Return PolishForums LIVE
  PolishForums Archive :
Archives - 2005-2009 / Life  % width 8

How do Poles view Polish-Americans?

matthewssz 1 | 1  
30 Jul 2009 /  #1
My family is native to Krakow, though neither my mother nor my father have been back since they left for the US in the '50s as small children. I've never been outside of North America, but I'd love to see Europe and of course Poland, so I'm going to make it happen, you can get sweet deals on airfare and trans-atlantic cruise lines at the moment.

Given that my income is exclusively derived online, I could could probably stay almost any where in the world for an extended period of time provided I got WiFi, my US mobile numbers work, and I have a secure place to store files and two laptops. I just need to be home around the US tax season where I need to do work in person for a couple of months.

One of my life goals, (the ones you really never get around too, for the most part) is to learn Polish, even though my parents were born there, they are no help, and I'm sure no Pole would want to hear their California influenced Polglish , rather they would just rather converse in English. So I'm really thinking about just staying in Krakow for a bit, after I hit up all the standard European places of interest like London, Paris, and Amsterdam. And of course, Krakow could be a good home-base to see other cool places in the general region like Prague, Budapest, Vienna, etc... that many Americans never get around too. All the beautiful churches and cathedrals in Krakow and Europe will give me a reason to finally attend mass again after years and years of blowing it off, much to the horror of my Grandmother. Though Polish mass is no joke, at least it was not in New Jersey.

I'm a nice guy, 26 years old, impeccable manners, and for obvious reasons I am very interested in the life, culture, and language of Poland. Other then that, I'm certainly nothing special, so I'm curious as to how I will be received? I just want to learn and experience a way of life that was my Grandparents and Great Grandparents, the latter were all killed by the Nazis or NKVD... There was a lot of pain and suffering experienced by my Grandparents, so that is probably why they never went back, nor ever pushed my parents to do so as well, as we are Americans and America has been good to us, thank god. But any way, I want to go back and see things for my self.
frd 7 | 1,401  
30 Jul 2009 /  #2
It's great that you want to know more about Poland and Polish. It's probably hard right now to experience what our grandparents and great grandparents experienced because they lived in troubled times - those times have fortunately ended. I think you'll be recieved well, although unfamiliarity with polish may be a hindrance if you, for example, want to find the exact place your family lived in. My great grandparents also lived in Krakow during that time, it's pretty funny and strange because I've never been there, in their former house despite living pretty close to Krakow.
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446  
30 Jul 2009 /  #3
To answer "How do Poles view Pol-Ams" with any accuracy, one would have to invoke existing studies and conduct new opinion polls, peruse periodical and literary writings, interview people, etc. I can therefore only offer a few spot impressions for what they're worth:

-- A common view (not only of Poles but of other immigrants, eg Italians) is that the Americanised cousins are rich but rough round the edges in terms of sophistication and polish.

-- Level by level (primary, secondary, academic) they seem undereducated compared to Poles who have studied the same amount of time, esp. in the field of general knowledge; America being vast and largely self-contained is less interested in the outside world than the small nations of Europe (even Germany is only the size of one of the 50 states).

-- Polglish is often good-naturedly laughed at, but few Poles (who have their hands full trying to learn or improve their English) expect Pol-Ams to be perfectly fluent in Polish.

-- The myth of rich America still persists, so Poles are often surprised to learn their US cousins are not exactly rolling in dough, have financial concerns and worry about the future.

-- Poor Pol-Am table manners (such as Pol-Ams doing the knife & fork switching routine at table or pushing those last 3 or 4 peas onto their fork with their thumb!) are readily noticed but rarely commented on.

-- American ingenuity is admired. This includes even various small easy-to-use items and gadgets (eg can openers that actually work) that make life easier and do not necessarily require hi-tech engineering to create, just a little common sense.

-- Attractive young Polish females who link up with a visiting Polonians are often seen as god-diggers out to grab their American one-way ticket to prosperity. The possibility of genuine feelings on the part of the Polish female is often ignored.

-- The "wujek z Ameryki" or "ciocia z Ameryki" (Polonian aunt or uncle) stereotype has long functioned in the collective Polish psyche. Indulging and catering to the whims of such a visitor (or so it is believed by some) may translate into an invite to study, work or otherwise stay in America.
dcchris 8 | 432  
30 Jul 2009 /  #4
They view Polish americans as nothing more than americans truthfully especially if you don't speak polish and are not born here but that doesn't mean that they won't be nice to you. But it sounds like you have a good attitude so you should be fine.
Matowy - | 295  
30 Jul 2009 /  #5
Ask yourself first; are you truly interested in Poland?

As for Polish view on "Polish"-Americans; I don't know, as I'm not a Pole. However, Americans who refer to themselves as X nationality based on their ancestry look REALLY dumb and laughable. You seem intelligent and sensible, so if anyone asks, I'd advise you to only say that your parents/grandparents are Polish, and that you are American. Referring to yourself as Polish when you are not won't do you any favours.

If you do want to see Poland, it's strongly recommended that you gain a basic grasp of the language before you go. Polish is intensely complicated, and I don't think it would be beneficial to be immersed in it before you're aware of the basics. Take a few months to get familiar with it first. The pronunciation isn't hard. This should help you avoid looking silly when trying to speak Polish, and thus you won't look like an ignorant foreigner when in Poland.
krysia 23 | 3,058  
31 Jul 2009 /  #6
This should help you avoid looking silly when trying to speak Polish, and thus you won't look like an ignorant foreigner when in Poland.

He won't look like an ignorant foreigner in Poland just because he doesn't speak Polish. You might call someone ignorant when you live in Chicago for 20 years and still can't speak english.

But dress casually, don't attract attention because if they know you're a foreigner they might try to rob you.
polishcanuck 7 | 462  
1 Aug 2009 /  #7
You will be viewed as a foreigner. My family in poland refers to me as "kanadyjczyk" (canadian) even though i was born in poland (i speak polish too) but grew up in canuckistan. No worries though, you will be like very much, especially by the girls:)
lahdeedah - | 3  
29 Sep 2009 /  #8
please dot listen to matowy, he seems bitter for some strange and random reason. honestly, if you are 2nd generation polish american and dont speak polish, you will be seen as american. but don't let that stop you! and you DON'T need months and months of study of the polish language to go. Most people speak english in some capacity. Poles in Poles are very fond of and very friendly towards americans and when you tell them you're of polish heritage and that you're interested in Poland they'll fall in love with you. (I've noticed Poles in Poland are a little insecure about Poland... don't know why but thats my observation, so if you show specific interest in Poland, they'll be absolutely charmed).

I speak Polish fluently and i've gone there almost every summer and we speak Polish at home and my parents definitely are Polish and i have a grasp of Polish history, literature, etc - and the last time I was in Poland for student exchange, they still saw me as (mostly) American. Even though we conversed in Polish!

but yeah, you should definitely go. They'll love you! And you'll love it! It will be awesome, I promise.

Archives - 2005-2009 / Life / How do Poles view Polish-Americans?Archived