It’s incredible really. When I first moved to Poland (let’s be honest, for the first three years I lived here), I really didn’t speak Polish at all. I was lazy, wasn’t really sure I’d need it in the future, just kept putting it off. So everyone who could spoke to me in English. Finally, because of my husband and his family, I learned Polish. Painstakingly, but alas, wreszcie! I can manage myself without nearly having a heart attack before every single interaction. But recently it’s become apparent that almost nobody speaks English to me anymore! And honestly, it sucks.
Assimilation feels good!
It’s such a funny turn of events. I used to be so embarrassed that I couldn’t hold a conversation in Polish or that I couldn’t understand what people were saying or what have you. All I wanted so desperately was to be normal and to be able to speak like everyone else. Now I can more or less, definitely not “normally” but, let’s say, “acceptably” and now I can’t get anyone to talk to me in English! What gives?!
It’s a great feeling when you finally get to that point and I’m really happy about it. I feel so much better about my life here – like I’ve actually assimilated. I don’t have that horrible feeling like I’m a complete and total outsider anymore. Even on my birthday my friends sang “Sto lat” to me, not “Happy birthday”! That’s really bizarre.
But I miss speaking English
But you know what? I want to speak English with my friends sometimes. Why don’t they understand that? I made a deal with one of my friends, also an English teacher, that we could speak English at one meeting and Polish at the next, so now we trade off. That’s really cool. I leave our English meetings feeling better than our Polish ones, but they’re both good. But I have some friends, nay former STUDENTS, who won’t even speak English to me. People who used to pay me to talk to them in English and now won’t say a single word in the language to me. What the hell?!
Why should I always be the one to speak the other language? I know they can speak English too, some better than I speak Polish, probably most, frankly. Do they now feel uncomfortable about their English skills knowing I speak Polish? Or do they think we should be speaking Polish since we’re in Poland? Or maybe they just don’t want to speak English? One of my friends said she speaks Polish with me because she thought I’d appreciate the practice. Honestly, I get plenty of practice with the people in my life who don’t speak English at all. With my friends, I’d like to relax. I’m sure they feel the same way – they’d like to speak Polish because they feel comfortable and can just chill. But maybe we could trade off on occasion? Even when I say a few words in English and try to switch, they’ll just answer in Polish. Fine! I just have to accept it.
What it comes down to
I guess the real reason is that we’re here in Poland, so generally the conversation is in Polish as I’m the only one who prefers English usually 🙂 But when I’m one-on-one with someone, I think it’d be fair to switch off sometimes!