As you may already know, I’ve had a lot of red tape to get through in my life in Poland. From residence cards, to getting married, to buying a house, it’s been tough but worth it. Now I’m caught up in a new bureaucratic nightmare, which started just days before the birth of my second child – this time with ZUS. Here we go again.
I know there are some taboo topics in Poland like sex (actually true), supposedly money (but everyone talks about it all the time), and health – the topic of today’s post. I’ve had so many situations recently where someone has kept what seems like perfectly normal information about their medical health from me, and it drives me absolutely mad! Please don’t tell me you’re going to the hospital but not why. Please don’t tell me your kid is near death by not why. Please don’t tell me you got a biopsy but not of what. PLEASE. I can’t stand it anymore!
Polish guys are a lot of things. They love football (the European kind), they’re not players, they’re serious meat-eaters, they’re down-to-earth, they can hold their liquor, they aren’t afraid of commitment, and they aren’t particularly open about their feelings. The list goes on. Sound like a bunch of generalizations? Perhaps so, but I think they apply in this case.
So you’re in Poland and you’re feeling daunted by the very idea of learning how to speak Polish. No surprise there. It IS daunting. The absolute best thing you can do for yourself is get started now. Don’t be like me and put it off for 3 years. The sooner you start, the better you’ll feel about yourself and the more independent you’ll be. Here are some tips for how to speak Polish better and faster.
There are plenty of taboo topics in Poland that you should probably avoid in casual conversation, but you don’t bring those topics up on a daily basis. This is one thing you might not even think about. It’s something you probably do without thinking. For sure you think it’s polite and even necessary. Read on to find out what it is you’re doing that makes Poles cringe.
Polish institutions, so any Urząd (perfect word in Polish that doesn’t really translate in English well… some kind of official institution/office) where you need to do something official like Urząd Miejski (city hall), ZUS (social security office), NFZ (national health care service), Urząd Skarbowy (tax office), and Urząd Wojewódzki (voivodeship office, aka the worst place on Earth) are notorious for being slow, confusing, depressing, old-fashioned (they still keep records in little notebooks for Christ’s sake!), the list goes on. But you may still run into some problems and that’s why I’ve compiled this little guide for you.
Moving to another country is obviously a huge challenge in terms of just figuring out how to live in a place normally – renting a flat, Internet plans, taxes, residence, bank accounts, what have you. I’ve had this on my mind recently as I just had a new teacher arrive in Gliwice – no Polish contacts apart from me – and he’s going through all these first difficult things that you just have to do when you move abroad. It’s impossible to know how all these official things work! Hence, in an effort to help out those of you in the same position, here are 12 things to know before moving to Poland.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a Floridian. In other words, I suck at winter. And every year I struggle to get through it. And every year when I’m on the other side – in Spring – I think “how the eff did I survive that?!” I’m continually collecting new ideas for how to overcome it. However, my dream is just to spend the winter in Florida. Oh, how lovely that would be. For now, I’m here in Poland… indefinitely. Here’s what winter in Poland means to me.