Our newest study abroad program in Kraków, Poland is one we can’t wait for students to discover.
Not only is the city of Kraków known as “Little Rome,” “Polish Jerusalem”, and “the Florence of the North,” but Poland has so much to love that we had to put it all into a post for you.
We’re not going to lie, Poland is a gem! From history, culture and beautiful landscapes to delicious food and affordability, this program already has alumni planning a second study abroad experience, while prospective students are figuring out when to fit it into their academic schedule.
Where is Kraków?
Poland is tucked between Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. Kraków is located in southern Poland, super close to Czech Republic and Slovakia (yay for weekend trips across the border!)
Needless to say, Poland sits in the heart of Central Europe providing lots of opportunity for travel and exploration.
So, without further ado, here are 12 things to LOVE about Poland and the USAC Kraków program.
Poles are friendly, welcoming, and eager to share the history of Poland with visitors. Many Poles have been in the country their entire lives and have lived through Poland’s biggest historical events, so you’re sure to get a history lesson or two and be shown the ropes of the country by the amazing local people.
Not only is Kraków one of the oldest and most charming cities in Poland, but it is full of historical sites including cathedrals, monasteries, the Jewish Quarter, and more. When you study abroad in Kraków through USAC, you’ll learn about historical and modern-day Poland with courses in religious and European studies that will be complemented by field trips and tours outside of the classroom to places such as the Auschwitz concentration camp and Oskar Schindler’s Factory.
It’s very possible that the only Polish food you’ve heard of is Pierogis. While those are fabulous, here are a few additional items to try!
Rosol (ruh-soo) – chicken noodle soup
Bigos – Fried and stewed cabbage, sauerkraut, and assorted meats
Salatka Jarzynowa – potato salad
Oscypek cheese – smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk
Lody – ice cream
Barszcz – cold beet soup or borscht
Here are 21 traditional Polish dishes to get your mouth on when you’re abroad!
Cracow University of Economics (CUE)
The Cracow University of Economics (CUE) is one of Poland’s premier academic institutions with outstanding teaching and research quality rooted in 90 years of tradition. Become part of the CUE student community with 21,000 students, including nearly 1,500 international students, to meet new people and gain different perspectives. Classes take place on a medium-sized, well-manicured, green campus of more than 15 buildings. Students have access to a language center, library, sports facilities, cafes, and a clinic.
Zakopane and Tatra Mountains
The Tatras are the tallest range in the Carpathian Mountains, towering over most of Eastern Europe. The old town of Zakopane has preserved traditional mountain architecture with mountaineer cottages surrounded by ash trees. In addition to the architecture, folk costumes and jewelry have also survived here. Don’t worry – this is a USAC field trip that’s included in your program fees!
Kraków Market Square
Market Square is often considered the center point of the city. It was designed in 1257 and it’s ranked as one of the largest medieval squares in Europe. Located within the square is the first shopping mall in the world, Cloth Hall, and it’s still filled with merchants every day. We bet you’ll spend a fair amount of time hanging out in this beautiful part of the city.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
This UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage site opened in the 13th century and produced table salt continuously until 2007. It was one of the world’s oldest salt mines in operation. The mine is deep and full of tunnels, as well as spectacular chapels with sculptures of the country’s most beloved figures – all carved out of salt. It’s definitely worth the trek down the shafts. This is another USAC field trip included in your program fees!
The capital of and largest city in Poland. This city has had a tumultuous past. After the failed Warsaw Uprising during WWII, the Nazis destroyed most of the city. The city was rebuilt and has continued to evolve. Warsaw is roughly a three-hour bus ride from Kraków making it a perfect weekend trip. However, if you study abroad in Poland for the summer, you can opt-in to the optional tour of Warsaw with USAC for a small additional fee. You’ll walk around the Old Town, learn about the history of Warsaw’s Jewish ghettos, and enjoy some local cuisine.
Kazimierz’s Plac Nowy
A hangout competitor to Market Square, Plac Nowy is bustling with delicious food and merchant stalls. There are junk/antique sales on Saturdays, Sunday clothes market, and even a small critter/pigeon fair on Friday mornings. Needless to say, you’ll never get bored or hungry hanging around Plac Nowy. When you visit, don’t forget to taste a ‘zapiekanki’– a French bread pizza with the toppings of your choice!
The Vistula River runs through Kraków and is Poland’s largest river. The river has served as a trade route since the Stone Age. You can walk, bike, boat, or simply stand along the river and soak in the views of Kraków.
Poland is one of the most affordable countries in Central Europe, so you’ll have no problem stretching your dollar to experience the things you want. You’ll find meals between $2-10, free attractions, and low-cost beverages.
As the ninth largest country in Europe, there is plenty of beautiful and preserved landscape to explore. From national parks, sandy beaches, and rolling hills to mountains, fields, and meadows, you’ll find it easy to escape the city for weekend adventures and serenity.
Ready to study abroad in Poland? With USAC you can head to Kraków for the summer, fall, spring or year.
Summer applications close April 1
Fall applications close June 1
Spring applications close November 1