Rupali Parekh came from Finland to Warsaw five years ago. She has chosen the Faculty of Psychology of UW where people from all around the world are educated. Rupali, a student with a multicultural background, feels very good at the University of Warsaw.


Rupali Parekh is a 5-year student of Warsaw International Studies in Psychology at the University of Warsaw, a programme of study taught in English. Before her arrival, she did not know a lot about Warsaw. She was afraid that Poland could be bland and quiet. “I was astonished when I came here. The country is developing,” says Rupali Parekh.


A multicultural student in a multicultural environment

Her mother is Finnish and her father comes from India. Due to the fact that her family roots are from two continents, she has been travelling a lot. “I was born in Finland but I spent 11 years living abroad, e.g. in India and Malesia. I was visiting mostly Asian and Middle East countries. Poland was one of the first European countries I have been to,” explains Rupali Parekh.


The student of WISP has been interested in psychology since high school. In Finland, she took seven courses related to this topic. Then her friend, who was studying medicine at the Medical University in Warsaw at that time, recommended her to come to Poland. She chose the University of Warsaw, particularly Warsaw International Studies in Psychology. “Psychology is applicable to everything and to everyone. There are many fields people can work in, e.g. in business, clinics or in any company as a work psychologist. I am on the neuropsychology track and I am really satisfied with it,” adds.


In Rupali’s class there are about 40 people from 12 different countries such as Iran, China, India, Denmark, Sweden or Norway. There are also many Erasmus students coming to study psychology at UW. “It is really interesting to study in that international environment. We can learn from each other, and present our own perspectives. Also, we have lectures with some visiting professors from the United States and other countries. It is beneficial to have such multicultural discussions,” says.


Psychological world

During her studies, Rupali Parekh had both theoretical and practical courses, e.g. in the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology and the Public Central Teaching Hospital (Banacha Street). Even though the Finnish student has chosen neuropsychology as the main path, she could take courses from a different specialization as well. “Everything is very interesting and it is hard to limit yourself just to one,” says Rupali. Self Experience in Psychodynamic Group Psychotherapy was one of the most inspirational courses to her. “All students had to go through a group therapy. We were truly impressed. It was run by two experienced psychologists. The second really inspiring course I took was related to marketing, where we planned our own companies – created a product, assessed competition, set our targets etc. Some very inspiring ideas came out. My group created a cafeteria. Another one designed tea bags for children. They contained vitamins instead of caffeine and their packaging was in the shape of fish. Making tea would look like fishing,” adds.


Currently, Rupali is working on her master thesis that is a longitudinal study on the development of dyadic (Infant and Parent) relationships. She is observing an eye contact between 40 infants between 5 and 11 months and their mothers. The research is carried out in the BabyLab of UW.


“There are a lot of studies about eye contact. In my research I am observing the mutual gaze which means direct eye contact between the infant and the parent. I am interested in the amount of time the infant spends looking at the parent, toys and the surroundings and how much time the parent spends looking at the infant and the surroundings. This is important because the development of mutual gaze allows the child to then further develop social skills and eventually learn to interact with other people. When the mother and the child play together the child learns important social skills such as communication,” stresses the student from Finland.


Polish lessons at Polonicum

One of the first words Rupali learned in Poland were “następny przystanek”, “proszę” and “dziękuję”. “My apartment was in Sadyba district, quite far away from the Faculty of Psychology. I was travelling by bus and I could hear repeatedly next stop – “następny przystanek”. That is why I learned it very quickly,” explains Rupali.


Rupali attended the Centre of Polish Language and Culture for Foreigners “Polonicum” where she could learn the Polish language.  “I can get by in Polish in the restaurants, stores etc. People in Warsaw speak English so nowadays it is not a problem to communicate in that language.”