Why Poland?

Bottom line: med school. But I’ll cover that in my next post. For this post, I’ll just focus on Poland itself, and the benefits. I know what you might be thinking – if you’re whole reasoning is to go to med school in Poland, wouldn’t it make sense to explain, “Why med school?” Sure, that’s legit, but I have to start somewhere, and since this is Vikings in Poland, I’m starting with the great nation itself.

Family

My wife is Polish. She was born in the States, but has close ties to the old country (I never get to say that about my family, so I’ll say it about her), and has traveled back there to spend time with them frequently. She’s speaks native Polish (one of 5 languages fluently or better) and will be my essential lifeline in the foreign land we are invading this year. Depending on how various interviews go, we could be VERY close to a majority of her extended family, and I will have a great opportunity to spend time with native Polish intelligentsia, which could give me some excellent connections.

Finances

The average cost of med schools in the United States is somewhere around $45,000. This, of course, is after completing a specific bachelors degree and passing your MCAT entrance exams with reasonable scores. When all is said and done, becoming an MD in the States can run you right around half a million bucks if you’re going to private schools, or maybe half that (what a deal!) if you economize. You will be hobbled for years with student loan debt, and your options will be dictated to you based upon your ability to pay it back.

However, in Poland, the cost of a medical degree in classes taught in English runs you about $11,000 per year. The cost of living in Poland is a fraction of the cost of most places in the States. Also, you can opt for a 6-year MD degree without getting a bachelors, actually saving you two years of school. Even with conservative estimating, a Polish medical degree will cost you less than a third of what you will pay in the US, and you can still take the same boards and enter the same residency pools as any US medical school students for jobs in the States. On a side note, both of my wife’s parents are doctors (one a native born American, one not) in the US with degrees from Polish universities, so it can be done. I call that a win.

Freedom

America is the land of the free… right? But is it really? Taxes are on the rise, the government is cracking down on gun rights, and Obama is bombing foreign countries like he’s trying to prove he isn’t a Muslim. I’m not certain I want to be around for the blowback, and I sure don’t want to pay through the nose for the privilege.

I have always loved to travel, and have been to Eastern Europe a few times before. This will give me a chance to really see another part of the world (again) and will be a jumping off point to other parts of Europe, Asia, and maybe even Africa. It’s much easier to visit these awesome historical locations when I don’t have to pay $1500 per ticket to fly coach for 12 hours across an ocean each way. I’ll already be there! This is the opportunity for my wife and me and our budding family to explore the world and have the chance to do things most people only dream about. What’s not to like?

Caveats

So, there are a few thoughts about this that my wife pointed out to me. Before any of you readers out there go jumping at the bit and decide to move to Poland, realize that it’s going to be HARD. Polish is a notoriously difficult language to learn, and Poland is a very exclusive society. More than 99% of the population is ethnically Polish, and immigrants aren’t treated particularly well. I will be somewhat of an exception due my extreme whiteness and the fact that I’m married to a beautiful Polish woman with plenty of high ranking local connections. That said, you won’t get beaten in the street for having dark skin (like you would in Russia) but you won’t have a particularly easy time meeting people or generating fruitful relationships.

The bureaucracy in Poland is a hassle. Everything requires a stamp, or a letter, or a notary. Slackers need not apply. It takes WORK to live in Poland (or a trust fund). The social services are barely adequate, and people are expected to be taken care of by their families, so if you don’t have one, you’re pretty much on your own. The unprepared or unsupported immigrant in Poland soon finds themselves in a world of hurt.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Why Poland?

  1. Kuba

    The Polish antipathy towards multiculturalism (thus large scale immigration) stems from it’s history of being a ethic mixed bag of Poles, Ukrainians, White Russians, Regular Russians, Jews, Lithuanians, Germans, Tatars, Gypsies. The mixed bag always had the problem of the various ethnic groups trying to trying to defy the historically very lax and extremely tolerant Polish laws, attacking and killing each other, attacking and killing Poles, etc.

    For this reason Polish nationalism of a kind of (modern Japanese inward looking) separatist style has become pervasive in the minds of Poles. This has been more deeply entrenched by the fact of Polish emigrants who return from modern multiculti messes such as France and the UK who see what kinds of problems the western liberal “diversity nazis” have caused.

    • I think it’s interesting to watch the dynamic of Poland’s interaction with the EU. It seems to be just a marriage of convenience for the Poles in that Germany bankrolls everything (much as it does with the rest of the Eurozone) but I think as Poland is starting to develop, they see their EU membership as a devil’s bargain.

  2. Pingback: Why med school? | Vikings in Poland

  3. I just happened across your blog and saw this post. I was wondering what school you’re looking at attending? I go to medical school in Poznan…and like you said there’s definitely some caveats but the perks make it all worth while!

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