Costs in Poland are on par with the rest of Eastern Europe and have risen similarly in the last 5 years. This means that many people teaching English in Poland supplement their wages with private tutoring to make things more comfortable.
Rental costs in Poland are highly dependent on one question: does mass tourism exist in this part of Poland? In central Krakow, a one bed flat will set you back by £300/$450 a month, whereas in the Polish countryside, it only costs around £200/$300 for a 3 bedroom house!
Polish cuisine consists of a variety of hearty meat and potato dishes, and strong influences from Russian food. A typical example of this is Barszcz Czerwony, which is the Polish version of Borsch, and is beetroot soup topped with sour cream; sometimes served with dumplings.
Golabki is a typical Polish side-dish, which is minced-meat wrapped in white cabbage with onion and spices, and this is typically served with mutton and potatoes.
A Polish dessert to try is Makowiec, which is a poppy-seed loaf stuffed with ground poppies (obviously!), raisins, almonds and walnuts. Topped with icing and orange peel, this is definitely the perfect dish for someone with a sweet tooth!
Drinks-wise, the Poles are of course, pretty proud of their Wódka (vodka); and the author’s favourite cocktail actually happens to be a Polish Martini – mix together Zubrowka bison grass vodka, Krupnik honey liqueur and apple juice… whether this originates from Poland is yet to be confirmed, but have a taste and you’ll find yourself a new favourite drink!
Poland enjoys very distinct seasons, with temperatures regularly reaching 25 degrees Celsius in the summer (perfect for getting a tan!), and -4 in the winter, with a blanket of snow covering the country. The north of the country tends to experience lots of rain around November – December, especially the picturesque city of Gdansk.
Accommodation in the city centres are modern, and are of a standard that you would be used to back home, although the housing in smaller-towns are more old-fashioned, but still adequate. A lot of companies will provide you with accommodation free of charge close to your place of work with other English teachers.
The most popular places to teach English in Poland are Warsaw, Krakow and Gdansk.
If a friendly and personable city sounds perfect to you, then Warsaw is definitely the right choice. Hidden in amongst the chic bars, international restaurants and modern buildings is over 20,000 hectares of green space – more than any other European country, coining Warsaw’s nickname of ‘green city’. City life here is relatively relaxed; enjoy a pint of beer (or shot of vodka!) in one of the many pubs scattered in the parks and by the river, or enjoy a leisurely bike ride, with dozens of trails across the city.
If you’re the kind of person who always likes to keep busy, then Krakow – with tons of attractions and a crazy nightlife – is the ideal city as you’ll never be bored! Visit the Wieliczka salt mines for a guided tour, and relax at the spa; and be sure to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp for a truly life-changing experience. Nightlife-wise, Krakow has so many bars, pubs and clubs that you could probably try a different place every night, and not visit the same place twice for a whole year! Whether you want to spend the evening in a cosy pub, classy bar, or dancing in a club, you’ll definitely find something to suit your taste.
If you’re into all-things culture, then Gdansk – situated in Northern Poland, near the Russian border of Kaliningrad – is the perfect city. Considered one of Poland’s prettiest cities, boasting a beautiful harbour on the Baltic Sea, Gdansk is packed-full with an abundance of museums, galleries and theatres. One of the first stops must be to the Museum of the History of Gdansk, detailing all of the countries Gdansk has been ruled by over the years, as well as being its own independent state!
There is less competition for positions to teach English outside of Poland’s main cities, in smaller towns but if you are planning to teach here, you should consider having at least basic Polish.
Travelling from the outskirts to the centre of all of Poland’s cities is very easy, with the option to travel by bus, tram and metro. The metro is favoured by the majority of locals, with faster journey times, and at 82p/$1.34 for a one way ticket, it’s probably the best way for you to get to your TEFL job and get around generally.
Poland’s train system is extremely frequent and cheap, and you can easily travel between many major cities, with a one-way ticket from Warsaw to Krakow costing around £18.85/$30.70, taking just over 3 hours.
Its central positioning makes it the perfect base to explore Europe, with direct trains to the majority of capital cities. Tickets are reasonably priced too, with an overnight train from Krakow to Bratislava (Slovakia) costing a mere £48/$80 with a sleeper; and an overnight train to Minsk in Belarus for £80/$130 one way, where you can change for trains to Russia.
For a great night out, be sure to try Kita Koguta in Warsaw – in fact, the whole experience of this bar is cool, from the industrial interior to the innovative cocktails – be sure to try the Bestseller: vodka, pineapple, honey and vinegar, and at £4.70/$7.70, you can’t go wrong.
Try a traditional Polish experience by celebrating your name day: it’s considered much more important than a birthday, and you get to invite all of your friends over for a night out and be showered with chocolates and vodka!
If you want to send someone a bunch of flowers, do NOT get yellow chrysanthemums or red and white lilies as they are associated with funerals; and always make sure to send an odd number of flowers – even if it means taking one out of the bunch!
If you're keen to find out more about teaching in Poland then you'll want to check out the i-to-i TEFL free guide. You'll find out loads more useful information on finding your first job, where you can teach and how to negotiate the best salary package.
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