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British living in Poland - documentary


peroxideorchid 1 | 2
16 Nov 2012 #1
Cześć!

I am a journalism student studying at Edinburgh Napier University. As part of the course I am creating a short radio documentary about British people living in Poland, and the effect of Western culture on Poland. I've become interested in this subject (and Polish culture in general) since meeting my partner, who grew up in Silesia and now lives here in Scotland.

Is there anyone who is British (or know of any British) living in Poland that would be willing to conduct a recorded interview with me? I will be in the country between the 6th and 13th of January, and will be going back again sometime between February and March a second time. I will be based around Zabrze for the first visit, and then probably Kraków or Warszawa for the second.

Dziękuje!

Luke.
smurf 39 | 1,981
16 Nov 2012 #2
and the effect of Western culture on Poland

The problem you have here lad is that you're gonna need to find someone British who was living here before the end of communism to be able to compare how things have changed. I severely doubt any 'western' person willingly moved here pre-1989.

Poland is just as globalized as britain, Ireland, France, Germany, American hiphop and crappy dance music fills the radio waves, people watch Top Gear and HBO, just like at home. Lady Gaga and beiber on the tele, along with the Kardashians. MTV here is the same as in the uk, it still doesn't play music. Kids in Poland dress pretty much the same as kids in Scotland.... y'know that fake hipster thing where they all have floppy hair and tight jeans and the tongues of their shoes are over the pull-ups of their jeans.

Poland has experienced a 'catch-up' commercialism, most people are pretty happy with it, freedom of choice, H&M, Tesco, OBI, Carrefour, Real etc etc.

The "westerization' of Poland is no different than the globalisation of the UK or indeed Europe as a whole.

If you want to do something interesting for your journalism radio things, read up on the Scottish soldiers who took park in the Silesian rebellion:

muzeumslaskie.pl/en/in-a-foreign-land-the-allies-in-silesia-at-the-time-of-the-plebiscite.php
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silesian_Uprisings

Your teachers will lap up that sh$t, they're heard all the stuff on globalization already.
OP peroxideorchid 1 | 2
16 Nov 2012 #3
Cheers for that, I appreciate the links.

To be honest the Western influence was more of an aside - the documentary will be quite feature-based. For the purpose of this project it shouldn't matter too much how long the person has lived in Poland as I'm hoping for quite a wide range.

I'll take on board your comments though as they have brought up ideas I hadn't thought about.
john123 1 | 20
16 Nov 2012 #4
Dear Luke
I would be happy to help the second time if you make it to Warsaw. Or if you are able to travel to Lodz I could probably guarantee you three interviews.

I have some enlightening insights and experiences to share with you as I have been here for nearly five years now. I have also lived in a few dumps and a few charming cities.

Not too sure you will have much success in Zabrze though. I expect you will find a few Brits in Katowice.

Regards
John.F.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254
16 Nov 2012 #5
I severely doubt any 'western' person willingly moved here pre-1989.

Bob did (Polonius), and I think "Varsovian" on these forums has been here on and off since before the end of Communism. There's also a few that have been here for donkeys years and can talk about the differences - like Harry.
natasia 3 | 368
17 Nov 2012 #6
I lived there 1991-94, when it was only just coming out of the shroud of Communism, and have been back periodically, and have constant contact. I had a lot of interesting observations to make about it from when I was there, and how it has changed now. Happy to talk.

It was still a place where in a city of half a million, where I was, there was only one real 'bar', and a couple of restaurants. There were dance halls. There were 7 cinemas, and depending on which type of film one felt like watching, one chose the cinema accordingly. You could smoke in them, too. And it was really something if you knew someone who owned a car. They told me of how only recently the lists had finished - you had to be on a list for 5 years or more to get a car. So those who had them in 91 were people who had waited literally years, and probably had 'connections'.

There were hundreds of corner shops, and no supermarket. Only in 1994 did a supermarket appear - EuroSklep - although it didn't really have much in it. But it did have trolleys : )

Oh, I have so many stories, if you want. And now I go back and ... have to say that as a visitor, I preferred it as it was. I don't like wandering around huge hypermarkets and seeing bewildered old grandmas with barely enough to buy a loaf of bread counting out their small coins at the cash desk. I find the juxtaposition of people from a previous era and the present grating, with an awful pathos. OK, sure, fine for the younger generations ... but there are a hell of a lot of older, greyer people who have it harder now than before. Their world has literally evaporated around them.

I liked it before, how it was. I went back and searched for those fabulous cinemas, and they were all gone. There was a multiplex. I hate multiplexes. Why would I want one of those? I have one at home. They are too loud; they are impersonal; they are commercial. They lack everything that those seven cinemas had.

And ... so on.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254
17 Nov 2012 #7
but there are a hell of a lot of older, greyer people who have it harder now than before.

Indeed. Such was the cost of freedom.

(not to mention that many of them actually preferred the system where they were looked after from cradle to grave - they had no real interest in democracy)
natasia 3 | 368
17 Nov 2012 #8
Yes, that is what I hear all the time - that they would have far preferred staying as they were.

One lady, in her late 60s, was the Chief Registrar for all marriages in this large city of half a million people. She was well paid in comparison to everyone else; she had a great pension to look forward to. She worked for 35 years, and when she retired, Capitalism arrived, and overnight her pension dropped so much in value that it practically disappeared. She now has the equivalent of about £200 a month, and her outgoings are £350 before food. Her life has literally been ruined by what has happened - completely changed, and for the worse. She is not living in the country she lived in before. It has disappeared, along with her pension.

Change brought freedom, yes - for the upcoming generations. Most of the older people are too tired or ill or just set in their ways to 'make the most' of their 'freedom' - in fact they are in more of a prison than before. What does it matter that now they can get on Ryan Air to Luton if they want? They don't want to.
Richfilth 6 | 415
17 Nov 2012 #9
I moved to Warsaw 8 years ago, and I've seen some phenomenal changes in that time. It was just as the EU money taps were turned on, and the subsequent cash flood has changed the city remarkably.

And there's always a downside, as others have stated with their stories about the losers in the Capitalist race, and I do feel for those who have been left out in the cold by the conversion to a free market. But now we have new problems; an older workforce on very generous, privileged contracts (three months notice, 26 days leave plus national holidays on top etc.) holding on to their positions, with a large, educated youth underneath them who can't get their feet on the career ladder, or otherwise on pathetic pay with no job security or the smallest perk in their contract. 70% of 18-24s are on these "junk contracts", which is the current hot news item outside the usual conspiracy ravings.

Poland is caught between a rock and a hard place; on the one hand still making up for the faults of its Communist past, and on the other trying to find new opportunities for the next generation. And there's no EU subsidy for those kinds of problems.
milky 13 | 1,657
17 Nov 2012 #10
I have noticed kids singing that song in the last few days, there's no limit by 2 unlimited, wtf ??
Fake hipsters? The whole hipster thing "is" fake.

in fact they are in more of a prison than before.

Well!! It's a form of democracy, sort of Milton Friedman style, forced on Poland to benefit and secure an elite loyal to the USA and the West. It worked.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
17 Nov 2012 #11
I liked it before, how it was.

Well, I am Polish, and I lived through the eighties in Poland (as a teenager and young adult), and believe me, I did not like it. Not everything is wonderful in Poland today, but please - don't start telling me how things were great earlier. I was constantly hungry and in the winter, I was constantly cold and ill. Some things were of course "better" than now - but these nice things were being subsidised by the State with money it didn't really have. Nevertheless, growing up in that time was a rather cheerless affair - we felt we had no control over our future, that both our working and personal lives were pretty much preordained by what the State had in store for us (i.e., not much).

So those who had them in 91 were people who had waited literally years, and probably had 'connections'.

Wrong - there was a thriving second-hand car market which included old beat-up cars brought in from abroad, esp. Germany and the States.
Often illegal, which didn't stop anybody.

Capitalism arrived, and overnight her pension dropped so much in value that it practically disappeared.

I'm sorry, but I was in Poland during the redenomination (1995) and money did not drop in value - four zeroes got cut off, true, but 20 000 złoty and 2 złoty had the exact same value and were used interchangeably for several years, with the old złoty gradually phased out.

pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denominacja_z%C5%82otego_w_1995
The lady you talk about would not have lost a single grosz due to this process. The problem is that many people, seeing those zeroes disappear, automatically assumed that they were getting less money. The lady's pension - about 1000 złoty - is not exceedingly low, though on the lower side of the scale. BTW pensions in communist Poland were not terribly exciting either.

I'm not British, so I'll shut up now. But please check your facts before you post.
Wroclaw Boy
17 Nov 2012 #12
Not everything is wonderful in Poland today, but please - don't start telling me how things were great earlier. I was constantly hungry and in the winter, I was constantly cold and ill.

In order for you to be talking like that you really should be living in Poland IMO. It sounds weird coming from a Pole enjoying the UK.

I know of quite a few people who preferred communism in Poland.

Indeed. Such was the cost of freedom.

You call capitalism freedom? This freedom hasn't played itself out yet, its better than communism for the majority sure, but look where capitalism is taking us all at the moment.

We even have people who cant afford health insurance, not wanting social health care.
zetigrek
17 Nov 2012 #13
The lady's pension - about 1000 złoty - is not exceedingly low, though on the lower side of the scale.

You mean now or then? Now it's a poverty. If she doesn't own a flat she probably can't make it.

I'm sorry, but I was in Poland during the redenomination (1995) and money did not drop in value

I think she means the earlier period when the inflation run out of control.

I was constantly hungry

Seriously? Didn't you live in India for some period of your childhood? Sounds like a daughter of diplomats. It's none of my business but my parents don't recall being hungry... and I was pretty chunky when I was 3.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
17 Nov 2012 #14
You mean now or then? Now it's a poverty.

Many of my relatives don't get much more than that. I know an old lady who still works - doing stuff she loves.

If she doesn't own a flat she probably can't make it.

I would assume she owned a flat as she spent her working life in good old communist Poland, so a flat would have been supplied to her by the kindly State?

I think she means the earlier period when the inflation run out of control.

You mean 1989? The credit crunch of the communist state?

Didn't you live in India for some period of your childhood? Sounds like a daughter of diplomats.

No, the daughter of an Orientalist, actually. Nothing fancy there at all. The Embassy people did not let me and my mother use their swimming pool when we tried once, as we "lived with the natives and were probably dirty".

It's none of my business but my parents don't recall being hungry

Now I could make assumptions about YOUR parents. Like where they worked and who they knew. But let's not get personal.

In order for you to be talking like that you really should be living in Poland IMO

So I can't talk about my youth in Poland because I temporarily live in the UK? Wow.
zetigrek
17 Nov 2012 #15
Now I could make assumptions about YOUR parents. Like where they worked and who they knew.

Please do. I'm curious.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
17 Nov 2012 #16
I'm curious.

You might be curious, but I am not about to do to you what you just did to me (it was highly unpleasant you know).
milky 13 | 1,657
17 Nov 2012 #17
we felt we had no control over our future,

and for Poles living in Poland today? Where are you living now?

We even have people who cant afford health insurance, not wanting social health care.

yea, this is a strange one. Joe the plumber types lol

You might be curious, but I am not about to do to you what you just did to me (it was highly unpleasant you know).

come one ,speak!!
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
17 Nov 2012 #18
and for Poles living in Poland today? Where are you living now?

I am currently living in the UK doing exactly the same job that I did in Poland - running my own business. For the last time, I came to the UK out of curiosity and for a challenge, not because I was starving in Poland - actually, financially I was much better off back home. I came to the UK now because during good ole' communist times I would not have been able to.

come one ,speak!!

Generally speaking, people who were well off during communist times were either Party members, or had influential friends / relatives, or did some more or less shady deals (by contemporary standards) on the side. A lot of stealing and cheating was going on, because since everything was state property, it was nobody's property. Having relatives in the country or living in the country was another bonus, because you could trade meat or other farm produce for a whole spectrum of other goods, obtained legally, half-legally or illegally.

Have none of you ever watched "Miś"? It's a lot more realistic than you might think.
Speaking of the poor old people "whose life has crumbled around them". My father, a university lecturer, now retired, worked hard all his life and would have gotten a very measly pension (around the 1000 złoty mark) because his salary was always very low. Fortunately, capitalism came and he took a chance with a new job requiring new skills and earned a bit of extra money before he retired. He was already elderly then, but somehow he was able to seize the opportunity he was given. IMO, most of the people who would like to see the old times back were the people who profited from the old system in no uncertain way.
natasia 3 | 368
17 Nov 2012 #19
But please check your facts before you post.

I was posting facts as told to me by Polish people in Poland. Not my own facts.

The car business - ok, well in 91 I knew maybe 60 Polish people, and I knew only three who owned a car. One was a taxi driver and yes, got it from Germany. One was a journalist who told me about the list and waiting and said he had waited 8 years. And one was the brother of an extremely famous sportsman who was very rich.

The pension business - that is it as told to me by the lady, my ex-mother in law. Regardless of zeros, her point was that she had worked a long time, with the belief that on retirement, she would be comfortably off. After the change in government and opening up to the West, the value of her pension dropped. That may be because of inflation, but whatever - the net effect was that whereas she would have been well off, she, maybe not overnight but certainly over a relatively short period - perhaps a couple of years - became a relative pauper. She could not survive and could not buy the medication she needs without help from her son.

When I said I liked it better before, I meant that particular city in the early 90s, rather than now. Not in the 80s. I have no experience of that.
milky 13 | 1,657
17 Nov 2012 #20
actually, financially I was much better off back home.

I've heard a lot of Polish people abroad spin this line,maybe, in your case it is true, but in general its BS spouting from an inflated ego; like a married man claiming to himself that if he was single he could pull all the young beauts, if he wanted but.....
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
17 Nov 2012 #21
maybe, in your case it is true,

It is true in my case and that's all you need to know.
milky 13 | 1,657
17 Nov 2012 #22
yes, I believe you.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254
17 Nov 2012 #23
IMO, most of the people who would like to see the old times back were the people who profited from the old system in no uncertain way.

I notice that many not-that-old (let's say - 70 or so) people want those times back because they actually had quite a lot subsidised. All the subsidised holidays, child care, etc - stuff they could never afford in a capitalist society as manual workers in factories and so on.
Ironside 49 | 10,636
17 Nov 2012 #24
ell, I am Polish, and I lived through the eighties in Poland (as a teenager and young adult), and believe me, I did not like it. Not everything is wonderful in Poland today, but please - don't start telling me how things were great earlier.

Well, for majority it was a better deal - money wise - it seems.

I was constantly hungry and in the winter, I was constantly cold and ill.

Constantly hungry? WTF? Statistically speaking more children is malnourished in Poland now than during 70' and 80'!
sa11y 5 | 331
17 Nov 2012 #25
Magdalena, i don't know where you lived, but I was never hungry or cold in Poland in 80's. I wasn't well dressed and fed with delicacies, but never cold or hungry. I was raised by a single mum (divorcee) in suburbia of a small town. No luxuries, but decent living. My father never contributed to my upbringing, my mum was all on her own, working a clerical job. So really, i don't know why you were hungry.

And I'm not saying that I'm worse off now, in fact I have a good life (and had good life in Poland before moving to South Africa), but comunism in terms of provision of basics really wasn't failing that badly.
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
17 Nov 2012 #26
Constantly hungry? WTF?

I didn't say I was freezing or starving. I just went around with a rather empty feeling in my stomach (of course, I had my fill of of potatoes, scrambled eggs, soup, some vegetarian dishes my mother used to make etc). But I absolutely craved meat (don't ask me why, but I did), and my mother pretty much refused to stand in line for hours for a pathetic piece of mangled meat on the bone. And because my winter clothes and shoes were not the best quality (to put it mildly), and living in Warsaw meant waiting at bus stops (sometimes for an hour, mostly over 20 minutes) - I was basically ill all the time from November to March. I do not look back with nostalgia.
Ironside 49 | 10,636
17 Nov 2012 #27
But I absolutely craved meat (don't ask me why, but I did), and my mother pretty much refused to stand in line for hours for a pathetic piece of mangled meat on the bone

Blame your mum!
I was hungry at times due to the fact that meat which supposed to be my feed was being thieved by thieving bastards. I was never hungry at home, I was fed lots of meat at home.

And because my winter clothes and shoes were not the best quality (to put it mildly), and living in Warsaw meant waiting at bus stops (sometimes for an hour, mostly over 20 minutes) - I

Hallo? You should-have moving-more, I used to walk from one bus stop to other, especially on freezing winter evening. It figures - you are cold during the winter,it has nothing to do with communism.

I do not look back with nostalgia.

Nevertheless majority of people have been screwed by the transformation.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254
17 Nov 2012 #28
Nevertheless majority of people have been screwed by the transformation.

What's interesting is who was doing the screwing at the time of the transformation. Certain holier-than-thou institutions did very well for themselves.
Zibi - | 336
17 Nov 2012 #29
Nevertheless majority of people have been screwed by the transformation.

I would say 25% or so at best. They all vote for PIS now.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254
17 Nov 2012 #30
They all vote for PIS now.

Who are more or less promising a return to Communist economics. And they wonder why businesses aren't supporting them?


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