Back from Poland: we tested out Warsaw as a team, and even went as far as Krakow and Gdansk as individuals! Here are our impressions of the country, what we took away from it, and what we recommend for you to discover this Central European country during your work placement in Poland!

The first trip to Poland!

My first trip to Poland was in Gdansk in 2011. I’d just finished a 4-month work placement in Ibiza, Spain, and I have to admit that I didn’t really like the change straight away. You go from 38 degrees in the middle of October to an insignificant number of degrees, and my little heart ached: and my little arms and body felt very cold. But Gdansk is very colourful, very student-oriented and it’s by the sea: I find that the atmosphere here is very different from that in Warsaw or Krakow. At the same time, are you having fun comparing Bayonne, Paris and Lyon? Nope. Gdansk is a busy place, and I found the people very welcoming, and the city itself gives a feeling of tranquillity and security. It’s a city on a human scale, a bit like Nantes, for example, in France. What’s more, from Gdansk there are ferries that take you directly to Helsinki in Finland, or Copenhagen in Denmark: and these too are very nice cities to visit, or even to live in during a work placement abroad.

Krakow, my second visit to Poland!

First of all, it’s going to be very difficult for me to say anything bad about Krakow: if Anissa comes across this blog – when I read it again in 2023, I think it’s time to go and check it out somewhere else ? – she’s going to send me a nuclear warhead. And, above all: the city is splendid! It’s very touristy; let’s just say it’s the city most similar to Western European culture. You won’t feel out of place; the city has been renovated recently, and the old town in particular is a knockout. There’s plenty of varied activities to do, including a vibrant nightlife, which is really fun. The people are very welcoming, it’s certainly the most welcoming city in the country, and one of the freest. So let’s get down to business: Warsaw.

Warsaw: first International Horizons trip

How do you choose your first trip when you set up your business? Thanks to Skyscanner: the cheapest, baby. So we’re flying from Paris to Warsaw for exactly €20 return, in November, just before International Horizons was founded. None of us had ever visited the capital: and we only want to send you to places where a member of the team has already been! So there’s no choice but to go there again and meet the schools, the people, the embassy, the French institute and a whole host of other people in order to understand what’s at stake in the country and where we want to send you to do a placement in Europe.

The flight of course – as usual – didn’t go very well, we were delayed + turbulence, with an arrival on a short runway and a lot of wind. Not the ultimate dream! But it was a nice surprise. To put things in context, we wanted to set up International Horizons to break the cost of a course abroad – at the time, some of our competitors were charging up to €1,500 in advance. But we wanted to bring the price down by 1,000 francs and get paid once the agreement had been signed. We haven’t yet found a bank that trusts us, so we’re pretty limited in terms of resources: we’re going for the couchsurfing option! Since then, Nico ? has been helping us with the project, and we’re celebrating our 7th anniversary in 2023: yallah!

Feedback from Poland: Mistigri, Warsaw’s little guest

To continue this review of our experience in Poland, welcome to Warsaw! We were picked up directly by Mistigri (Baptiste), a Frenchman who was in Warsaw – and has since returned! – who offered to put us up for the first part of our stay. So we went to his place, a few stops from the very centre of the Polish capital, in a cosy little apartment. Mistigri decided to introduce us to the hazelnut flavour of Soplica vodka. This vodka brought us two anecdotes as we drank: firstly, I broke Mistigri’s coffee table after a few drinks during a superb dinosaur imitation for a Time’s Up! But I swear the dino was really well done: Denver would have been proud of me. Secondly, on the last wedding I had the pleasure of doing, this very summer in Bordeaux, I found this vodka at the table: a scandal for my health, especially the next day when I was doing Bordeaux Nantes in the blazing sun. What’s more, during the night we ran barefoot like idiots through the château gardens, and I ended up with a hole in my foot after stepping on a steel hose … the next day I couldn’t put my feet on the ground, so I walked all the way back to Nantes with one shoe in my hand ?

Warsaw – The Old Town

Mistigri takes us on a tour of Warsaw’s Old Town and the surrounding area. The city is truly superb: it’s beautiful. He tells us that it was razed to the ground during the war and then rebuilt exactly as it was before, a project that was a great success. The old town is very popular with tourists, with all the big traditional international brands, wifi, mainly European tourists, and a few Asians too.

Events in Warsaw

Because, yes, let’s not forget, the objective was still work. And here are a few funny anecdotes. First trip, so we decided not to duplicate the meetings, but to do them together to maximise our pitch. So the first meetings were with the French institutions on site, and they went really well!

On the second day, we had an appointment that seemed a bit far away on the map, but daï! We go for it. We had to change buses 3 times (and I’m not exaggerating!), cross a forest (yes, we’re still in Warsaw, we’ll learn later that the city is 14 times bigger than Paris), and finally arrive at the end of Warsaw to meet two teachers from two general secondary schools. And then, surprise, “Miaou” – that’s how this teacher is nicknamed – slams us without any complexes: “we can’t work with ERASMUS + so it was really for the pleasure of meeting French people” LOLILOL.

Another highlight: Warsaw’s largest secondary school. We were welcomed like kings. The headmaster opened the door, took our coats and showed us around the huge school, taking care to introduce us to EVERYONE. I don’t think I’ve ever shaken so many hands in one day. After a good hour’s guided tour of the school – in Polish, English wasn’t his strong point – he took us to the ambassadors’ room, where we entered. A teacher, who spoke only Polish and Russian, took us in front of all the school’s class representatives, a hundred or so students. A friendly pupil translates for us: “Thank you for coming to give us a talk on ERASMUS”: Ok. Battle mode activated; here we go for an hour of improvisation on ERASMUS, without any support; best talk ever. Not surprisingly, a bunch of kids got back in touch with us, so we can’t be that bad!

The Warsaw that stinks

Because yes, there is a not very nice side to Poland, especially when it’s Independence Day. Let’s not forget that women fought until very recently not to lose the right to abortion in Poland. So, OKLM with Mistigri in Warsaw, he asks us to avoid talking while we go through the crowd to get to a café, because on Independence Day foreigners are frowned upon. In fact, some of them were dressed as Nazis for the parade, so I was outraged and Googled the opposite demonstration. So for the ‘Polish’ demonstration you’ve got like 10,000 people marching. We show up at the other demonstration: you’ve got pro-LGBT people, people with left-wing sensibilities, trade unions, pro-Europeans, we’re …500 Yes, the right atmosphere.

In the evening, we went out to buy some vodka (we’ve got to consume locally!) and were pressured by a demonstrator who said “don’t forget you’re in Poland here, so shut the fuck up”. Yes, thank you bro’ That’s the least fun part of our return to Poland.

Warsaw by night

Warsaw at night is great! There are lots of bars and clubs, a bit underground. Naturally, it’s all electro and big rock, but guys aren’t ready for ragga yet. Parties are really cheap and, apart from Independence Day night, we’ve never felt unsafe in Poland – people are really welcoming. They’re not Italians, Spaniards or Romanians either, but … they’re friendly!

One evening when Marie was exhausted, I decided to go out on my own; I bumped into some Ukrainians and Poles at an underground station: here I am in a flat in Warsaw’s residential areas (Stalinist-style blocks of flats) drinking a few shots of cheap vodka and, of course, trying to speak Polish: impossible!

Did you enjoy your trip to Poland? Warsaw: it’s nice, it’s cheap. If you like electro, going out, sightseeing: there’s plenty to do in Poland for 6 months, the country really has a lot to offer! For an internship in Poland, contact us baby.

For more general questions, visit the International Horizons Internships Abroad FAQ.