Cultural Musings

My 7 biggest complaints about Poland

 So I’m gonna get a little ranty and tell you my complaints about Poland. Let me preface this by saying please don’t read this post first and think I’m a total asshole. I’ve written many heart-warming, sentimental posts about my love for Poland so, please, no offense, ok?

Air quality and general lack of environmental-friendliness. Air quality sucks for a few reasons. One of them is that this part of Poland (Silesia) is industrial and the other reason is that people burn garbage. This is due to the fact that people either don’t have money for more efficient methods of heating or don’t want to pay. Not only that, many people are skeptical of recycling. Um, why? Maybe the idea is something new for a lot of people, so if it’s new, you push back against the change. Ok I get that, but I often hear from people that they don’t recycle because they live in a flat and don’t have a place for 3 bins that will help them segregate. So do what I do and take a plastic bag and shove everything inside and then segregate when you go downstairs. It’s really not that complicated. or “I don’t recycle because the truck just takes everything and puts it in the same place anyway”. Yes and 3 minutes spent on segregating was lost forever. What a tragedy.

Everyone speaks Polish to me too fast. Ok I understand a lot of Polish but, for the life of me, I can’t understand why no one slows down their speech when they talk to me. Ma-sa-kra. You have to slow down your speech when talking to foreigners, y’all. I don’t need more excuses to look stupid. Throw me a bone.

Taxes. Being from the States, this is my most common complaint about Poland. Given the fact that there are many absurd social benefits and social health care, taxes are massively high. Sales tax (VAT) alone is 23% percent. Although they are far from the highest in Europe, the comparison to America is quite dramatic and it’s only getting worse.

Graffiti. I can’t stand this. There are beautiful buildings everywhere which are covered in graffiti, and not the pretty kind. The kind that just lets you know which football team they support or which area they live in. Somehow kinda idiotic to spray paint the name of your area on a building in your area… but ok. A new coat of paint? Perfect opportunity to paint “Piast całe życie!”

Sales. There aren’t real sales here. Even at outlets. You’re never like “oh shit! this is a sweet deal!” You’re like “eh, ok, that’s what this is worth.” And forget there being an amazing sale on some real name brand. The only place you can really find good deals is Tk Maxx, and if you don’t like searching through junk, it can be an irritating experience. That’s why every time I visit home, you better believe I’m coming back with a full suitcase and maybe one extra.

Intolerance. Generally, the fact that we live in homogenous society doesn’t help much with tolerance but, overall, most people I know and spend time with are very tolerant. However, it happens sometimes that when I’m out and about I can hear that even young people are intolerant to people like gays, for instance. I suppose it’s a matter of not knowing many and just simply not having experience with people who are different, but when I hear people talking about homosexuals, I often cringe. What’s acceptable in common conversation here would be considered very not PC in the States.

Bad service. Mostly it seems like people just accept the bad service they get here. And as people don’t expect good service, it’s often not given. Sometimes I’m shocked by treatment I get and sometimes I’m delighted. It irritates me that it can be so drastically different. Nowadays there are so many options, it doesn’t make sense to frequent a place where you know the service is bad.

Along with my fellow inhabitants of Poland, you can hear me complaining about the weather and how expensive things are as well, but of course I have a few of my own, but they’re not that bad in my opinion. Anything I missed?

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  • Reply acurrent91 21 June 2016 at 21:22

    I think there are people who critisise what they don’t know and come up as intolerant. Especially older people set in their ways. Mostly religious. But younger believing catholics people mostly understand that it’s about loving and accepting others without selection and looking down on someone. I know people who have enough of gay people because of parades.. But I also know people who completely accept. They don’t even think that gay people shouldn’t addopt children.
    Generalisations are bad.
    Hi, from the most polluted city in Poland 😉

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 21 June 2016 at 21:49

      Hi from the 18th 🙂 Żywiec was the first place I lived when I came to Poland — well Pietrzykowice to be exact! Anyway, I know generalizations are bad it’s hard to avoid in my case. Like I said, it’s not everyone obviously but still there’s a general negative sentiment there…

    • Reply Gabe Prus 9 May 2022 at 02:48

      I don’t like Poland.

  • Reply Roomek 21 June 2016 at 22:03

    There is a reason of such intolerance apart from catholic based culture: We can see what nightmare is happening in western Europe so we don’t want to even face that direction (children addoption).

    • Reply Paul 6 April 2019 at 15:58

      Yes you mean you love to move to the UK for plenty zloty. Then realize there are black and Asian people there and get scared. Poland is safe….but it’s safe to take no risks. I’m proud to be British and having almost been blown up by terrorists 3 times. Twice by Catholics..IRA and once by Muslims. I can say I’d rather live in the UK than in a so called Christian country which takes pride in its racism intolerance and homophobia.

    • Reply wut 16 April 2019 at 23:52

      What “nightmare” do you mean?

  • Reply ANNA 21 June 2016 at 22:10

    What do you mean by “absurd social benefits and social health care”? I mean – why do you find them absurd?

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 22 June 2016 at 10:16

      Hey Anna – Things like 500+ make me crazy. The fact that you can take 1 year off for maternity leave is pretty amazing but it’s also expensive. I think sometimes it’s not the benefit which is the problem but the abuse of it? Like sick leave and such, you know?

      • Reply usia 22 March 2017 at 12:21

        As a matter of fact in the country where all babies are automatically insured longer maternity leave can be in a ways less expensive that shorter one. We used to have shorter one (about 4 months) and then babies went to żłobek (and often stopped to be brestfed at this point which is not what the WHO recomends)-> got sick (at 4 monts old your immune system really sucks)->often ended up at the hospitals which was expensive for the society (again crappy immune system)-Moms went to sick child leave (type of l4) so she wasn’t at work anyway->after treatment they went back to żłobek->and so on. The older baby is, the better its immune system works so if for example one year old goes to żłobek and gets infection there is way better chance that it will only require GP/pediatrician visit and couple days at home, without hospital and expensive treatment, then for the younger babies. Thats why pediatrician were lobbying for longer maternity leave- now we (I’m a pediatrician) see most babies only for newborn visit and vaccinations, so there is some money saved in there. I’m not for many of the social benefits but longer maternity leave seems to be one of the most sensible one .

  • Reply Mateusz 21 June 2016 at 22:25

    wow, only 7 ? I would list at least 20000 🙂

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 22 June 2016 at 06:51

      for example…? 🙂

      • Reply Aneta 6 October 2016 at 11:28

        people are grumpy and they do not talk to each other (read… strangers met in the lift etc.), and they give you that creepy look at you ;))

  • Reply AK 21 June 2016 at 22:44

    I would say, that Polish people are really, really tolerant, but Polish tolerance is culturally different from Western one. It isn’t focused so much about gender or sexual orientation. And if you seek for political corectness – it is totally alien idea for Polish people (gladly), becuase it always involves some kind of speech censorship. And during the communist era we had really have our share of censorship and believe me – it’s one of the fundamental and most evil characteristics of totalitarian state.

    • Reply Romek 21 June 2016 at 22:55

      Good one!

    • Reply Januszan Korwinu 22 June 2016 at 02:18

      That’s some wise and accurate point of view you’re having. We are tolerant, but not for stupidity. Cheers

  • Reply fk 21 June 2016 at 23:29

    believe me or not, most of ‘normal’ ppl living here get really pissed on the same matters.. but they don’t have too much power to change some of the things rapidly, like air pollution. Tolerance is a matter of personal knowledge and culture. And now you know why we can be seen as country of complaining people, it’s because we really have reasons to complain on, although our trials of changing the situation.. you don’t need to live in Silesia but there are pros and cons like there can be more jobs than in other regions. Bad services are probably because of uneven money share for such institutions like hospitals and so on, it’s a matter of money, that’s it. greetings, hope u will see in the future more positivity that is also around us here..

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 22 June 2016 at 06:51

      I do see lots of positivity! It’s just not the topic of this post 🙂

  • Reply Adrian K 22 June 2016 at 06:09

    Hi Leah 🙂

    As I’m Pole I always have a lot of things to complain on. The first three came to my mind are:

    1. Minefields, minefields everywhere

    Apart from the sense of having a dog when you live in a small flat, it makes my mad to maneuver between large number of poops laying on every sidewalk and lawn. Very few people clean up after his/her dog and free poo-bags are often stolen for private purpose.

    2. Feminised family courts

    No matter how awesome father you are, you have almost no chance to keep the baby after divorce. Even if your ex-wife is agressive alcoholic. This problem is well presented in ’95 movie “Tato” with Bogusław Linda.

    3. Hiring under a service contract instead of full-time employment.

    If you are obliged to work a specific type for the employer, under his leadership, and in the place and time determined by him – employer must give you a full-time employment. But very large part of employers hiring people on civil law contracts with no right to full-paid vacation, full-paid sick leaves and very low pension contributions.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 22 June 2016 at 06:50

      Adrian! These are such good things that I missed. Especially number 1! it makes me crazy, most of all after winter. The second one about female-leaning courts is true in a lot of countries I suppose – America as well :/ And the third one is well… a matter of paying lower taxes I guess, which I have to say, I kinda understand. It’s hard to pay someone well under full-time contracts because it’s so expensive for the employer. Here people should do what Americans do – never discuss the net price in salary negotiations 🙂 then people would probably be more satisfied with their salaries.

  • Reply Piotr 22 June 2016 at 13:50

    At first, I have to say that I like reading your blog very much. Your reflects seem to be really interesting, untypical and quite objective I think. Keep it up! Your latest post is great as well. I agree with your point of wiew-especially intolerance problem is really close to me. As a disabled person (wearing deaf aids and mowing in a wheelchair) I know something about it. Although I live in a pretty big city my diseases are real sensation for some people. Luckily, I am surrounded by loving and understanding relatives and friends so I don`t care really. Lack tolerance in Poland- what is a reason? I reckon that communism simply damaged our mentality and mind. Poles had been depended on Soviet Union for years. Our borders were closed so we couldn`t go abroad to get know other languages, cultures and systems of life. Well, that was possible but very difficult really. This is changing slowly-thanks God. However, we still don`t trust person who is different from us-looks untypically, behaves in another way or wears something weird. Fear is normal when you don`t know something or someone. But it doesn`t mean that every foreigner is dangerous! Sorry for my mistakes but I learnt English only at school. This happened years ago. Therefore the part of my knowledge already have flown away ;-). Regards and kisses.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 22 June 2016 at 19:14

      Hey Piotr! Yeah I totally agree with what you said. Intolerance is often due to simply not knowing people who are different. I think a lot of people have no friends who have disabilities or who are homosexual and they’re just not sure how to react to or behave around them. I’m glad to hear that you have a good community but it must be a struggle regardless. Twój angielski jest super więc nie martw się 🙂

  • Reply bin 22 June 2016 at 15:57

    jeszcze kilka takich wpisow i naprawde bedziesz miała polskie serce 😉

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 22 June 2016 at 16:59

      this is sooooo good

  • Reply Aleksandra 23 June 2016 at 05:45

    Hi 🙂
    Right now I live in USA and in my point of view taxes in Poland are ok, nothing wrong with them. Why? Because you simply know how much you pay for something. And here whenever I go to the store I see one prize and then while paying I see that the total is different that what I saw on the product. I’m confused every time and I think I will never get used to this here.
    Cheers! 🙂

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 23 June 2016 at 06:55

      hah yeah sales tax isn’t included, that’s true. but the difference isn’t very big at least. I mean, wherever you live, you’re paying much much less for sales tax in America, so that’s something to be happy about!

  • Reply Pooja @lostinprettyeurope 28 June 2016 at 11:03

    Hi! I discovered your blog by chance when I was searching for information about obtaining zameldowanie in Poland. I am a Nepali citizen living in Lodz, Poland since over 2 years and I agree with this post on almost all points you’ve mentioned. Graffiti is hands down something I never understand because it makes the buildings look so ugly and cheap. I have something more to add: the mood of people I see out on the streets like tram drivers, shop assistants etc seem to be always off. The faces are mostly gloomy and the customer service isn’t great. And let’s not even get started on the painful bureaucracy.. With all that being said, I do like living in Poland a lot and there’s no doubt that it is a culturally rich country with many, many good things about it.
    I look forward to reading your posts!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 28 July 2016 at 21:22

      Hey Pooja! Yeah I agree with you on those things as well. Generally people look sad on the street but are often very warm when you know there. There’s just a general dislike of strangers I suppose. How do you like Łódź? I’ve never been there actually!

      • Reply Ola 8 October 2016 at 01:35

        Hi Leah!
        I heard about your blog on TV “Dzień Dobry TVN” and now I am reading your posts and some of comments. So if you’ve never been in Łódź I would like to invite you to this city. I’m not living exactly in Łódź but not so far away. On this weekend we have a festival of lights and it calls – “Light Move Festival”. It is good time to came here, because city is prettiest than usually. I just want to tell you that your polish is amazing! <3

        • Reply Leah Morawiec 8 October 2016 at 09:29

          Hi Ola! Thanks so much for the invitation 🙂 I would like to visit Łódź as I also have an employee there so one day I definitely will!

  • Reply Sara Taylor 4 July 2016 at 16:04

    Two things, both in the realm of the logistical. First there is no sense of rhyme or reason to elevators. Everyone gets on whether they are going up or down and this, paired with often quite small elevator cars, means that everyone must immediately vacate the car against at the next floor to let the babcia in the back get out. As a wheelchair user this is maddening for me. There is also a vicious overuse of the door close button to try and surreptitiously leave people behind and avoid further delays, which should be against the law. Door close buttons should be disabled the world over. I’ve don’t think I’ve ever known them to really work anywhere else except in Poland.

    Second–and this is minor but always makes me feel like an idiot–what’s up with hotel room doors not separating by odds and evens the way address numbers do on the street? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been looked at with genuine pity by a cleaner who thinks I must be mentally challenged because I’m wandering up and down the hall unable to find 108.

  • Reply Madame Bonheur 8 August 2016 at 00:37

    I’m sorry, but you’re right. I’m Polish who lives abroad and now I see the difference. Your website is great, keep going !

  • Reply Atrur 25 August 2016 at 07:42

    Howdy! As a person in his late teens, I’ve got to say a thing or two about intolerance. As I see, and am a little bit terrified by this fact, two generations of people are intolerant in Poland. These are old, grumpy men (nothing to be suprised of, really) and – which is a little bit frightening – the so-called “future of out nation”. I go to a highschool (which is known to be one of the best ones around, but I don’t think that really matters) and I can really easily notice ongoing nationalist tendencies throughout my colleagues. This is also sort of connected with another thing I find very irritating within Poles, and that is aggression when exposed to even slightiest bit of critisism or disagreement. My father, for example, goes absolutetly nuts when someone disagrees with his point of view, but it’s not only limited to him, as I noticed this trend in many individuals.

  • Reply Seyi 14 September 2016 at 17:44

    I’m moving to Poland in 2 weeks from Nigeria for my Masters at the University of Wroclaw and your blog has been really helpful. Thanks for all the awesome tips!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 15 September 2016 at 06:34

      I’m very glad!!

  • Reply Angelika 28 October 2016 at 19:19

    that’s funny because for me Americans talk way to fast when they are talking to me 😀 I am going to meet my boyfriends family during thanksgiving and I am already so stressed about it. Also when I meet somebody new I usually just listen when they are talking with other people and not saying a world because I am trying to understand their accent.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 28 October 2016 at 19:26

      Angelika – yeah sometimes I’m not sure if Americans aren’t worse because they just assume everyone speaks English perfectly and won’t have any trouble understanding them. It’s a struggle sometimes because I have to explain to my family members that even my husband (who speaks English extremely well) might not understand something because it’s slang. They just don’t realize it’s slang or something. I wish you luck at your boyfriend’s family’s place for Thanksgiving! Eat lots of yummy food for me!

  • Reply Ada 31 October 2016 at 17:58

    You should go to Roztocze or even Mazury if you feel like the air quality is bad. Or maybe Bieszczady? It’s pretty cheap and I can promise you, that most of these places look amazing any time of year.

  • Reply Wiktoria 3 January 2017 at 05:09

    Hi!! I just find out your blog!! I love it???. As a Polish girl that lived in Poland for 15 years and then move to Michigan 2 years ago( which I love btw and it’s not bad as people say. Detroit it’s cool place too) I can see the things you like and hate in Poland cause it’s similar to me. As poles I think you start really appreciate what the country gave to you when you move abroad.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 3 January 2017 at 10:50

      Hi Wiktoria! I’m so glad you found my blog and are enjoying it 🙂

  • Reply Witek 3 January 2017 at 12:22

    Hey Leah! Living here for four years (born and grew up in California), here are some things that bother me:

    – Lack of wheelchair/stroller access at many places.

    – Seems like there is generally lack of ambition… Especially in these mid-sized cities. Lots of people I’ve run across have worked the same crappy job and live in the same house/apartment their entire life. Lots of complaining but no effort to make a change.

    – So many people smoke. Sad.

    – With labor being relatively inexpensive, I don’t see why some stores wouldn’t have grocery baggers.

    – Most restaurants suck (outside of polish food). Living in the Bay Area for many years one gets spoiled.

    Don’t get me wrong, lots of things I like in Poland… After all, No one forced us to move here. And no plans to move back 🙂

    Cheers and best of luck!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 4 January 2017 at 16:56

      Hey Witek! Do you really think people aren’t ambitious? I always thought the opposite but maybe I’m thinking more hobbies and stuff. Like people have a lot of interests. I suppose I know a lot of people who hate their jobs but just won’t do anything about it, which I find a little odd. It’s like, why not just change it? For sure living in Cali has made it hard for you to find food good in other places but yeah you’re right. Other than Italian food, foreign food isn’t really very tasty. I miss Mexican and Chinese VERY much. Where in Poland do you live?

  • Reply Witek 6 January 2017 at 23:13

    Maybe I misspoke… I guess the ambitious leave for greener pastures of Western Europe or to the larger cities. I agree that it seems like people use their free time for hobbies, watching soccer, and travel.

    We live in Nowy Sacz… It’s about 100km from krakow.

  • Reply Leah Morawiec 7 January 2017 at 09:21

    Oh Nowy Sacz is a nice place. I went there for a funeral once hah but I remember the ice cream being incredible. Is that strange or is it true that they have amazing ice cream there?

  • Reply Witek 7 January 2017 at 11:35

    Yup, that’s pretty much true. If you guys make it out here again, hopefully not another funeral, then ice cream is on us!

    Nowy Sacz is nice sized town… Not too big, not too small. Nice views with the the tatra mts visible on clear days. Just too bad the beach is so far away.

    Where do you guys live?

  • Reply Leah Morawiec 7 January 2017 at 12:43

    You’re so lucky you live so near the mountains. I wish we lived closer but we live in Gliwice. It’s a nice place to live as well but nothing like the mountains!

  • Reply marcus lobenstein 18 November 2017 at 22:06

    funny I think the taxes are waaay to low esp for the people earning above 100k zl a yr. There is almost no money for proper healthcare, eldery care etc

  • Reply Lats 20 November 2017 at 22:11

    One of the few things (I like Poles a lot) I dislike about young Polish people is their complaining about how bad everything is, especially economically and poverty wise. Mainly how poor they are. I have sat next to Poles in UK talking to people from countries like Philippines, India, Thailand, Sudan, South Americas etc.. and they talk as though they have come from the same empoverished circumstances. Like…’ I know…im Poland it’s terrible, it’s the same in my country, there is no money..blah..blah….blah’ and my heart jumps into my chest because I don’t see current life for young people in Poland to be anything at all like the situations some of these other people have come from. I guess because they may not have travelled a lot and their grandparents did it tough that they feel they have nothing at all. But even when they come to the UK to live they still complain saying it’s so hard for them. Like it’s harder for them than anyone else trying to make it. I have seen kids far more impoverished living in places even like L.A. Their general lack of understanding and insensitivity that nearly everyone on this planet is going through the same struggle as them (and in most cases far, far worse) is annoying. I usually just gulp and hold my breath when they start up. Everyone has a right to their opinion so I never say anything and let them vent it off.

  • Reply Weron 11 April 2018 at 22:26

    Hi, I just have found your blog, I’ve read many posts and I just love it ❤. I’m Polish and I study English Philology (first year) ? well, Poland maybe is not a perfect, impeccable country but our history is very tough, we had always had problems with other countries – especially since 1772 until 1989. And I’m absolutely proud of my country because even though, we had managed with all adversities, we still exist and our country is stronger every year, Poles are more educated and ambitious every year, we are more and more appreciated abroad every year, our athletes are better and better every year and I’m just jubilant because of these facts! And one more thing – American and British people speak really fast to Poles as well! We just don’t realize how fast we speak in our native language ? so please don’t hold a grudge ?

  • Reply Paul 6 April 2019 at 15:36

    Please do me a favour. Poland has had problems with other countries. No shit!!!?? I’m from the UK and have lived in Germany and Austria .. both countries you could argue have an identity crisis and have certain historical issues. I was welcomed with warmth and generosity in these countries. In Poland however I’m lost for words. I’ve been here for 2 years and have tried to integrate and learn polish. My words to describe the poles……? Miserable…. jealous of each other, greedy, untrustworthy, racist, homophobic, miserable, bitter, intolerant, miserable, ….but they love to move to the UK….as long as they dont meet any Muslims ???

  • Reply John 19 May 2020 at 09:57

    I work in an international company in Wroclaw . And as a foreigner I totally agree with your list . On top of that I would like to add one more item here that irritates me most : for some reason poles love to complain about everything . They have damn negative approach to life. If you say or do something positive they will immediately bring the negative aspect of that topic. Also, it is damn easy for them to get irritated . They dont have patience. They wont think twice before disrespecting you just because you asked them to repeat something. In my company sometimes being a manager of team , I have to instruct them to do something . And guess what ? They get offended because I asked them to do it !!!! Also for some weird reason they love to start their job from 7:00 in morning when the world market is sleeping. And they log off at 15:00 hours without any exception! God, I have worked with many people from different countries but working with Poles is a nightmare !
    Also, not to mention very irritating fact about Poles : they are damn Racist.

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