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Require a few pointers on Do's and Dont's in Poland


Cipher 1 | 4
30 May 2012 #1
I am planning to visit a very good friend of mine in Warsaw. I heard from one of our mutual friends here that she wanted to hold my hand when walking in the streets of Warsaw. Since I am of East Indian descent, I am not sure about how the locals will view it.

I had an experience in China, when one of my friends held my hand and she was verbally abused by the taxi-driver in Chinese on why "she is holding the hands of a foreigner". The poor girl took it and never told me anything till we reached home. Since I didn't understand Chinese, I thought that the taxi driver was just having a conversation with her. Basically I don't want a repeat of the same incident in Poland.

I don't want to ask my polish friend about this because I know what her response will be "that everything is ok in Poland". And I know that she will say that coz the Pollacks I know in Alberta are very hospitable, have a very warm generous spirit and are quite polite, to say the least. But I don't want a few bad apples in Warsaw spoiling the trip by being rude to her since she is with me. That is why I am asking it in a forum since I hope that all you guys/gals will give me a totally unbiased opinion based on your experiences of living in Warsaw

And any other pointers on do's and don'ts in public too will be highly appreciated.....

Thanks in advance.
pawian 195 | 19,939
31 May 2012 #2
The poor girl took it and never told me anything till we reached home.

Spelling mistake? Do you mean told me or hold me ?
Paulina 13 | 3,843
31 May 2012 #3
From my observation people of different skin colour feel pretty comfortable in Warsaw. But I guess someone who lives there will know better than me.

Don't call Poles "Pollacks" and you should be fine lol ;)
pawian 195 | 19,939
31 May 2012 #4
And any other pointers on do’s and don’ts in public too will be highly appreciated…..

Don`t pick your nose or ear in public.

If you do, do it discreetly, but never ever raise your hand to look at the stuff you pick up.

Don't call Poles "Pollacks" and you should be fine lol ;)

Calling Pollaks in Poland Pollacks is OK. :):):):)
Trevek 26 | 1,702
31 May 2012 #5
Don't say "dziękuję" ("thank you") when paying for something until you get your change... it means "keep the change".

Other than that, I'd suggest following the normal conventions of most countries. Don't go into churches with short shorts.

I live in northern Poland and we have a number of Arabian students. Some of these have Polish girlfriends and walk publically on the street with little or no problem.
Paulina 13 | 3,843
31 May 2012 #6
Calling Pollaks in Poland Pollacks is OK. :):):):)

No, it isn't ;) In Polish it's "Polacy" :) Poles don't like being called "Polacken" by Germans and those who know English and know something about American culture often don't like word "Pollacks". I don't like it :) So it's always better to keep this in mind when in Poland, just in case.
OP Cipher 1 | 4
31 May 2012 #7
Just meant that she kind of listened to what the taxi driver said and never told me anything till we reached home. Thats what I wanted to convey :)

And thank you, Paulina and Trevek.... Since here in Alberta sometimes we refer to Poles as Pollacks. I assumed it was alright to refer that way. Thank you again for clearing up my misconception :)....
Alligator - | 261
31 May 2012 #8
Pawian, you little...
and Cipher, such an innocent soul.
Paulina 13 | 3,843
31 May 2012 #9
And thank you, Paulina and Trevek.... Since here in Alberta sometimes we refer to Poles as Pollacks. I assumed it was alright to refer that way. Thank you again for clearing up my misconception :)....

No problem :)
jasondmzk
31 May 2012 #10
The chicks aren't as glad-handed in Poland. Don't go to shake a girl's hand on meeting her, unless she offers hers first.
OP Cipher 1 | 4
31 May 2012 #11
Hmmm...that is something I learnt now. Thank you, Jason, for that pointer.

Do you think it might be better to get the Lonely Planet Book to have a read through about Poland before I travel on its customs & socially acceptable behaviour since what seems socially acceptable here (Like the handshaking you mentioned) might seem rude or offensive.
jasondmzk
31 May 2012 #12
Do you think it might be better to get the Lonely Planet Book to have a read through

It couldn't hurt. But not everything you hear is on the money. I read never to give red flowers, because it represented the Soviet era. My Polish wife has never heard of that.
Vincent 9 | 924 Moderator
31 May 2012 #13
Do you think it might be better to get the Lonely Planet Book to have a read through about Poland before I travel on its customs & socially acceptable behaviour since what seems socially acceptable here (Like the handshaking you mentioned) might seem rude or offensive.

Have a read through this thread as well, and don't be surprised if your thread get merged into it :) https://polishforums.com/life/culture-dont-19366/
Paulina 13 | 3,843
31 May 2012 #14
since what seems socially acceptable here (Like the handshaking you mentioned) might seem rude or offensive.

Handshaking isn't definitely rude or offensive, jasondmzk is exaggerating a bit, I think ;) People in Poland are in general less outgoing and probably more shy than in the US and Canada and I guess less touching is involved as far as strangers are concerned or people you just met.

If you're young and you're meeting young people you don't have to necessarily shake hands (you can just say "Hi!" or wave your hand or whatever) but you can. Introduce yourself, extend your hand and the other person will shake it, no matter whether it's a man or a woman. Even in case of adults you don't have to necessarily shake hands, you can just say "Dzień dobry" and nod your head or sth.

But shaking hands is normal and acceptable. I wouldn't make a big deal about it ;)
jasondmzk
31 May 2012 #15
I wouldn't make a big deal about it

Yeah, I wouldn't sweat it, per se, but it IS different than in North America.
Paulina 13 | 3,843
31 May 2012 #16
In what way? I hope you didn't get slapped in the face for shaking some girl's hand? ;D

Hmm, well, when I think about it, Polish girls and women aren't probably used to shaking hands as much as Polish men. Polish men shake their hands, but not so much with women. And women usually don't shake hands of other women, unless it's some official or businesslike situation.

I guess unconsciously we consider it "a man's gesture" ;)
jasondmzk
31 May 2012 #17
I hope you didn't get slapped in the face for shaking some girl's hand?

Ha! Nah, and I shook a lotta mitts before I ran into one that didn't wanna be shook (shaken?). For my first three months in Wro, I had a flatmate, and in the third month his gf (?) popped up. I don't know if she was his girlfriend, because they didn't speak a lick of English, but I assumed she was, and I extended my hand automatically. She stared at my awaiting paw like it was a dead rat. I just stood there, arm out, smiling awkwardly. Finally, after an excruciating wait, she gingerly cupped a couple of fingers and mincingly wiggled my hand. I was offended. My dad taught me that you ALWAYS take a proffered hand, even from Satan himself. I went to my girlfriend's, and shared the incident. She laughed and said, "We don't all do that shakey-handy stuff, here." I felt like a dork.
Paulina 13 | 3,843
31 May 2012 #18
She stared at my awaiting paw like it was a dead rat. I just stood there, arm out, smiling awkwardly. Finally, after an excruciating wait, she gingerly cupped a couple of fingers and mincingly wiggled my hand.

Haha, that must've been an awkward situation, I feel for you ;D

My dad taught me that you ALWAYS take a proffered hand, even from Satan himself.

Of course, that girl was either rude or weird :P Or you somehow caught her by surprise and she was in some utter shock, I really don't know how to explain this xD

You always shake an extended hand, always - it's just basic manners ;)
OP Cipher 1 | 4
31 May 2012 #19
Thank you, Vincent. That thread was quite interesting :)

Hahaha....Jason. the way you narrated the handshaking incident bought a smile to my face :). You, Sir, do have a gift with words :)

And, I will keep what you say in mind, Paulina, when I go to Warsaw in June. Am looking forward to the trip :)
strzyga 2 | 993
31 May 2012 #20
Nothing wrong with handshaking, it's just that between a man and a woman the woman should initiate it so a man stretching out his hand first may be considered rude or bad mannered. Young people don't always observe the rule but, like Jason, you may find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Among guys it's ok.
Paulina 13 | 3,843
31 May 2012 #21
Jason. the way you narrated the handshaking incident bought a smile to my face :). You, Sir, do have a gift with words :)

I agree, it made me laugh too :)

Am looking forward to the trip :)

Have a great time! :)

it's just that between a man and a woman the woman should initiate it so a man stretching out his hand first may be considered rude or bad mannered

Never heard of it o_O It's definitely not like that where I live (Southern Poland). God, I would never consider a man stretching out his hand first rude or bad mannered - quite the opposite! xD

Strzyga, where do you live?
strzyga 2 | 993
1 Jun 2012 #22
Never heard of it o_O It's definitely not like that where I live (Southern Poland). God, I would never consider a man stretching out his hand first rude or bad mannered - quite the opposite! xDStrzyga, where do you live?

It's not where I live, it's the good old rules of savoir-vivre, dying fast nowadays, at least in informal relations and among the younger generation. Still, they remain valid in business, diplomacy and formal situations and some people do observe them in everyday living.
Paulina 13 | 3,843
1 Jun 2012 #23
Oh, OK :)
Well, then I guess some rules should die out, at least that one with a man stretching out his hand first being rude or bad mannered, because that's just silly, in my opinion ;)
OP Cipher 1 | 4
5 Jun 2012 #24
Thank you, Paulina & Strzyga for giving me an insight into the handshaking paradox :)

Anyway, just wanted to let you know that next week I will be in Warsaw but i think I will err in the side of caution though. It will be a good break to go into warm weather from all this snowing ...... :)

Coming to this site after a while so thought I will update the people who helped me out (regarding polish customs) about my trip to Warsawa and Skierniwisa (where her parents live). :)

It was interesting to say the least. People were very friendly and no....people were actually ok to shake hands :). There were two times I felt a bit odd. One was in Skierniwisa when some old people walking down the street kept totally staring at me. So, I just smiled and waved at them. I think they were quite shocked to see that :).And the other was in Warsawa (near the place where they had the dancing fountains), when a drunk guy wanted to shake hands with me, but my friend told him something in Polish and after that he went and banged his head against the wall. I was quite shocked about that but she told me he is kuku...I think he had a pint too many though.

All in all, it was a fun trip . So, just thought I will pop by to say Hi and thanks for all your inputs :)....
catsoldier 62 | 595
21 Jul 2012 #25
All in all, it was a fun trip . So, just thought I will pop by to say Hi and thanks for all your inputs :)....

That was great, that you had a fun trip. :-)


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