UNIVERSITY OF BIELSKO-BIALA - UNIVERSITY FOR YOU!

Currency

The Polish currency is the: zloty (PLN). One zloty is divided into 100 grosz-es. Coins come in denominations of 1 grosz to 5 zloty (in turn: 1 gr, 2 gr, 5 gr, 10 gr, 20 gr, 50 gr, 1 zl, 2 zl, 5 zl). Bank notes go from 10 zloty to 200 zloty-s.

The value of 1 PLN is: 1 EUR = 3.8 - 4.5 PLN (you can check a current rate at Polish National Bank webpage). 

Do not exchange currency on the street! Instead, go to any place marked: currency exchange office (kantor). These are the legal exchange agencies. You may also exchange currency in some banks. As in most countries, do not change money at the airports: the rate is terrible there.
 

Cost of living

Of course cost of living varies from student to student, but generally, daily needs like food or clothing are relatively less expensive than the goods imported from the West. You should note that if you want to travel a lot, make international phone calls, buy fresh fruit and vegetables frequently, and lead an active social life, you will have to spend about 1 200 PLN per month, excluding accommodation costs. In order to give you a more specific idea of these costs, here is a list of some everyday costs:
  • Bread - 3,50 PLN
  • Butter - 4,00 PLN
  • Sugar 1 kg - 3,50 PLN
  • 10 eggs - 5,00 PLN
  • Milk 1 l - 2,50 PLN
  • Coca-cola 1 l - 3,80 PLN
  • Coffee instant Nescafe Gold 200 g - 23,00 PLN
  • Cigarettes Marlboro - 12,00 PLN
  • Beer in a shop - 2,50 PLN
  • Beer in a pub - 5,0-7,00 PLN

Shopping

Monday to Friday a grocery store (sklep) is usually open from 8 am to 6 pm, on Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm or sometimes longer, on Sundays hours may vary, but most of the shops are closed on this day.
Supermarkets are open seven days per week: from 8 am to 10 pm and shopping centres: from 9 am to 9 pm. 



Buses

City buses
Tickets price may vary from city to city, but in Bielsko-Biala (MZK): 
  • Reduced-rate ticket (ulgowy): 1,50 PLN (only with Polish student ID card)
  • Regular ticket (normalny): 3,00 PLN
You should buy your tickets at kiosks on the street. Drivers sell tickets, but the prices is normally higher (using this ticket you can change buses within 60 min.). Once into the bus you should punch your ticket on a special perforator machine (yellow or red). Normally, there are no ticket inspector on buses, however from time to time they get into the bus to check tickets. If you do not have a ticket, then you should pay 130 PLN fine. 

You can buy a monthly ticket (bilet miesięczny) at reduced-rate when you get your Polish student ID (legitymacja studencka). 

You can check the timetables buses going around teh city: MZK - Informacje o linii.


Long distance buses
There is a wide network of connections between major cities in Poland. Timetables are avaible in the webpage of each city.  
You can check buses going from Bielsko-Biała: PKS - Rozkład jazdy.
 

Trains

You can travel by slow (local connections), fast, express and inter-city trains. It is possible to book a seat and to stay in a sleeping car.
Prices will depend on type of train, class and distance. If you present Polish student ID, tickets will be cheaper. Connections and timetables are avaible on this page: PKP -Plan podróży.


Taxis

Be aware that locations as train station, center, hotels are always more expensive to take a taxi. Overnight prices are significantly higher. It is not recommended to negotiate the price. 
In Bielsko-Biala the price of a taxi service (taximeter) between city centre and the dormitories varies between: 20 - 25 PLN.


Banking

It is possible to open a bank account as soon as you arrive to Poland, even you can do it via internet before leaving your home country. Be careful and check conditions of different banks (ING Bank Slaski, PKO Bank Polski, etc.), since in some of them it is very difficult and expensive to close a bank account.

You have a few choices of standard bank accounts in Poland:

Current account: this account, which is what most people have, will provide you with a cheque book for obtaining cash at the bank and for making payments. At regular intervals you will receive a statement showing any transactions on your account. This is a useful way of keeping your money safe.Deposit account: you can use this while already having a current account or independently. It is useful if you have other funds which you don't need to use immediately and which can therefore earn interest in the meantime.


Credit cards

In Poland it is possible to pay by credit card (VISA, American Express, Euro Card etc.). Credit cards are accepted in hotels, restaurants and in bigger shops, however they are not as popular as in Western Europe. People generally pay with, and ask for, cash, so you should first ask if you could pay by credit card.

Phoning

Public phones
Public phones are accessible at many points: in hotels, banks, department stores, post offices, railway stations, as well as at free-standing telephone booths throughout the city. Phone cards can be bought at any kiosk and are required for some telephones. There are also some coin-operated phones, identified by their orange-colored telephone booths. 

Mobile phones
The easiest option for students would be to bring their own phone (already unlocked) or to buy a prepaid package. Buying SIM card is very easy - you can get one in any kiosk. It is quite cheap. 
 
Emergency numbers are the same all over Poland:
Ambulance: 999
Fire Brigade: 998
Police: 997
Emergency breakdown service: 981
Emergency (Mobile phone only): 112

Mailing

Post offices (poczta) can be found at many points in every city. Costs depend on size, weight and country of sending of the package or letter. 
Post boxes are red and they usually hang on the walls of the buildings.

Pharmacies

Cosmetics and medicaments are available at the Pharmacy (apteka). Some kinds of medicine are only available by a prescription (issued by a Polish doctor). 
But, if you catch a cold and your nose is running, it's easy to buy aspirin or other helpful remedies in many shops.


Driving licence

Driving licenses issued by other EU member states are recognized by Poland and remain valid until the expiry date indicated in the document. If you are from outside of the EU you will have to obtain an International Driving Licence to drive in Poland.
While driving a vehicle on the territory of Poland, a driver is obliged to have his license and registration on him. Civil liability insurance is also needed. 
Seat belts must be used in both front and back seats, with children up to the age of 12 and up to 150 cm tall using special certified seats. Using mobile phone during driving a car is forbidden! Loud-speaking phone system is allowed.
Drivers have to use day lights during the whole day.
 The vehicle must be equipped with a reflector triangle and has to be marked with a sign indicating the country of its registration. Radar-warning systems are banned.

Speed limits: 
  • residential area – up to 20 km/h
  • built-up area – up to 50 km/h
  • outside built-up area – up to 90 km/h
  • single express carriageway – up to 100 km/h
  • dual express carriageway – up to 120 km/h
  • motorway – up to 140 km/h

Weather

Be aware: winter conditions espacially in Bielsko-Biala, which is a mountainous region, can be rough. That includes strong wind and snowy conditions. Average temperature for January is -3°C, but it can even fall below to -25°C. 
Weather (pogoda) gets warmer after first three months of the year. Spring brings bigger amounts of rain. Umbrella would be very needed in that case.
More about weather in Poland: climate.

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