies
⏳ Oct 2019 — Oct 2023
✅ Student Visa
University of Lodz
🤓 21,000 Students
🌏 8% International
Gap Year and previous experience
My admission story isn't exactly perfect. I graduated from a regular high school in 2016 with a focus on English and Arabic languages, but when I tried to enroll at Oriental University in Tashkent, I wasn't well-prepared for the entrance exams and ended up failing. After that, I took a job as a sales assistant at a shopping center for three years where I gained experience in customer service. While I was working, I kept trying to apply to universities in Uzbekistan, but it never worked out. I think I was just hoping that somehow I would magically be accepted without putting in the work, but that's not how it works, right?
How I found and applied to the University of Lodz
I've always dreamed of studying abroad, and once I was set on this goal, I started off by taking IELTS preparation courses for six months. These intense courses helped me improve my English from a pre-intermediate level to an upper intermediate, which gave me a fighting chance at universities abroad.
Even with improved English, I wasn’t sure where to start. It wasn't until a friend of mine told me about a university in Poland called the University of Lodz that I seriously began to consider it as an option. My friend described the opportunities available at the university and encouraged me to apply, telling me it would be a great experience. Up until that point, I had no real knowledge or understanding of Poland or its culture, but I decided to take a chance and applied just three days before the deadline. University actually granted me extra time to gather all the necessary documents, so I was able to complete the application process and was eventually accepted. It was a bit of a crazy and hectic process, but I'm so glad I took the chance and applied.
Application Process and IELTS
I ended up with an IELTS score of 6.5, which was good enough for me to be accepted to universities in Europe. I think a good IELTS score is one of the most important things prospective students should work on.
The application process was relatively straightforward and required:
application form with personal information
language certificate (IELTS, TOEFL, etc)
high school diploma and transcripts translated into Polish
For specific instructions on how to apply, you can visit this website.
I also had to apply for housing and provide a motivation letter explaining my interest in the university and what made me unique as a potential student. I felt like this essay was much easier than the ones required by US universities.
The visa process was a bit nerve-wracking, but overall, the application process wasn't too difficult. Some faculties required an interview as part of the application process, but my chosen faculty of International Relations and Political Studies did not. Instead, I simply had to choose my specialization and submit all the necessary documents. It was a bit of a rush to get everything done in time, as I only found out about the university three days before the deadline, but it worked out just fine.
(Cheap!) Tuition fees & Discount
Although the university doesn't offer scholarships, the tuition fees are fairly affordable. When I applied, I received a 50% discount as a student from a post-soviet country, which brought the annual tuition down to 1,250 euros (currently it slightly increased and the full cost of tuition is around 3,000 euros ).
Keep in mind that the exact cost will depend on your faculty, as some programs are more expensive than others. For comparison, I know that the faculty of management tends to be more expensive than the faculty of international relations and political studies, which is what I'm enrolled in. It's also worth mentioning that this university is actually cheaper than many universities in Uzbekistan.
The discount for students from post-Soviet countries is automatic and doesn't require any additional steps to obtain. As long as you indicate your country of origin when submitting your documents, you'll automatically receive the discount. There might be other discount options for citizens of different countries, so you should research that if you are considering this university.
Cost of Living
Poland is a very affordable country to live in, especially when compared to other European countries. At first, it might feel expensive for students coming from countries like Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan, but once you've settled in, you'll find that it's quite manageable. My own family is not particularly well off, but we've managed to make ends meet. A big factor in keeping costs down is the cost of housing. Living in a dormitory is not overly expensive, with prices ranging from around $100 to $200 per month. The quality of the dormitories varies, with some being nicer than others, but even the more expensive options are still reasonably priced. In terms of living expenses, budgeting around $500 per month will be enough to cover basic needs like food and other necessities. If you're looking to live in an apartment instead of a dormitory, you'll need to budget around $1000 per month.
When I first came to Poland, I was under the impression that I wouldn't need to learn Polish because "everyone speaks Russian." However, I quickly realized that this simply isn't true. In fact, many people in Poland don't appreciate it when foreigners speak Russian and now it's even more sensitive.
While it's not necessary to know Polish, it would definitely be beneficial for you in the future. There are certain places where you might need to deal with bureaucracy and there are some people who don't speak English at all. While most young people in Poland can speak English, it's still important to be aware that language barriers can still exist and it's always a good idea to be prepared.
Impressions of Poland
Life in Poland felt very different coming from Uzbekistan, and it took some time to adapt to the new culture and lifestyle. But Poland is a beautiful country with amazing nature, it's green in the spring and summer and it snows in the winter. When I first came, it was very cheap but now it's gotten a bit more expensive. However, it's still affordable.
Each city in Poland is unique and has its own identity, for example, Wroclaw is known for its gnomes, and Lodz is famous for street art. Poland is pretty safe and it's easy to find a job if you know English.
The city of Lodz, where my university is located, has a campus-like atmosphere with many universities in the area. It feels very diverse, with many international students coming through exchange programs like Erasmus.
Erasmus exchange semester in Turkey with a scholarship
Erasmus is an exchange program for students in European countries to study in any other European country. This program also includes a few non-European countries such as UK and Turkey, where I spent one semester. The process of applying for Erasmus is relatively straightforward. You'll need to provide a motivational letter outlining why you want to study abroad, what you hope to gain from the experience, and your expectations. It's important to note that Erasmus is not really about studying, but more about the cultural exchange experience. You then have to choose from three different universities, some are more competitive than others. Additionally, some universities have specific language requirements, for example, Spanish or French, so it's important to keep that in mind when applying.
In my case, I applied to study in Ireland during my second semester, but my program was canceled twice due to COVID-19. Eventually, I chose Turkey as my destination during my third semester, and it was an amazing experience. I was happy to learn the language and appreciate the country's culture. One of the benefits of the Erasmus program is that it is funded by the European Union. This means that you'll receive a full scholarship to cover your expenses, but the amount depends on the country. For Turkey, I received 450 euros/month, but for a more expensive place like the UK, it could be 500+ euros.
Working as a student
One thing I love about Poland is that you can work full-time (40 hours/week) on a student visa while studying. For internships, the limit is 20 hours/week. The academic workload is not easy, but most students manage to combine studies and work.
I suggest starting to look for a job as soon as you get to Poland, don't wait until after graduation. I made the mistake of thinking I had to wait until after I graduated, but that's not the case. It's totally possible to start working even from the first semester if you want. When it comes to finding a job, it all depends on your experience and what you bring to the table. Even if you have experience from Central Asian countries, that counts too. I started applying for jobs after realizing I had experience in customer service and I landed a job with an American company while in my third semester. And it was doable cause we had online classes, and it was way easier to balance!