Say hello to our newest European program — the countryside of Warsaw, Poland!
Come join a group of ILP volunteers who are spending a semester abroad living like a local, traveling across Europe, and helping kids learn English. You'll be volunteering part-time during the week, with lots of free time to experience Poland and vacation days to explore the country and beyond.
Volunteer in Poland
Learn more about this program right here
This is a classic ILP adventure and we're so thrilled to share about this opportunity to volunteer in Poland.
Quick Poland Program Facts
There are 3 trips throughout the year that you can join! Trips are about 3 months and it lines up pretty close with typical college semesters (so if you're a student, it fits well with your schedule).
Spring — Depart late January/mid February - return end of April
Summer — Depart learly May - return mid August
Fall — Depart September - return mid December (home by Christmas!)
This program is a good fit for:
- Volunteers from the United States
- Single females
- 18-25(ish) years old — hot tip: you can apply up to 1.5 years in advance, but you just need to turn 18 by the day your semester starts!
No experience required! More on this below, but during your trip you'll be teaching English classes to local kids part-time. We utilize a specific teaching methodology to help the kids learn naturally — We'll provide training and support so that you can be confident and effective with your classes. No teaching experience is required (you don't even need to speak Polish!).
International Language Programs was set up to be a meaningful adventure for college-age young adults. It's geared towards giving you life experiences. You're in good company if you don't even have a passport yet, if it's your first time living away from home, and are more than a little nervous about jumping on a plane to go live in Poland for a few months. That's the case for so many of our volunteers! You just need a desire to do good things for others and are ready to take a big fat giant leap out of your comfort zone.
The program fee for volunteers in Poland is $3,970. As with all ILP programs, this one time fee includes things like:
- Roundtrip international airfare to Poland from the U.S.
- Airport pick up and drop off
- Housing for the semester
- At home meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
- Pre-Departure and In-Country Training
- An ILP Support Team
There is a $30 application fee that's due when you apply (it goes towards your program fee, not in addition to it) and there is a $100 discount if you're paying in full within 3 weeks of being accepted. Aside from that though, we have payment plans. You can pay in increments and make it work with your budget.
In country purchases such as vacations, excursions, and shopping are not included. Most volunteers recommend budgeting around $1,500-3,500 to cover that (this number highly depends on your spending habits and is just an estimate!).
We'll start with around 4-5 volunteers, plus 1 Head Teacher in this program. There's room to grow here though and we can't wait to continue expanding in future semesters!
Life In Poland
ILP volunteers are living in Nasielsk, a small town in the countryside outside of the capital Warsaw. It's quiet and laid back at home giving you an authentic look at local life, with just a train ride to get into the bustling city just a little under an hour away. Your town really has a countryside feel to it too. To paint a picture for you ... there's no public transportation in your city, but everything is within walking distance anyway!
Nearby Warsaw is a stunner. It gives you all the pieces of a classic European city: cobblestone streets, colorful architecture, yummy treats, and is steeped in so much history. It's also one of the major transportation hubs of Eastern Europe, meaning you have access to affordable one- way routes all across Europe.
Weekend Trips From Nasielsk
You're set for little trips! There's so much to do and you really could take off and do something new every weekend if you wanted to. It's easy to jump on a train or a flight to explore Poland and beyond.
Trains from Nasielsk
There is a train station in your town with stops all over Poland — explore the surrounding countryside full of national parks, forests, rivers, and even sand dunes. Go kayaking, ziplining and hiking. Take the train 3 hours north to swim in the Baltic Sea in Gdnask and wander the largest castle in the world in Malbork. Auschwitz is just a 4-5 hour train ride away from Nasielsk in Krakow. Find train routes from Nasielsk here.
Trains from Warsaw
There is a station in Warsaw too, so you could check departure times from here for additional options. While it'll take you about 4-5 hours to get to Krakow from the Nasielsk station, it will only take about 2-3 hours from Warsaw (just remember it's an hour to get out to Warsaw from Nasielsk too). Depending on your plans, that can be helpful to know. Consider convenience + prices. Book from the same site here.
Flights from Modlin
The Warsaw Modlin Airport (WMI) is about 20 minutes away from Nasielsk. A lot of major cities in Europe have a main airport located within the city and also an airport a bit outside of the city that budget airlines often prefer to take advantage of. That's the case here and luckily Modlin is so close to you.
Ryanair is one of the main budget airlines in Europe and they have routes from Modlin with deals all over Europe! It's less than a 2 hour flight to Sweden, 1.5 hours to Denmark, 2 hours to Norway, 2.5 hours to London, 2 hours to Italy, and so many more. Check out budget flights from the Modlin airport here.
Flights from Chopin
The Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW) is the main international airport in Warsaw, not far from the city center. If you can't find a flight from Modlin that works, chances are you'll find it here (remember Warsaw is a European hub!).
There are many airline options from WAW including budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizz Air. One we tend to like is Lot Airlines — They are a Polish airline and one of the main competitors servicing Europe (like Lufthansa, if you're familiar). While they're one of the nicer airlines, we've also seen them offer discounts to compete with budget airlines for certain routes which means it's worth checking to see if you can snag a deal. And Lot goes eeeeevvverywhere. Even smaller towns across Poland. Check out Lot routes from Chopin here.
Malbork Castle, Poland
This is the heart of the experience! As a volunteer in Poland you'll be helping local kids learn English. And don't worry if you've never taught before — we have a specific teaching methodology that takes some practice but is easy to learn. We keep class sizes small (usually around 8 students per volunteer) so that you can spend invaluable one-on-one time with the kids. So many volunteers say that they came for the travel, but that their time with the kids ended up being the best part of the entire trip.
Throughout the semester, you'll spend about half a day volunteering during the week, Monday-Friday (up to 4 hours with the kids plus transportation, preparation, and cleanup time). And then you've always got Saturday and Sunday off for exploring!
The Poland program is an Exchange — this means the students pay a fee to attend ILP classes, and this setup helps make the program fee more affordable for our volunteers than it would have been. You'll be teaching at a private school, where the students come from middle to upperclass families (as opposed to our Humanitarian programs where the students come from families with little means and ILP classes are offered to them with no attendance fee).
It's like an extracurricular activity, supplementing their current classes. Your students in Poland are already taking English classes as a part of their typical school day, so they're coming to your ILP class having already been introduced to English. The parents of your students want to provide the best education to their child and they see value in putting extra time towards becoming fluent in English, especially when that time is spent with a native English speaker.
You'll teach two groups of kids at different levels. The first group is kindergarten - 2nd grade, with your youngest students being 5 years old, turning 6. Here we'll focus on encouraging the kids to become more comfortable and natural in simply speaking English, using activities and play that is really fun for the kids.
The next group is 3rd grade - 8th grade, with your oldest students at around 14-15 years old. We'll continue with similar activities that continue helping the kids become comfortable with conversing in English through play. We'll also implement more advanced lessons that strengthen their English in other ways using writing, reading, and comprehension activities.
Because your students are already taking English classes at school, they've got a good head start. The younger kids are just getting started, but they've got a good introduction. They can probably name all of the animals for you or count to 10. You might be able to talk back and forth a bit, especially with your older students.
There will be all levels of English ability and we're here to further their skillset and help them become more and more fluent. Being able to talk to your students is a pretty unique part of the Poland program and makes it so much easier for you to get to know their little personalities!
How We Got Started In Poland
If you didn't know, International Language Programs (ILP) has been around since 1992. We've expanded since that time, but we originally started in Russia and Ukraine. Eastern Europe has a special hold on our hearts!
We got a call from the parents of one of our students who had attended ILP in Ukraine for several years. What a surprise! This family had since moved to Poland and were really missing the ILP classes they had in Ukraine.
They wanted to provide their kids with a strong background in English and saw the value in introducing it to them in their younger years. They said they looked around and couldn't quite find exactly what they were looking for in their new home. They wanted teachers who spoke English as their first language. They loved the idea of learning through play, as we do in ILP, so that their kids were becoming naturally fluent and enjoying it at the same time. And the classes needed to be affordable (this was tricky to find).
The solution? Let's open a new ILP program in Poland!
We're so excited about the school that we're partnering with and being able to bring our program to students in Poland. And yes, that family was the first to sign up.
How It Works
You'll have around 9 days off from teaching that are spread throughout the semester allowing for vacations to other destinations. It can be a bit different from semester to semester but a lot of times that looks like a couple of 4-day trips and another that is a bit longer.
You and your ILP group are free to decide how you spend your vacation time! You could easily spend 4 days in Krakow, Poland and still wish you had more time — shop for souvenirs in the main square, explore Wawel Castle, see Schindler's Factory in person, and learn some of the tragic history during a tour of the Jewish Quarter. Make sure you save time to tour the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial sites. The tour guides typically have family or connections to people who were here during the war and share their stories. It's a day you won't ever forget.
The gist is that ILP isn't putting you on a tour bus and saying here's your adventure, all planned out. You get to create the experiences you want to have! We do have an approval process and some destinations or activities are subject to be off-limits so that we can help empower you to be a wise traveler. Once you're in-country your group will just submit tentative vacation plans to our Support Team, but for now you can start dreaming up where you want to go. And Europe has oh so many options ... the hardest part is choosing where.
Click here to see hundreds of blog posts we've written about exploring Europe, with our best tips on how to get around on a budget and our favorite cities.
Cinque Terre, Italy
How To Apply
The first semester in Poland will be Spring 2024, departing around the end of January.
Is there still room for me to apply for the first trip this Spring? Yes, we still have availability to volunteer with us this Spring, so if that semester works best, we encourage you to apply.
Hot tip though: We do have people who have already started their application for Spring 2024 and are working towards getting assigned to a location. If you haven't started your application and want the greatest chance of getting a spot in Poland, we'd recommend applying for Summer 2024, Fall 2024, or Spring 2025 instead.
I've already applied, can I add Poland to my list of country preferences? Yes, we can add it to your list of places you're interested in being assigned to! Just email your Rep or email@example.com and we can take a look at that. We will be following our normal policies to be fair in determining who qualifies to receive an assignment.
What semesters are open right now for Poland? We're currently accepting new applications to volunteer for Spring 2024, Summer 2024, Fall 2024, and Spring 2025! Apply today by starting your online application.
Hey ILP alumni! We are currently accepting applications for Poland Head Teachers for all available semesters, Spring 2024-Spring 2025! The program fee for Head Teachers in this Exchange location is waived, and you'll also receive a stipend to help with things like vacations and shopping throughout the semester. That's right, come live in Europe for free!
Curious about what's involved with being a Head Teacher? Learn all about it here.
Volunteer In Europe
Come spend a semester volunteering in Poland with us! There's no experience required, you get to immerse into local life, make it more meaningful by volunteering, and we hook you up with a group of new travel buddies to experience it all with. Learn more below.