Cultural Musings, Poland

The 6 craziest questions I’ve been asked about Poland

While preparing for my latest trip to Florida, I was wondering what crazy things people would ask me this time about Poland. It’s always fun to go home and talk to people about it because there’s always some question which should be really embarrassing for the person asking. But, shockingly, they go ahead and ask it anyway. Read on for all the best questions I’ve been asked.

Where is Poland? – Once I was actually asked this. My answer, holding back my true facial expression (which is very hard for me), was “do you know where Germany is?” Of course they answered “yes” but I have my doubts. So I said it’s the country exactly east of Germany. Then the lights flashed on. Or so I hoped. Also, Poland is not in Russia.

What language do they speak in Poland? – Po prostu nie mogę. Like, really? Poland is not some obscure country in the middle of nowhere which was recently formed and you’ve never heard of. Maybe they’re thinking Russian because of the past political situation, so ok, fine. But still.

You live in a city? – Like it’s surprising or something. and yes, by the way, it’s 750 years old. So that’s more than 3 times older than our country. It’s Europe so I think that should be obvious. I don’t know where the idea that there are just fields here comes from.

Isn’t it cold all the time? – yes, frostbite is an everyday danger. Actually, it’s not that cold in Poland. The average temperature in the winter is around 0 (celsius, obvi) and there aren’t blizzards here anything. At least I’ve never seen one. The weather in the northern U.S. seems to be a lot worse.

Is everyone tall and blue-eyed? – I think that’s the Swedish stereotype. Not really sure where this idea originated… it’s possible some people just imagine that everyone in this part of Europe looks the same.

Oh you guys have (insert really obvious thing) there? – yes and roads and buildings and all that stuff that they have everywhere. Ok maybe we don’t have as many options in Poland as in America, but generally you can get anything you want. You might have to order it online or something but still, come on people. Even sriracha! Yay!

Surprisingly, no one asked me anything strange on this trip, but maybe that’s because I didn’t meet many new people. A lot of people asked me what the temp is like or something like that but nothing worth noting. Anyway, I’m sure more will occur in the future and you better believe I will put it here!

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35 Comments

  • Reply Kate 7 March 2016 at 21:10

    Have they asked you to say something in Polish? If they did, what was their reaction? Btw, I love your blog, please post more often 😀

  • Reply Ai 7 March 2016 at 21:35

    Hahaah! I was asked sort of the same thing everytime I’m home in the tropics. The worst question I got was, Do people there live in igloos? I was like..seriously?! Maybe because of what they perceived by living in a cold country.
    *face palm

    By the way, nice to discover your blog. I just live nearby your city, by the way.

  • Reply Kadewu 7 March 2016 at 21:50

    Any white bears around? 🙂 Today I got an American visa… And feel happy and ready to educate anyone if necessary :-))).

    • Reply Leah Southers 8 March 2016 at 10:41

      Hey! Congratulations 🙂 was it as bad as you expected??

  • Reply Kuba 7 March 2016 at 21:53

    “Po prostu nie mogę” ^^

    • Reply hollydolly 7 March 2016 at 23:23

      I second that notion.
      To be honest I don’t think these questions are so outrageous. Like the „where is Poland?” cliche — looking at it the other way round it is rather not challenging to know where Florida is, but it won’t be so easy with e. g. Kansas

  • Reply Zuzia 7 March 2016 at 22:03

    This is some pretty crazy questions 😂😂 I relly like your Blog… And i’m new her so.. Hi 😀😀😊😊

  • Reply Zuzia 7 March 2016 at 22:04

    Sorry 4 spam 😬😬😬

  • Reply lidkape 7 March 2016 at 22:36

    During my time in England I went on with the jokes (fortunately, those were obviously jokes) about temperature in Poland and kept correcting people that it’s actually Poland bears, not polar bears… Try doing that!

    Btw I absolutely love your blog! Keep them coming! 🙂

    • Reply Leah Southers 8 March 2016 at 10:41

      yeah the temperature thing seems to be the most popular question I get as well

  • Reply Dany 8 March 2016 at 03:09

    While on exchange I was asked quite a few times “Is Poland located on the North Pole?” Poland – Pole, what? 😂 I was also asked if it is close to Jamaica, like hey, I am pale, blond and I have blue eyes – yes, Jamaica is a perfect match!

    • Reply Leah Southers 8 March 2016 at 10:39

      ok the Jamaica thing — huh?? that poor person… haha

  • Reply 妮卡 Veronica 8 March 2016 at 03:12

    Best ones from China:
    – Do you speak English or Russian in Poland?
    – Is it true Polish people are drunk almost everytime, Poland is really cold so you need to drink so much vodka
    – So your capital has below 2 million people? No way!
    – The city you have been studying in has just half million people? Is it really a city? Why is there a university?
    I really prefer don’t mention my hometown has just ten thousand citizens 😉

    • Reply Leah Southers 8 March 2016 at 10:39

      haha a capital with so few people is probably unbelievable in China 🙂

  • Reply Magdelena 8 March 2016 at 21:50

    During my stay in the US i really enjoyed observing and comparing THS huge american culuture to polish one. I found it very inspiring. Still can’t remember the credit card mania! Also, everybody was also so interested in how is life in Poland – what do you eat? – was definitively my favourite question.

  • Reply Magdelena 8 March 2016 at 21:52

    *can’t forget, of course 🙂

    • Reply hollydolly 9 March 2016 at 01:27

      ,,Food”

  • Reply Amerykanka w polskim świecie - wywiad z Leah 15 March 2016 at 03:28

    […] trochę długo nam zeszło, myślę, że mogłybyśmy jeszcze tak długo rozmawiać. Cieszę się, że tak regularnie piszesz swojego bloga o swoich polskich przeżyciach ( http://www.poloniza…poznawczy nawet dla polskiego czytelnika. Odsyłam zatem i naszych czytelników do niego a tych, […]

  • Reply Agata 17 March 2016 at 22:53

    Hello,
    I found your blog yesterday and instead of doing my homework I’d just read all the posts. It’s brilliant! I can’t forgive myself for not finding it earlier! I must admit, one of my teacher in my school is a British, but she doesn’t speak Polish as well as you do, though, she understands almost everything. You should be really proud of yourself, because our language is one of the hardest to learn and you speak so well! I’m really glad that you did learn it. I know a lot of people just give up, or they don’t even try, because more and more people speak English nowadays. And all of the posts are so interesting. I can learn a lot from your point of view. Oh, and about the smiling thing – it’s not entirely true, at least in my case. Most of the people smile back, when you smile at them, but I admit it can be troublesome, when I need to do the shopping quickly, because when you are in a supermarket and smile to some grandma, they all just start talking to you, which can be really awkward sometimes. Anyway, I’ll subscribe it right away and I’m looking forward to read your next posts!
    Have a nice weekend! And sorry for my talkativeness. I usually can stop it really nice…

    • Reply Leah Southers 18 March 2016 at 14:01

      Thank you Agata!! I like your talkativeness so no problem 🙂 You’re right there are a lot of people who smile back so it’s not necessarily true! But I’m glad to hear I speak better Polish than your teacher haha

  • Reply Patrycja 18 March 2016 at 13:47

    Hey!
    I live in Spain and people ask me those questions all the time! The winner is: is it cold in Poland? (even if it’s summer). But I’ve also heard a “do you have steam trains there?” question and “Is Poland… Europe?” in a palce where I wanted to get a stamp. And I haven’t even changed the continent!

    P.D. Thanks for blogging here! It’s interesting to see your point of view on the situation that I also live but in reverse 🙂

    Greetings!

    • Reply Leah Southers 18 March 2016 at 14:01

      Hey Patrycja! Do they seriously ask you those things in Spain? Wow and people think Americans are bad at geography…

  • Reply Patrycja 18 March 2016 at 14:12

    Yeah, as you say, people usually stop at Germany border and the rest of Europe is blurred…

    I also like to respond the questions of cold by saying that my city is situated about 200 km from Berlin and no one usually associate the capital of Germany with cold… So, there’s no big difference!

  • Reply Julia 24 March 2016 at 08:57

    While i was in States, for like three weeks, question “where Poland is” made me feel weird. We aren’t that little country I think… But there was also a lot of people, who had polish family, or even lived in Poland when the were six Years old.
    And I’m new to your blog, and I have to say I’m sorry for all the mistakes i made in this comment, and I’m going to make in my future comments.

  • Reply jędrek 29 March 2016 at 15:25

    Poland? Holland?

    Poland? You guys speak German there, right?

    You know what we don’t have? Zip Lock bags. Those Ikea deals don’t last in the freezer worth a damn.

    • Reply Leah Southers 29 March 2016 at 16:52

      hahah ziplocs!! exactly! why don’t you use them here? I could never understand that…

  • Reply agnes_adv 30 March 2016 at 16:44

    Yeah, do you have…. I remember that from my stay in US. Do you have MTV, fridges… Most of people Ive met also wanted to know where Poland was. Popular opinion was that Poland is still a part of Russia.

    • Reply Leah Southers 2 April 2016 at 09:11

      Hah do you have fridges? No, it’s so cold here that we don’t need them 🙂

  • Reply agata 2 April 2016 at 13:59

    Hey, when they ask you if we have cities here you can show your polish language knowledge saying well, Poland actually means land of fields pole=field but there are cities too 🙂 You rant a little bit too much for my taste but all in all good read Thank you!

    • Reply Leah Southers 11 April 2016 at 20:12

      Yes, I am ranty 🙂

  • Reply wendy 11 April 2016 at 20:09

    hahah I love your blog! btw, the craziest situation I’ve ever had concerning Americans and Poles was a question asked by my friend’s American boyfirend during their first visit to Poland. he had already been for like a week in the country and we went together for a music festival. when we were drinking beer at a table, he suddenly asked: “DO THEY HAVE IPHONES IN POLAND?” I know there are many countries which to do not have access to Apple products, so it’s not about ignorance, but really, out of so many random questions to be asked he picked the number 1. on the ‘creepiest questions’ list ;P

    • Reply Leah Southers 11 April 2016 at 20:13

      maybe he thought that only Americans had access to iPhones 🙂 the special few!

  • Reply Adrian 15 April 2016 at 22:01

    Leah, thanks for this post. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve cringed reading this one. Problem is that Poland is mostly viewed as some kind of backward countryland of Eurussia. The most ridiculous question I’ve had from a friend American was: “So you actually have electricity there?”. I didn’t know how to react – LOL or get mad. Fortunate enough I took the first route.

  • Reply Marek 25 May 2016 at 08:35

    Oh…I’ve had many ! Worst one was “do Polar bears live in Poland” ? I was like WTF ?! I could see her stupid logic….”POL-ar bears and POL-and” one is connected to the other, right ? She was a nice girl but not particularly well educated but I’ve had conversations with people with university degrees, people who actually enjoy travelling and they still don’t know where Poland is and what it might be like !!

    I also get tired of telling people that the summertime in Poland is nearly always hotter and sunnier than the summer we experience here in the UK but I know from their facial expressions that they don’t believe me.

    If I told them that even Moscow typically has a sustained period of hot sunny weather in the summer I’m sure they would start avoiding me.

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