Summer..

Jeez, its already June! Havent posted anything in a while. The beginning of the semester was so exciting, a lot to figure out, getting used to everything. After some time, routine takes over. Same courses every week (or every two weeks), an event here or there, but else.. Lately, a lot of examination to do. Projects, presentations, essays, tests.

People start counting weeks and days, some left already. Kinda a sad feeling. 😦

Atleast the weather is great lately, Summer finally arrived. Trying to finish all courses and have as much fun as possible!

Plan to upload some pictures at the end (I am a lazy photographer, even tho there is more than enough to take photos of!).

Time flies!

Unbelievable, its already May! Wish the weather would be better, one day we had 27°C, but lately its around 12-14°C and raining.. At least this way I have some time to do stuff for the courses. Unlike in Germany, I have to do a lot during the semester. In Germany usually I only have written tests at the end of the semester (well, in my Bachelor that was usually the case). I want to give a quick overview of the examination for my courses here in Wroclaw:

  • Polish Language: Well, you attend the lectures/classes and at the end you have a written test.
  • Strategic Management: The course is divided into 2 parts, computer lab and lectures. The lab is some kind of workshop which was a simulation of running a company (the game is called marketplace6), 50% of the final grade depends on the lab, the other 50% depends on your results in a written test at the end of the semester.
  • Financial Risk Management: Just a test.
  • Organizational Behavior: I have workshops with a written test at the end of the semester. Also I have to write an essay about a specific topic.
  • Green Economy: Written essay as a group about a specific topic and a presentation.
  • Decision Analysis for Management: Case study as a group, you have to present the results with a presentation and hand in a report about the case (kinda your solution for the case study), also a test at the end of the semester.
  • Leadership in Business: You have to attend workshops (5 in total) where you are working on different tasks as a team. At the end of the semester you have an Oxford debtate and a written test.

In general, the system is quite interesting, it actually takes some pressure off you. I rather do things step by step during the semester, instead of writing a 2 hour test at the end of the semester, where you try to learn as much as possible during the week before the test. As most of my courses are only for erasmus, the groups are quite small, that gives you the possiblity to have a different examination than a 2 hour written test. But if you are a person, who prefers to be lazy during the semester, then you have to adapt. Change is good.

Futbol amerykański

On saturday we went to an American Football game of the local team “Panthers Wroclaw”. The team was founded in 2013 and won the Polish Championship 2 times and even won the IFAF Europe Champions League in 2016! The game on saturday was the first game of the new season, they played against the Lowlanders Białystok (btw: last season the Panthers Wroclaw lost against the Lowlanders in the Polish Bowl). No clue about the popularity of American Football in Poland, but in my opinion American Football is getting more and more popular all over Europe.

sdr

The tickets were quite cheap, the price for students was 10zl (around 2,50€) and for adults 20zl. All tickets were for seats, they were unnumbered (which means, you can decide on your own where you want to sit).

The game ended 46:6 for Wroclaw, I was hoping for a much closer game but oh well..they deserved to win. Perfect weather during the game, it was around 20°C, you can feel that spring finally arrived!

Concert of classical music

On saturday we went to the National Forum of Music (Narodowe Forum Muzyki) in Wroclaw for a concert of classical music. The National Forum of Music is quite new, it opened in 2015. At the time of our visit it was quite dark, therefore I was not able to take any pictures. But the building was really stunning, especially inside. As you can imagine, photos or any recordings during the concert are not allowed, but I managed to take some pictures of the concert hall.

dav

It was a performance of the Kronos Quartet from the United States and the kurdish singer Mahsa Vahdat. The first half was music of the string quartet, the other half was the string quartet together with Mahsa Vahdat as the singer. For me it was the first time that I have been to a classical music concert, but I really did enjoy the experience. The Kronos Quartet performs pieces of their project “50 for the future”, the project has an educational purpose for young amateur and early-career musicans, providing educational resources and support. The compositions were from composers of different nations, like Marocco, Algerie, and many more.

Costs of living in Poland

Just a quick overview about the costs of living in Wroclaw as an Erasmus Student. Keep in mind, in Poland they do not have the Euro, but the prices I mention are in Euro (for a better understanding of course). As you can imagine, exchange rates are always changing, but a general rule would be: For 1€ you will get 4 PLN (Polish Zlotty).

  • Rent: Cheapest option is the dorm, rent should be between 100 and 130€ for double- or triple-rooms. If you rent a private room in a shared flat the costs should be around 200 to 300€ per month including bills.
  • Public transport: A semester ticket for all bus- and tram-lines costs about 50€ for 5 months, therefore if you break it down, it is just 10€ per month, so cheap!
  • Other kind of transport: Well, there are taxis, but I do not use them. Uber is available in Poland and it is very popular among students, it is incredibly cheap. So far I have had only good experiences with Uber. You just select the destination where you want to go, it will tell you the estimated price and the waiting time (till your driver arrives). You should know that the price always depends on supply and demand, sometimes I wanted to go home and checked the Uber App and the price was around 30 zlotty, just 30 minutes later it was 15 zlotty. I always paid with my creditcard.
  • Groceries: Some people say the prices in supermarkets are 50% of the prices in Germany, but I think this is not true. Food and so on is about 30 to 40% cheaper. For grocery shopping there are German discounter-chains like Lidl, Kaufland and Aldi all over Wroclaw. The biggest Polish supermarket-chain is Biedronka. The prices are kinda the same, just the stuff they offer is a bit different.
  • Shopping in general: Wroclaw has so many shopping malls. Seriously, I was so surprised. Shopping malls are even close to each other. In some countries, shopping malls are dying, but in Poland they remain popular. You will find all kind of shops: New Yorker, H&M, Deichmann, Zara, Fielmann, Crop, Media Markt, Saturn, .. And many more. Prices for clothes can be a bit cheaper, but I would rather say they are similar to the prices in Germany. Especially electronics is the same as in Germany, which is kind of surprising to me.
  • Food: Well, Wroclaw has a lot of good places where you can go to have lunch, dinner, whatever. I am a vegetarian, at first I was worried because polish cuisine isnt popular for being low on meat, ya know. But Wroclaw has a lot of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, in general they have a lot of different places. Mexican food, italian food, polish food, asian food, .. whatever you can imagine, you can find it in Wroclaw. Prices are cheap, a meal is around 5€, no wonder the Erasmus usually gain weight (and yes, I did. F***.)
  • Mobile data: You can get a polish sim-card, prices for mobile data are really cheap, I saw some offers about 15 gb for around 5€, really incredible. But of course you can just keep your German sim-card like I did and use your mobile data here.
  • Clubs: If you want to party then you can find a lot of clubs which offer student discounts outside of the weekend. On student-days you do not pay an entrance-fee and drinks have special prices. A beer (0,5l) costs around 1,5 to 2€.

If you are an European student you do not need a special health insurance for Poland. You can get a special one which covers a lot more, but it is optional. One thing I want to point out: credit cards are VERY common in Poland, especially the ones which work “contactless”. You can use credit cards everywhere: Shops, pubs, clubs, .. . In general I noticed that polish people prefer to use their credit card instead of cash. I use my creditcard whenever I can. Another example, if you want to buy a ticket inside the bus or tram you can only buy one with a credit card and NOT with cash, that shows how common credit cards really are.

“Things always tend to turn out different than imagined or planned.”. Especially with Course changes.

Something which probably a lot of people have concerns about are the courses and the changes in the selected courses. First of all:

Course changes are normal, nearly everyone has to change their courses – no big deal.

As the title already suggests: You have to make changes, you cant plan everything. Probably every student has to change their list of courses. The reasons are different, some courses do not take place because the teacher is maybe on a sabbatical or the minimum number of students to open the course is not reached (for the Erasmus Courses atleast 10 students have to be enrolled for the course to open.), or some courses take place at the same time (you are not allowed to have overlapping courses, attendance is mandatory). I had to change a lot, but the UE has a (as I mentioned before) wide offer of courses, so you should have no problem to find a replacement. The university is very helpful and supportive, same goes for my home university. In my case, I had to make changes in half of my courses. This semester I took the following courses:

  • Strategic Management
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Decision Analysis for Management
  • Polish Language
  • Green Economy and Finance
  • Leadership in Business
  • Financial Risk Management

Courses usually arent just lectures, sometimes you have workshops. The examination is either a written exam, paper, project (mostly group projects) or a mix. It is quite different than the examination at my home university. In Germany I usually dont have to attend classes, but of course it is helpful for the written exam at the end of the semester. At the UE you have to do more during the semester, like participating in discussions, handing in papers/homework, or stuff like that. It sounds challenging at first, but it is quite interesting to try out a different approach. Erasmus is the perfect time to try out new things. The size of the group is quite small, minimum number is 10, I think in average you have about 15 people per course, that gives you the possibility to have discussions, etc.

If you come to Poland I really recommend you to take the Polish Language course. You learn a few words and sentences in polish, they are very helpful, you wont dive deep into the (complicated) polish grammar. Another plus is: you can take part in cultural events, the costs are covered by the university. This saturday we will go to a classic music concert.

Arriving, Accommodation, ..

There are several ways how you can travel to Wroclaw. The easiest one would be by plane. Wroclaw has an airport with several international connections, you can book a flight from Frankfurt to Wroclaw, but it is quite expensive. Ticket should be around 200€ or even more.

The cheapest way is by bus. I took Flixbus from Mannheim to Wroclaw, it takes around 13 hours and it costs between 25€ and 40€. I do admit that 13 hours sounds like a very long travel but you have WiFi, you can charge your phone or you can just sleep during the bus-ride, so it is not that bad. I had 3 different connections to choose from, therefore I took one which started quite late at around 21:00 (but well, you can sleep!).

The university provides accommodation for a limited number of erasmus students, but the capacity is not enough for all. There are 2 dormitories, they are right near the campus. In the dormitory you have no single rooms, just rooms for 2 or 3 people. In the first dormitory you have rooms for 2 or 3 people. You share one bathroom with 2 rooms and each floor has one kitchen. The rent is about 100-120€ per month (or 400-480 PLN). The second dormitory only has double rooms, each room has its own bathroom and small kitchen. The rent is between 120€ and 140€. During the registration process you can mark an option to apply for the dormitory. During my first stay I did not get a place in the dormitory, I knew some Germans who got a place, but the majority had to find something on their own. The university does not help you to find a flat on your own. So you should have a Plan B.

As I mentioned before, I didnt get a place in the dormitory so I had to find a flat on my own. I found a house called Windom (www.windom.pl) which is a home for mostly erasmus students. The house has 8 rooms for 9 people (7 single rooms, one double room), 2 bathrooms, 1 kitchen, 1 room for the washing machine. The house was located around 15 minutes away (by bus) from the university. The rent depends on which room you have, my single room was around 200€ including the bills, which I think is pretty good. I stayed there during my bachelor and my master erasmus semester and I can highly recommend it. You will live with different nationalities, in my case people from Italy, Belgium, Mexico, Spain, Poland and Czech Republic – and that intercultural experience is awesome! You also are able to find friends easily this way.

Another way to find a flat is by checking facebook groups or websites, there are several groups on Facebook with names like “flats in wroclaws”, “wroclaws expats..” and so on. (Or you could check out the ERFAHRUNGSBERICHTE from previous students to find out how they acquired a flat.. 😉

For public transport you can buy a student ticket as soon as you are enrolled at the university. A semster ticket (valid for all busses and tram lines) costs around 50€ for 5 months – very cheap! In general the public transport system is pretty good (in my opinion way better than in Mannheim).

In your first week you will have the Orientation Days, which is organized by the Erasmus Student Network (or just ESN). From Tuesday to Sunday we had events every day, it was a lot of fun and if you come to Wroclaw and the UE you should never miss the Orientation Days!


Why Wroclaw (and the UE)?

Wroclaw was the European Capital of Culture in 2016. It is the 4th largest city in Poland with a population around 630.000 inhabitants, it is the largest city in the region of Silesia. Wroclaw is famous for being a youthful city with over 130,000 students. The city has a lot of cultural events and has adapted to the lifestyle of students. There are a few trips for us erasmus students planned by the university, I will describe them in detail within the next few months. My erasmus experience is at the Wroclaw University of Economics (or short: UE). The UE has 4 different faculties:

  • School of Economic Sciences
  • School of Engineering and Economics
  • School of Management, Computer Science and Finance
  • School of Economics, Management and Tourism

One big advantage of the UE for erasmus students is the wide range of courses in English.

The UE offers around 120 courses in English only for Erasmus students. Some study programs are completely in English, therefore the UE offers another 200 courses in which Erasmus Students can take part too, together with the regular Polish students.

That made it easy for me to find fitting courses. The Erasmus courses are really interesting, the groups are quite small and the kind of teaching is different. Courses can be lectures and workshops, for example in Brand management you have lectures to acquire the theoretical knowledge about brand archtypes and in the workshops you have to create your own archtypes using the knowledge you got from the lectures. The examination always depends on the course, it can be a written exam, a project or written essays – or a mix of them all. Attendance at the courses is mandatory, therefore you can not choose overlapping courses. I will try to make a video or atleast post pictures of the campus, stay tuned!

Papierkram

Im Master ist eigentlich kein Auslandssemester vorgesehen, daher ist die Prozedur um einiges komplizierter als im Bachelor.

Es ist so gut wie unmöglich alle passenden Master-Vorlesungen für ein 30 ECTS Semester im Ausland zu finden (insbesondere im Controlling). Somit kann ich mir nur einzelne Module anrechnen lassen. Natürlich verlängert sich dadurch mein Studium um ein Semester, aber die Erfahrung ist mir das auf jeden Fall wert.

Die Webseite des International Office gibt genügend Informationen über den Bewerbungsprozess, insbesondere sollte man die Bewerbungsfristen beachten, aber ich werde trotzdem nochmal detailliert auf den Bewerbungsprozess eingehen. Für die Bewerbung an einer Partnerhochschule benötigt man:

  • Anmeldeformular (Online Bewerbungsportal)
  • Lebenslauf in der Unterrichtssprache der Partnerhochschule
  • Motivationssschreiben
  • Notenauszug
  • Kursgenehmigung
  • Nachweis Englischkenntnisse (B2)

Das Anmeldeformular erhält man wenn man sich über die Website der HS Lu für eine Partnerhochschule bewirbt, Lebenslauf und Motivationsschreiben sollte klar sein.

Notenauszug erhält man vom Prüfungsamt. Wenn es mehr Bewerber als Plätze gibt, wird nach dem Notenschnitt entschieden.

Die Kursgenehmigung im Master ist ein bisschen kompliziert. Man kann sich nur ganze Module anrechnen lassen, ich habe beispielsweise das Modul “Leadership Skills” aus dem 2. Fachsemester ausgesucht. Das Modul besteht aus den Veranstaltungen “Strategic Management”, “Decision Making” und “Organizational Behavior”. Für jedes Modul gibt es einen Modulbeauftragten, um den Ansprechpartner zu erfahren muss man nur beim Fachbereich anfragen. Für die Kursgenehmigung gibt es ein Formular, zusätzlich benötigt man die Kursbeschreibungen der Kurse an der ausländischen Hochschule, die ECTS und Inhalte sollten in etwa übereinstimmen, damit man das Modul anrechnen lassen kann. Ich hatte Glück, dass ich genau diese Kurse auch an der ausländischen Hochschule gefunden habe.

Für die Teilnahme am Erasmus-programm werden Englischkenntnisse auf dem Niveau B2 benötigt. Im Bachelor konnten wir die Englischkenntnisse durch eine Note von ich glaube mindestens 2,7 im Modul Business English III nachweisen, ansonsten benötigt man einen anderen Nachweis wie zum Beispiel den TOEFL-Test, genauere Infos gibt es auf der Website des International Office.

Die Bewerbungsfrist war bei mir der 01.07.2018, für mein Sommersemester 2019 (Beginn Mitte Februar), also quasi ein halbes Jahr bzw. ein Semester vor Beginn.



General information

This blog will be about my erasmus experience in Wroclaw (Poland). The partner university is the ” Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny we Wrocławiu”. I am a German student at the “Ludwigshafen University of Business and Society”, but the main language for the blog will be English, so all my international friends can follow my adventure. Information about the paperwork for the application and so on will be provided in German of course.

About me:

I just finished the 2nd semester of the master program “Controlling”, before the master program I finished the bachelor program in Ludwigshafen. During my bachelor I decided to do my 5th semester (Summersemester 2017) abroad, initially I wanted to go to Portugal, but as you can imagine the demand was higher than the supply (for a place at a partner university in Portugal), so I had to change my plans. We had 2 empty places left at our partner university in Wroclaw, so I decided: instead of spending another semester in Ludwigshafen, I am gonna leave my comfort zone and go to Poland. One reason was of course lower living costs in East Europe. It was my first time in Poland. I did not know a lot about the country or the language, but my time in Wroclaw was really the best time in my life, I fell in love with the city and I decided to go back for another erasmus experience in my masters!