I don’t mean to upset Polish people on here about this but there has always been a pureness and honesty within my blogs from around the world. In China, I wasn’t keen on the food and the smog. In London, I hated how unsafe the streets were. In India I hated the sexism and how dirty it was. In South Korea, I hated the electricity wastage at night and the US influence. I documented a lot of this on the Don’t Stop Living journeys.
And yes, I’m normally very positive on here, and in general when it comes to discussing my life in Poland. But recently, I came across a few things that made me realise I don’t like every aspect of life here in Poland. Let me say, I don’t want all of these things to change of course, as Poland is great the way it is and I don’t want to be one of these arrogant immigrants who comes here and preaches to such a great country that it should change. I just thought I would tell you the 5 things I don’t like about living here at the moment, which I have to admit are far outweighed by the pros and positives, maybe even 96% to 4%!
Some of my older posts, for thought.
So Polish people, and foreigners who live and visit Poland – here are 5 things I DON’T LIKE about living here.
1.Arrogant Foreigners Who Expect to ‘Change Poland’
This is definitely the thing that I like the least about living in Poland. It is the sheer number of foreigners/immigrants who criticise Polish ways of life and seem to think that they (yes, they as foreigners!) know better than the Polish people. These are what I would call ‘arrogant immigrants’. They are not here because they love Poland and its culture and ways, they are here to somehow think they have a right to come in and change things as they disagree with what goes on here. Sadly, the Facebook groups that I joined seem to be full of such immigrants who think they know better than Polish people, and it seems they want to CHANGE it to suit them, rather than try to adapt to the wonderful Polish culture. Most of us thankfully, come here because we love it as it is and we want to integrate and adapt to Poland, not divide or change a country that works fine as it is.
Most of these foreign immigrants seem to come from the Untied Kingdom countries or the Untied States. They sometimes look down on Polish lifestyle and tell Polish people to change things. Prime examples are their lack of understanding of simple aspects of Polish life – national days, the church, the festivals, the holiness of Sunday, the Bar Mlecznys, the no meat on Christmas Eve, shops being closed on Sundays etc.
The same sort of foreigners also don’t immerse themselves in local culture – they hang out with other foreigners, they don’t bother to try to learn Polish or understand the history and they spell cities like Łeba, Gdańsk and Kraków like Leba, Gdansk and Krakow (or Cracow). It doesn’t take much effort to learn the language and change your keyboard to Polish. A lot of them also seem to refer to themselves as ExPats, expatriates or expats (a hat-trick of terms I hate). We are foreigners, strangers, aliens, immigrants. I never want to be an ExPat or a SexPat.
Thankfully though, these arrogant immigrants are in a minority and most of us interviewed for Careers in Poland, Multicultural Warsaw, International Poznań and ExPat focus love the lifestyle here and that’s why we are here.
2.Most venues don’t have the change in złotych!!
As I said, I don’t want to be the arrogant foreigner who wants to change this – keep it as it is but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t upset me when I go in to buy a pint of milk and try to pay with a 50 złotych (or dare I say it a 100 złotych) note. Only to find that they have no change. In this scenario, many local businesses lose money and this is the only aspect of it that might influence these businesses to get change in coins.
Recently, I went into a bar to buy a 7 złotych beer, and I went to pay with a 50 złotych note. The barman told me they had no change, after pouring my drink. I told them, I also don’t have change, but I’m the customer so surely, I come first for them, as without me – they have no business. I can buy my beer elsewhere. They checked again and they didn’t have the 43 złotych change for me. So I said goodbye and bought my drink at the next bar! So please be aware of this – local businesses can really be affected by this! And I’m very much a cash in hand guy for quick transactions so no – I don’t want to always pay on card!
3.You can’t just cross the road when you want!
Having spent over 5 years in Asia in countries such as China, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam I was used to risking my way across busy roads and junctions in major cities. It was a test to try and get through the traffic, especially in Chongqing, Dhaka, Jakarta and Hanoi. If you don’t run and risk, you’ll never get through the traffic or get to the other side. Here in Poland, you don’t have such a choice!
You must wait until the green man is lit, or find a zebra crossing. Pelican crossings don’t exist in Poland, neither does your right to cross the road where there is no official pedestrian light. If you think this law isn’t strictly enforced, think again. Wait for the trams and buses to stop – wait for that green light!
I made the mistake of doing this twice and both times was caught and stopped by the Police. At first I didn’t like this system, but now I got to know it, I actually respect it a lot. It is done for the safety of thrboth (three-both) the drivers in vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. Be warned! You might get fined! Jim’ll risk it but the police’ll fix it!
4.Good cheese is dear!
I hope Polish people don’t hate me after this article but I was always a cheese freak when I lived in Northern Ireland, England and even Australia. I could get a range of good global cheeses for a good price. For some reason, local Biedronkas, Zabkas and Społems have a small selection of average cheese. The only Polish cheese I really like is Oscypek (admittedly superb) but I miss just getting cheese and having a cheese and crackers afternoon.
Of course I could pay extra money and bring the cheese over, but I don’t want the hassle of that. I had the same issue in China and Hong Kong – hated the local cheese. Rice (China) or smalec (Poland) on toast ensured that lunch would never be the same again.
5.Away Fans Hate the Home Fans – Fans mostly hate other fans (Football)
In Northern Ireland and England, the football rivalry is for 90 minutes – the time on the pitch. Rival fans meet and drink before and after the matches in pubs and bars all over the countries. Last Glentoran match, I spoke to some Ards fans. We are all wearing our team colours no problem – no fights, only on the pitch we want them to lose and them us. Same in England on my recent trip back there to watch my team AFC Bournemouth. After our 4-2 win over Leicester we spoke to the Leicester fans for HOURS in the pub – no issue.
Here in Poland, you cannot even wear a Legia Warszawa shirt or scarf in Kraków, Gdynia, Łódź or Zabrze. Don’t even consider it – you will be attacked! It is not a myth. I went to the recent Legia Warszawa v. Arka Gdynia match and the away team were not even allowed fans in due to flares and pyrotechnics in their recent matches. Football violence is huge in Poland sadly and I don’t enjoy this. In England and Northern Ireland there is hate for 90 minutes and the banter is great aside from this. Some of my best friends and family support rival teams to me and we stay friends and wear our shirts in front of each other. In fairness, some teams in Poland have “friendships” with other fans, e.g. Legia Warszawa and Zagłębie Sosnowiec and Olimpia Elbląg. I’ve been to over 30 stadiums now in Poland and will keep going, but you have to be aware what you wear. I even felt like an idiot once, going to the Arka Gdynia stadium wearing green (the colours of Lechia, their rivals!).
Aside from this there are really not many things to dislike about Poland. It has fantastic transport in the major cities, incredible food, unbelievably deep and torn history, superb bars and cafes. It has great transport links between cities, it has at least 6 decent airports to fly to many parts of Asia, Europe and Africa from, it has a tough but well constructed language, beautiful sights and friendly people.
“Don’t ever change” Poland – seriously, keep it as it is, but I’ll still have a rant now and then!