Summer School at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków

The Department of International Studies: Languages and Cultures, at Macquarie University, is committed to delivering a range of programmes that help students develop the skills needed to actively engage with, and act in, the collective interest of a global community. As part of this enterprise, the department offers to eligible students in their Polish Studies program the opportunity during each European Summer to undertake additional short courses in Polish language and culture at Jagiellonian University in Kraków.

These short-term programs are primarily for those students who undertake language studies at Macquarie University as part of a Bachelor of International Studies, a Bachelor of Arts or a Diploma of Languages. Students participating in these programs may receive a Macquarie scholarship towards the cost of their overseas studies, and the successful completion of the program will earn students credit towards their Macquarie award program.

The Jagiellonian University’s program comprises Polish language and history lessons in conjunction with a range of cultural and social activities, such as dance, cooking workshops, theatre, gallery and museum visits, and sightseeing in and around Kraków. This study adventure provides the opportunity for participants both to acquire Polish language skills through practical immersion and also to appreciate their own cultural identity through informal interaction with students of various backgrounds from around the globe. This diversity-sensitive multicultural climate encourages learning Polish in a truly native context.
Macquarie University had two qualifying students attend this year’s Summer School. One of them, Terenia Krystman, has just returned from Kraków with a wealth of Polish experiences to share. In her report that follows, she not only talks about her learning experience, but also relates her first-hand contact with some of the attractions that Kraków has to offer. 

For further information on international studies visit www.mq.edu.au.
For further details on Polish Studies, please contact me directly via email kamila.walker@mq.edu.au, or alternatively by phone: (02) 9850-7014.

Dr Kamila Walker


I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to study in Poland at the Jagiellonian University in July this year. Macquarie is the only university in Australia that offers a Diploma of Languages in Polish. The diploma program provides practical language learning with a travel opportunity to study in Poland.  
It was exciting to live, study in the Polish environment and experience daily life in Kraków. It quickly became a home away from home, especially when I began noticing an improvement in my ability to speak the Polish language.

Express Australijski, polska gazeta w Australii

On the first day of study, students were assessed via an entry exam and interviewed by a teaching staff before they were allocated into different study group levels ranging from beginners to advanced to ensure the uniformity of Polish language skills in multinational classes. It was useful that all Polish language teachers were fluent in at least one foreign language as it facilitated communication. The majority of students attending the study programme had some Polish family connection. There was only a handful of students who had no Polish connection at all, but they were all united by the common goal to learn the Polish language. Sometimes students would revert to using their native language in class with their teachers, and so one would hear English, Italian, German, Ukrainian, French, Russian, Spanish as well as Hebrew. The teachers were approachable and made themselves available for informal conversation before and after classes. They were keen to ensure that all students enjoyed their study time at the Jagiellonian University. Occasionally a class session was held in a café, during which students were encouraged to actively participate in Polish in discussions on set topics. Week day classes finished at 1.30pm, after which students had free time.

Express Australijski, polska gazeta w Australii

Excursions were included in the study programme. Amongst many options was a day trip to Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains, water rafting down the Dunajec River, or a music festival in the Kazimierz district of Kraków. Once a week a film night was held as well as an evening classes for students to learn Polish folk dancing. None of these events were compulsory but were enthusiastically attended. For practical advice, ranging from transport to recreational activities and excursions, there were team leaders always on hand who were ready to help.

It is difficult to summarize the whole experience in a few paragraphs. Every day brought a new experience. The Jagiellonian University is full of history and intellectual achievements, all enclosed within its ornate walls and ceilings, impressive wooden staircases and thick-walled rooms, and so the atmosphere was awesome. The chancellor of the university welcomed all students in Polish and the opening lecture entitled “Lost and Found in Translation” was delivered in English.
Express Australijski, polska gazeta w Australii

From my perspective, the friendliness of Polish people, the comfortable living conditions and the Polish food made this study-holiday a real pleasure. The main meal of the day was lunch, according to Polish tradition. Whether lunch was in a café, a local bar, a mall, a restaurant or at the student residence hostel, it was without fail always delicious and healthy. Delicious Polish soups (żurek is quite unique with its sausage, potato and boiled egg) are typically served with different kinds of bread or with a special pork knuckle dish known as golonka. Pork, Polish schab is better than any pork I have previously eaten. It is most often accompanied with tasty potatoes and cabbage. All eating places displayed glass shelves full of tantalizing cheesecake (the Polish term is sernik), poppy-seed yeast breads and many other pastries. People in the streets were often walking and eating freshly-baked bread rings (obwarzanki) which can be bought at every corner from mobile stalls. Polish dumplings, the so-called pierogi were popular amongst all students and one place had as many as 57 varieties on the menu! Berries were in season and could be bought in any market alongside bottles of freshly-squeezed berry juices. Students had the opportunity to pick their own berries in a forest about a twenty-minute drive from Kraków.
My study time in Poland, which contributed to the completion of my Diploma of Languages, was a valuable opportunity to learn the language intensively and to deepen my understanding of Polish culture. I would encourage people of any age to consider taking up Polish language studies at Macquarie University and to participate in an overseas learning experience.

Terenia Krystman