Poland a hidden gem of DePaul's Study Abroad program
Published: Saturday, April 14, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
As you’re daydreaming about all the European cities you can travel to for vacation, your mind likely scans through Paris, London, Rome or Barcelona. Those are all beautiful cities, but they are also quite expensive. What if there was a place that offered identically beautiful architecture, gorgeous scenery, centuries worth of captivating history and more for a fraction of the price?
Recently, many publications have put Poland on the map for a destination worthy of visiting, especially since it’s hosting the 2012 Euro Cup. Krakow, in particular, is a cultural hub bursting with the arts, as well as a historical gem, as it was a center of action throughout the Holocaust, home to Schindler’s Factory and the Jewish Ghetto. Like many European capitals, Krakow is an international city that offers a plethora of activities and sites to see for everyone. Though the program attracts an average of 10 students per year, DePaul does offer Krakow as a study abroad destination during the fall quarter, teaming up with University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Being of Polish descent, the trip to Poland was especially important to me, as I had the opportunity to really get to know my roots and even meet relatives for the first time. But regardless of your personal connection to the country, Poland is one of the best undiscovered study abroad programs DePaul has to offer.
The best thing about the Krakow program was the way it was set up to let us travel nearly every weekend. The first three weeks were spent traveling as a group through Prague, Vienna, Szeged and Budapest, all travel and lodging expenses included. Once in Krakow, we spent almost every weekend traveling to particular destinations across Poland. They included the Baltic Sea in Gdansk, Zakopane Mountains, Auschwitz and Warsaw. Many local excursions were done around Krakow, for the city itself holds much history. I spent lots of time at Wawel Castle, the Jewish Quarter, where much of the filming for “Schindler’s List” took place, as well as the original Schindler’s Factory, Wieliczka Salt Mines a few kilometers away, and famous Baroque and Gothic cathedrals.
The art history course also allowed me to visit many museums and churches throughout the town. In November, we were given a 10-day break to do virtually anything we wanted. Many of us decided to use that time to fly out to other countries (I chose England and Spain). Once in Europe, it’s ridiculously inexpensive to fly within the continent. Using Ryanair Airlines, I spent less than $50 roundtrip to Paris, booking only about a month in advance.
While studying abroad I was fortunate enough to travel to a total of eight countries, 29 cities, countless castles and churches, world-famous museums and Holocaust memorials. I learned key phrases in five languages, cheered with people from every corner of Europe and cemented lifelong friendships.
DePaul has so many programs to choose from, but Poland is one of those great experiences too few people take advantage of. The financial aid office offers travel grants to those with financial need, the study abroad office does a wonderful job of preparing you and the journey is listed as countless students’ favorite college, even life, experience.