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When you study abroad in Poland, you’ll spend your school year learning a new language, exploring a new culture, and experiencing living history! This year-long program gives you the opportunity to live with a Polish host family and go to school in your community. You’ll also get to learn the Polish language by being surrounded by it 24/7. Poland has been an important country throughout European history and despite being at the heart of much destruction during World War II, it has kept much of its cultural heritage remarkably intact. Poland is home to 14 United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites, so there are endless spots to explore and make your own.

Things to know

Polish culture and society are very much centered on family life and enjoying meals together. Families will usually gather on Sundays to have lunch with immediate and extended family members. The country is predominantly Catholic, and religion often plays a large part in daily Polish culture.

What's included in your experience

  • 70 Years Experience


Graduates Eligible? Yes, high school graduates are eligible to participate.
Minimum GPA 2.5
Age Range 15yrs, 6 months to
17yrs, 6 months at start of program
Language Skills No language requirement

Based on differences in culture, strict government regulation of medications, and other local customs, it has been our experience that not all of our international AFS partners are able to support students with certain diagnoses, including but not limited to, severe allergies, strict dietary restrictions, ADD/ADHD, and those currently taking or who have taken psychotropic medications and/or received counseling for mental/psychological issues within the past year. If this applies to you, please get in touch with an AFS Study Abroad Specialist early so that we can determine the right experience for you.

Your journey to Poland

Your journey to Poland will begin in New York, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the U.S. You’ll learn some essentials for your first days in Poland and speak with a Cultural Resource who recently spent time in the region. Then, you’re off! You’ll travel with a group to Krakow, where you’ll be welcomed by AFS Staff or Volunteers.

Soon you’ll be ready to travel to your new community. Along the way you might spot the formidable Carpathian Mountains, the coastline of the Baltic Sea, or the winding river Vistula. You might also stop to enjoy traditional pierogis or cabbage rolls with your host family. As you wind your way through the old cobblestone streets, you’re bound to see neighbors out walking around or drinking coffee or tea. Even a frigid winter evening won’t stop people from visiting friends or running out for a fresh loaf of bread from the bakery!


Meeting Your Polish Host Family

Like anywhere in the world, all families in Poland are different. But Poles are usually warm and affectionate with strong family ties. You’re likely to find a close-knit family with grandparents often living in the home. Polish parents usually give their children quite a bit of independence and responsibility. Older siblings often take care of younger children and you might be responsible for preparing your own breakfast and getting to school on your own.


Settling into daily life in Poland

Teenage Life in Poland

As a student in Poland, you can expect to enjoy a very active social life, with friends around so often they feel like siblings. Poles enjoy spending time outside; young people especially like riding bicycles, hiking, and canoeing and kayaking on Poland’s many beautiful rivers. You and your friends might also enjoy walking around the town center or going out to eat. During the summer, a favorite activity is mushroom hunting. When you need some down time you might relax with a card game (bridge is popular, even among teenagers) or watch some TV.

Food you’ll encounter

A lot of the food in Poland is pretty hearty. Pierogis, a kind of stuffed dumpling, are very popular. Other favorites include pork and cabbage, stew with mushrooms and sausage, breaded cutlets and potatoes. Bread is served with pretty much every meal and people often buy fresh bread daily from local bakeries. If you live in a rural area a lot of your fresh vegetables might come from the family garden, and you may find that it’s your job to pick the salad fixings for dinner each night. You’ll also get to enjoy lots of tasty desserts such as poppy seed cake and cheesecake.


Your high school

High school in Poland will provide an incomparable opportunity for you to make friends, learn Polish, and teach other students about your culture. Depending on your age you’ll either attend Lower Secondary School, which provides an overview of a wide range of subjects, or Upper Secondary School, where students prepare for university. In either type of school, you can expect to take foreign languages, history, science and math. Education is highly valued in Poland and most young people hope to go to university. To help you adjust to your new community and school, AFS Poland will provide language courses locally for the first few months of your exchange.

What's Included

  • 75+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 32,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations with a vetted host family
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • School enrollment fees
  • Worldwide, 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Access to an in-country support team and network, as well as our Participant Support Department based here in the U.S.
  • Orientations and intercultural education before and during your program
  • International secondary medical travel coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people

Scholarships and Aid

We believe that studying abroad should not be contingent on personal finances. When you apply, we work with you to understand your family’s needs and match you with available scholarships and aid. 100% of accepted applicants with demonstrated need receive funds.

Learn More

Visa Info

Do I need a visa/residence permit for Poland? YES. Visa
How do I apply for the visa? (By mail, In-person, In host country) In-person
Visa/Residence Permit Process Difficulty Level (Easy, Average, Complex) Average
Estimated Visa/Residence Permit Expenses
($ – $$$)
Frequently Asked Visa Questions Visit our general visa FAQ page for more information.

Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one.
When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.
That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found during your study abroad in Poland.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.