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Posts by Magdalena  

Joined: 15 Aug 2007 / Female ♀
Last Post: 27 Mar 2015
Threads: Total: 3 / In This Archive: 0
Posts: Total: 1,837 / In This Archive: 310
From: North Sea coast, UK
Speaks Polish?: Yes
Interests: Reading, writing, listening, talking

Displayed posts: 310 / page 2 of 11
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1 Sep 2007
Language / Should I learn both Polish and German [147]

They even deny their slavic origin.They say they are central europeans,not slavic.

??!?!? Czechs deny their slavonic origin? Can you give me a quote on this, please? And how does geographical location within Europe change ethnicity?

However, as Poland had so many problems in defending such a large area before World War 2 Russia helped out by accepting much of what was eastern Poland and putting it in to Russia, leaving Poland to defend a much smaller land space.

How terribly decent of them!
18 Sep 2007
Language / Giving directions in Polish [51]

Meerschweinchen (German)
Cochon d'Ande (French)
Tangerimalac (Hungarian)
Mochyn cwta (Welsh)

morèe (Czech) :-)
20 Sep 2007
Travel / My opinion on Gdansk and Poland after 11 days [45]

God-bloody awful! Like England would have been like in the 1500's!

Well, come and visit Dalston (London). I have never, ever seen such abject poverty, dirt, and hopelessness, so much grime and ugliness packed into one place. And you bet it's dangerous.
20 Sep 2007
Life / Surviving the Polish Winter [27]

Note that the UK only has a "meteorological office" while Poland has an "Institute of meteorology and water management" - so who is obsessed now?

Isn't that just a question of terminology? Come on, you're not seriously telling us that The Home Office is called that because it is deemed to be less than a Ministry? Hey? ;-)
20 Sep 2007
Life / Surviving the Polish Winter [27]

Polish "Water Management"

We seem to be straying further and further from the point here. If there is a point. I just felt like stating that names of institutions are just that, names, and cannot reflect any imagined or real national characteristics such as obsession with the weather etc.

Lots of really important and serious institutions in Britain are called Office.
Lots of really important and serious institutions in Poland are called Instytut.
Just a different tradition.
On a related note, I think both the British and Polish are obsessed with the weather. It's always too wet / hot / cold / whatever. And everyone's always genuinely surprised when it snows in December. ;-)
25 Sep 2007
Travel / My opinion on Gdansk and Poland after 11 days [45]

so if you dont like it, move somewhere else..

Of course I don't live there. I do use the Silverlink once in a while, though. And yes, I've seen that "great" market. I didn't want to bring it up, but as you mention it... one of the filthiest places I've ever visited. Don't get me started on that one. And Dalston strikes me as particularly depressing because it sits practically next door to the City. Somehow that contrast just gets to me. Dunno.
25 Sep 2007
Travel / My opinion on Gdansk and Poland after 11 days [45]

perhaps that is why you think that it is so poverty stricken and dangerous?

No. I do not care, or know, who lives there. I only speak about my impressions. I have seen the market (smelt it, too - more's the pity!), I have seen the dilapidated, partially torn down and/or burnt out houses, the ingrained dirt, and I must say that to me, it almost seems like occupied territory, or a war zone. I live farther to the east (Waltham Forest), and though that area is relatively poor and run down as well, it does not have that peculiar atmosphere of despair that Dalston has for me.

Maybe not all of Dalston is like that. But that's what I see as I pass through.
22 Oct 2007
Life / Why do poles drink & drive? [82]

If anything, during the last 70-80 years their society taught them to be irresponsible.

So do you suggest that Poland was communist before WW2? A very novel point of view, if I may say so.

As for Polish driving and Polish drink-driving: road accidents happen a lot in Poland because of the many narrow, potholed roads still around, and because a lot of country dwellers insist on walking / cycling down motorways dressed in black, gray, and other dark colours just as dusk is falling. I have personally missed a few by virtually centimeters. It's no fun! Plus, as in every country, young people get high on alcohol and drugs, and then proceed to drive their friends home from night clubs or parties.

Polish drink-driving in the UK: as someone mentioned above, when you go abroad, you don't really feel that this new country is "for real" - because your home country is the only real one, right? You would especially tend to feel this way if your education wasn't the greatest, and let's face it - lots of immigrants come from a working-class background. Thus, you tend to disregard the rules, firstly because they are written in a language you don't bother to understand, and secondly because you are "abroad" - i.e., in never-never land. You came here for the freedom of not being recognized, for the money and the irresponsibility (as opposed to being a REAL citizen back home). I think this attitude is sh*t but I know quite a lot of people who actually feel this way.

On the other hand, this is not a typically Polish thing, as most people tend to fall for this fallacy (like the British chav who gratified himself in a public fountain in Bratislava some time ago - no way he'd have done that in his home town, or at least I hope so). Generally speaking, unless you are a seasoned and sensitive traveller, living abroad will always be associated with having less overall responsibility, not more.
2 Nov 2007
UK, Ireland / Do all Polish newcomers to the UK speak some English? [14]

I used to teach English in Poland - for years. Most schools, colleges, and all universities offer English courses, plus there's lots of private schools on top of that.

Surprisingly enough, now in London I work as a community interpreter, and most of the people I assist are young, or very young (early twenties, barely out of school), and they have either very little English or no English at all.

This really baffles me.
The only explanation I can think of is that I come across people who:
a) were extremely lazy at school or
b) had the bad luck to have German/French/Russian but no English teacher or
c) were and are totally indifferent to the fact that English is the official language of the UK, so they did not even bother to learn a bit before coming over, or

d) all of the above.
I might sound jaded, but I must say I am really shocked by the fact that these people are unable to answer the simplest yes/no questions or even give their own age or address. I really wonder what schools they attended...

This coupled with the fact that I spent about 10 years trying to encourage students to use the language - not just solve tests and learn rules by heart, but actually speak and write - and the general reaction was "come on, give us a break, who needs this silliness?"

And here they are now.
End of rant.
3 Nov 2007

How about this - my name, as you know, is Magdalena. There is not a single fricative or affricate in sight (I mean those terrifying consonant clusters like "rz"). ;-)

In fact, my name is Hebrew and comes from the Bible, so it's recognized all over Europe.
Or is it?
I have had British people ask me repeatedly what my name was when I introduced myself:
they couldn't get it right - they would change it to Macdolena, Magalena, Madgalina, and other monstrosities! ;-(
I still introduce myself as Magdalena but am always prepared to spell it.
In the light of the above, I understand people with names like Katarzyna, Przemysław, Janusz or Marian (which is a man's name in Poland, but a woman's for English speakers), who decide to "change" their name for the sake of convenience.
3 Nov 2007
UK, Ireland / Do all Polish newcomers to the UK speak some English? [14]

In secondary schools (most of them) - for as long as I can remember. And I'm 39. Some schools in smaller towns would not have access to English teachers, but they would still offer at least one other European language apart from Russian. Since the early nineties English became omnipresent, with schools snapping up even people with FCE as English teachers - I kid you not!

Sure, the farther away from large cities, the less qualifications teachers would tend to have. But it still beggars belief that young people would not have even learnt enough to say a few simple phrases.

English is now introduced in primary schools since 2 or 3 grade, I don't remember exactly.
So I would say it's predominantly a question of students not caring about studying English as opposed to the chance to learn not being there.
3 Nov 2007
News / Polish "brainbox" comes back to Poland from the UK for a better education [77]

the matura is equivlent to inbetween gcse and alevel,

Why should it be seen as "in between"? Polish kids pass a set of pretty difficult exams at leaving gimnazjum (lower secondary school), so that would be the GCSE equivalent. Right?

And then, at 19, they pass the matura, which entitles them to apply for University places. So that would be the A-levels equivalent. Or am I mistaken?

If I'm wrong, what other exam(s) should Polish students pass to reach the A-levels level then?
14 Dec 2007
Life / Postnatal care in Poland [7]

Yes, a midwife visits the mother after delivery, can't recall how many times though - but please bear in mind that a new mother would stay in hospital for 3 to 5 days after the birth anyway. All necessary blood tests plus BCG injection are done during this hospital stay, and the babies are monitored for early signs of congenital disorders etc.

Afterwards, the baby is routinely called for checkups for immunizations, weighing etc. Mothers are strongly encouraged to breastfeed. This used to be done by doctors at so-called childrens' clinics, but under the new system I think it's the lekarz rodzinny (equivalent of GP) who would do that. I had my babies before the reforms so I don't rightly know. ;-) Hope that helped you a bit! :-)
15 Dec 2007
Life / Postnatal care in Poland [7]

As said, this was quite some time ago, so maybe things have changed since then (1991, 1995). A midwife used to come around about a week after delivery and check things up, and then maybe pop around again if there were any worries or refer you to the clinic. I had one child in Warsaw and one in Ełk, a small town (60 000 people). So I don't know.
5 Jan 2008
UK, Ireland / What's So Great About The UK? [416]

classic British rock music of the 1970s, a love of rain or the lure of bagpipe music floating across a windswept glen.

I was partly lured by stuff like that... and Alice in Wonderland, and Dickens, and Stonehenge, and a vision of high tea and gentlemen with brollies... and three men in a boat, not counting the dog... ;-)

And pubs, and moors, and Lands' End (what an evocative name!) - and stuff.
Unfortunately, I have not (yet) found terribly much of that. I live in London and earn peanuts, because one thing I HAVE found is a very strong class system and a distrust of strangers (and their foreign qualifications). I fight to make ends meet even though I am a very competent translator / interpreter - the problem is that I cannot afford to pay several hundred pounds for an Institute of Linguists or Institute of Translators and Interpreters exam and get their "title", and without it I cannot get better jobs, so I earn little money, and so on... 10 years of professional experience in Poland and a rather nice CV mean nothing here, and I have had to start from scratch. No bitterness of course, I am a humble person and all that, but still - the social system in Britain is very inflexible. If I had the money to start with, I could earn more money, but I entered the system as an outsider and simply cannot jump any higher. I cannot afford it! This is something that I had NOT anticipated. :-(

I would actually love to go back to Poland, as my primary goal (of improving my English) has been, I think, already reached, but I would hate to go back as empty-handed as I had left. And I had left empty-handed because of personal stuff which meant leaving my home and my thriving translation business behind. I thought I would make it in a year or two and come back victorious. It's more a question of staying afloat now. Well, rant over. ;-(
5 Jan 2008
UK, Ireland / What's So Great About The UK? [416]

What makes you think you can just show up without a paper showing your credentials and you going to get a highly paid job?

That's not what I said. I have "papers", "credentials" - but from Poland. I have qualifications and titles, and 10 years of experience, and I do not want a "highly paid job" - I want a chance to prove that I am good at what I do. That is all. That almighty exam would set me back 1/3 of my monthly income. I am already in debt and absolutely cannot go any further down that road. I used to think that experience, a university degree, a professional attitude, several translated books to my name etc. would account for something. And I haven't given up - I am working as self-employed translator/interpreter, accumulating British experience etc. It really feels as comfortable and efficient as swimming in jelly though ;-(

It would be much easier to just give up and become a cleaner instead. That's where I see the class system at work - if you're not rich enough to buy yourself the only approved credentials and titles, stay away from the better jobs - they're not for the likes of you! Maybe I'm just bitter, because I get praised all the time by my clients (the end users) but this never gets to anybody at the agencies I work for, and I'm not getting any younger.
6 Jan 2008
UK, Ireland / What's So Great About The UK? [416]

I've still yet to see men walking to work in bowler hats carrying a brief case, an umbrella and a rolled up copy of "The Times".

Yeah, how well I know that, it's just part of the "what used to come to your mind when you thought of England" stuff ;-)

I guess I read a few too many books by Graham Greene in my time...

Keep plugging away Magdalena

I definitely will, I'm stubborn as hell! :-)

nowhere else on this planet have i met trusty employers who will give you a chance if you have the right attitude without even asking for any paper.

That is true, but not for translation/interpreting. At least if you want to do anything better-paid and more serious than translating business letters and doing community interpreting, not that there's anything wrong with that, but it is a bit like allowing a professional stage dancer to only teach dance in nursery school or something such like.

You wouldn't imagine how many CVs and applications I have sent out, how many leaflets distributed, how many online ads placed for my business.

Well, one British thing I'm really into is the stiff upper lip, so I am officially stiffening mine now ;-)
6 Jan 2008
UK, Ireland / What's So Great About The UK? [416]

I recommend spray-on starch. My upper lip hasn't moved since 1994.


Though botox injections would work pretty well too, come to think of it! Some celebrities seem to have mistaken their forehead for their upper lip, it seems... ;-)
6 Jan 2008
UK, Ireland / What's So Great About The UK? [416]

No ,but I bet she goes to the local NHS clinic for free health care.

If I am the "she" you mean, I would have nothing against paying a fixed fee per visit - 20 pounds, say. When I first arrived, and I bet many other Poles had the same assumption, I was absolutely prepared to have to pay for any health care given to me. The thing is, I cannot change the system - your government would have to do that. Even if every immigrant insisted upon paying for NHS care, there is no system in place which would enable such payment to take place, even from a basic accounting point of view. Who should take the money? The GP, the Primary Care Trust, the Council?

the ones that have more qualifications are the ones that will get the best work.

It will be the ones with the British qualification who will get the best work. This does not mean that they have *more* or *better* qualifications. But let's not speak of me.

While interpreting, I met an English health visitor, and we got to chatting of this and that. She told me that she had spent most of her working life abroad (in Australia), where she worked in health care and gained lots of experience. When she returned to the UK, all her professional experience was declared unimportant and it was back to square one for her. This is why I said that the British are not interested in experience and expertise gained abroad. And this is why I spoke of a class system firmly in place.

There are many things that make employing foreign people into professional jobs very difficult...

A translator is more like a football player than a lawyer. Either he/she delivers or not. If a footballer is good in Spain, he is equally good at his job when moved to Monaco. If I am capable of interpreting financial negotiations with American partners in Poland, I am then equally capable of interpreting financial negotiations with Polish partners in the US. If I am a lousy interpreter though, no exam however costly and no certificate will be able to help when the time comes to show what I'm made of.

There is the assumption that you should be able to come here for a bit and leave with more than you arrived with.

What is wrong with that?
7 Jan 2008
Life / Racist violence in Poland [172]

Gee, let's see, somebody who has never spoken to the guy breaks a beer bottle over the bar and says "I want a word with that yellow bastard", I wonder if that could be racism or not. **** you bigot.

Just wondering if it might be something else than racism after all. If word had gotten out that this Chinese guy was a tough fighter and nobody messed with him twice, it is more than probable that a certain type of Polish guy could not pass him by for obviously machismo reasons ;-)

My boyfriend, who is Polish and as fair-haired and blue-eyed and white-skinned as they come, grew up in Toruń and had to fight strangers almost every day of his adolescence and young adulthood. The reason? He is very tall and very strong, so almost every other guy his age in the neighbourhood wanted to check him out, see if he was as tough as he looked. Once word got around that he fought back, and was a formidable opponent, other guys got interested in the fun as well. I see a very strong parallel to your story here.

If there is a newcomer in town who looks dangerous, guys are just gonna get curious. I am not at all sure that his skin colour has got a lot to do with it, except make him more easily identifiable (as the "yellow guy").
7 Jan 2008
UK, Ireland / What's So Great About The UK? [416]

You could go private. The trouble would be you would have to pay what the health care actually costs, not a £20 donation.

If every immigrant paid twenty pounds every time they saw a doctor, the money would soon start adding up. Apart from that, we do pay NICs and taxes at the same rates you do.

I know what I say now will be considered racist and politically incorrect, but still: think of the mass of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants in the UK who never pay taxes or National Insurance, and very often don't work at all, but nevertheless receive free housing, medical care, education etc. etc. Yet the public opinion concerns itself entirely with those terrible, troublesome Poles - why is that? There is a lot I don't like about Poles in the UK, but hey, most of them at least obey the rules and work hard. And believe me - in case of serious illness most Poles go home and get treatment in Poland because they have already realized that the NHS wouldn't be of much help.

British qualifications are the qualifications your potential employers understand. An internationally recognised qualification is still better than a foreign one though

Sure, no problem with that - to a certain point. I just checked the price of the IoL DipTrans examination - I thought I remembered it cost somewhere in the area of 200 pounds. I was wrong though. The exam consists of several parts and the overall cost can exceed 500 pounds (i.e., my typical monthly income). So what criterion is really being used here - language skills or level of overall affluence? Why is the fee so exorbitant? Additionally, there is only one examination date per year. The IoL seems intent on making it as difficult as possible to even get a chance at trying! Snobbery and unpleasantness all around.

I didn't say there was anything wrong with it, just that it is why some people get annoyed. From observations in other threads here, the main concern seems to be that it is bad for our economy.

When I first arrived, I thought I would enter a free market in which the English-innocent Poles would seek out people like me to translate and interpret for them. They would pay me out of their own pocket, and I would then pay Her Majesty any taxes and contributions due. Thus, my clients' salaries would have effectively been taxed twice, a nice thing for any economy, I would think, and I would still have plenty of clients and money for myself.

Sounds nice?
Well, the truth is totally different. The market is as heavily regulated as they come, in public service interpreting I need to work through local councils who pay me as little as possible while most of the money stays with the local authority. I don't know how it works out accounting-wise, but e.g. a surgery pays the council for my service, the council pays me a certain amount of that, and the rest of the money goes into keeping the council interpreting service going, I guess. I earn very little, the end user (the Pole) pays nothing, the intermediary (surgery or school) pays 100%. I don't think the economy likes that terribly, and I am not happy with the solution either. The only totally satisfied person is the end user, who gets a specialized service for free. No comments.
8 Jan 2008
Love / meaning of receiving empty text [21]

doesn't cost anything.

many mobile companies offer literally hundreds of free texts as part of their pay monthly packages - so there may be people out there who think nothing about sending out an empty text or two instead of buzzing ;-)
18 Jan 2008
Life / Local Poles taking advantage of foreigners living in Poland [235]

Well, it seems there are two Polands and I used to live in a different one than you visited, or what? I'm not saying all Polish people are well-behaved and pleasant at all times, but I regard things like holding doors open for people or waiting my turn at a bus door as absolutely normal. With giving the exact change at shops, it's just one of those things - I usually don't have the exact change, or can't bother to find it, so I tell the salesperson that and they come up with the correct amount after all. :-)

As for London... It's one of my hobbies to "embarass" the natives by giving up my seat to elderly ladies and gentlemen, holding doors open etc. They look at me with utter disbelief, and - yes - gratitude. Whereas if my boyfriend does similar stuff, the little old ladies look frightened, and the women he holds doors open for look slightly offended ("I can open my own doors thank you"), but still accept the courtesy ;-)

All in all, they don't seem used to such treatment, quite the opposite.
Don't get me started on getting on and off London buses, either. The typical London way is to stay in the first half of the bus, no matter how many people actually want to get in. So there might be empty seats farther down, or at least more space, and the upstairs part might be half empty, but the front part of the bus is totally crammed and the driver needs to shout "move on down, move on!" for at least 2-3 minutes before anyone starts moving, and even when they do move, it's with the speed of a snail sprinting. ;-)

Customer service? I've had customer service staff at an O2 shop in London listen to me for several minutes (I want to keep my old number but change over to 3G because my new mobile is 3G), first give me a vacant stare, then nod their head, and then - yesss!!! - take my mobile and... copy my contacts list from simcard to phone. And hand it back with a flourish. Believe me, I speak English well enough to make myself understood, they simply didn't give a damn about what I was trying to tell them. And I've got loads of such stories.

In other words - do your thing, be courteous at all times, or most times, and the nice people will reciprocate. The not so nice - you don't want to have anything to do with them anyway, do you?
18 Jan 2008
Life / Local Poles taking advantage of foreigners living in Poland [235]

Every single expat I have ever spoken to in years of living here says the same thing so it is not just my perception.

I must honestly say that every single Polish "expat" or guest worker or whatever you wish to call them "says the same thing so it is not just my perception" (about perceived "British rudeness").

May I present the theory that it is not so much a question of levels of rudeness, but rather different areas in which the respective "national" rudeness(es) show themselves? And because these areas obviously don't overlap, they tend to shock and anger the outsider, no matter how long they may have lived in the other country.

Believe me, my mother was Czech, my father is Polish, and though they were married for over 20 years, things would come up every day leading to heated discussions at least - and these were little, tiny, negligible things to start with, just different in the Czech and Polish cultures/societies. Even issues like choosing or not choosing a specific term, name, gesture! They would get miffed and sulk for hours! Now remember how close these two cultures obviously are, at least to the non-Slav. ;-)

In the context of this, think of the differences between Poland and Britain, Greece and France, Britain and Finland...
18 Jan 2008
Life / Local Poles taking advantage of foreigners living in Poland [235]

are you trying to say that queue jumping or not holding a door for the next person are not rude by Polish standards

Of course that's rude, but I am sorry to say I encounter queue jumping and not holding a door for the next person, as often, if not oftener, in London. And Poles in London notice it and label it rude. For example, in London people who hold the door open for people leaving a shop will never get to walk in unless they actually barge in. Been there, done that. In the smaller buses with just one door for entry and exit, passengers tend to rush in without letting anyone off. Bus queues are non-existent, they're just a heaving mass of humanity trying to squeeze inside while the sick and elderly fall by the roadside. (I make a point of always letting old people and women with children enter first - but sometimes they are so surprised that a young, strapping lad uses the opportunity before them).

That's why I think it's the "foreignness" (if there is such a word) factor at work here. People are much more likely to notice such behaviour, and be offended by it, if it comes from the Others (the Barbarians, Foreigners, call them what you like).

Also, you might want to consider the fact that as Western Europeans coming to a country most of you perceive as unimportant and rather poor, you might unknowingly exude a somewhat patronizing air, which would immediately raise shackles. To be totally fair, I have seen that happen to Poles visiting India - they assumed the White Master attitude and then were surprised by how hostile the "natives" were. I think most of them didn't realize what they were doing wrong, either.