Cultural Musings, For Foreigners

6 lessons I’ve learned in my 6 years in Poland + a surprise!

I just hit my 6th year anniversary at the dead end of December and it making me feel strange and a little old. This number of years is starting to sound like a lot. Not just a couple, not just something short-term, but it’s starting to feel truly permanent. People ask me if I’m ever going to move back to the States and I’m starting to think I won’t, at least not in the foreseeable future. But one weird thing is that I can’t imagine myself as an old person in Poland. As a young person it seems like an adventure and as an old person it seems like a sham. Is that weird? Anyway, here are 6 things that these 6 short, fast, where-the-hell-did-the-time-go years have taught me.

1. All things can be fixed. That means there’s not much point in worrying. I’m generally a worrier. I get stressed easily and it’s something I’m trying to work on. It seems that in my life here in Poland, I have a constant stream of bureaucratic nightmares, which sometimes seem to have no solution. But let’s be honest, if something needs to be done in Poland, there’s a way. Someone will figure it out. That’s what people here are famous for, right? We always find a solution and there was always no reason to worry. I’m learning this, just at my own pace.

2. Moving abroad makes you tougher. OMG you don’t have air conditioning? OMG you don’t have a drier? OMG you only have a bathtub, no shower? How do you survive without those things? I hear that from Americans all the time. When I moved, I had to adjust to a lot of what some people would call “inconveniences”. When you have those things, it’s hard to imagine living without them. When you don’t have them, you don’t really feel the need for them. Not to mention navigating the world without full language capacity and trips to Urząd Skarbowy. You learn to live without all the conveniences you had before and life is still good.

3. America doesn’t do everything best. In fact, we don’t do that much well. Public transportation is garbage. We live very lavishly, well beyond our means. Food is often poor quality and not valued as nutrient-providing but rather a chore. In Poland food is the center of many get-togethers, it’s celebrated. My friends were laughing with us recently because they said Poles eat so much – big meals and cake – but they aren’t fat. How is it possible? In America we drive everywhere. It’s such a luxury that in Europe we can walk on a daily basis if we want to.

4. Traditions have value. I was never a very traditional person, especially coming from America where many people don’t know what their family’s history is and therefore don’t ascribe to the traditions from generations past. We had some family traditions which were nice but they were new, something we had come up with together, which of course has it’s own charm and merit and I think is important, but what about old school traditions in terms of food and celebrations? I feel that more strongly in Poland and it makes me feel more connected to people, even if they’re not exactly my traditions.

5. Less is more. Especially after building a house, I realized sometimes it’s better to live below your means. When you want more, your life just gets too complicated. When I moved to Poland, I didn’t have anything except some clothes and I was fine. I had to buy the essentials like kitchen equipment, etc. but otherwise I got used to living on less. And now I hate having things which I don’t need or use. It certainly makes moving easier and it definitely makes your life less complicated. If you can live on less, you’ll be better for it.

6. People are inherently good. I think this lesson is probably the strongest for me. I’ve had so much help over the years from people who hardly knew me and didn’t owe me anything. Of course you experience the odd evil person or two out there, but honestly ratio of good to bad is much in the favor of good. The people you meet, who come and go but influence you positively, are what you value the most and need the most if you’re going to overcome the difficulties of life in general, but especially living abroad. It’s comforting to know that even though they might not be a replacement for family, they can be a good substitute.

6.5. New challenges are constantly approaching. The house is basically done so now we’ve got to move on to a new challenge. Our baby boy will be born in May. More to come later 🙂

Photo on 17-01-2017 at 12.01 #3

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  • Reply Natalia 17 January 2017 at 13:15

    Congratulations! ?

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 17 January 2017 at 13:29

      thanks Natalia!

  • Reply Adrianna 17 January 2017 at 13:48

    Wow, some good news 🙂 Congratulations!

  • Reply Kasia 17 January 2017 at 14:25

    When I saw the word “surprise” I was hoping that it has something to do with new member of your family. 😀 Congratulations!!

  • Reply Aleksandra 17 January 2017 at 14:45

    I had a feeling when I saw the title, but decided not to scroll down until I finish reading the whole blog post and I was right! Congrats guys! What an exciting 7th year in Poland ahead 🙂 I wish you all the best!

  • Reply Piotr 17 January 2017 at 15:04

    Moving abroad definitely can open your eyes and mind. If you live in the another country, you begin to understand that you should appreciate for everything you have got. Some things will be better or worse as everywhere. Traditions are rather important for us despite of getting some habits and customs from the West-Halloween, Valentine`s Day, a few language loans (mainly from English) and so on. This is the part of our national identity-Poland had been non-existent on the world`s map for years so we had to fight for our heritage to survive. If we hadn`t done it, we wouldn`t talk in Polish now. Living without a bath, no dryer, no air condition-I reckon it depends on where you live-in the big cities these items are pretty common. Our country is constantly developing but there are still many people who have got a toilet outside in the backyard instead in the bathroom. You are right about our food-I heard multiple times that foreigners were simply delighted with our cuisine. I suppose these opinions seem to be valid. My cousin is inhabitant the downtown of London-she said me English food was really awful. The British bread tastes like a raw cake apparently. And it`s really nice to hear that Poles are helpful for you. We may be a divided nation but we don`t hesitate to help when someone is in need. Donating huge amount of money for Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy shows it really well. And congratulations on your coming baby! Hopefully he will be health and fine. Have you already chosen a name for him if I could know?

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 17 January 2017 at 18:18

      Thanks Piotr! I hope he’s healthy too and for now it seems that way 🙂 His name will be Max or Maks, we haven’t decided on the spelling yet or whether to use the full version or not. We’ll see!

      • Reply Piotr 17 January 2017 at 18:42

        Max-it`s a pretty nice name an it sounds international. I won`t seem to be weird to Polish ears nor will be a tongue twister for your American family members :-). Choosing a name for an expected child is always a tough decision-especially in a binational marriage. It should suit baby`s surname really. Could you imagine boy and girl named Jessica Kowalska or Kevin Nowak respectively? This is a bit crazy, isn`t it?

        • Reply Leah Morawiec 17 January 2017 at 18:49

          Yeah that’s exactly why we chose Max because we wanted something international and that would be the same in both languages. It was a challenge though to find something that works in both languages. There aren’t many options at all!

  • Reply Karolina 17 January 2017 at 16:13

    Congratulations! Also, you have a cute cat 🙂

  • Reply Dorota 17 January 2017 at 16:18

    Congrats! Do you know expression in polish – Mistrz drugiego planu? Your cat is definitely Master of second plan! 😉 I visit your site from time to time and I am glad Poland is a good place for you to live.

  • Reply Magdalena Łaskawska 17 January 2017 at 17:31

    I hope you feel good. When I got pregnant I was scared of the future,but nothing beats being a mother 🙂 Lena is 7 months old and I can’t imagine my life without her now..

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 17 January 2017 at 18:16

      Hey Magda – I’m pretty nervous to be honest but I guess that’s normal! I saw her pictures 🙂 She’s adorable!!

  • Reply Basia Czapla 17 January 2017 at 20:03

    Oh God,Leah! The baby and the cat?! We haven’t seen each other for such a long time! Congrats from My whole family! ☺️

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 19 January 2017 at 16:18

      Basia!! Ok the cat lives outside but we let him in from time to time 🙂 But yes the baby is something you really didn’t know about. Please give my regards to your mother!

  • Reply Jacob 17 January 2017 at 20:33

    Congratulations! Such a positive blog overall, hope you will enjoy living in Poland with baby!

  • Reply flight control 18 January 2017 at 01:51

    Well, lavishness is something I definitely would associate rather with the local Sarmatians than the US folk.
    And I gotta admit Maksymilian is a great name choice

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 19 January 2017 at 16:17

      thank you!! I like it too 🙂

  • Reply Sandra 18 January 2017 at 12:58

    Omg congrats Leah!!!

  • Reply Kasia F 18 January 2017 at 17:49

    Congratulations!! All the best to the Mom-to-Be and the Baby! Besides obviously happy news this post actually made me a bit sad and nostalgic… All the things you are writing about are exactly what I miss since I’ve moved to the U.S. Don’t get me wrong – all the conveniences that America has to offer are great. Automatic car that does not stall on the worst hill in the worst weather conditions, warm and fluffy clothes from the dryer, 2-day shipping on pretty much anything from Amazon… All that has made my life so much easier in so many ways, but weirdly, somehow I do miss this Polish “hardship” and life simplicity. And the food, obviously 😉 But I guess “wszędzie dobrze, gdzie nas nie ma” 🙂

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 19 January 2017 at 16:17

      Kasia – the things you mentioned about America make me feel nostalgic 🙂 I miss so many things but there’s so much I love about here that I’d be sad if I ever left. But you’re right something about the hardship here makes you feel more badass or something 🙂 Americans are so soft sometimes!

  • Reply Magdelena | palm tree view 18 January 2017 at 22:30

    I wish you next 6 amazing years in Poland! 🙂

  • Reply Witek 21 January 2017 at 16:25

    Congrats!!! Baby #1 is a fun experience…

    We have 2 kids, a 1 and 4.5 year old, with the youngest being a poor sleeper, we are so so so burned out… Enjoy the last moments the best you can. Movies, dinner out, weekend trip, being able to drive somewhere in peace, sleeping through the night, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    Best of luck!!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 21 January 2017 at 17:29

      Witek – yeah you make it sound really fun. Can’t wait to hate my life! hah

      • Reply Witek 23 January 2017 at 00:03

        With all the wonderful comments here, someone had the be the Debbie Downer of the group 😉 In between the sucky days I’ll be great. Congrats once again!! But seriously, enjoy those full nights of sleep and eat out while you still can!!!!

  • Reply Nancy Southers 22 January 2017 at 20:36

    Love the name Maksymilian…our little prince! So proud of you:)

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