Living abroad can be bizarre sometimes. If you’ve never done it, it’s hard to imagine the problems you might encounter. Although it can be a frustrating experience, it’s definitely something I think everyone should experience at least for a few months. So if you’re thinking about moving abroad, here’s a few things to prepare for.
For those of you who don’t know, perhaps who don’t follow Polonization on Facebook (but you should!), might not know that I was on Dzień Dobry TVN with my husband two weeks ago. It was a very interesting experience for both of us and I have to say that it was pretty fun too. Despite the fact that I was extremely embarrassed that I didn’t understand the first question, everything turned out great and we’re happy we did it. Although to be honest, neither of us have watched the live show and I’m not sure we’d like to Before the show, I was given a list of questions. Shockingly for me, only one of these questions was actually asked of me on the show so I thought I’d give the answers I really wanted to give here on my blog. I’ve never done a post in Polish but I suppose since most of my readers are Poles I thought you guys would enjoy it. P.S. yes, I had help.
Guys, real talk. Probably your English is really good, especially if you’re reading my blog. I’m not saying that Poles don’t speak English well. On the contrary, I’m impressed how so many people are able to speak so well without ever having lived in an English-speaking country. I make a living on the fact that you make errors so that’s cool with me. BUT I can’t stand hearing and correcting these mistakes anymore. Don’t dare ask me “but are these big mistakes?” A mistake is a mistake is a mistake. You can easily fix these and your English will immediately make a much better impression. So let’s take a look!
Being new in any environment is always a struggle, especially for us introverts who are terrified of making a faux pas (not just me I hope!) What do I wish I had known when I moved to Poland? Ah if only someone had handed me a manual… or a blog… Anyway, part of the fun is discovering the little idiosyncrasies yourself but sometimes it’s good to have a road map to guide you a bit. Here’s what I’d like any newbie to know about Poles:
Not being from here, sometimes it’s hard to find products which aren’t available in stores or are a little different than the mass-produced stuff. Honestly if you don’t use the internet or watch TV in the language of the country you live in, you miss out on a lot. You either you have to read blogs in Polish or talk to people. Word-of-mouth was usually my way but now I’m trying to branch out and search for things in google in Polish and read more Polish stuff. Luckily I found a great blog called PiggyPeg, which does reviews of beauty products and helped me find awesome stuff. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.
You either assimilate or you don’t. It’s a choice you make. I’ve seen and heard of many cases here in Poland where someone just refuses to learn the language or adapt to the traditions here. What a shame, you know? If you’re here, you might as well live. Otherwise, what’s the point really? I’m a firm believer that if you’ve made a decision to live in a place, you’ve gotta go all in. If not, you can never truly experience the culture for what it really is.
That’s right. I said writing. Not sending emails or whatsapping people. Writing an actual letter on actual paper that people can actually keep. Writing cards and letters is something I grew up doing. My proper southern mama (hi mom!) always had us write cards for special occasions or to say thank you and it kinda stuck. Letters are a dying tradition but they are one of the most squishy, mushy ways to make someone feel appreciated, especially when you live far, far away from your lovies. Those of us who live abroad can appreciate it most of all. (hint: card giveaway at the bottom!)
In America, the way to make people feel comfortable in a social situation is to be friendly and treat them like friends. We wanna be pals. If you have to do something unpleasant like get a new driver’s license, you try as hard as possible to make jokes or at least small talk with the person behind the counter. You laugh together or something to feel like friends and you can even refer to them by their first name without disrespecting them. In fact, it goes along with the “let’s be friends” thing. How about Poles? Do they behave similarly?
Five and a half years in Poland and I’m already an old Polish woman. One of my favorite summer activities is canning. Produce is super seasonal here so in the winter there’s no way you’re gonna find things like berries or good tomatoes. The only way to eat that stuff all year is to can it for the winter. When I lived in the States I was always a little wary of it. Whenever you read about it online, it seems so dangerous and scary like you can really easily poison yourself and your whole family. In reality, it’s not that hard.