Get involved! Student organizations in Poland
One of the benefits of studying is the opportunity to get involved in various student activities. Polish universities host a diverse array of student organizations. These range from large, international societies to small, local groups. Joining one of them is a great way to meet new people, acquire new skills, develop your hobbies and make amazing memories. Many organizations also offer various opportunities for professional and academic development. What’s not to love?
However, we realize that if you are an international student in Poland, finding a perfect student organization for you might be more challenging. First of all, many organizations operate mostly or exclusively in Polish. Second of all, coming from a different country and lacking connections in Poland might make it harder to know where to look and what to look for in an organization. And last but not least, getting used to living in a different country, learning Polish, on top of your study program can leave little time for extracurricular activities.
Taking all of the above into account, we still believe it is worth it to try and find an organization for you! This is why we prepared a short guide to the biggest student organizations in Poland. You will also find some tips on where to look for smaller student organizations.
International student organizations
AIESEC in Poland
AIESEC is one of the biggest international student organizations in the world, founded in 1940s. It provides young people with opportunities to develop their leadership skills, take part in international internship and volunteer programmes. Currently, the network includes around 35 thousand members.
As described on AIESEC Poland website,
AIESEC is a global, independent, youth-led organization operating in over 100 countries and territories at local, national and global levels. For over 50 years in Poland, we have been developing leadership qualities in young people through practical experience in projects supporting the implementation of international exchanges. We work closely with the business sector, which supports us in our pursuit of the organization’s vision and mission. Thanks to membership in AIESEC, you have the opportunity to get involved in the organization of social projects and influence what is happening around you.
IAESTE, or The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience, is an international organization exchanging students for technical work abroad. You can gain technical experience during placements lasting from 4 to 52 weeks in over 85 countries.
As the IAESTE Poland’s website states,
The IAESTE National Committee in Poland is 100% student run and it is not part of any government institution. The office of the National Committee is located in Warsaw. There are 12 Local Committees at the largest Universities of Technology in Poland, all of which are run by students only. In two cities, there is more than one Local Committee, because there is more than one University involved in the IAESTE programme.
The members of local commitees are engaged in various fields within the organization: human resources, public relations, IT, arranging the stay of incoming students and others. For more information, visit IAESTE’s website (however, worth noting is that it is mostly in Polish).
Nationwide student organizations
Independent Students’ Association (NZS)
Independent Students’ Association (Niezależne Zrzeszenie Studentów – NZS) is the biggest student organization in Poland, established in Gdańsk in 1980 . As they describe themselves:
NZS is created by young people with outstanding imagination, bold ideas and great curiosity of the world. Who can be a member of NZS? Every student who has an ambition to create a better reality. NZS mission is student environment mobilization and building civil society! Organize – Show – Create – Discuss. Local problems are as important for us as national, sometimes requiring cooperation with business, charity, other associations and ministries.
NZS organizes a variety of nationwide projects, such as the Student Nobel Prize, Wampiriada – student honorary blood donations, Career Signposts and National Student Photography Competition. They regularly conduct internal training for members on issues such as leadership, fundraising, project management and others.
Students’ Parliament of the Republic of Poland (PSRP)
Students’ Parliament of the Republic of Poland (Parlament Studentów Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej – PSRP) represents all students in Poland – over one million people. Not only they offer support for students, but also created a free guidebook for international students in Poland. In addition, they regularly organize the biggest student event – Juwenalia.
PSRP’s website describes the organization as follows:
The Students’ Parliament of the Republic of Poland (PSRP) is an independent and official voice of the student community in our country and an umbrella organisation of student unions from all Polish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), which can offer you a lot of support during your stay in Poland. PSRP represents students before public authorities as well as abroad. (…) We support the development of student projects and cultural events, and we defend student rights.
The University Sports Association (AZS)
The University Sports Association (Akademicki Zwiazek Sportowy – AZS) is the biggest sports student organization in Poland, dating back to early 20th century. The organization had many famous members, such as Halina Konopacka (discus thrower; the first Polish gold medallist ever).
Here’s how the organization describes itself:
The AZS as the association was established in 1909 in Krakow and from there spread to all academic centers across the country. Because of believing in universal values, the AZS has survived all political circumstances, that Poland witnessed in last one hundred years. At present the AZS has more than 42 000 members, associated in more than 250 clubs, that trains in about 3 000 sections. For our members sport is not only about muscles and medals. In the first place it is a passion to achieve goals, that seem to be impossible.
Worth noting is that AZS organizes a variety of Univeristy Championships. Sport lovers, from cycling, through handball, to chess, will surely find something for themselves here. If this is your cup of tea, make sure to check out their website and Facebook.
Local student organizations – where to find them?
Local student organizations might not have the same resources as large, international ones. However, some people prefer their smaller scale and more informal atmosphere. If you feel like this could be something for you, check out clubs and societies at your univeristy and department. Often you can find them listed on the univerity or department website. Moreover, you can probably ask for a list at the Student’s Office.
These smaller clubs can offer a variety of activities. For instance, you will find:
- clubs which purpose is to integrate Polish- and English-speaking students (e.g. Phi Delta Epsilon at Medical University in Gdańsk),
- English-language student theatres (for example, The Cheerful Hamlets in Warsaw),
- English-language book clubs (such as KNA Book Club in Kraków),
- university-wide associations (for example, Wrocław International Student Society at Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences),
- and many others!
Remember that the organizations listed above are only a fraction of student organizations, clubs and societies in Poland. We hope that you will find one best suited to your interests and hobbies, make lifelong friendships and develop your skills. Fingers crossed and have fun! 🙂