“I recommend going on exchange for everyone. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and an experience you will never forget!”
Who: Skylar Warren-Blake
Studying: Bachelor of International Tourism
Where: Jagiellonian University, Poland
When: September 2012 – February 2013
What was your Orientation program like?
Jagiellonian University has a really great Orientation Week program; there are many events, meetings and parties that are organised for all of the international students. This student network has been amazing all semester as they are constantly planning events for us.
What subjects did you undertake?
I chose four subjects; two were more for the international students and we quite easy subjects with a much smaller work load compared to Flinders. I believe that these subjects were very easy for me as I was a native English speaker and most of the people that were in these classes were international students from throughout Europe who know English as a second language.
What support and resources were provided for exchange students?
The International Exchange Student network were a great facility for different events, if you need information or help and they were really great people to hang out with. Language courses were provided for international students if they wanted to do them, some used the language courses to gain extra points which is helpful.
Where did you live?
Off-campus, Student Dormitory.
Would you recommend your housing?
Yes I would recommend my accommodation for sure. I stayed in Zaczek student dormitory and it was very close to the centre, close to a public transport, extremely cheap and clean. I shared my room with one person and we had our own bathroom, but communal kitchens. International students have an option for student dorm accommodation and private renting.
How much money did you need for living expenses (entertainment, room and board, travel, books etc)?
In 6 months I think I will have spent $10,000. This includes flights, accommodation, living expenses and a lot of travelling 🙂
Did you receive financial assistance through a scholarship and/or OS-help loan?
Yes, I received a scholarship from the EU-AU Border Crossing: People and Places project and I also received Centrelink (Youth Allowance) payments while I was studying overseas.
What were the major differences between the culture in Poland vs Australia?
Language, food, focus on religion!
Did you have any fears before going on exchange? Were you able to overcome these?
I had no fears, I just wanted to get there, settle in and make friends!
Best ways to make friends?
I made lots and lots of friends through the exchange students’ events that were organised by the International Office. I found it a little more difficult to meet Polish/local people! But I did have a Polish mentor and a Polish roommate. The best ways of integrating yourself into a society is make their culture your own. Live like the locals, eat like them, try and learn the language. Be respectful.
The biggest difficult you encountered on exchange?
The language barrier was the biggest difficulty that I experienced while living in Poland. However, I got there eventually; it takes time and patience when living in a different country and trying to communication with the locals. Fortunately I hardly felt homesick whilst I was away. I settled in to Poland and made great friends and I really enjoyed my time there! 6 months is a short period of time, I didn’t have time to feel homesick, I needed to make the most of my time there.
What aspect of the exchange experience did you feel was most rewarding?
Traveling and being able to experience so many different countries and cultures
What tips and advice would you give to someone who’s going on a student exchange?
Make the most of every day, time goes so quickly and before you know it you will be home and back to normality. Try and learn the language of the country you are in!!