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Advice needed for a French student on living in Katowice for a semester


Bandecdc 1 | 2
6 Jul 2014  #1
Hi everyone ! =)

My name is Jonathan, I'm 25 and I'm a french student. I will be attending a semester from september to january 2015 at the University of Economics in Katowice. The thing is, I don't know much about Katowice, or polish or even Poland for that matter . So I'd like some pieces of advice on how to absorb this whole new culture and what should I keep in mind and avoid.

Don't get me wrong, I have already done a significant amount of research on Polish culture and the city and I'm also willing to learn the Polish language. The main aim of my approach is to prepare my journey as good as I can, so here is a few questions you might help me with.

First of all, how easy is it for a french student to rent a flat downtown for only 3-4 months ? I already booked a dormitory near the university but I'm considering all the options because the room is double and I'd much rather live alone, even for such a short period. Money is not a problem since I make a good living here and I can afford a decent appartement, however I read somewhere that it can be tricky because owners don't make it easy for foreigners who do not plan to stay for a long time.

I also read that polish people, especially young people, speak an OK english in big cities. But is it the case in Katowice as well ? How about french ? Again, I don't speak polish at all (exept for the word "kurwa" of course ;p) and even if I did take a class that teach the basics, I'm afraid I'll need a long time before I'll be able to hold a conversation properly. By the way, if you know a website that could teach me some survival words, I would gladly spend some time on it.

Third question : what are the major cultural differences between Poland and France ? I mean for example, I read some stuff saying that a man greet a woman by kissing their hands. I would surely not mind, that is a very classy way to do it, but I don't want to sound arrogant either if it is too much Old-Fashioned. Also, what does Polish women like ? I was told they are gorgeous and very caring. I'll probably be looking for some kind of relationship if they are =).

Quid of the way of living, the traditions? I heard that Poland is a very catholique country, is that correct ? Does the fact that I'm agnostic and care very little about religion is going to be problematic ? I mean, I'm definitely not going to the church on sunday morning, nor will I be faking a prayer before a meal. I hope I won't be seen as disrepectful.

How about the people in Katowice ? How do they see young foreigners who do not speak the tongue ? Do they help you when you are standing in the middle of the street with a map in the hands ? Is there a lot of foreigners in the town ? Are the french people appreciated ?

One last question, maybe the trickiest : In France I'm also a semi-professional online poker player/teacher and I'd like to know how poker players are percieved in the public opinion ? Do people generally think this game is pure gamble assume every players are dumb losers ? Is online poker even legal in Poland (I know it is not in Russia and USA for example) ?

Whaou I realise now that this is a lot of questions. I apologize if it is rude to do so for a very first post.
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
6 Jul 2014  #2
I read somewhere that it can be tricky because owners don't make it easy for foreigners who do not plan to stay for a long time.

They don't make it easy for everyone or don't care. They demand whole amount from "oldest" tenant eg 1600zl for 4 rooms. Then don't contact landlord. Contact tenants.

I also read that polish people, especially young people, speak an OK english in big cities. But is it the case in Katowice as well?

Katowice is quite a big city don't you think? ;)

How about French?

forget it :)

I'm afraid I'll need a long time before I'll be able to hold a conversation properly.

You are absolutely right. I even cannot imagine how some people are able to learnt it from grammar books. My advice learn it by heart.

I read some stuff saying that a man greet a woman by kissing their hands.

It is past. We don't do it anymore.

what does Polish women like ? I was told they are gorgeous

Some are, some not. We are heading to the West. At least they still don't lie on the street on Friday night or sit on the ground while waiting for the bus.

I heard that Poland is a very catholique country, is that correct ?

No. It is legend. There are a lot of fake Catholics. They go to the church every Sunday but steal in the workplace anything thy can.

I'm definitely not going to the church on sunday morning, nor will I be faking a prayer before a meal

Nobody cares. It is your bussiness.

How about the people in Katowice ?

I can't help you here. I never been to Katowice but I heard they don't need to eat. They have everything in smog in the air and mini earthquakes ;)

good luck
OP Bandecdc 1 | 2
6 Jul 2014  #3
Thank you peter_olsztyn for you answer. What exactly do you mean by "we are heading for the west", like people tend to adopt the american way of living ?

Also, earthquakes, really ? Are you teasing with me ?
smurf 39 | 1,982
6 Jul 2014  #4
how easy is it for a french student to rent a flat downtown for only 3-4 months

It won't be easy to find something for such a short period, but try gumtree.pl.

Do not rent in these places: Zaleze, Zawodzie, Szopienice, they are scumholes, lots of crime, hooligans etc.

speak an OK english in big cities. But is it the case in Katowice as well ? How about french ?

Yea, most young people can converse in English, anyone over 40 though and it's a problem.
French isn't really a popular language here, most people learn English & German in school, but you'll find people who speak French of course. Capgemini have a huge base here so they have plenty of foreigners working for them.

I read some stuff saying that a man greet a woman by kissing their hands.

No, people don't do that anymore. If you did it, it would be pretty weird.
In Silesia men shake hands/fist bump every time they meet, and kiss a girl on the cheek once. 3 times if family, or really close friend. Or you can shake hands with a woman if it's the first time meeting them.

I don't think there are so many cultural diffs here.....Poland certainly isn't as relaxed as France, you French know how to enjoy life, people here are a bit more obsessed with their work/family...boring stuff y'know. The Church has far too much power here and racism/homophobia is rife too. So that might be a bit different for you.

Does the fact that I'm agnostic and care very little about religion is going to be problematic

Won't be a problem, most people in your age are the same.

Kato's fine, I've been here for 5 years. It has a bad image in Poland, but it's nonsense. People say it's polluted, but it actually has the lowest pollution of Polish cities....in the early 90s it was different though.

Kato doesn't have a lot of tourist, but it is very used to having foreigners. Many companies have their bases in Katowice so people obviously often come here for business reasons. People are helpful on the streets, but y'know, don't bother asking the skinheads or the punks.

The school of Medicine is full of foreigners and there's quite a few foreigners working for schools as teachers and working in call centres, so don't worry, you won't stick out. For the France -Germany match I saw many French people wearing the football shiirt and with flags on ul. Mariacka (that's the street where everyone hangs out on during the weekend.

In France I'm also a semi-professional online poker player/teacher and I'd like to know how poker players are percieved in the public opinion ? Do people generally think this game is pure gamble assume every players are dumb losers ? Is online poker even legal in Poland

I reckon people won't care.
Online poker is fine. Poland's tax is weird, you're supposed to pay tax on winnings, but because you're French you won't need to declare.

Also, what does Polish women like ? I was told they are gorgeous and very caring

Yep, they are stunning. A little different from the French though. They don't dress as elegantly as French women but they are still awesome.

Best of luck
Monitor 14 | 1,821
6 Jul 2014  #5
First of all, how easy is it for a french student to rent a flat downtown for only 3-4 months ?

Just check airbnb if money is not a problem. If you search for min. 1 month renting and min. 1 month in advance through this system, they you will see quite cheap offers. You can easily rent online from France for just 2 x of long term rent in Katowice. Sometimes there are even cheaper occasions. Just book in advance.
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
6 Jul 2014  #6
What exactly do you mean by "we are heading for the west"

Our beauties become heavier and heavier.

Also, earthquakes, really ? Are you teasing with me ?

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_burst
OP Bandecdc 1 | 2
7 Jul 2014  #7
Thank you all, that was very helpful. And maybe a little scary too lol.


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