The Jagiellonian University is a friendly place for foreign students


You come from a country with a very rich academic tradition. Why did you decide to choose Kraków for your studies, instead of, for instance, Rome or Bologna?

I studied my bachelor's degree in Rome - three years of study in applied psychology. But during the second year I went on Erasmus and after coming back I didn't feel really comfortable to study in Italy, so I decided to continue my bachelor studies in Poland within the framework of another programme, Freemover (it's like Erasmus, but without getting money). Here I felt a lot more comfortable with this kind of life, this kind of approach to study. For example, you have classes, lectures and practical training, while in Italy it's just lectures. You simply attend a class and listen to a professor – there is no interaction. Of course, there is also Kraków and many different activities it offers.

What do you find so special about this city?

I must say that Rome is too big to really enjoy the city. In Kraków you go to the centre and you have everything. If you need something, you can find it more easily, without looking for it for hours. You don't need a car, the public transport is really well-organised, and you can reach any place easily. What I also like about Kraków is the atmosphere and the people. You can feel the international atmosphere in this city better than in Rome, even though there are a lot of tourists there. That is what I love.

Do you think that the Jagiellonian University is a friendly place for foreign students?

Yes, for sure. There are a lot of activities offered by the Erasmus Student Network and the International Students Mobility Office. And wherever you go, to any office, they speak English. So that is not such a huge barrier to communicate with other people. It is all very well-organised.

Could you tell us a few words about your research?

I am doing research with my team from the Department of Cell Biology at the Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology. Our group is led by Prof. Ewa Zuba-Surma and funded by the Foundation for Polish Science. The project is devoted to modified stem cells for cardiac regeneration. We are trying to use stem cells and biological materials for treating the heart after myocardial infraction. We already have very good results.

You have mentioned that you would like to continue your studies at the doctoral level. Could you say something more about your plans for the future?

The long-term plan is to become a university professor (laughs). The way is very long, but for sure PhD is a crucial step. I am thinking of staying in the field of stem cells in regenerative medicine, so I am considering different options and one of them is, of course, staying in Kraków. At the moment it is about 70%.  

Is there anything here in Poland that you have found especially surprising as a foreigner?

The culture is not so similar to Italy. But we also have some things in common. Certainly the integration is not so easy as in Italy or in other Mediterranean countries. But people here just need some time to get used to you and see that you are really interested in contact and are a nice person. Another big difference is the organisation of people and public life. It is much better compared to Italy, but I guess everybody knows it. Everything has its pros and cons.


Francesco Gubinelli