Few real reasons to choose Poland for your exchange program with AFS.
Living in Iceland brings few very specific characteristics to your life. A unique day to night ratios, crazy storms and beautiful landscapes are all part of everyday life.
When you take the society into consideration it’s hard to miss all the tourists visiting the country. However, there is a group of people – called the minority – who live in Iceland, being not Icelandic. This biggest minority is constituted by Poles. What do you know about their culture, origin and country? And why it is easiest to understand all of this by spending your exchange year in Poland?
Moving to Poland as an Icelander
What might scare you is what you heard or read about Poland. Contrary to what is a very popular stereotype, Polish people speak English very well – especially younger generations. Older people were not taught English in school as the country was being under foreign control for many years until 1989. What you can be sure is that even the older generation will do their best to communicate with you. They often know languages such as: French, German and Russian.
A good reason is that even though paying for your exchange will be a great deal for your budget, living in Poland as a teenager is cheap. You can go out for burgers with friends (vegan options widely available!) for as low as 500 – 600 kronas! Of course, there options that will be more and less expensive (we do have a lot of McDonald’s!). Taking a trip by train from Warsaw to Cracow will be also extremely cheap compared to travelling around Iceland. All of this means that you’re getting the best possible exchange experience in Europe for less money.
Speaking of money – in Iceland debit/credit cards are extremely popular and you’re probably accustomed to using only these. Poland is not much different. Using contactless payments, phones and other ways is extremely popular and you can use these to pay nearly everywhere. (It is advised to keep 20 zloty – around 650 kronas – just in case you will go to a very small shop in a village while travelling C:)
Living in Poland, with Polish people!
Polish families are often close together and they’ll do the best to make you feel like at home. Your new Polish friends will keep you company and show around the city – as there is always a place you wouldn’t find on your own! Polish teens tend to spend their time in different cafes: small, vintage, modern and very unusual. They often go out for the weekends or take short trips to multiple lakes, mountain ranges or different cities. Sometimes they also just watch Netflix for the whole day – being human requires a dose of “me time” ;).
Speaking Polish, all the time!
Polish language is very different from Icelandic. But just to give you an idea that it’s not that scary: we say “ananas” and “akurat” (akkúrat).
Your host-family, friends and other people will help you learn the language and there is one trick you need to know about! Even knowing few words or just one sentence in Polish as a foreigner opens a lot of people towards you. Poles appreciate every effort people make to learn Polish, as we realize how hard it is to learn it (multiple mentions, next to Icelandic, as one of the hardest languages to learn). Just visit a page on Wikipedia about the Polish language – you’ll see how diverse and crazy it is.
There is not much to say here. Coming to Poland is worth just to try all the great dishes we have here. Also, this illustrates how diverse Poland is in more things – not only the language. There are some musts your host-mum and grandma will make you try. But apart from that Polish cities are full of international cuisine. You can try dishes from many countries around the world, visit the food trucks meet-up or go crazy on Polish food festivals! As mentioned – inexpensive thing to do 😉
See you in Poland!