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Poles Abroad - leaving the country for various reasons


PolReport  
13 Oct 2006 /  #1
Poles are notorious when it comes to leaving their own country for different reason in different times.

Before the First World War, and in between the World Wars, Polish people - mostly lower class people, workers and peasants - went out looking for work and bread abroad. Even earlier than that, when Poland temporarily ceased to exist, as well as after the Second World War, people left the country, mainly for political reasons.

As a result, there are Poles all over the world, so called Polonia, entailing, besides the new migrants, people of Polish origin of second or third generation - some still speaking Polish and some only interested in being a part of the Polish community, enjoying its traditions.

Now we are back to the beginning of the circle. Once again, Poles are on the move looking to improve their economical circumstances. They are free to leave and come back, but are they prepared for what happens in between?

Nowadays, Poles mainly move to English-speaking countries: the UK, the US, and also Ireland. Germany and Sweden are popular, but you can find Poles most everywhere, wherever there is a opportunity to gain more than in their home country.

However, work is only a part of one's life, which is easy to forget. Leaving your homeland, besides a possible increase in welfare, brings many other unexpected consequences. If you've never lived overseas, be prepared for a real cultural shock. A good job in Poland is not everything - making good money is only a part of it.

By leaving your own country, you tear the contacts that you have built during your life, and you leave behind not only your family and friends, but everything that you were used to in you daily life. The familiar butcher and baker, the lady next door that used to smile to you every morning when you were going to work, and your fishing mate and his old Fiat, are all gone. You really are on your own.

And there is the cultural shock. If you believe it is all about learning the language, and everything will be fine as soon as you can speak it fluently, think again. Although language proficiency is a major part of it, even if you are fluent as a fish, you won't probably ever be able to get rid of that Polish accent of yours. Soon enough, you will notice that every conversations will begin from: "You sound like a Pole," or "It sounds like East European accent", which might not annoy you for a while, but sooner or later, it will. What is even more important is that your accent will hinder you in getting the jobs you want. No one wants an employee with obvious foreign accent talking to his customers.

Thus, your choice of jobs will be severely limited by the way you speak. Which is even worse if you decide to stay in the country, since your inability to learn to speak the language perfectly might, in the long run, affect your self-esteem. This is one of numerous reasons why some migrants have psychological problems. If it is s short time working visit, the situation is, of course, different. You can go back where you came from and forget the experience.

However, if you stay, you will notice that although you speak the language, you seem to be saying the wrong things. Somehow, the natives talk about other things than what you're interested in. Telling jokes is, for example, uncommon in English-speaking countries, while for the Poles, it is a normal way of making merry. Translating jokes is also not a good idea, unless you want to embarrass yourself, especially when you are the only one who is laughing and everyone looks at you as if you came from another planet.

On the other hand, you might not get all that many opportunities to tell natives your funny stories. Many Westerners, in general, do not crave personal contact as much as it is usual in Poland. As you will soon notice, they might prefer not to socialize much with a foreign migrant, either.

Thus, you might soon find that living abroad can be a rather lonely proposition. True, you will have other Poles to mingle with, but there goes also your chances of improving your language.

It is a surprise to most that almost everything about the way the natives behave is different to the way things are done back at home. You don't kiss ladies on the hand, you don't shake hands at all times, you don't visit people unannounced, you don't treat your supervisor as an equal (although you call him by his first name, you don't expect to be offered a cigarette....). The list goes on and on.

Does this sounds like a lot of hassle? Believe me, it is. That is exactly why many a Pole, even after many years abroad, choose to go back to live in their mother country. Better an old, worn out, familiar shoe that fits than a new shining one that gives you painful blisters and ugly calluses. Be warned.

PolReport
andrzejz  
13 Oct 2006 /  #2
Very good thoughts - being a Polish immigrant living abroad I agree 100% with the message. While you can hide behind your writing, when it comes to speaking the foreign language you will never hide your Polish accent. But the good news is that people in the foreign countries get accustomed to living among foreigners so they are not looking at you like from another planet any more.
mono  
14 Oct 2006 /  #3
Some people who think about immigration should read it. It ain't that easy as they show it on TV.
opts 10 | 260  
14 Oct 2006 /  #4
While reading the PolReport it felt like I was reading my personal experiences.
In the past, there were numerous occasions when I felt like going back to Poland.
I acclimated to American way of life. But, I do not feel that I am an American nor do I feel that I am a Pole.
krysia 23 | 3,057  
14 Oct 2006 /  #5
I know the feeling.....
Tlum  
14 Oct 2006 /  #6
While reading the PolReport it felt like I was reading my personal experiences.
In the past, there were numerous occasions when I felt like going back to Poland.
I acclimated to American way of life. But, I do not feel that I am an American nor do I feel that I am a Pole.

Still on "tourist visa"? :)
opts 10 | 260  
15 Oct 2006 /  #7
NO. I had become a naturalized US citizen many, many years ago.
Kowalski 7 | 621  
15 Oct 2006 /  #8
I have never had any regrets for leaving US for Poland. It was very hard decision to make but I consider it one of the best decisions I have EVER made (quit smoking was another one). It took me years to adjust back into polish way of life but those first years were a blast. I had so much fun just riding PKS here and there, watching 2nd division soccer, observing aspects of polish culture etc. I am still nostalgic about US, some places, friends I left behind but don't go there anymore and fulfiill my traveling needs within Europe.

Milosz said that loneliyness was charachteristic to living in US. To the list of disadvanteges I would add conumerism, sick work ethics ( stealing time? haha) and brainwashing media...

I would never probably have enough courage to leave my comfortable US trap if it wasn't for my mother illness that required my involvement in care.
opts 10 | 260  
15 Oct 2006 /  #9
Kowalski,

Congratulation! I mean it sincerely.
iwona 12 | 542  
16 Oct 2006 /  #10
Milosz said that loneliyness was charachteristic to living in US. To the list of disadvanteges I would add conumerism, sick work ethics ( stealing time? haha) and brainwashing media...

I would never probably have enough courage to leave my comfortable US trap if it wasn't for my mother illness that required my involvement in care.


I don't know about Us but in UK is one more- zero loyalty- people quite like to smile to you and report something to your boss behind your back. Even little petty things.
Tlum  
16 Oct 2006 /  #11
I don't know about Us but in UK is one more- zero loyalty- people quite like to smile to you and report something to your boss behind your back. Even little petty things.

I think it's everywhere like that. Unless you know the land called Utopia...:).
iwona 12 | 542  
16 Oct 2006 /  #12
n the other hand, you might not get all that many opportunities to tell natives your funny stories. Many Westerners, in general, do not crave personal contact as much as it is

usual in Poland.

Really, Pubs are always full of ... british lonely...people?

As you will soon notice, they might prefer not to socialize much with a foreign migrant, either.

stereotypes.

Everything depends on person. If you are ambitionous enough to learn language, educate, find good job they will socialize with you.

It is a surprise to most that almost everything about the way the natives behave is different to the way things are done back at home.

You can say it about any emigrant Indian, French, Italian..... it only depends on someone personality and strength to get accusomed to new reality.

I think it's everywhere like that. Unless you know the land called Utopia...

I know it is. It is difficult to explain what i mean I suppose in Poland if your work college annoys you or he is messing around, you tell him this sooner or later. British are "too polite" they will smile to you and report you. Even about very, very petty things. it is differenc ein culture but i got used to it now.

I would never probably have enough courage to leave my comfortable US trap if it wasn't for my mother illness that required my involvement in care.

I know what you mean.
Tlum  
16 Oct 2006 /  #13
I think some Polish people need to learn (some of then the hard way, unfortunately) that the smile does not mean anything. I know it's a pleasure to see a person that seems to be nice to you, but the societies of GB or US are much more "self-controling" than the Polish one. I mean - in Poland people will not usually report you for wrong behaviour (at work or on the streets) unless it's really bad; while in England or the US they will..
iwona 12 | 542  
16 Oct 2006 /  #14
I have learn it and I don't like it but....

maybe because I am in general loyal person and most people I was working in Poland with were the same it was difficult for me. But everyone is different and find different things diffcult abroad.

It is quite strange but it was the most difficult thing for me.
Tlum  
16 Oct 2006 /  #15
That's why people who move abroad should be prepared for "being kicked with a smile on the kicker's face"..:). Most are because in Poland it's slowly starting to be the same (especially in the big cities with multicultural influence).
iwona 12 | 542  
16 Oct 2006 /  #16
I know. Good life lesson.
I am quite hard and resistent now- and not nice to admit but started to use the same weapon.:)
gesiorek  
23 Oct 2006 /  #17
my family came from Poland in 1905-6. I am searching ship records . there are soooooo many. They came from brody , poland which is now part of the Ukraine. would anyone know how they would have travelled? or from what port of departure I should be looking at.thanks
Wroclaw 44 | 5,386  
23 Oct 2006 /  #18
Hamburg has most records of this type. They have an archive but I don't know the address.
It might sound odd looking in Germany for Polish records but some German records are here in Wroclaw.
Magia  
11 Apr 2007 /  #19
Some of u people moved to UK or US few months or years ago and already forgot polish language. that's funny.....
Guest  
12 Jul 2008 /  #20
Oh no NEVER!

While I am by birth Polish, by feeling after 40 years living abroad, I definitively feel as an American.

I might be polish , but I don't ever would act so foolish!

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