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The Problem i have with Culture Differences (UK + Polish)


Gaz32111  
18 May 2007 /  #1
ive been with my amazing girlfriend now for nearly a year.
Shes a UNI student from Lodz, i met her when she came over last summer to find work.

Now everything is going great, even being in a long distance relationship. I've been to poland twice, and she has visited me twice in england, and she is due to come back for the summer to work again, in her holidays...

Now the only question i have, is the culture difference in the UK to poland...

She tells me that people arent as 'outgoing' in poland, and sometimes she becomes sick of meeting some of my friends, who are generally quite forward, and confident.

She describes this particular way of living as 'fake'...

Now i understand what she is trying to say, but sometimes i become confused... Due to the fact that im quite outgoing, and confident... and enjoy life as it comes by... but she fell for me?

Her description of Polish people in general is that they arent always 'happy'... if they are sad, (which in general, they are according to her) they wont express any happiness whatsoever, even for the comfort of the third party (i.e neighbour, collegue or friend)

So the question is... Are Polish people generally unhappy? or is it just my girlfriend as an individual? Is she wrong to judge the English way of living? or are we both wrong to categorise something in a culture?

Any views would be grateful.

Gaz32111@hotmail
krysia 23 | 3,057  
18 May 2007 /  #2
Oh yes, the cultural differences. People in Poland generally keep to themselves, they don't go around smiling at everything and everybody. Some do look sad or mad and they like to complain about everything and are cautious and don't trust too many people. But once you talk to them, they are very kind, good and generous people. Different culture, different behaviour. That's the way it goes.

You go to Africa and they will totally blow you away with eating bats and maggots...
Patrycja19 63 | 2,699  
18 May 2007 /  #3
You go to Africa and they will totally blow you away with eating bats and maggots...

not my cup of tea.. lol gross.
clunkshift 2 | 82  
19 May 2007 /  #4
In my experience as a Brit with friends in other cultures, the biggest problem is with us - we cling to ridiculous national stereotypes and are generally insular and shallow.

1. All nationalities smile and have a sense of humour but try translating our jokes for them and you will find that too many feature word-play, sex or swearing; which doesn't work in another language or culture. My Polish friends tell great jokes and find fun in all aspects of life.

2. We aren't the only nation with a history and others have writers and poets just as good as ours - better in many cases.

3. We know less about our own parliament than Indians do for example, which is most embarrasing, and we know almost nothing of any other governments - hence we are shallow and insular.

4. Be honest about yourself and Britain. We are eccentric people living on a tiny Island, we didn't win two world wars on our own and Brits were a minority in every sphere of conflict, we don't lead the world in football, cars, technology or music and it is amazing that anyone should find us likeable or even interesting.

A relationship requires mutual understanding - learn some Polish, surprise her with a new phrase as often as you can. Learn about Polish history and culture, read Polish books (they are available in English) and watch Polish films.

Polish friends e-mail me phrases and I have fun every day trying out my poor Polish on the girls in the local coffee shop, they in turn correct my pronunciation and give me phrases to tell my friends in Poland. This also pays off with every other UK Pole I meet and helps with my Polish friendships because it shows that I care about them.
glowa 1 | 291  
19 May 2007 /  #5
She tells me that people arent as 'outgoing' in poland, and sometimes she becomes sick of meeting some of my friends, who are generally quite forward, and confident.
She describes this particular way of living as 'fake'...

it's true. we're not that 'outgoing'. the thing is she hasn't been to uk for long time really.
for a Pole, the ability to respond to the confidence you've said about, is a thing to learn. just stand by her side and she'll be fine, well she'll either get used to and stop even noticing it or she'll work out her own confident way to react to it and won't feel embarrases(?) by it.

i wouldn't know why she describes it as 'fake'. perhaps she just can't find any better way to name it. it is also possible, that due to the fact, that she's surrounded by people who are notorious complainers back in Poland, it is hard for her to believe in the 'other world' she sees in England. also a thing to learn.

ok, i gave you a bit of blabber, really. it's all rather a guess based on my own experiece with discovering a different county.
marek_can - | 7  
19 May 2007 /  #6
that is kind of funny actually, most men in general complain about not understanding women within their own respective cultures.... for you things seem even more amplified in a sense, you have my sympathy.... good luck though mate :D
Evil Presley  
29 May 2007 /  #7
Having had a Polish girlfriend in UK for 18 months , I found we did have differences , but no more than if I had been with a French or Spanish girl ..

The thing about being fake can sometimes just boil down to misunderstandings in the way English phrase things, for example when we meet somebody we ask " Are you alright ? " When all we are saying is " Hi " but I know to some Polish this can be like you ask if I'm ok and you dont care what I say ...

Obviously if shes a pretty girl then shes probably had her share of arseholes trying to chat her up , and asking her stupid things like " Is it cold in Poland ? ", and " Do you have colour TV in Poland ? "..

The English can be very ignorant in their knowledge of other cultures, and most would struggle to name the countries that border Poland ..

I found in the begining probably the biggest thing was that I was used to more space in a relationship, where she was used to having a boyfriend that would be with her all the time, but then again this could be the same with any English girl too ..

I feel like the culture thing has to go two ways , having lived for about 6 months with Polish in a house here, I realised that they only wanted Polish TV, Polish food, and Polish beer , but hey that was just one house ..

In Poland I've found everybody very accomodating, and to learn a little bit about their food or culture goes a long way ...

Plus if youve not had Golabki or watched a Kieslowski film , you really are missing out ..
southern 75 | 7,096  
29 May 2007 /  #8
She describes this particular way of living as 'fake'...

It is simply western hypocrisy.Many people living outside West have this feeling.
polishcanuck 7 | 462  
29 May 2007 /  #9
When one of my cousins visited me in canada for the first time several years ago, he was surprised by the positive/happy nature of canadians. For example, everywhere he went he heared people asking "how are you" and responding with " good" or "great, how are you." He told me that this is uncommon in PL and when someone does ask "how are you?" the response is usually something negative like "chujowo" ("sh_tty").

This is probably why your girl views the english society (which i'm assuming is similar to canadian) as being fake. It's not fake though! LOL
sapphire 22 | 1,241  
30 May 2007 /  #10
You go to Africa and they will totally blow you away with eating bats and maggots

well I know we all like to generalise here.. but please dont forget that Africa is a diverse continent. I travel there a lot and have never met anyone who eats bats..although I am sure they may do in some specific regions. And maggots are more likely to be termites.. very tasty actually.. as are grasshoppers and black ants.. anyway, back to the plot...

I am English with Polish partner and in my experience the cultural differences are pretty big.. yes he likes to moan and complain about everything even when there is nothing really wrong and at times he slags off the English, saying we have no culture.. until I 'politely' ask him why he is living in the UK with an English woman then! So, sometimes for him Poland is the most fantastic place on earth and Polish people are the best.. and sometimes he hates them all and loves the English.. you never know from one day to the next, but it keeps things interesting to say the least. Anyway, we are all different and if you love each other you can learn to embrace the cultural differences.
BubbaWoo 33 | 3,510  
30 May 2007 /  #11
saying we have no culture

how does he come to that conclusion sapph...?
sapphire 22 | 1,241  
30 May 2007 /  #12
who knows how the mind of a Polako works? maybe its me who is lacking in culture huh..but godammit Ive introduced him to Big Brother and X Factor.. what more does he expect? but generally he does seem to think English people are uncultured in comparison with Poles.. (eg) traditional religous celebrations like Christmas and Easter etc..
Evil Presley - | 7  
30 May 2007 /  #13
he slags off the English, saying we have no culture..

We have a culture of accepting different cultures ...

Then again I do find Big Brother hard to accept ...
sapphire 22 | 1,241  
30 May 2007 /  #14
I like that philosophy of accepting different cultures... and what about our lovely drinking culture for gawds sake, high tea, fish and chips... the list goes on.... and actually he likes BB more than me!
krysia 23 | 3,057  
30 May 2007 /  #15
I know Poles who come to the US and say the same things. One day the US is the greatest place on Earth, next day it's shallow and materialistic. Day after that it's great again. Then next week there is something they don't like, so Poland is better.

and on and on.....
miranda  
30 May 2007 /  #16
but godammit Ive introduced him to Big Brother and X Factor..

I hope you are being sarcastic, because Big Brother has been in Poland for some time.
sapphire 22 | 1,241  
30 May 2007 /  #17
i know Miranda, but I meant the UK version... and very topical as it start tonight (series 8 I think).. and you know Im always joking.
miranda  
30 May 2007 /  #18
and you know Im always joking.

I know.
On the serious note one is more exposed to "higher culture" in Poland because it is/was simply more affordable. Maybe it is not the case anymore. The need is still there.

When I was in highschool we had to go to the classic music concert once a month. I sang in the choir, danced in a folk group because it was all free. So even though we were not affluent, we got the exposure.
Decorator 4 | 291  
30 May 2007 /  #19
I always moan about the UK, but when i'm living in another country i become quite defensive when people put the UK down.. I love the cultural differences of staying in various countries..

Oh an hello everyone... :-)
miranda  
30 May 2007 /  #20
i become quite defensive when people put the UK down..

for sure, who wouldn't. It is the culture one is the most familiar with.
Besides, how could cultures be compared anyways.

Hi Dec.
sapphire 22 | 1,241  
30 May 2007 /  #21
Dec..I think its also a typically British trait to run our country down to others, but when a foreigner tries to do it, we defend it to the hilt... strange, but true.

Miranda..I think you are right about that, it all depends on your upbringing..... I have always considered myself to be working class, but in reality my dad was working class and my mom was a posh public schoolgirl.. anyway I dont give a *** about class. Now Im a Director and my partner is a Decorator.. he often asks me why I want to be with someone with a lower class job (his words not mine and sorry Dec).. but to me those things are totally unimportant...and clearly he is much more cultured than me :)
Evil Presley - | 7  
30 May 2007 /  #22
as it start tonight (series 8 I think)..

You just pretending not to know ?

Thats weird...
Was supposed to be quoting Sapphire ...

Looks like I'm trying to frame Decorator with being a BB fan ..
sapphire 22 | 1,241  
30 May 2007 /  #23
so long as its a window frame.. you should be OK. Yes i do know it starts tonight, but honestly cant remember whether its series 6, 7, 8, 9 or even more. I do watch it from time to time and may tune in tonight but am going away for a few weeks so I wont be hooked for a while....bring on the freakshow!
Decorator 4 | 291  
30 May 2007 /  #24
Looks like I'm trying to frame Decorator with being a BB fan ..

AHHHH !!! the programme i loathe the most... if only you were alive Elvis i'd kill you for that...ha

his words not mine and sorry Dec

That's ok my job is very nice thanks, just worked away and will now be taking a break in France and Italy camping, then off to Cuba in August.... ;-)

Hi Miranda....
sapphire 22 | 1,241  
30 May 2007 /  #25
come out the closet with your rollers up.
stepheng - | 49  
30 May 2007 /  #26
Oh Noes not Big brother!

There goes any hope of seeing any decent tv on Channel Four for a few weeks. I wouldn't mind if they showed it less, but two seasons of it per year (celebrity version in Winter and regular BB in the Summer) is a little too much for me.
Matyjasz 2 | 1,544  
30 May 2007 /  #27
at times he slags off the English, saying we have no culture..

Aparently he is mixing two things: being cultural as knowing the rules of savoir vivre, attending theatre or ballet every once in a while, reading Dostoyevski and listening to classical music, with being traditional: which includes customs, cuisine, etc.... Even in the latter aspect we modern Poles are a lot poorer than our forefathers…. Still I can see the improvement.
sapphire 22 | 1,241  
30 May 2007 /  #28
being cultural as knowing the rules of savoir vivre, attending theatre or ballet every once in a while, reading Dostoyevski and listening to classical music, with being traditional: which includes customs, cuisine, etc....

you are right. its probably a problem with the english.. .coolutura = culture? more about traditional customs rather than culture.
ola - | 18  
30 May 2007 /  #29
So the question is... Are Polish people generally unhappy? or is it just my girlfriend as an individual? Is she wrong to judge the English way of living? or are we both wrong to categorise something in a culture?

No, the Polish are not generally unhappy, they just like to complain, that's a very Polish thing, and although I don't like complaining and try to avoid it , I am catching myself doing it from time to time, too.

I can't actually say much about English culture as I am living in Ireland but I see a lot of differences between Irish and Polish people. The Irish are more outgoing, open and more eager to talk to strangers. They generally trust other people more. They're much better at socializing. I don't know why we are so distanced and shy sometimes, really...

Your girlfriend probably calls some of your friends "fake" as there is a small difference in asking "How are you?" in Ireland/UK than in Poland. If a Polish person asks a question in Poland he/she usually expects a longer answer, and that's the way it works. It's not just "How are you?", " I am ok, thanks" thing as here. And in Poland it's not that you ask "how are you" everyone you meet on the street, it's generally related to people you know a bit. That's why "how are you" in Ireland/UK seems a bit fake for Polish people: if you ask everyone and are satisfied with few words answer, it looks like you were actually not caring about it at all. BUT, after some time spent in Ireland I wouldn't say that, I think it's just a cultural difference which doesn't necessary mean Irish/English people are fake or sth.
Decorator 4 | 291  
31 May 2007 /  #30
Culture comes from within i think, nothing to do with nationality !!!

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