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What are the things which cause culture shock in Poland?


Roger5 1 | 1,448
13 Aug 2015 #121
It's more common among older people, but it's considered bad luck. A couple of years ago I was conducting oral exams and I asked a young guy of about 21 if he was superstitious. He adamantly denied even the slightest superstitious trait. OK, I said, leave the room and come back in. When I extended my hand across the threshold he wouldn't take it. OK, he said, you got me.
Dolnoslask
13 Aug 2015 #122
Yep I tried to shake someones hand in the doorway last week and he told me its bad luck.

Must admit when i grew up in the polish community in the uk in the seventies i never came across it, maybe a new superstition or a Stalin thing like the pesel
bullfrog 6 | 602
13 Aug 2015 #123
Beefy guys in sandals and white socks

True but the originals are to be found in Germany!
ZEDman
13 Aug 2015 #124
"Stalin thing like the pesel"

Stalin had nothing to do with PESEL
Dolnoslask
13 Aug 2015 #125
ZEDman

The PESEL was the system designed by the communist government (during PRL) to trace a personal information about every citizen. Itself is the direct "child" of the previous system MAGISTER (called identically like msc. studies degree in Poland), which was designed to trace and record data about "most dangerous to system and communist power" people, which basically as a danger was treated everyone with university degree.[3]

Source Wikipedia (and my dad)

Who brought communism to Poland Stalin of course (You don't think we voted the communists in do you)
InPolska 9 | 1,816
14 Aug 2015 #126
There are a lot of things in Poland I still cannot get over. Maybe what strikes me the most is the large number of leg/arm amputations. We see for instance in Warsaw's Centrum area (in front of metro and of churches (for instance the one near the famous Rainbow) quite a few amputated people exhibiting their stumps in order to get a few coins from sympathetic passers by. As I first saw so many amputated people in Katowice, I first thought about victims of accidents in coal mines but in Warsaw, I see the same. So many men, women, including very young are amputated in Poland. Prior to coming to Poland, I had seen a few guys amputated because they had lost a limb in a WAR. Now, I know that they amputate a lot in Poland (a former colleague of mine, in her mid-20's at the time, got run over by a truck while crossing a street some 6 or 7 years ago. At the hospital (in Warsaw) doctors wanted to cut off her injured leg but the girl's parents refused and doctors did not (the girl is now fine and can walk with no problem) and that articifical legs/arms Poland are expensive and not paid by NFZ (same for amputated breasts in case of cancer, each breast costs some 10,000 - as a woman, I am sympathetic and feel concerned). I am personally scared that something happens to me and that doctors, choose the "easy way" and amputate me.....

Something much lighter that amazes me in Poland is the way small kids are dressed. Even as late as May, small kids are always over dressed, with ridiculous hats (I have never seen any such hats elsewhere), scarves, gloves, tights (boys as well, which I have never seen elsewhere since only girls wear tights in the West) on (even in temperatures like 18-20 ... ). A lot of people (including several Poles) told me that it is (+ poor diet) a main reason why kids are always sick in Poland during winter.

Another still lighter thing: no names on mailboxes

of course they are a lot of more examples of things that can "shock" me..
Roger5 1 | 1,448
14 Aug 2015 #127
tights (boys as well, which I have never seen elsewhere since only girls wear tights in the West)

It's funny you should say that, as only yesterday I saw 'Boys' tights' in Lidl. I had never seen these two words together before.

Another still lighter thing: no names on mailboxes

Why would there be? It just gives away private information.
InPolska 9 | 1,816
14 Aug 2015 #128
@Roger: it may be something regional (I have seen that in other countries in this part of Europe). Kids in general are overdressed in Poland. Kids don't need tights, scarves, hats, gloves and the like in April or May.

As to names, why should people be considered as mere numbers? ;). Why not, Mr. Kowalski rather than "number 47" (inside blocks of flats, NOT in case of individual houses)?. A lot of Poles even indicate their names on their doors ;). As to giving personal info, Poland has PESEL numbers for instance....

@Roger: you also have all those women (aged 45-50 on) wearing knee or ankle high socks with skirts/dresses. Their socks are of same material as regular "pantyhose" but they are socks and in case of knee-highs, whenever they raise their arms a little bit, we see that they wear socks). I have never seen this anywhere else (at least in Western countries). Girls and women (in the West) only wear such socks when wearing pants or leggings but never when wearing dresses or skirts (it would look like someone who has escaped from a ... mental ward)

In the same register, we have large shapeless skirts worn with large white short sleeved shirts not tucked in skirts. Here again, must be regional custom....
delphiandomine 88 | 18,163
14 Aug 2015 #129
@Roger: it may be something regional (I have seen that in other countries in this part of Europe). Kids in general are overdressed in Poland. Kids don't need tights, scarves, hats, gloves and the like in April or May.

One explanation my wife has is quite simple - the educated middle class elite was wiped out in WW2, leaving a class of people behind that would have regarded cold as the enemy as they wouldn't have been able to afford to heat their houses. That's why they also try and keep windows shut on trains in June, and why there are all those stupid myths about the cold causing sickness.

It does seem quite plausible...

The PESEL was the system designed by the communist government (during PRL) to trace a personal information about every citizen.

Actually, it's nothing really creepy. It was simply a way to introduce a unified population register, similar to the UK's national insurance number. It was introduced way after Stalinism, and wasn't used to control anyone.

Absolutely. I completely and totally agree with this - it's so unbelievably idiotic. The worst thing is that young people are guilty as well of doing it to their children. I keep seeing women dressed in very light clothes while the child is wrapped in a jacket, trousers and a hat!

Personally, I'm waiting for the day that some old person tries to tell me to dress my child properly. I'm looking forward to testing my range of Polish swear words ;)
Roger5 1 | 1,448
14 Aug 2015 #130
The worst thing is that young people are guilty as well of doing it to their children.

Can you imagine the stick young mums would get from their own mothers or mothers-in-law or passers-by if they didn't dress their kids like the Michelin man?

I don't watch Polish TV but when I happen to see it at a relative's house I can't believe the number of ads for OTC meds.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,163
14 Aug 2015 #131
Can you imagine the stick young mums would get from their own mothers or mothers-in-law or passers-by if they didn't dress their kids like the Michelin man?

I'm just begging for someone to say something, especially in spring/autumn. It's even dangerous - I've seen some children that were clearly overheating under all those clothes, yet the lightly dressed mother appeared to be oblivious to it. I noticed a particular trend (my work has a nursery attached to it) is for the grandmother to turn up, overdress the child completely, and then stuff a bread roll into the child's mouth. InPolska's comments about "bad diet" are all too true when you look at the garbage that the average Babcia buys in Biedronka. Nice prosciutto is out, and jumbo sized packages of parówki and 2 litre bottles of Cola with a huge bag of bread rolls are definitely in.

(thankfully my mother-in-law appears to be one of the few sane people in this country, as she mocks them as well)
Roger5 1 | 1,448
14 Aug 2015 #132
I really think family pressure is largely to blame for this (especially when the młoda para have been bought a flat). A young woman I know went for a picnic with several friends. The quite large group arrived in several vehicles. This was a very warm day a couple of summers ago. One young couple appeared to have come without their baby, and everyone else assumed that he had been left with his grandmother so his parents could have a break. They were shocked when, after about an hour, grandmother appeared from the couple's camper van with the baby dressed for Siberia, including hat and woolly tights.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,163
14 Aug 2015 #133
I really think family pressure is largely to blame for this

I think you're right, but I still can't understand why anyone would make their child suffer just because of what Babcia says.

I remember my boss telling the 11 year old girls in school to put their jackets on. I got a look from them that said "you must be kidding"... the jackets were removed two minutes later. I saw nothing ;) It was nearly 20c outside, but because it was October and therefore "it's cold".

It's a battle waged yearly, and the worst thing is that no-one thinks to ask the kids what they think. Fortunately, a few enlightened parents are very clear on the matter that their kid is perfectly capable of deciding for himself.
Roger5 1 | 1,448
14 Aug 2015 #134
It was nearly 20c outside, but because it was October and therefore "it's cold".

That reminds me of another thing I'll never get used to. I'm a wee bit photosensitive, and when in winter it's very bright I wear sunglasses. I get the strangest looks when I walk down the street. "Look! That madman is wearing sunglasses in January!"
Steveramsfan 2 | 306
14 Aug 2015 #135
I have seen this with the kids from UK parents too.
My Mum always asked if my nephews needed a jacket even when I was only wearing a T-Shirt.

My Parents have always told me it is a Grandparents right to buy the bad food and sweets for their Grandchildren.
They are not the bad guys when the Grandchildren are growing up. :)

@Delphiandomine

It is not a myth about being cold causing sickness.
It has happened to me more than once.
Being too hot also causes sickness too.
The body is working harder to heat / cool itself so the immune system looses some of its ability to fight bugs.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,163
14 Aug 2015 #136
That reminds me of another thing I'll never get used to. I'm a wee bit photosensitive, and when in winter it's very bright I wear sunglasses. I get the strangest looks when I walk down the street. "Look! That madman is wearing sunglasses in January!"

Me too! I'm always wearing them, especially as winters in Poland tend to be bright and clear - if the sun is shining, why wouldn't I wear sunglasses?

My Parents have always told me it is a Grandparents right to buy the bad food and sweets for their Grandchildren.

Wow. I wouldn't agree, and if they insisted, they wouldn't see the children.

It is not a myth about being cold causing sickness.

It's a huge myth! Cold air cannot by itself cause sickness - you need to come into contact with the germs in question. Otherwise, if it were true, how could anyone work in a cold environment?

The body is working harder to heat / cool itself so the immune system looses some of its ability to fight bugs.

It still requires contact with the bugs in order to infect. Bear in mind that some of the responses to heat/cold are absolutely normal physiologically and the response by itself is a good sign that everything is working well.

I drive to work in shorts in the middle of winter (it's warm in work, why dress for about 20 seconds outside?) and I don't get sick - my only problems come in autumn and spring with sinusitis and the dramatic change of temperatures in Poland.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,862
14 Aug 2015 #137
Even as late as May, small kids are always over dressed, with ridiculous hats (I have never seen any such hats elsewhere), scarves, gloves, tights (boys as well, which I have never seen elsewhere since only girls wear tights in the West)

Gosh that is so true - my Polish in laws thought I was terrible for not dressing my children with scarves wrapped around their necks and crossed across their chests,, tights for boys (yes) and all the rest of it. And that would be in about May....:)

Oh and the fuss over a kid eating a bit of fruit with peel OMG - my sister in law would carefully peel some grapes and an apple and cut them into tiny pieces, before her kid could eat them....such a faff..but it was this faff that made her a 'good parent' apparently....
InPolska 9 | 1,816
14 Aug 2015 #138
@Rozu! why is it NOT true just because in your family it's different? First of all, read title of thread! ;). And YES compared to where I am from, kids in Poland are OVERDRESSED when the weather is not cold. Where I am from, I have NEVER seen kids whih hats, gloves, scarves, tights (even boys in Poland ;)) on when it's 18 or 20. We dress kids like that (boys do NOT wear tights ;)) when it's close to 0°.

The thread deals with what is different from Poland compared to our own culture and not with the situation with your sister-in-law ;);)
jon357 74 | 22,054
14 Aug 2015 #139
The peel is the healthiest bit! Yes, I've seen not only kids wrapped up like Nanook of The North in late spring or early Autumn. Also people don't undo their coat on public transport. A kid in the UK would get a thick ear for this, assuming that's still allowed, ("eeh, tha' dun't get t'benefit of it"). Just the same with adults who stay wrapped up, even indoors. It can't be healthier, judging by the number of people who are przeziebione for so much of the winter and the queues in the chemist.

There's something among the middle classes about coffee and kids. They don't seem to let them have it, even very mild coffee.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,862
14 Aug 2015 #140
You do read English right inPolska?
I suggest you have a more careful read of my post before throwing your toys out of the pram.
I was agreeing with you, fgs.

'GOSH THAT IS SO TRUE - is that not clear for you?

If you have problems with English comprehension, read twice before replying.
or dont bother posting. Or take some English lessons.

I know it is early - find your glasses.
Roger5 1 | 1,448
14 Aug 2015 #141
There's something among the middle classes about coffee and kids. They don't seem to let them have it, even very mild coffee.

Why give stimulants to children? They're nuts enough already. Anyway, it's an adult taste, like booze. Having said that, a friend of mine who is a complete caffeine addict and didn't stop when pregnant gave birth to a child who insisted on sips of coffee as soon as she could.
InPolska 9 | 1,816
14 Aug 2015 #142
@Rozu: sorry, I MISread "so" by "NOT" ;). As thread is about personal experiences, Esquimos for instance could think Polish kids are UNDERdressed ;). I do agree when it's cold, kids need to wear scarves, hats, gloves, heavy coasts, warm shoes... but when it's like 18° kids don't need to be overdressed like most kids are. I've seen several Western kids living in Poland (= living in same climate as Polish kids ;)) dressed the way most kids are dressed in Western winters and guess what, Western kids are not or very rarely sick in winter. Most probably by being overdressed all the times, Polish kids are not trained to fight against cold... I myself am never wrapped up the way Poles are and all the time their first sentence to me is: "aren't you cold?" ;). Sometimes I even walk around with bare legs underneath my pants when there is snow....

Yes, even if temperature is 18 but it's in April or October, kids shall be dressed like in winter and until let's say mid May most wear hats down to their throats, tied around their necks in order to keep the ears very warm ;). Nevertheless most Polish kids are always sick in winter so overdressing is not the answer. Sometimes, it's even hot, I see mothers who are almost naked but the kids are dressed like in winter .... I assume it's "peasant' (normal and not insulting meaning) peasant's" culture
delphiandomine 88 | 18,163
14 Aug 2015 #143
peel some grapes

HOW DO YOU PEEL GRAPES?!

But yes, this mollycoddling is ridiculous.

(boys do NOT wear tights ;))

I don't understand it at all :D Have you ever visited a Polish nursery? You'll often see boys running around in those dreadful boy tights and a t-shirt. What's wrong with a pair of trousers or shorts?

Sometimes, it's even hot, I see mothers who are almost naked but the kids are dressed like in winter .... I assume it's "peasant' (normal and not insulting meaning) peasant's" culture

I'm pretty sure it's exactly that. If you think about times of old - peasants wouldn't have had heating, so keeping the doors and windows closed and wrapping up warmly would have been the only way to fight the cold.
InPolska 9 | 1,816
14 Aug 2015 #144
@Delph: Yes, boys here wear tights. I've seen that too in "Yugoslavia" (I mean before their war in early 1990's) and with Russian kids in Poland so I think it could be something of this part of Europe. Even in Poland, I would never put a pair of tights to a boy... I guess something cultural.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,163
14 Aug 2015 #145
Even in Poland, I would never put a pair of tights to a boy

Likewise, never ever ever. Unless he was becoming an athlete, in which case, it's acceptable.
InPolska 9 | 1,816
14 Aug 2015 #146
@Delph: or a ballet dancer :).

Personally if I had raised kids in Poland, they would not have been dressed and raised the Polish way ;)
rozumiemnicc
14 Aug 2015 #147
well I used to slip a pair of baby tights onto my little boy, under his trackies. Stopped the 'falling off sock problem' you see..:)

And that was in UK!
InPolska 9 | 1,816
14 Aug 2015 #148
@Rozu: maybe to a baby but here boys are 5, 6, 8, even older and they do. It seems that Westerners don't
Steveramsfan 2 | 306
14 Aug 2015 #149
It's a huge myth! Cold air cannot by itself cause sickness - you need to come into contact with the germs in question. Otherwise, if it were true, how could anyone work in a cold environment?

I have seen people sleep outside and wake up with a really bad fever, I myself have also woken with a very high fever from being exposed to cold temperatures. No bugs involved and I was back to normal within about 36 hours.

I have lived and worked in very cold temperatures and very hot temperatures and I have been sick due to this numerous times but carried on working.

It is not a myth and letting yourself get cold for no good reason is not a good idea.
rozumiemnicc
14 Aug 2015 #150
oh. Well no I wouldn't have done it to an older boy....:P


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