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Curious about differences Polish people see with the British?


Annna1 1 | 2
26 Sep 2014  #1
I'm writing out of curiosity more than anything, because with so many Polish people in Britain, I often have connections with them without getting to know them well, and I often wonder if they think it's a lot different here than they're used to, or when they deal with me, if how I act is a lot different than the Polish people they're used to. Are British people a lot different?

Even if it's something amusing or something they don't like. I won't be offended. Also if they think the whole society is a lot different I would be interested to know. I suppose I specifically mean out of London England, but even London would be interesting. Just that I think Londoners act a lot different than where I live in the south of England.

Thank you

Anna
Nathans
2 Oct 2014  #2
10-15 years ago the British people might have been somewhat 'different' but now Poles are traveling a lot and got used to it; there are also a lot of British people in Poland so the differences matter less and less.
jon357 63 | 14,149
2 Oct 2014  #3
Just that I think Londoners act a lot different than where I live in the south of England.

The south of England isn't really typical of the UK as a whole and it's very hard to make a blanket judgement about a whole island of almost 60 million people and very diverse traditions based on just that one region - ironically the most cosmopolitan and least traditional.

10-15 years ago the British people might have been somewhat 'different' but now Poles are traveling a lot and got used to it; there are also a lot of British people in Poland so the differences matter less and less.

Yes. Poles, remember, have been getting British TV shows and films for years and often have an idea before they go. Most are happy, if appalled sometimes by prices of some items.
EdinburghGirl
2 Oct 2014  #4
Anna, why do you care what they think? I'm sure they're just happy to be here in a first world country earning money.

Unlike the majority of ethically British people including most of my friends, who are all professionals, I quite like the Poles. Whether it's stealing British jobs or emptying our lakes of Carp and Swans, it's always the same boring story I hear which is surprising from educated and professional people. Change. The. Record.

The Polish and British are very different culturally in my opinion though.
tictactoe
2 Oct 2014  #5
Is Poland a 3rd world country or something ?
EdinburghGirl
2 Oct 2014  #6
To add, Southern England is quite backwards, the whole region has a Village feel about it. In London and the Home Counties people are more cosmopolitan.

Good luck.
tictactoe
2 Oct 2014  #7
Is that your Scottish racist view of English people shinning through.
EdinburghGirl
2 Oct 2014  #8
I'm half Scottish, half English and have never been called a racist in my life.
jon357 63 | 14,149
2 Oct 2014  #9
I'm half Scottish, half English

Same here, and a Yorkshireman too. Lot's of Poles have happily settled in Scotland, Wales, Northern England - countries which are traditionally welcoming and generous. About the South, maybe it's significant that anti-EU migration parties seem to do better down there.
tictactoe
2 Oct 2014  #10
You live in Yorkshire Jon ?
CasualObserver
2 Oct 2014  #11
Jon, UKIP got 31% of the vote in Yorkshire last May, only 1% less than the south-east region. The highest support was in rural East Anglia (35%). They enjoyed a 14% swing in Yorkshire compared to only a 6% swing in London. There was also a 14% swing (one of the highest) in Wales.

In 2010 the BNP's share of the vote was almost all concentrated in northern England above a line from the Wash to the Severn. Thjey had almost no support in the south outside east London, and most support in south and west Yorkshire.

In my experience, as a Yorkshireman who has lived in Scotland, southern England and East Anglia, there are more bigots and racists in the north. In the south people tend to be more affluent, more highly educated, more liberal, more multicultural, and more tolerant. Virtually every other person on the street in south-east England was born somewhere else, including the British, many of which have move there from other parts of Britain. So fewer people have this territorial xenophobia that you see in poorer cities in the north (and Scotland), where they think 7 generations of working class roots in the same street gives them a higher status than anyone moving in.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,669
2 Oct 2014  #12
I totally agree with you casual observer,
Ziemowit 12 | 3,314
2 Oct 2014  #13
So do I, Rozumiemnić. Who is CasualObserver who presents an analysis so brilliant and up-to-date? I particuralry liked this: xenophobia that you see in poorer cities in the north (and Scotland), where they think 7 generations of working class roots in the same street gives them a higher status than anyone moving in.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
2 Oct 2014  #14
there are also a lot of British people in Poland so the differences matter less and less.

Very few in Wrocław except for weekend booze up trippers, frankly, or that's how it seems. Does anyone know how many Brits live in Wrocław? I hardly meet any but am guessing just 100!! I only know of 10.
Gdyniaguy14 - | 22
2 Oct 2014  #15
My polish wife is amazed how British people don't prepare a meal for guests and that they only give a drink and a cake/biscuit.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
2 Oct 2014  #16
give a drink and a cake/biscuit.

A cup of tea and 2 Rich Tea biscuits are about the most a casual visitor may get, more if it's a reciprocal visit and they're owed a meal or something special. We have been known to run to a half-packet of Basics tortilla chips and a jar of Value dip if really pushing the boat out.
jon357 63 | 14,149
2 Oct 2014  #17
A cup of tea and 2 Rich Tea biscuits are about the most a casual visitor may get,

Maybe a little more than that, however too much isn't always good. Real hospitality can't be judged on whether someone slices up a kielbasa for their guests or serves some Bakewell tarts or even crashes the Emva Cream - perceptions (and treatment) of newcomers is much deeper than (often affected) manners.

You live in Yorkshire Jon ?

Poland. Yorkshire once upon a time long long ago..

Jon, UKIP got 31% of the vote in Yorkshire last May

A better way to express that is to say they got almost a third of the few votes in the lowest turnout in history - no parliamentary seats in Yorks are under thread from them

I particuralry liked this: xenophobia that you see in poorer cities in the north (and Scotland), where they think 7 generations of working class roots in the same street gives them a higher status than anyone moving in.

Glad to see that you think coming originally from Poland for generations doesn't give "higher status" whatever that means than a recent arrival.
CasualObserver
2 Oct 2014  #18
Jon, Grimsby is on UKIP's top target list - you can see it from Yorkshire. They got 3 European seats in Yorkshire (half of the total, they're the biggest party).

Most of their Parliamentary targets are in Lincs and East Anglia, where they're likely to win. I don't think you can call Lincs a 'southern' county. But 10% of their 100 target seats are in south Yorks. And they just held their conference at Doncaster.

Tory MPs, which are concentrated in the south, are more likely to defect to UKIP, as has recently happened with two, which is sparking the by-elections. But Labour voters are defecting to UKIP too, so Labour/Lib Dem seats certainly are under threat in the Midlands and North at the General Election.

So I don't think you can characterise support for anti-EU migration parties as a 'southern thing'. It definitely isn't. They have just as much popular support in the Midlands and North.

Going back to the original question of 'differences' between Poles and Brits, I have noticed one fundamental difference in attitudes. British people generally seem to be under the impression that Poland and UK have a 'special bond', more than say UK and Latvia or Romania or Bulgaria, that was forged during WW2 by the UK going to war on the principle of Poland, fighting closely on the same side, taking in the Polish army and exiled Govt, and the Polish squadrons in the RAF, all of that. British people tend to be under the impression that Poles feel a similar closeness and camaraderie, affinity, and even some gratitude. It is quite a rude awakening for them to find out that many Poles actually seem to resent the UK's record in WW2, dominated by not stopping Germany and Russia in 1939, and then Yalta. I think this is a deep gulf between the 'historical memory' of both societies that neither really understands about the other. British people think they helped the Poles a huge amount and are owed some thanks (and perhaps some more thanks for taking in 650,000 Poles in recent years), Poles think that the British screwed them and they deserve an apology. As a Brit, I find that Poles can be very adamant and even quite rude about this, and they find it very difficult to see a different view.

I do wonder if 40 years of Communist schooling and propaganda hasn't fostered that view ("the decadent west aren't your friends, they never helped you in 1939 did they?! You were liberated the the USSR!"). But I think it does create a schism in personal Polish/British relations, even now. Brits are generally very proud of WW2, that's part of our 'national story', and people do take a strong personal pride in it. So to be confronted with such an opposing attitude from Poles, who Brits thought shared the same opinions, is quite jarring. And I think some Brits do resent being 'resented' in this way, although many/most are probably still unaware that Poland views things so differently. But I do think this is one subject where Poles can give offence without necessarily meaning to, particularly to working class Brits.

Another major everyday difference that I notice between Poland and Britain is the attitude of people in shops. In Poland, people serving you often seem quite sullen and moody, as if they are doing you a big favour by serving you. And the customers respond by being submissive and stony-faced, or quite 'formal' in attitude. In the UK, people at the tills in shops and supermarkets are often very friendly and chatty, and there is a kind of 'ritual' of having a friendly exchange while being served. I think many Polish people don't expect this, and so can seem moody to the person serving, perhaps because they lack confidence in replying in the way that the person serving would expect.
tictactoe
2 Oct 2014  #19
You all seem very generalised in your views. If you are poor your rasict and uneducated, you must live in the north where all the bigots live. But if you live down south your rich educated tolerant and well read!......what a pile generalised rubbish. I've met surgeons who are racist and from London born and bred, ive also known patrons of charities who are so rasict you wouldn't why believe it, I've even met Pole's who are rasict to their own kind.

The truth is , regardless of wealth privilege education depravation starvation white black Slavic catholic etc, if you dont like someone or something that is down to the individual, for he / she makes a choice in thier own mind.
jon357 63 | 14,149
2 Oct 2014  #20
Grimsby is on UKIP's top target list - you can see it from Yorkshire

On Google Maps maybe.

And they just held their conference at Doncaster.

A political peculiarity since they jailed most of the local council a few years ago. When push comes to shove, only 9% voted for them and that was a protest vote. Given that 15% of the UK population are freign born it's a miracle we don't have even more people voting for those sort of numpties, as in France at the moment.

It is quite a rude awakening for them to find out that many Poles actually seem to resent the UK's record in WW2, dominated by not stopping Germany and Russia in 1939, and then Yalta

I do wonder if 40 years of Communist schooling and propaganda hasn't fostered that view ("the decadent west aren't your friends, they never helped you in 1939 did they?! You were liberated the the USSR!").

This bit is very true - the myth that nobody helped them was deliberately propagated by the PZRR and by nationalists today - some say that nobody helped, despite all the downed planes from the uprising - some even blame Churchill, which is being absolutely bling to the fact that America and Russia called the shots by that stage of the war and neither, unlike the UK, wanted to help them. People there also forget that the war didn't end in May 1945 - they think the war still raging in Asia was somehow less important (and to them of course it was)

Another major everyday difference that I notice between Poland and Britain is the attitude of people in shops. In Poland, people serving you often seem quite sullen and moody, as if they are doing you a big favour by serving you. And the customers respond by being submissive and stony-faced, or quite 'formal' in attitude

This is often the first thing people notice, and also in Czech. Communism and the difference between your 'public' and 'private' faces has a lot to do with it, though I do wonder if it was so radically different before. Georg Mikes who last visited Poland in the spring 1939 remarked on the miserable faces on public transport in PL, and the casual bonhomie and informality that you get in the UK is rare in PL, as is the politeness in shops that you get in France. Where I come from, nobody would dream of getting off a bus without thanking the driver - this would be eccentric in PL. It's also an arguing culture - speaking much to a checkout assistant would put them on their guard because they think you might be trying something on.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
2 Oct 2014  #21
this would be eccentric in PL.

And in Moscow and probably other parts of Russia.

I also notice that when I open a door for a woman of any age here (eg going in or out of a shop or public place) I almost never get a thanks. Earlier today I stopped a barrier from hitting a 30-something woman's leg (I grabbed it before it hit her thigh). No thank you, smile or other acknowledgement. In the parts of the UK I know of, that omission would be unusual. Here it's normal.
EdinburghGirl
2 Oct 2014  #22
I hate the way we are often forced into small talk by shop assistants in Britain. The "how are you today?" followed by "any plans for the rest of the day?" It's fake. They know it's fake, and the customer certainly knows it's fake. It makes everyone feel so uncomfortable...talk about over familiarity. It's an American thing that has slowly but surely made its way into British life. Do I want to be telling a stranger what I'm doing later that day? not to mention the other two people behind me waiting to be served? Of course I don't.
CasualObserver
2 Oct 2014  #23
Jon,

Viewing Grimsby from Yorkshire - ever been to the East Riding and looked south? Look at the map ;)

I agree that the UK's general tolerance, and rejection of the far right, is remarkable considering the levels of immigration and its social impacts on housing etc. Even UKIP seems fairly mild compared to the popular right in France, or even the USA - I can't think of many other countries where a Eurosceptic 'conservative' party of the 'right' (the Tories) would introduce gay marriage. In the USA Cameron would be considered almost a Socialist, while in the UK Obama would be to the right of Nigel Farage.

I do know several people who voted UKIP last may, who are southern professionals. For them the reason is not immigration, it's what they see as a corrupt and remote EU elite that they can't even vote out, because they are so remote and elections are so diluted. I myself and pro-EU, but i despair at how the EU runs itself, and the rampant corruption. I think the EU Commission is its own worst enemy, and needs to ask why Europe is lurching to the right - they can't blame the rise of the right in Eastern Europe on immigration and petty xenophobia.

I smiled at your comment on leaving the bus - "cheers, Driver!" ha ha. I'm the same.

tictactoe - yes, in general people in the south are more wealthy, more highly educated, and more diverse and multicultural. And poorer boroughs tended to vote BNP and UKIP. Look it up. It's a generalisation, because of course there are many exceptions, but it is *generally* true and supported by the statistics.

I think much of the reason for this is that poor working class areas in the north (Doncaster, Hull, Middlesborough ) are less mobile, whereas affluent southern areas (Oxford, Reading, Milton Keynes) are highly mobile - virtually everyone who lives there was born somewhere else, and the turnover is quite rapid. So it's quite hard for a white Briton to move to Reading and then complain about all the immigrants when they've lived there longer than he has - he's the newcomer, not the Poles next door. It is also self-selecting. Someone from a white working class area in Doncaster is likely to be more socially conservative and uneasy with the idea of living among different people, having been brought up in the same place as their parents/grandparents and never having mixed with different people. Whereas someone from multicultural Oxford has no qualms about moving to London, and a halal butcher or a Polski Sklep is not 'alien' to them, as they've grown up amongst it and maybe dated foreign girls at Uni. It's easy to be racist when you don't mix and you think the ground you stand on is 'yours' because you've been there forever. It's harder to be racist when you mix with different people every day and feel just as much of an immigrant moving from Doncaster to That There London as the Pole or Pakistani next door.
tictactoe
2 Oct 2014  #24
I will be honest here. I know more people who are voting UKIP more than any other party. Rasict or not but unfortunately Pole's to alot of people are seen as people who expect. Germany and Russia invaded Poland but somehow it's the UKs fault. People do not have any kind of bond with Poland at least ive never heard it said ever ide say more a enemy status. I have personally been accused of my grandparents handing over Poland to Russia. It is all going to end badly and I think UKIP will gain seats if not actually get in in may 2015

I am tired of it all. When I grew up in the 70s I never once thought that this country would become what it has. To everyone coming in ,its their right under EU free to roam crap and its tough apparently so get use to it you owe us, but to me what I know is slowly being eroded away and I am the rasict or the xenophobic English person, its all sad.

But one day maybe all the people who came here will experience what I as an English person have experienced and you will understand or maybe not. I have sympathy for those who fell in love with Polish/ English it must be hard but it's just the it is.

I wrote this on a mobile phone so if it gets lost at times,sorry.
jon357 63 | 14,149
2 Oct 2014  #25
Viewing Grimsby from Yorkshire - ever been to the East Riding and looked south? Look at the map ;)

Often. I think a few miles south in Boston would work better as an example.

I myself and pro-EU, but i despair at how the EU runs itself, and the rampant corruption.

Same here - I do think we can only change the problems by playing a bigger part rather than vacillating about leaving, something which would be a disaster.

I think much of the reason for this is that poor working class areas in the north (Doncaster, Hull, Middlesborough ) are less mobile, whereas affluent southern areas (Oxford, Reading, Milton Keynes) are highly mobile - virtually everyone who lives there was born somewhere else, and the turnover is quite rapid

This is the key. If those few people who actually vote UKIP think that Farage could do anything at all to make their lives better then they are truly deluded. The ravages of the 1980s in the industrial North, the deliberate destruction of the economy there and the resulting lack of cohesion have a lot to answer for.

Doncaster is likely to be more socially conservative and uneasy with the idea of living among different people, having been brought up in the same place as their parents/grandparents and never having mixed with different people

It's more multicultural than you'd think there - there were certainly Asian and West Indian people when I was a kid there in the early 1970 plus thousands of people from Poland and especially Ukraine who came in the late 1940s. There was also a much stronger sense of community and of course almost full employment. The coal mining communities around Donny too.
jon357 63 | 14,149
2 Oct 2014  #26
I found this map - dunno how reliable it is, but quite interesting



tictactoe
2 Oct 2014  #27
See: migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/britains-70-million-debate/5-british-and-other-eu-migration

Can I remind everyone that this thread is about differences Polish people see with the British, not about immigration/politics specifically.
L777
2 Oct 2014  #28
British people generally seem to be under the impression that Poland and UK have a 'special bond',

Let be realistic here. British people generally wouldn't be able to find Poland on the map. They don't know first thing about history, generally speaking and their view of a special bound if any, amounts to "Britain went to war to defend Poland" slogan.

. British people think they helped the Poles a huge amount and are owed some thanks

You are right on your money, they think and they expect, they think they are owned. It is a brilliant propaganda bought by the general public, hook and sinker, Britain being an imperialist aggressive power, always going to war for their own reasons and pursuing their own interest, is being seen by the general public as a charity figure helping people and nations all over the world for free.

Brits are generally very proud of WW2, that's part of our 'national story', and people do take a strong personal pride in it.

I'm sure they are. The myth created to let them forget they have lost their colonies and have been degraded from the world power to echelons of the USA helpers.
jon357 63 | 14,149
2 Oct 2014  #29
Let be realistic here. British people generally wouldn't be able to find Poland on the map

Most know far more about it than you think, despite the relative paucity of cultural output compared to it's neighbours. Poles coming to the UK generally know something of what to expect through film, TV, literature and music, so some of the differences they see are familiar already.

always going to war for their own reasons

Anything else would be unusual.

The myth created to let them forget they have lost their colonies

Not a historian, are you guest poster? You probably don't realise that the UK got rid of the colonies over several decades as part of a deliberate process. Poles don't always see this, having a different attitude perhaps due in part to their own country having been dominated by more able neighbours and their attempts to dominate others being largely unsuccessful. A friend recently visited the UK for the first time - she was disappointed by London. The reason? Simple. She'd been to Moscow, Paris, Berlin, Washington and expected London to be some grandiose capital reflecting national prestige rather than a delicious chaos.
L777
2 Oct 2014  #30
Most know far more about it than you think,

Maybe people over 35 would be able to find Poland on the map but the younger generation wouldn't even know where to look.

Anything else would be unusual.

You have misread my meaning deliberately.

You probably don't realise that the UK got rid of the colonies over several decades as part of a deliberate process.

They have done all that from the generosity of their spirit, kindness and to uphold values of tolerance, equality and a fair play, so close to the heart of the British nation.

hook, line and sinker ...


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