PODRÓŻE W CZASIE: półkolonie letnie w Sherlocku

Living in Poland as an expat

I first visited Poland for three months in the summer of 2010. In 2006, I started having twice-weekly Polish lessons at a local university in upstate NY. I also started my study of Polish history, especially WWII and during PRL. I married my wife, a Polish citizen, in 2008.

Before, I had heard negative tales from Polish expatriates in the USA, portraying empty shelves, inadequate public transportation, and a struggling society. However, experiencing Poland firsthand, I found a vibrant and dynamic country, shattering the stereotypes I had encountered.

During that summer, filled with grills and gatherings, I engaged in discussions about life in Poland. Some conveyed a sense of scarcity and hardship, contrasting their views with what they perceived as my privileged American life. This marked my introduction to a prevalent aspect of Polish culture: pessimism, a contrast to the general optimism I was accustomed to in the USA.

The summer of 2010 provided a glimpse into the standard of living in Poland, challenging the assumed hardships. Contrary to misconceptions, reality surpassed expectations. Upon moving to Poland in 2016, I delved deeper into its culture, society, and history, gradually realizing the subtle differences and shared values. One distinctive observation concerned fences, a common sight in Poland but a luxury in the USA. Over time, I discovered that fences symbolised a sense of privacy and security, embodying a unique aspect of Polish life.

Getting to know Polish people proved challenging, yet rewarding. While I may not have many friends, I cherish the genuine connections with students who share their culture through gestures like offering „drożdżówka” and brewing elaborate coffee, a novelty back in the USA.

In Poland, you have so much vacation. Wow! You have almost 30 days a year. In the USA we start with zero (zero, like the number 0). You have to negotiate with your employer to get a week off.

Lastly, I’ve created the “Default Polish Facial Expression” The flat, seemingly unreadable expressions encountered on Polish sidewalks became an expected facet of life. When I walk on the sidewalk, I am often met with people showing this expression. I’ve grown to like it, expect it even. In the USA, despite all the difficulties, our default facial expression is, more often than not, a smile.

In conclusion, the journey from expat scepticism to an appreciation of the nuanced facets of Polish living has been transformative. The melding of cultures, the dispelling of stereotypes, and the embrace of differences have woven a rich tapestry that goes beyond the surface perceptions of expatriate life.

– A person residing in a country other than their native one, often for work or personal reasons.
Standard of living – The level of wealth, comfort, and material goods available to a person or community.
Default Polish Facial Expression – The common facial expression observed in the people of Poland, flat and not enthusiastic,
Pessimism – the tendency to see the negative aspects of situations and expect unfavourable outcomes.
Inadequate – not meeting the required standards or lacking the necessary quality or quantity.
Stereotypes – Oversimplified and generalized ideas or beliefs about a particular group of people or things.
Nuanced – Having subtle differences or distinctions, often requiring a more in-depth understanding.

Milton Eaton

lektor języka angielskiego
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