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Concerns of a Swede who is about to go to Poland for work


Swedishstudent
13 Apr 2015 #1
Greetings
As my concerns are of a more general character, i post it in this suv forum to avoid posting in several subforums.

I am a 22 yeArs old student from Sweden. I study civil engineering and im about to finish My bachelor degree. Before going on to study masters degree, i have some plans to do something different for a year. So o thought of Poland.

I was i Warsaw last fall, and i absoloutly loved it. Cheap alcohol, wonderful women, and in general a good feeling about the country.

As i am multilangual(Swedish, german english), and combined with My technical background, i am apparantly in demand on the polish Job market. I had no problem in getting the interest of several companies.

I have now been offered a job in Krakow. The salary is 5500 PLN gross. I do have several concerns though:

-i was born and raised in Sweden, but My parents are immigrants from the middle East. I have light scin, but also some dark features(eyes and hair). I have heard that tjere is some racism amongst the older community in Poland. Now, i dont expect any red carpet for me and to be loved by everyone. But how do you estimate any eventual unpleasent experience on racial grounds?

-even though i study, i have some part time jobs, and im used to a good income. On an average month, i earn 15000 swedish krona gross, which is about 7000 PLN, which is higher than the offer i am getting in Krakow. With 5500 PLN gross, how good can one live?

Thank you for taking your time.
Wulkan - | 3,243
13 Apr 2015 #2
i was born and raised in Sweden, but My parents are immigrants from the middle East. I have light scin, but also some dark features(eyes and hair). I have heard that tjere is some racism amongst the older community in Poland.

Leave alone your race, even some native Poles could pass as middle east by appearance. It's more about your religion in this case...
OP Swedishstudent
13 Apr 2015 #3
@wulcan: i didnt think it would be a matter of concern, but i am christian catholic.
Gosc123456
13 Apr 2015 #4
@Swede: Forget about your Swedish salary and other Swedish benefits if you come to Poland! The living standard is of course much lower in Poland and there is no welfare (here people rely on the family not on the state). Like post above, your different religion may be a "problem" as Poles are not crazy about non Catholics and specially Muslims. Most Poles see Muslims as potential terrorists ;(.

PS: Since you don't speak Polish, how can you have a 'positive' (or "negative") feeling about Poland? In order to really know a population, isn't it necessary to have a fair command of the language?
Wulkan - | 3,243
13 Apr 2015 #5
but i am christian catholic.

So why you write such a big post and don't mention such an important detail?
OP Swedishstudent
13 Apr 2015 #6
@gosc

Well, i dont really rely on the swedish state(as the matter of fact, 33% of My monthly income goes to the state, not the other way around).

As for My living standards, i live quite humbly. My days consist of school-work-training. I go out to drink about 3-4 Times a month. Not a big fan of eating outside, i like to Cook My own healthy food. Never had a need for latest electronics(still on My iPhone 4, works fine ;) ). Would 5500 PLN gross be compatible with My lifestyle?

Well, i was there for 1 week and got a really good feeling. I could of course be wrong, but im a "gut" person :).

@wulcan, well, as i said, i didnt think that would be of concern. Apparantly i was wrong :). In Sweden, nobody cares about religion as 80% of the population subscribe to "atheism".
Gosc123456
13 Apr 2015 #7
@Swede; I am NOT saying that you do rely on Sweden's welfate state ;). I'm just saying that in Poland there is nothing (let's compare with generous western countries such as Scandinavia and France, just to mention the most generous) and in case of a problem, if no family that can help, it's rough and you must know it. People in Poland rely on family when problems.
jon357 70 | 19,568
13 Apr 2015 #8
@Swede, you'll be fine. People in big cities aren't negatively interested in other people's skin tone (though avoiding bad areas at night is always a good idea whether you stand out or you don't); people are nominally Catholic but most don't go to mass regularly, especially the educated and city dwellers (though in central Krakow you'll easily be able to find a church that isn't ultra-conservative) and in Warsaw and Krakow people are very used to foreigners.

That amount of money is ok for a 23 year old however you should be aware that many of your peers wil rent rooms in flats rather than have their own place.

By the way, there's a vast welfare state in PL ( the EU compared it to Sweden's) however it is very underfunded, the amounts of money/resources are small and it tends to be a large town/city thing for reasons to do with the way it's funded.
Gosc123456
13 Apr 2015 #9
@Jon: In Poland, the "welfare" system is purely symbolic and no one can and does rely on it. In some countries in Western Europe, one can sit at home while getting some 1,000 euros/month as people get money to raise their children, to pay for their flats... In Poland there is nothing comparable and no need to mention "renta", retirement or unemployment benefits which are nothing but symbolic. FYI, renta rodzina is for instance 757 ZL (as of 1.03.2015), etc etc and no one can "live" on that...... If no family's backing, it's starvation...
jon357 70 | 19,568
13 Apr 2015 #10
@Gosc, I'd say it's far from symbolic, especially for those who depend on the money and on the other services provided like community nursing and social housing. The problem is that it's spread very thinly and depends on voluntary sector support to prop it up.

This won't be a problem for the OP though - the job he's been offered pays around the average. Plenty of opportunities for him to do some volunteering though and that of course is a good way to pick up the language.
Gosc123456
13 Apr 2015 #11
@Jon: Most probably you have no concrete experience but trust me, no one can live with a few hundreds of ZL per month, which is the case of "welfare" récipients in Poland. If they do not have family's support, they just die (or move West). How many Polish retirees have to beg or sell garlic in towns' main streets? Sorry, but we don't see that in Western Europe...

But never mind, it does snot concern the author of the post but leaving Sweden for Poland is probably not very smart but I the guy is still Young so after 6 months or 1 year, he'll move to better place..
jon357 70 | 19,568
13 Apr 2015 #12
Hi Gosc, I probably have more experience than you think on this matter. Remember welfare isn't just the money (though many people DO have to survive on it) and don't "just die". It involves a whole tranche of services including housing, food stamps, medical services, social care etc.

Hard to see how this is relevant to the OP though who is most concerned about whether his appearance and cultural background will cause a problem. I'd say no, not in Krakow which is fairly cosmopolitan and has residents from many cultures and religions.

It is however something of a 'closed' city (c.f.York) and I've always found Warsaw people to be more open and sociable if not always initially polite. As a very young person who doesn't speak the language this shouldn't be too much of an issue.
Roger5 1 | 1,455
13 Apr 2015 #13
If they do not have family's support, they just die (or move West). How many Polish retirees have to beg or sell garlic in towns' main streets?

Nobody dies of starvation on Polish streets. I live near a small (30,000 pop.) town in eastern Poland and I honestly can't remember the last time I saw a beggar here. The family is indeed a very important safety net in Poland, but you grossly overstate the problems you highlight. I sometimes have lunch in a place where poor people use MOPS vouchers to get a very good meal every day. The big cities in Poland have the usual big city problems, but a country's big cities are never a reflection of the wider country. This is not India.
OP Swedishstudent
13 Apr 2015 #14
@jon357

Thank you for clearing that up! I didnt actually think My background would be a problem, but i was undure as you hear rumors..

My Only concern left is the salary.. I have read about it in several threads, and there seems to be divided opinions. While some say its good enough to live well, other are suggesting that one will struggle to make ends meet. As i said, the Only "luxury" i need is going out once a week. Ideally, i would like to have a place of My own..

Thank you for all the responses!
Polsyr 6 | 769
13 Apr 2015 #15
My Only concern left is the salary

Many people have a similar salary and they are doing fine. You can always adjust your lifestyle to fit within your income.

And regarding racism, it is not a problem in bigger towns like Krakow or Warsaw, and even in smaller towns, people may stare or be curious if you look very different, but things rarely go beyond that. Like jon357 said earlier, use common sense. Avoid bad areas, especially at night. Avoid groups of drunk young men, especially gatherings associated with football and around nightclubs. Avoid demonstrations. Etc Etc Etc.

By the way, before someone jumps to tell me that I don't know what I am talking about, I live in Poland with my family and I have Middle Eastern heritage.

I never experienced anything negative due to my heritage. And I spend about 50% of my working hours in small towns. The most intense thing I ever experienced due to my heritage was intense curiosity :)
OP Swedishstudent
13 Apr 2015 #16
I would thank you all Again for kind responses. There more i think about it, the more i am leaning towards declining. Even though money is not My Main motivation, the salary is just too low. Also, i feel like a IT-support Job wont do too good on My CV. Maybe its better to just finish My last 2 years of study and continue My part time Job which pays good and is relevant to My education.

Its really unfortunate, because i really liked the country. Especially the women. Even though we dont lack beautiful women in Sweden(on the contrary), the women in Poland were special in a Way. Also, i liked the more conservative mentality, which we totally have lost in Sweden.
Lyzko 33 | 7,991
13 Apr 2015 #17
You intend eventually to learn the language, I take it? Swedish, English and German are all fine within the EU itself, however, they won't help you all that much in Poland:-)

On the other hand, the more ahistorical, culturally deficient etc. the world is fast becoming, I frankly don't believe anyone would notice the bleedin' difference if you spoke "good" English in Poland or not. "Adequate" would most likely do just fine.

I'm not discouraging you from your job search, quite the contrary. I'm only bringing to light some of my own thoughts (..for whatever they're worth).
OP Swedishstudent
14 Apr 2015 #18
@Lyzko

All input is of value :). I have a rule of thumb: if one intends to stay in a country for more than 1 year, this person should learn the domestic language. This rule applies to me as well :)

Initially, i intended to stay for 1 year, so i see no point in learning the language. The main reason for me to go was to get a change of climate, party, and attraktive women.

I have already found a job, but the pay is a bit too low, so i will most probably decline it.
DominicB - | 2,709
14 Apr 2015 #19
Even though money is not My Main motivation, the salary is just too low. Also, i feel like a IT-support Job wont do too good on My CV.

You're two main considerations should be 1) savings potential in absolute dollars; and 2) career advancement. You are correct that this job would not help you achieve either goal. Unless it's at a very high level, IT support is the cotton picking of the 21st century. It will do little to advance your long-term career goals.

I was i Warsaw last fall, and i absoloutly loved it. Cheap alcohol, wonderful women, and in general a good feeling about the country.

There is a big difference between visiting Poland and living there long-term.

As i am multilangual(Swedish, german english), and combined with My technical background, i am apparantly in demand on the polish Job market. I had no problem in getting the interest of several companies.

There is a big difference between finding a job and finding one that pays well and advances your career or educational goals. As for the salary, it is about the maximum you can expect on the Polish job market. You would be able to lead the lifestyle you mention, but forget about substantial savings. That is, unless you get carried away with the wine and women, in which case you may have trouble making ends meet.

Before going on to study masters degree, i have some plans to do something different for a year. So o thought of Poland.

There are less productive ways of spending a gap year working in Poland. On the other hand, there are plenty of more attractive options. Explore those instead.

I study civil engineering and im about to finish My bachelor degree. Before going on to study masters degree

Consider doing your masters in petroleum or geological engineering. Job prospects, lifetime earning potential and lifetime savings potential are stellar, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. These fields are also recession-proof, unlike many other areas of civil engineering.

I would normally advise against a gap year unless it is spent productively advancing your career and beefing up your skills and qualifications. Unfortunately, as I said, your year in Poland with this offer would just be an extended vacation that puts your life on hold for a year. Don't waste your gap year on "cheap alcohol and attractive women", and don't go on "gut feelings" or silly romantic assumptions. Figure out the actual costs and benefits in terms of dollars and cents, both short-term and long-term.
OP Swedishstudent
14 Apr 2015 #20
@DominicB

Your post just summarized what my"head-brain" is telling me on this issue. I know that from a career standpoint, going to Poland isnt the wisest thing to do.

But my "gut-brain" (which by the way is all to often responsible for me getting carried away by wine and women ;)) is telling me to go.

If however 5500 PLN gross is a maximum, then my head brain is looking to win this one.

Well, at the very least, i have a wonderful country to go to vacations to now and then :)
Gosc123456
14 Apr 2015 #21
Witam! Thanks for realistic comments from Dominik! I agree that coming to Poland to a lousy job and to make peanuts would not help career development and would not add anything to a cv (on the contrary). Besides, judging life in a country based upon a short vacation more especially when not speaking a single word of local language does not show .... intelligence. Spending a vacation and living in a place are 2 completely different experiences. There are a lot of places I enjoy as a tourist but I would never consider living there. As to Polish "culture", if we refer to Polish tv programs (same sh###t as elsewhere) and to Fakt (Springer) and Super Express, which are by far the most read daily newspapers in Poland, it is not "superior' to what we have everywhere. And re women, Polish women l(like most women) prefer guys with thick wallets, being from the West is no longer the no. criterion ;).
DominicB - | 2,709
14 Apr 2015 #22
And re women, Polish women l(like most women) prefer guys with thick wallets, being from the West is no longer the no. criterion ;).

That's correct. Maybe fifteen, twenty years ago, being Swedish would be a selling point, but not now that Poland is in the EU. One of the elements of Polish culture is that the women are rather mercenary and concerned more than anything else about financial security. A generalization, I know, but as a rule, it's true.

Well, at the very least, i have a wonderful country to go to vacations to now and then :)

If however 5500 PLN gross is a maximum

It's actually quite a bit higher than I would expect for an unspecialized IT support job.

I think you will enjoy Poland more as an occasional vacationer with a fat Western paycheck than as a resident with a skinny Polish paycheck.

But my "gut-brain" (which by the way is all to often responsible for me getting carried away by wine and women ;)) is telling me to go.

Trust your "head-brain" on this one.
Gosc123456
14 Apr 2015 #23
If a long vacation, why not going South (Mediterranean Coast, Croatia, Greece....)? If just to f... around, better to be in the sun rather than in grey Poland. Wine is also much cheaper in Southern Europe (a bottle of red wine may cost as little as some 2 Euros in Italy). In Poland, wine is very expensive ;).
OP Swedishstudent
14 Apr 2015 #24
@gosc

I do visit greece for vacation at least once a year. But i like to travel, and beach and sun gets boring in the long run. Thats why i like to visit other european countries :)

As for the women, i never thought of my nationality as a pitching point, neither my wallet as i didnt intend to develope any deep relationships, If you understand ;)
Gosc123456
14 Apr 2015 #25
@Swede: you may look for a job in a resort for the summer (I know some Poles who do, they work in the Alps in winter and in Spain in summer) and get tons of fun. You may also travel further than Europe (not necessarily very expensive). As to your wallet, most Polish women will consider it ;) and wine is very expensive in Poland....
DominicB - | 2,709
14 Apr 2015 #26
I do visit greece for vacation at least once a year. But i like to travel, and beach and sun gets boring in the long run.

I studied in Greece, on Crete. The tourists stay almost entirely along the coast. The interior of the island is gorgeous, with it's tiny villages each with it's own style of wine, olives and cheese. Plus there are several breathtaking canyons where you can hike all day and see precious few other people.

I also spent a vacation in Macedonia, and would love to go back. The lakes are spectacular, and your money will go a lot further than it will in Poland. The food and wine were spectacular, too.
Ziemowit 13 | 4,311
14 Apr 2015 #27
even though i study, i have some part time jobs, and im used to a good income. On an average month, i earn 15000 swedish krona gross, which is about 7000 PLN, which is higher than the offer i am getting in Krakow. With 5500 PLN gross, how good can one live?

as the matter of fact, 33% of My monthly income goes to the state, not the other way around

Then your monthly Swedish income is: 7000 PLN - 2310 PLN [33% tax] = 4 690 PLN net.

Now your Polish income: 5 500 ZL a month is 66 000 ZL per year; such income entitles you to a 18% tax rate (applicable for the income less than 85528 ZL a year). With the 3090 ZL tax allowance you will have: 66 000 - 3 090 [tax allowance] = 62 910 - 11 327 [18% tax rate] = 51 583 / 12 month = 4 300 ZL net a month.

4 300 PLN isn't that much less than 4 700 PLN. And given that prices of food and services are most probably lower in Poland than in Sweden, it will even leave with a comparable if not higher net income in Poland than in Sweden.
DominicB - | 2,709
14 Apr 2015 #28
You're forgetting that a foreigner living in Poland cannot live as cheaply as a Pole living in Poland. Losing your home-court advantage comes with a cost, probably one that largely offsets the difference in cost of living, at least until you spend a couple of years in the country, learn the ropes and make useful contacts that can save you a heap of money.
Ziemowit 13 | 4,311
14 Apr 2015 #29
You're forgetting that a foreigner living in Poland cannot live as cheaply as a Pole living in Poland.

No, I'm not forgetting it at all. The plain truth is that a Pole can actually live much more cheaply as that. 4 300 net a month in Poland is a rather good income which - given the lifestyle this Swedish student declares - will enable him to live a pretty comfortable life here in Poland.

Remember that he is not in the habit of going out to a pub virtually every night as seem to do many of the Brit Boys Club members of the PF
jon357 70 | 19,568
14 Apr 2015 #30
In Poland, wine is very expensive ;)

It's actually quite cheap in Poland, Pigsy, certainly cheaper than the OP is used to in Sweden.

You're forgetting that a foreigner living in Poland cannot live as cheaply as a Pole living in Poland. Losing your home-court advantage comes with a cost, probably one that largely offsets the difference in cost of living,

This is very true and something that people often forget. A Pole living as a sloik in Kraków or Warsaw just needs to pay for a train or even a bus ticket to visit family for a weekend. A foreigner has a longer and more expensive journey. Plus, if you move abroad, you might as well be able to enjoy all the benefits of your new home instead of wondering if you can afford to eat out somewhere nice.

Trust your "head-brain" on this one

On this we differ. Very few 90 year olds wish they'd worked longer as a suited monkey making the stockholders of some corporation even richer or yearn to have studied financial whatever instead of Art, Literature, History or Music or Maths. If in doubt, following your heart is usually a good choice (or at least a more interesting one) and if you like a place and have a chance to live there for a while, why not? Though yes, Poland is far lower down in the international joie de vivre rankings than Greece or Spain :-)

Remember that he is not in the habit of going out to a pub virtually every night as seem to do many of the Brit Boys Club members of the PF

No such club (except maybe in your 'mind') and I doubt many of the posters here who are originally from Britain go to the pub "virtually every night". And if any do, why the hell shouldn't they?


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