Living in Poland
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.
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.
|Alarm phone numbers in Poland:|
|112 It is dialed in the same way from both mobile phones and stationary phones. An operator will put you through to the right emergency section.|
|Police||997 If you are calling from a mobile phone, you need to dial the relevant city code before the number, for example 22977 if you are calling the police department in Warsaw.|
|Fire brigade||998 If you are calling from a mobile phone, you need to dial the relevant city code before the number, for example 22977 if you are calling the fire brigade in Warsaw.|
|Emergency service/ambulance||If you are calling for an ambulance from a stationary phone or a phone booth, you need to call 999. If you are calling from a mobile phone, you need to dial the relevant city code before the number, for example 22999 will get you an ambulance in Warsaw.|
|981 If you are calling from a mobile phone, you need to dial the relevant city code before the number, for example 22981 if you are calling emergency road service in Warsaw.|
|Municipal Police||986 If you are calling from a mobile phone, you need to dial the relevant city code before the number, for example 22986 if you are calling municipal police in Warsaw.|
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.
Below you can find a list of most common everyday products along with their cost:
|A loaf of bread
Butter (200 g)
Pasta (0,5 kg)
Rice (0,5 kg)
Minced meat (beef / pork)
|from 2 PLN
from 3 PLN
from 2 PLN
from 4 PLN
from 4 PLN
from 3 PLN per 1 kg
from 3 PLN per 1 kg
from 4 PLN per 1 kg
from 10 PLN per 1 kg
from 12 PLN per 1 kg
from 10 PLN per 1 kg
from 5 PLN per carton of 10
|Bath & Cleaning:|
Universal cleaning cream
(for bathroom and kitchen)
|from 7 PLN
from 5 PLN
from 5 PLN
from 10 PLN
|Clothes (cheaper brands):|
|from 80 PLN
from 100 PLN
from 80 PLN
from 100 PLN
from 60 PLN
from 80 PLN
from 70 PLN
|Haircut for men
Haircut for women
|from 20 PLN
from 40 PLN
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 website http://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.
OTHER PRACTICAL INFORMATION
The electric current pressure in Poland is the same as that in other EU countries, which means 230 V. Polish sockets are the so-called French type E. They have a round plug with two round pins measuring 4.8 by 19 mm, spaced 19 mm apart and with a hole for the socket’s ground pin. Sockets are installed with the earth pin upwards. So if you are planning to use electronic devices brought from home to Poland, make sure you buy an adapter first.
UNITS OF MEASUREMENT
In Poland there is a meter system, which means we use the following criteria: 1 m = 100 cm, 1 kg = 1000 g. The speed of the means of transport is measured in kilometers per hour km / h. For checking the temperature we use Celsius degrees and the air pressure is measured in hectopascals (hPa)
Information prepared by Think Poland.
To find out more about Poland go to: http://thinkpoland.org/art/life-in-poland
See also: Information about Zamosc