After 6 years in Poland, I’m realizing more and more that I couldn’t really stop the Polonization process even if I wanted to. The effects are already deeply ingrained and having a tiny half-Pole growing inside me probably only exacerbates it. Want to know whether you too have been Polonized? Here are some of the tell-tale symptoms to look out for:
- When a guy is smiling and talking to you in line at the supermarket and you’re wondering whether he’s genuinely nice or a total freak.
- When literally all your “people you may know” suggestions on Facebook are Polish people.
- When someone asks you how to say a Polish word in English and you understand it but you have no idea what the English is.
- When you meet other native English speakers and you immediately feel uncomfortable because it’s been so long since you met someone who isn’t Polish.
- When you drop the niceties (how are ya? hope all is well, blah blah) in emails or on the phone and just get straight to the point.
- When friends visit and the first place you take them is to a bar mleczny.
- When you’re excited for fall/autumn because it means grzyby.
- When you travel and bump into someone you always say “przepraszam” instead of “excuse me”.
- When hatchback cars are normal to you and sedans and large SUVs seem strange looking now.
- When you want to say something and all you can think of is the Polish word.
- When you realize you know more about how official things work in Poland than in your home country. I only have a vague idea how of things like insurance, the medical system, and taxes in America but could probably write a book about those things in Poland.
- When you never leave your Polish family’s house without at least dinner for tomorrow and 5 jars of other stuff.
- When it’s above 10 degrees and you start eating ice cream with all the other crazies.
- When it’s Christmas and you actually drink kompot z suszu. It grows on you.
- When instead of saying “oh, Jesus” or “dammit”, you say “o, Jezu” or “cholera”.
- When a bureaucratic task seems impossible but you don’t worry because it’s Poland and there’s always a solution.
- When someone comes to visit you from the States and they’re all “people look sad here” and you realized that you stopped noticing that.
- When you stop greeting people with “how are you” and start greeting people with complaints about the weather, no matter what the weather is like because there’s always something to complain about.
- When you start being skeptical of organic food because everyone else is too.
- When your doctor tells you to go gluten and sugar-free and your first thought how your mother-in-law will take it and how you’ll survive on Tłusty Czwartek.
Do you have any different signs of your own Polonization? Be sure to write them in the comments for all of us to enjoy!
EDIT: I would like to add after fruitful discussion on this topic.
21. When you start picking up the mistakes that Poles make in English, starting using their intonation, or little ways of speaking e.g. “ah ok” instead of “oh ok”, saying “mega” something, or “make a photo” instead of “take”. And as a result, your friends back home tell you that you talk funny now.