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Erasmus+ Journal (Issue 3) 2014/15

Sandra Schögler, Uniwersytet Pedagogiczny Kraków, Poland, Mobility for Study, PHST


Contact of my university

The Pedagogical University of Cracow

ul. Podchorazych 2

30-084 Kraków, Poland



contact person, ERASMUS office:

Magdalena Birgiel

phone: (+4812) 662 60 48

e-mail: m.birgiel@up.krakow.pl



About my university


The university consists of the following faculties:

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Faculty of Philology
  • Faculty of Pedagogy
  • Faculty of Geography and Biology
  • Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Technical Science
  • Faculty of Art

As an ERASMUS student you can choose your courses from one or more of these departments. Some of the courses are only available in Polish language, whereas others are in English.

You should contact each teacher at the beginning of your ERASMUS semestre, if the course will be in English or not.

UP also offers special courses only for ERASMUS students. These courses will be anounced at the beginning of each semestre and are held in English.


My courses


  • Teaching Practice


I completed my teaching practice at the Katolickie Gimnazjum im. Świętej Rodziny z Nazaretu. At this school, I was teaching German and English in primary and secondary school. Moreover, I could observe some Music lessons.

My teaching colleagues and the school's principal were very welcoming and helpful. Especially for German Native speakers, this is a good school. I was the first German Native speaker teaching there. The students and the teachers were motivated to work together with me.

In my opinion, the ERASMUS office team in Cracow was not very helpful, as far as searching for schools for  ERASMUS students is concerned. I had to be persistent to get my school practice. Some of my international ERASMUS colleagues could not do their teaching practice at all. If you need the school practice for your learning agreement, you should definitely tell the ERASMUS office at the very beginning about it, shortly after arriving. AND: be persistent and tell them, that you really need this course.


  • Intensive Polish Language Course


teacher: Julia Wilczynska

During the first weeks of my ERASMUS, I participated in an intensive polish language course. In this course, we learnt basic language skills, which were helpful to survive in every day life situations. Furthermore, this course offered a good opportunity to get to know the other ERASMUS students better.

The teacher can be called "UP's ERASMUS mother". She organised many great ERASMUS events and was very helpful.


  • Polish Language Course (A1)


teacher: Julia Wiczynska

In this course, we learnt how to lead basic conversations in Polish and how to deal with situations in the supermarket, at the train station, and so on.

I was a little bit disappointed by that course, because most of us did not learn more Polish than in the Intensive Polish Language Course. My 5 polish flatmates and their friends helped me to improve my language skills much more. Nevertheless, I would take this course again, because the language is difficult to learn without practicing a lot.


  • Photography


teacher: Halina Cader-Pawlowska

This course was about learning different analogue photography techniques. As it was a course from the Department of Art, it was more chaotic than the other courses. Sometimes, we had to be patient because the organisation was probably not the best. Nevertheless, it was definitely worth it: In the end, some of our pictures were exposed at the Museum of Modern Photography in Krakow. Our teachers organised a Vernissage, where we could introduce our art, together with our Polish classmates. Another reason, why I would take this course again, is, that I met nice Polish people around my age. They helped us ERASMUS students a lot and translated certain techniques to us, if the teacher's English was not good enough.

I learnt a lot during that course and it was a good experience for me.


  • Contemporary Britain


teacher: Piskorz Artur

The seminar was about reflecting on British society. Therefore, we watched various British films together and discussed the main sociological issues in class. We also had to write a seminar paper about one British film and reflect on issues like Thatcherism, ethnical minorities, gender aspects, industrialisation and society and others.

This course was interesting because there was a lot of in-class discussion. We also compared British society to our own society. I liked the aspect of discussing certain sociological issues with an international class. Moreover, the teacher was competent and knows a lot about the topic.


  • English Phonetics: Remedial Pronunciation Practice


teacher: Piotr Okas

In this course we practised English pronunciation in a small international group. We did chants, dialogues and focused on improving our pronunciation difficulties, by having a closer look at our Native languages as well.

I can definitely recommend this course, because the teacher was enthusiastic about the topic. This enthusiasm helped us improve our English pronunciation. His way of teaching was really authentic and his English pronunciation and knowledge about the topic in general was excellent.


  • Using stories and storybooks in child education


teacher: Rokita-Jaskow Joanna

In this seminar we learnt about international children's literature and its use in class. We had to prepare presentations and write lesson plans about various books. There was also a discussion part in every class.

Even though this course was about primary school teaching, I still could use some ideas for improving my secondary school teaching.


  • Introduction to Polish culture and history


teacher: Julia Wilczynska

It was a course, for ERASMUS students only. The teacher organised field trips and discovered Polish culture and history with us. We went to museums, Polish dance workshops, concerts, a beer brewery, the cinema, churches, synagogues and even to other Polish cities like Wroclaw, Wadowice and Zywiec.

This course helped me to understand Poland's difficult past and also today's Poland better. In this course, I learnt a lot about the places and people I was surrounded by during my ERASMUS stay. I can definitely recommend it.


Description of the application procedure at UP


Please send the nominations by email to Magdalena Birgiel (m.birgiel@up.krakow.pl )with the following data:

Name of the sending Institution and its Erasmus code

Full name of the student

The Student’s email address

The Student’s area of studies and Erasmus code to that area

The Student’s duration of stay (1st semester, 2nd semester, whole year)


The deadlines for your application are:

31 st May for the first/winter semester

30 th November for the second/summer semester

However, in case you need accommodation, June, 30 is the deadline for both semesters.

Once the Pedagogical University of Cracow has received an official nomination from a Partner University, prospective Erasmus student will receive an e-mail with application instructions.

After being nominated by a Partner University each student is asked to send signed and stamped documents such as:

1.) Application Form

2.) Learning Agreement for Studies

3.) Housing and Arrival Information (only if, a student want to have a room booked in our dormitory „Za Kolumnami„)

4.)  payment confirmation for dormitory till 31st, July 2015 (first semester and whole year), and 31st December 2015 (second semester)

5.) scanned the european health insurance card (european health insurance card is requested only if you are an EU-citizen, non-EU-citizens-other insurance, that is valid in Poland)

via e-mail at the address: m.birgiel@up.krakow.pl.

All the documents mentioned above are a mandatory requirement for the enrolment at the Pedagogical University of Cracow!


Once the Pedagogical University of Cracow has received an official nomination from a Partner University, prospective Erasmus student will receive an e-mail with on-line application instructions.

If you are applying to come to the Pedagogical University of Cracow, you also need to check the courses and submit a Learning Agreement form. It should be completed with the help of the Erasmus Coordinator at your home institution. This covers all aspects of the programme of study and ECTS credits to be awarded on satisfactory completion, committing both home and host institutions, as well as the student. The courses given at our University are mainly taught in Polish but we also offer many courses in foreign languages (see courses available).

At the end of their stay, a transcript of records showing the courses they have studied together with exam results and the ECTS credit points is sent to their home University directly.

Please be aware of the importance of meeting deadlines and procedure!1



My teaching practice at Katolickie Gimnazjum im. Świętej Rodziny z Nazaretu




adress: 31-152 Kraków, ul. Pędzichów 13

phone: +48 12 634 50 50

fax: 12 634 30 57

e-mail: szkola@kcecak.krakow.pl

homepage: http://www.kcecak.krakow.pl/index.php/kontakt


General information about my teaching practice


The school is a catholic school in the centre of Krakòw. It consists of kindergarten, primary and secondary school. The students have to wear school uniforms only on the days when there is a mass for their grade. It is obligatory for them to participate in the holy mass, in the church next to their school, once a week. The teachers finish some of their lessons with a prayer. Before the long break, students and teachers pray together.

At this school, I could not observe heterogeneous classrooms. The students were divided into ability groups, similar to our old "Hauptschule" with its "Leistungsgruppen".

Foreign languages are an important issue in the Polish school system. All students have to learn English and German. Later, at gimnazjum, they can also choose other languages, like French or Spanish.

As far as the school's infrastructure is concerned, the school does not have much technical devices, musical instruments and other teaching equipment. In some classrooms there is nothing more available than a blackboard.

I was teaching various age groups and subjects. Even though I am only teaching children between the age of 10 and 14 at home, here I was also teaching younger and older students. In Krakòw I taught 6-17 year olds.

My first subject is English. I taught and observed it in different classes/ability groups and together with different teachers/mentors.

Music, wich is my second subject, I could only observe. As music lessons are usually in Polish language, I could not teach the subject by myself. I observed music lessons at primary and secondary school. In primary school every child must learn how to play the flute. There was no music room available. Furthermore, the only music teacher at that school had to bring her own equipment, which was a CD-player, a guitar and a flute.

The German teachers invited me many times to teach German to students around the age of 12 and 17. I was the first German Native speaker, which was teaching at that school.  


Comparison of my Polish and Austrian school practice


For me, teaching at a Polish school was different than all my previous teaching practice at PH.

At PH we always learn about the importance of heterogeneous classrooms. Here in Poland, I could only observe homogeneous classrooms. The students were divided into ability groups. It can somehow be compared with the former Hauptschule- and Realschule- system in Austria. When I told the English teachers, that teachers in Austria should prepare differentiated material for every lesson, they were really surprised.

Moreover, I observed that the high-flyers ability group of the same 4th grader's class was fluent in speaking English. Whereas, the low-achievers, which had a different English teacher, were speaking almost only Polish during English lessons. One could say, that there was an obvious gap between their language level.

Speaking about teaching methods and technology, there was also a big difference. Most of the classes were only equipped with a blackboard. Therefore, teachers must be very creative in order to teach a good lesson. Otherwise, the lesson soon gets a little old-fashioned. Despite a lack of new technologies, I observed some creative lessons. One can say, that the teacher's attitude to teaching plays an important role for a good lesson.

The music lessons were completely different to those in Austria. In primary school, the whole class practices playing the flute together. They all must learn that instrument. As not every student was interested in learning the flute, one can imagine, how flute lessons sounded. Sometimes it was hard for me to identify something similar to a melody or rhythm.                                                                                                                                   

Even though the school was not small, there was only one music teacher for primary-, secondary- school and for gymnazjum. I can imagine, that for some students it can be boring, to have the same music teacher throughout their school time.         

I observed that the student's level of music theory was very high. In my view, they knew a lot more about music theory and music history than most Austrian students. One must add, that the music teacher also was singing with the students. Most of the songs were religious or classical music songs, but some of them were also popular music songs. Unfortunately, there was no music room available in the whole school. Therefore, the teacher only had her guitar, flute or CD-player as teaching equippment. In Austria, I never taught at a school without any music instruments available.

Moreover, I observed that there are not many foreign students in the classes. Most of the students are of Polish origin. Classes in Austria are much more multicultural.

Another big difference was the focus on religion and praying. There was a picture of the former Pope, John Paul II, (= the only real Pope for Polish people;)) and a picture of the new Pope in every classroom. Students had to sing many religious songs in music lessons and they are supposed to attend the holy mass every week, together with their classmates, additionally to their regular lessons. Furthermore, students and teachers were praying together during breaks. I never observed the same in Austrian schools before. I was talking to other Polish people about that and found out, that this is not the case in every school. Probably, there was a focus on religion because it was a Catholic school. Still, I could imagine that many schools in Poland are stronger connected to the Catholic church than Austrian ones.


Final reflection


The teaching practice in Poland was a completely new experience for me. I had to face many challenges, one, for instance, was, that I did not know a lot about the classes I was teaching. The teachers invited me to teach many different classes. Sometimes, I only new the children's age and their approximate language level. Additionally challenging, was the fact, that I did not teach German before.

Because of a rather badly equipped school, I had to face certain teaching boundaries. There is no multisensory-vocabulary teaching on the whiteboard or with a ppt-presentation, without any available device. There is no overhead transparency without a projector. That is why I could not use many of the teaching methods, which I learnt at PH. Sometimes, I took my guitar with me. Instead of using the CD-player, I was singing songs together with the students. According to their feedback, the students and teachers appreciated that.

My teaching practice in Poland helped me a lot, to practice how to react on unforseen situations in class. I am glad, that I managed to handle many new situations. The fact that there was only a blackboard available made me even more ambitious to prepare a good lesson.


Review of my stay abroad...


 ... in academic terms


The advantage of being an ERASMUS student at UP is, that you can choose among many different faculties and courses. I can only speak about the Department of Fine Arts and the English Department.

Courses from the Department of Arts are not well organised. You have to be very patient and spend a lot of time on waiting. It took me one month to start my courses there. You should not waste time in writing the teachers some emails about the courses. It's better to go to the department and meet them in person, if you would like to do some courses there. Once you managed to participate in the courses, it's great. The teachers are very enthusiastic about their subjects and they leave you a lot of space to experience your creativity. I participated in some advanced arts courses as a beginner in that field. Still, they supported me and my ideas a lot.

The English Department offers some courses only for ERASMUS students, but it is also possible to take part in regular courses, together with Polish students. If you would like to take non-ERASMUS courses you should find out, which teacher teaches your subject as soon as possible and send them an email, if you could participate in it. Sometimes, it was difficult to find information about courses. In this case it is best to ask Ms. Julia Wilczynska for help. She is a very caring teacher, who organizes courses and events for ERASMUS students.


... in cultural terms


Poland's culture and history is huge. Especially Cracow has a lot to offer. It is the only Polish city, which was not completely destroyed by wars. Therefore, you can walk around Rynek (Main-Square) and enjoy the atmosphere there. St. Mary's Church and the Renaissance Cloth Hall are only two of the many beautiful buildings, situated on the Main-Square.

The Main Square is surrounded by the Planties, a huge park with beautiful trees, flowers, small monuments and the famous blue Obwarzanek-sales boxes, where you can buy typical Polish pretzels.

Only around 15 minutes away, on foot, you will reach the famous Wawel castle, situated next to the Vistula river. It is a historical and religious place but it is also used for concerts, film festivals and much more. Especially in spring and summer, there are cultural events nearly every weekend.

If you walk a few minutes more, you will reach the former Jewish quarter Kaszimierz with its synagogues. On the one hand, it reminds people of Poland's dark history, with Jews being exterminated by the Nazis. On the other hand, it nowadays serves as a cultural meeting point for musicians, artists and writers. Furthermore, it atracts many tourists to eat more or less typical Jewish food in one of the many restaurants, while listening to Klezmer bands playing. Today, the quarter is alive again, even though it's music still plays melodies in a slightly sentimental mood.

You should not forget to try Polish food and drinks like Pierogi, Zapiekanka, Szarlotka, Sernik, Nalesniki or Kompot and Vodka in Cracow. There's only one description for it: DELICIOUS!


... in social terms


If you are interested in meeting people from around Europe, you should make sure to take one or two of Ms. Julia Wilczynskas courses or stay at the dormitory Za Kolumnani. You will meet many ERASMUS students that way.

To meet Polish people, living in a shared flat with Natives would be the best. Sometimes you have to be patient, if you want to make friends with Polish people, for many of them are a little bit shy as far as speaking foreign languages is concerned. One useful tip to make friends with Polish people: drink Vodka with them and you will find yourself trying to sing Polish songs at the next parties, together with them.

Cracow has many bars, restaurants and clubs. The best thing about it is, that you don't have to walk a lot to enjoy the cities cultural life. Everything important is situated around Main-Square and the Jewish quarter Kaszimierz.


Useful tips


If you would like to travel around Poland and Europe by Polski bus, you should have a credit card. It is one of the cheapest means of transport in Poland but you need a credit card to buy a ticket.

Make sure that you compare the money changing rates. The best places to change money are a little bit outside of the city centre. In some places it makes sense to pay by card, in order to avoid paying extra money for changing the currency. Biedronka, one of the cheapest supermarkets, is one of those places.

Don't drink in public. It can be expensive. If you still would like to have a beer outside, together with your friends, you should go to Miasteczko Studenczkie AGH. It is a place where students are allowed to drink outside and have barbecue there. 

Don't cross the street at red flashlights or next to a zebra crossing. It can be expensive.

Avoid conversations about religion, when you don't know a Polish person well. Many Polish people, also young people, are very religious and also go to mass on Sundays.

If you go to a restaurant with your friends keep in mind, that it is not common in Poland to pay separately. You will get one receit for the whole group.



If you have some questions about ERASMUS in Cracow and you are planning to go there, don't hesitate to contact me!



I would always do ERASMUS again! I met so many interesting people from Poland and from other countries, saw new places, spoke many different languages, tried many new dishes, listened to some nice concerts,.....and got to know myself better! My time abroad was amazing!





















  1. http://www.bwm.up.krakow.pl/incoming/exchange-student-application-procedure/ ^

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