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Culture shock (my neighbours in the UK are Polish and Slovak)

OP butterflylizard 1 | 13
28 Sep 2011 #61
Hi, yes I am English honestly, I am doing my Doctorate so I do hope my use of language is not that bad :) I have a bit of an issue with my keyboard and yes I assumed that all poles were catholic, however I am pretty sure Poland was hit by the reformation as Coppernicus spoke much more freely than Galileo! I was looking more for confirmation than correction. Thanks for the advice and with regards to the move on the first day our neighbours helped us and my Dad gave them money. On the second day they helped us and actually asked for 'A drink' i.e money to buy a drink as they did not want a beverage in the house, however both he and his son have helped me a few times with the gate and the lock simply to be neighbourly. I probably would not take pictures and upload in anyway as I would not like it done to me at all. To clarify our neighbours say they are Slovakian, their neighbour is Czech (maisonettes) and three doors thereafter are Polish families and possibly Polish students. I have spoken to them and the Polish people were very chatty about who was who on their side of the fence and other chat. The Czech and Slovak families have black hair and tanned skin. The girls have long black and wavy hair. They always smile. The Polish lads are fair haired and skinned. I have not noticed any interaction between the Polish people and the Czech and Slovak neighbours although the Czech and Slovak neighbours mix with one another. I do wonder if it is as daunting for them having a large English family next door too as the man who visits (who I now know is one of the family's friend) I was standing in the garden and he told me what he was doing as if he thought I was wondering. They do say hello and I think both of us (our families) are more used to one another. I lived sometime ago a few miles up the road and my neighbours were primarily Asian and they become friendly and invited the girls and I to see the Mosque which was very nice. I think perhaps after reading and listening to negative stereotypes I have developed a fear of others further (and I didn't think about this) we have lived in such houses that for a good 4 years I have had no noticeable neighbours, which probably makes this harder as now I have loads!!!! I have to say though I do like the music next door play. I am pleased to read such a diverse mixture of advice it really is helping.

Pole thinks. OMG what she/he want again? Is she/he a nut/gay?

This is funny...made me smile lol
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
29 Sep 2011 #62
This is funny...made me smile lol

Once I lived in UK, I remember that the questions like how are you drove me crazy.
I planned in my mind that someday I will jump like a tiger and suffocate my British neighbour ;)
OP butterflylizard 1 | 13
29 Sep 2011 #63
I spent a lot of time in America and I see where you are coming from as the phrase 'Have a nice day!' used to get tedious. I do see the language similarity much like similarities in French, Spanish and Italian. I hope it does stay fine there are so many diverse people here (where I live) and I am not exaggerating when I say we are the only family of English origin, but I guess its good to learn about other people.
Teffle 22 | 1,321
29 Sep 2011 #64
Hi, yes I am English honestly, I am doing my Doctorate so I do hope my use of language is not that bad :) I have a bit of an issue with my keyboard

Sorry, but I am very sceptical. You have, in the very post I have quoted from, given me even more reason to believe that you are not English. Not that it actually matters either way of course, but it is IMO a little curious to say the least.

Do you mind me asking the nature of your keyboard problem?


...that's why it's definitely not the equivalent

No, it might be. I wouldn't say how are you to a stranger either. I would have to know the person at least on some level.
29 Sep 2011 #65
I think it might be better if she didn't speak to them at all. Stick to your own kind would be my advice.
Havok 10 | 912
29 Sep 2011 #66

When we moved in our neighbours, who do not speak English well,

Well obviously you're not a native Englishman yourself so i'm not really sure what's your problem. if you don't like immigrants like yourself then buy your own island and go live there by yourself.

Really, what did you expect? You’re an immigrant living in a poor neighborhood with a bunch of other immigrants like yourself.
My advice to you is to get a better job, save some money and get a house in a nicer neighborhood that is full of "nice and well cultured British".
isthatu2 4 | 2,703
1 Oct 2011 #67
Our slovak neighbours are tanned as is the czech guy and yes my dad paid him initially so he come back next day and waited by gates, so perhaps a chancer?

Roma.... they make Pikeys look like,well,not pikeys :)
From a country boy who has lived in the smoke.... seriously, sod your neighbours,dont bother about them, its a townie thing, no bugger knows anyone else on their street anymore,its sad but true.
ZIMMY 6 | 1,601
2 Oct 2011 #68
" interesting cultural thing is that Poles tend to talk over each other in conversations
they do not wait until one person has stopped talking, they just butt in.

Yea, but what about the men?


"My neighbours are Polish and Slovak. I have never has neighbours from Europe before."

Yep. the non Poles are probably Gypsies. Don't buy anything from them. ....and you aren't English.

Let me educate you about the Poles. They are accustomed to receiving expensive gifts that are secretly left on their doorsteps. Envelopes filled with money is also acceptable. Once a week leave something of worth for them and after one year has elapsed, introduce yourself but do it humbly with head bowed. Poles expect this from people they don't know. After this, I assure you that they will talk to you. Good luck.
sani - | 1
27 Oct 2011 #69
I am Slovak. I have lived back in Slovakia for 3 years since I left UK last time. I used to live in the UK for only about 4 years if I count it. My English is not that good, i apologize, but when I found this thred by surfing the web I could not just to refuse a quote and my opinion.

On the basis of I can feel from your talk, well at least from that I understood, I can declare that your Slovakian, Czech neighbours are 100% Slovak gypsies, which 100% does not mean they are Slovakian either. Ok they live in our country as they do in any other of our surrounding countries (Poland, CzechRep., Hungaria etc.) but their nation just moved here long long time ago. I assume their origin is somewhere in India as we learned at school, although personally I do not agree, because I met and knew few Indian people when I lived in England and from my point of view they are incomparably different from our gypsies (tsikgani in slovak or as they wish to be called by us is Rom a-gypsy ). Our gypsies moved in probably from Romania. I do not know much about Romanian gypsies but I suppose they are the same. And maybe not. I hope.

First of all I would like to tell is that they speak completely different language which has nothing to do with Slovak language. They can understand and speak quite good Slovak as it is only official language in Slovakia but they have their accent which I believe must be easy to recognize in English as well. If you want to be sure just try to listen to deeper their accent and try to compare with Polish. Why? , because Polish and Slovak accent is almost same especially for you as Englishman unless your Polish neighbors are not gypsies either. Slovak people can easily understand Polish language. Many words are same pronounced and our accent is similar. So if their accent is in contrast to Polish different, then your Slovak neighbors are definitely Slovak gypsies. And if they are darker as you mentioned later it must be Slovak gypsies.

Well, to be honest, sometimes it is not easy for our country and Slovak nation to live with this people. I do not want to worry you by this, but you have to be careful.

As I know English people from time and location I lived and spent there (it was a village in Guildford area, Surrey), they were very nice, polite, patient, open and had tolerant answers to foreigner as me. Maybe because I met people on average over 30 years old and also I attended church I don't know, but their behavior was a good example to me very often. Sometimes I found myself I belong there as I've always searched for similar characters. That is why I like English people and England and would love to return there anytime. Slovak people are colder and more selfish I would say. Mainly east Slovakians where also most of our gypsies live. My suggestion is not to talk to them much, (I mean to gypsies). Keep them away from you as much as you can unless you will get to know them closer. But it takes some time. Do not open your polite and tolerance character as well until you know each other more closely that you can be sure what they mean.

80% of these gypsies cause a lot of despair to Slovak people. They take all the benefit from our state and have never worked. They are supported by EU funds so they carry on with free accommodations for them as it was in the past, also during Communist regime. Gypsy families are in-numerous, they have many children although their financial situation is bad. They carry on without thinking how many they can afford, because they know that they get social support benefits, child benefits etc. from state anyway. Of course our government want to avoid any problem with them because of potential pressure which comes from EU and therefore gypsies are allowed to take social benefits and any other benefits and never worked for it. There is no law in Slovak legislative that could affect them.

The population of gypsies rapidly grew in last 15 years. They build their hovels or houses anywhere they like without any permission, even on someones private lands. They take electricity without paying bills. They destroy new clean and comfortable flats provided by our government and EU. They are very messy. They product a lot of junk and throw the rubbish away just at the front of their door, so there is a lot of rats and various insect around. They do not pass elementary school education because kids do not have support from their parents as they spend their money for alcohol and cigarettes. They rob everything that is worth some money (e.g. any metals from anywhere and then sell as scrap to a scrap yards) especially when they run out of their money from social benefit at the end of month. Most of them have no education or very poor or even reading and writing is problem for them. But they have their bosses and leaders "vaaida" who does all the paper work and similar issues for them. Most of them are not religious and do not attend church, but not all. Some of them have no moral border and many communities are even degenerated. They smoke and breath hard stinky glue and chemicals and becomes dangerous and aggressive I think. They are absolutely untouchable under EU and law. We do not know the exact number of their current population as it is very hard to get into their communities and settlements to count them. But Slovak statistics assume that there is about 500 000 gypsies living currently in Slovakia. In 1989 there was 250 000 of them. There is a rapidly growing pressure between Slovakians and gypsies. I am afraid that one day it might to grow up into a civil war if we do not find a way how to resolve the gypsy problem in our country. It would be the best for us to let them go from here and live somewhere else, not here and let people of other EU countries know how difficult it is sometimes to live with them if EU keeps protecting their crime and their minority instead of justice. A similar problem occurred in France but French president Sarkozi kicked them out of France. Their typical words are "we are discriminated because of our minority group". Yes I can prove they are at the moment which is not right by Slovak people and by this way I feel sorry for them, but the problem is that they got use to it and is comfortable to protect themselves by simple sentence "we are discriminated" so it means in other words "we can do anything because they will never punish us for anything". If white people do something bad just in little thing, they are immediately prosecuted, but black(gypsies) are not. They are protected. Same if white would do anything to black it is a disaster and rude oppression of Gypsy's minority, but it does not work opposite. Even sometimes if they cause a crime no one in Charge wants to involve into the problem. Whites are sometimes scared of them (mainly they are worried about their kids at school) and so keep them away from themselves and then talk to them aggressively. We can not call them "tsigani" as we did at least 100 years, now they are "romas" for us. If someone call them officially tsigan, it might become a problem. They go to England, take lovely benefits from there as well, so I suppose some of them are maybe double paid. They of course keep returning back to Slovakia. They buy expensive cars, clothes. They built newer houses of course without permissions, etc. I wonder who and when is going to stop them doing this.

Slovak people are fed up, desperate, aggressive from that, because of their all life striving and hard working, paying taxes in spirit of better future life, having once more children that can afford by own financial situation, have better flat, or maybe improve general Slovak situation and interests by their own effort as it is in every state instead of wasting money for this sort of community.

But of course not all of them are same. You can find better but also worse than that.

I hope you are not terrified because there is no reason. As I said about 80% of them. But another about 20% are different. They can be nice hard working people and unfortunately these are "thrown" into the same bag with others from their community by Slovak nation and I personally feel sorry for them.

I wish all of our gypsies were nice clean hardworking people once and I wish we were in a great relationship ever, one day. I pray for that. Lord God bless them all and give them and to us so much power and wisdom to understand what we need to do for both of us, so we can find the best way of living life as one nation without any difference, please God help us. Thank You Lord, Amen.

If you would like to know more about them, please let me know or write email address and I will post it.
I hope it was a bit helpful. Thank You for reading.
gumishu 11 | 5,692
27 Oct 2011 #70
I hope you are not terrified because there is no reason. As I said about 80% of them. But another about 20% are different.

I think the lady's neighbours do belong to the 20 per cent you mention so I don't think she should be worried
Ironside 50 | 11,266
27 Oct 2011 #71
I think the lady's neighbours

I think that the lady is not English.
2 Sep 2013 #72
dont be worried,i have many polish friends,they really are honest,and true friends.many romanians come from gypsey ancestors,my experiance is dont trust,thats me,maybe in the wrong place wrong time.get to no your neighbors,then come to a conclusion.
17 Nov 2013 #73
Hi there
I would like to explain it:
Slovaks are very warm, welcoming, respectful and smiley people who usually do friendship very quickly in general.

The things is that there is a minority - Gypsies, who are different from all other Slovaks. Most of Gypsies are uneducated, unskilled and their behaviour is not nice. Even they don't speak Slovak language very well, they use their own Gypsy's language....

The are very loud indeed and usually don't like working. If this is the case be careful. Don't let them to charge you and if they insist to, so go to police. Even Slovaks have those problems with Gypsies in Slovakia. But not all Gypsies are the same. There are plenty of Gypsies who are intelligent with university degree and are ashamed by those I mentioned above... The are very good parents and children means everything for them.

Generally, Slovaks are straight forward speaking, they don't use would, could ,might ..., so often as English. It s not so natural in their native language. They usually say want, give, can, go.... but in nice way, they don't mean to be rude. It is just the way they talk. Yes, they might be louder when they talk to each other then English, but compare to Italian its still better and it doesn't mean that they argue thou it might seem like that sometime.

My opinion: there are burglars, thieves, violators in every country even in UK.... So if you have any worries ask for help....Don't let anybody to control your life.

sorry for typos errors
25 Nov 2013 #74
Dude I'm from Slovakia. i've been to lots of places and as far as i know... This sounds a bit racists against me but who cares (uk is better anyway (your shows and stuff)) so I wouldn't buy anything from the Polish people. Slovaks play music really loud and they're very cheerish.(my english is kinda bad) So First of all I dont know those people.. So i wouldnt put my hands in fire for them. Second. They probably dont know traditions in the uk(lots of slovak people don't )+ They dont have to speak english properly.They came to Uk just for jobs because of the pay and stuff. Most of them are so Tired of work that they'll just drink some Slivovica(strong to very strong beverage from 40%-85%) and go to sleep.. So you don't have to worry about anything...I would worry about them getting drunk... If they get drunk.. .. jesus lord help you...(call the cops they'll settle them down) .. So long,Sir. And have a nice day. :)

also this guy explained it to details. That's very precise.
25 Jan 2014 #75
It is normal for Polish people to say in their mother tongue 'Can you give me a piece of paper?' without using the word 'please' and than we would say 'thank you'.
f stop 25 | 2,513
25 Jan 2014 #76
'Can you give me a piece of paper?' without using the word 'please'

Often, "please" in Polish is implied by the tone
jamshaid 2 | 20
25 Jan 2014 #77
gumishu Edited by: gumishu Sep 28, 2011, 12:24pm ☓ #

ngs are not tense at the moment they all smile, but seem abrupt in the way they talk
yes both Slovaks and Poles are quite loud when in their own company and our talk is pretty emotionally charged then (it may seem that Poles constanly argue (in fact Poles do argue often (but not constantly as it might have appeared) and are pretty straightforward with any criticism))....


May be after drinking they makes noice but they must care of families. Living around them. I know Some poles drink too much and but there are many sober type of poles When I do sone mistake they help me because I am in Poland. Shortly all people are not same in every country
Broxi - | 2
8 Apr 2014 #78
Germans are just a little bit more hesitant to overwhelm someone with superficial friendliness. My experience with Polish people is similar...

I find it funny that you equate this to "superficial friendless", the truth is that in Britain, we don't relate this stuff to friendliness at all, to us it is simply "good manners" and the correct way to present yourself to others. Believe me, not everyone does it and generally we associate people who don't say "please, thank you or could you, may I, etc." as being chavs, low class or scummy.

I know for a fact that if I pause to hold a door open for someone and they don't offer a simple "thank you", then it annoys me and I perceive that person as ignorant. Although I appreciate that one language doesn't directly translate to another language, I think for the purpose of integrating into British society, you should be mindful of these things and you will find living in the UK a lot easier. If someone says "nice to meet you" at the start of a conversation, say "hi" and repeat it back or simply say "you too". You have now politely introduced yourselves to each other.

I find this thread really interesting because some of the responses in the thread come across as bizarre to me, for example

** being British (Scottish) I can easily tell that the OP is British simply from characteristics in her posts but some of the Non-Brits here have openly questioned her authenticity.

** This shows a classic example of what many British nationals, particularly those who take the Daily Fail as gospel fear from immigration, that they will suddenly be surrounded by a completely different culture to their own in their own country ... and also what the Polish view of this is.

Some of the responses I have read have been terrible, one suggested that she "should stick to her own kind" while another made the comment "why should the neighbours learn English when all they're here to do is work and earn money", if that is the attitude you adopt, then don't be surprised by an increasing resentment towards the Polish community.

No good can come of this sticking to your own, refusing to learn the language (however rudimentary) of the country you choose to live in, not adapting to the new environment and effectively ghettoising the Polish people. People in ANY country will quickly grow to resent this.
14 Aug 2016 #79
Well you shouldn't be worried about the people based on the fact that they are polish or Slovak. Trust me real poles and Slovaks are some of the friendliest and nicest people you meet and for the most part, though they come from poorer countries, are not into stealing . However I have noticed that foreigners from any nation living abroad sometimes take advantage of the natives. To address your issue

1 it is not normal in Slovakia and I'm assuming Poland too to help someone move in especially your neighbor and then charge him. However the Slovak guy may have said it to you from the beginning in a way that was obvious he was only going to help if u paid him and u just didn't notice. Only u could tell if that was the case. Also I mean if they helped u all day long for like 7 hours moving and doing heavy lifting then actually you should offer to pay them just out of common sense, as that's alot of work for free, weather they take it or not is another issue.

2 . Playing music loud and everything I wouldn't say is very courteous of them and I think goes more along with the fact that they are working class type people. It's best with continental europeans to be more straight when something annoys you, like if there music is really loud and you see one just say hey please turn down the music and thats it. Central European are sensitive too and maybe it doesn't see to friendly but that is how people speak there all the way from Germany to Slovakia and Poland.

3 the nice to meet you part and saying ok is most probably because the guys English is pure crap and he just doesn't know how to be polite in English. Don't listen to all these other people too about polish and Slovak and even german not being very polite when asking or speaking to people. Slovaks definitley have polite ways of speaking to people. No one would say just give that paper unless ur family or close friends. They would say give me that paper please. The thing is in german polish and Slovak you don't use would and could so often even though they exist because they have a completely different way of speaking when they want to be formal and polite. In Slovak and polish they use vy for you instead of ti, something like old English thee and you. So in slovak you wouldn't say would you give me that paper you would say dajte mi papier prosim, it literally translates to give me paper please, which sounds kind of harsh in English but because in Slovak you use formal vy form it sounds extremely polite so dont think these cultures are just rough and rude, they aren't and in some ways have even more rules about politeness and manners.

Best thing to do is use ur instinct, there are good and bad people everywhere you can tell when someone is kind of shady or shifty. Just pay attention. Also dont judge real polish people or Slovaks by these people. Construction workers who just come to the country to make money and go home probably are not going to be the most polite or best behaved people I mean just think of British lower class type people, they behave in similar ways to what uve described
30 Nov 2016 #80
Hello Butterfly,
I am so glad you had the courage to post this.
This kind of thing is becoming the norm all over the world. We are no longer confined to our own homogeneous cultural groups. We truly are becoming a global society, so it is really important to discuss these things. As a.k. and Jars777 pointed out, the response to your greeting, "ok", seem to be both a cultural and linguistic difference. More direct and yet more levels of getting to know someone before saying certain phrases. Unless people seek to get to a deeper level of knowing and understanding their host culture, they tend to speak the second language just like their first language. I used to live in Florida where the neighborhood was predominantly Spanish Speakers. The duration of Spanish words from someone from Puerto Rico is short with the main emphasis on the end of the sentence.Wheras in English, word duration is longer and emphasis tends to be at the beginning of sentences. I often misunderstood their meaning simply beacause the emphasis and shorter words presented a different meaning to me, the English speaker, than to the Spanish speaker. That was a great suggestion above to get to know some Polish friends. They can help bridge the culture gap and before you know it, you will be past the awkwardness and understand the meanings behind the behaviors and the way English is spoken differently. All the best!!
PolkaFasolka - | 7
15 Apr 2017 #81
@butterflylizard It seems to me that your neighbours are just not very nice people. It has nothing to do with nationality or culture. It's not normal in Poland to charge your neighbours for helping them, to play loud music or not saying hello.
2 Jun 2019 #82
On two occasions , I have lived with eastern european neighbours. Both times they were loud, they have a habit of banging doors or closing / opening doors as they violently go from one place to the other in the house. They party LOUDLY in their houses and NOT GO TO PUBS. They do not care for their neighbours' peace and quietude. In March when I approached them for shutting music off after 11pm, they came over to my house for a fight. I am glad I voted Brexit to get these filthy vermin rats out. The White British are CORRECT in their hatred. It is not fair for the government to FLOOD BRITAIN in the name of jobs and then implement culture shock for British in their own land. Britain was always superior to EU and will always be. There is an UNSPOKEN CODE OF CONDUCT of living as neighbours in England which sadly is dying out.
pawian 178 | 15,909
2 Jun 2019 #83
They party LOUDLY in their houses and NOT GO TO PUBS. They do not care for their neighbours' peace and quietude.

That is normal. Those immigrants, after moving to the UK, feel free at last because in their home countries they also had to behave. You can`t party loudly at night next to your neighbours in Poland because you will pay a fine. But they think that in the West anything is allowed. Please, be more patient, after a few years they will learn that there are some rules in their new country after all, too.
2 Jun 2019 #84
Lol, yea and once theyre in a new country they feel like they dont need to behave anymore because no one will check them.

"But they think that in the West anything is allowed. Please, be more patient, after a few years they will learn that there are some rules in their new country after all, too."

In a way, it is. I even heard in old town here in Warsaw where a lot of tourists come this from an outdoor waiter who was explaning himself how come he did not pend away these three foreigners smoking on his outdoor table without wanting to buy anything. Its like those blacks in Starbucks who just wanted to come in and chill and not order anything and got even paid for it because it was America.
pawian 178 | 15,909
2 Jun 2019 #85
Exactly, they feel anonymous. Just like Brits who come to Poland - they also have the time of their lives. :):)
2 Jun 2019 #86
I wonder how those Brits are not knocked out left and right, but I only know they come to Warsaw and Krakow. Do they actually behave the same way in places like Slåsk or Dabrowa Gornicza? I doubt it, especially at night. Too many Polish have gotten soft nowadays though or westernized and feminism unlike Ukrainians hence this happens here with the Brits.
antheads 13 | 366
4 Jun 2019 #87
I always make sure to give a misbehaving pom a smack when i go back to poland :)
pawian 178 | 15,909
4 Jun 2019 #88
Brits who come to Śląsk are decent ones, mostly in partnership with local Polesses, even thinking of settling down there. Those who come to Krakow or Warsaw are party lovers who want to have fun at the weekend.

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