Winter in Poland as told by a Floridian

A typical winter conversation with my mom. So what’s the temperature? Well today it was 0 (or 32, which is what I actually tell her), so not too bad. “32? brrr, well it was 80 (30 degrees celsius) here today. It’s so hot, I’m sweating.” ::mimes shooting myself:: It’s not that winter in Poland is a tragedy. The past few winters have been really rather mild and I can’t complain too much. But then again, I can because I’m a Floridian. It’s my right.

Winter in general is an enigma to us. We have no idea what it’s like. The terror in my parents’ eyes when I tell them that it has snowed or that it’s lower in 10 degrees is sweet and slightly amusing. Bless them. My mom told me to keep a blanket in my car in case my car breaks down so I can cover myself. You know, just in case I’m stuck alone in the wasteland with no hope for survival. The blanket will keep me alive. In fact, it’s not a bad idea. I can bundle up when I get in the car in the morning.

When recently the words “Oh, it’s only -2 today, so it’s warm” first came out of my mouth I was flabbergasted. Have I gotten used to winter?

Imagine it this way. When you live in Florida, you own a jacket or two. Some sweaters but nothing made of wool of course. You probably own one coat for a couple of reasons. 1. in hopes that it will be cold enough a couple days out of the year to actually wear it without looking ridiculous 2. when you go on trips to places that actually have winter. The really funny thing about Floridians is though that they’re so stubborn about putting on an actual jacket or coat. You see people when it’s actually cold, so like 10 degrees C (50F), in like t-shirts and flip flops with socks. It’s completely nonsensical. I half think it’s because either they left the house without checking the temperature (because that’s a thing you can do most of the time in Florida) or they’re afraid of wearing a jacket because they’ll look silly. And you have to know that you feel all temperatures much more in Florida than you do in Poland. A little thing called humidity makes you feel that temperature much more so it’s feels colder than it really is. Masakra, as they say.

Not to mention, Florida is sunny most of the year with Orlando having an average of 240 full sunny days per year. It’s hard to get un-used to that. Apparently in Poland there are only 70… tragedia.Typically I have a small crisis around the beginning of January but this winter has had a decent amount of sun and I’ve been exercising regularly, which helps tremendously. I’ve also found that practicing a winter sport, like snowboarding, which I picked up last year, makes you happier about winter and more likely to enjoy it.

Everyone thinks winter is Poland is like a Siberian winter on crack so they’re like OMG how are you surviving and I’m like I’m fine. Spokojnie. Our winters are lighter than in the northern U.S. There they had -40 temperatures last year. But the recent minus temperatures here have allowed me to wear the jacket that I purchased before moving to Poland, so before I knew what winter actually looks like. It’s a bit of an embarrassment for both me and my husband because it’s like wearing a sleeping bag. It’s called the North Face Arctic jacket and the Arctic is probably the only place you really need that thing.

Also, you don’t have proper winter shoes. Floridians want to wear boots so they can be cool like everyone else. So people have them and they wear them and they probably sweat bullets in them. I had some boots when I moved to Poland. They were brown leather and they had completely bare soles. Zero grip. I wore them on the plane on the way here and I thought they’d be sufficient. I mean they were boots, come on. So when I walked onto the ice outside the airport the day I arrived, I realized that there’s a difference between boots which you wear in Florida and boots which you wear in Poland.

Anyway, like I said, the cold I can handle. I drive most places anyway so it’s really nothing. But driving, well that’s a totally different ball game, man. Firstly, you have to change your tires. Never really thought about the fact that winter tires exist. Who knew? So, ok, fine, I can get my tires changed. Whatever, no biggie. But I have to wipe the snow and scrape the ice off my windshield at 6:30 am? Screw that. There’s no worse realization then when you go downstairs with no time to spare and you realize you have to clear the fucking car of snow. ::mimes shooting myself again:: I can’t. Thank god for that spray, which I only discovered this year, that makes the ice disappear instantaneously. Best 5 zł ever spent.

All in all, winter is pretty nice. My imagination was bigger than reality, as per usual. Plus you get spring and autumn thrown in there so it’s totally worth it.

Previous Post Next Post


  • Reply Kadewu 10 January 2016 at 00:11

    Hi, Leah, it is such a pretty blog! As a Polish expat leaving in Brussels, Belgium, I must admit I wouldn’t describe Polish winters better. And I very much like the language you use. Congratulations!

    • Reply Leah Southers 10 January 2016 at 09:18

      Thank you very much! I’ve never been to Brussels but I’d love to visit. Is it a nice place to live?

  • Reply Kadewu 10 January 2016 at 11:37

    For sure, there is a big American community here :-). Living is not bad, food is great and the weather milder than in Poland (which I appreciate, even though I miss white winters a bit). If you decide to visit Brussels, I could be your guide.

    • Reply Leah Southers 11 January 2016 at 20:27

      Is there? Yeah Belgium seems like an country Americans would flock to. Like France or Italy. I gotta out the Belgium food! Now I’m intrigued 🙂

  • Reply Basia K 5 February 2016 at 23:38

    See now i feel robbed! Completely! There hasn’t been anything worth calling ‘summertime’ here (UK) since 2005 (if it doesn’t last more than three weeks back-to-back it’s not summer…it’s just freak weather), spring and autumn are non-existent, and to top things off there’s no winter either! What have I done! Need to move back to some place where you can have at least one season to rely on 😉 Glad to hear you’re adjusting to minus temps! But honestly, I can’t figure out how you do it- I crave sunshine and heat non-stop.

    • Reply Leah Southers 7 February 2016 at 09:26

      I love the heat too so I know what you mean, but in Poland when it’s hot, it’s hot everywhere. In Florida it’s only hot outside, you know what I mean? It’s easier to deal with. Here it’s like inescapable. Are summer in the UK really so bad? Are the temps just too low or something?

      • Reply Basia K 14 February 2016 at 11:25

        Hah yeah I know what you mean about the sweltering heat being banished to the outdoors- air-con certainly rules! But you see, I get that in say Dubai, where climate control equipment is literally a life saver. But in in the Southern states I think you could do without it (although it does help in being able to function at a faster speed than rock erosion)- it’s just about getting used to heat and opening every single window. You get heat waves once a year/ every other year these days but that’s it- you’re lucky if you can wear your summer gear for a week (without shivering). It just doesn’t last long enough recharge batteries and get the sunshine fix, and the temps tend to be on the lower end (25 deg C brings train services a halt as the tracks APPARENTLY can’t deal with such tropical temps!). You guys should come over and experience it first hand 😉 Having grown up with a regular (and reliable!) seasonal changes kind of spoiled me and I expect clearly defined season (be it 2 or 4- but you must be able to tell the difference!). Enjoy your time Stateside!

        • Reply Leah Southers 17 February 2016 at 02:17

          Basia – Gosh that does sound kind of dreadful. What a tragedy to have only one season which isn’t even very good. Luckily the UK has other redeeming qualities 🙂

  • Reply Sabine 31 March 2016 at 15:59

    I also moved to Poland a year ago from southern Texas :). I know what you mean about humidity, makes a huge difference. Even Polish people ask me why did you move here, it’s so cold. Seems pretty normal to me so far… It’s not Alaska cold 🙂

    • Reply Leah Southers 2 April 2016 at 09:11

      Hey Sabine 🙂 Hah exactly. It’s not Siberia, right? Where do you live in Poland? Are you a teacher or do you do something else?

    Leave a Reply