poland - someguy's (m/38/canada) reflections after years there in their 30s

posted by someguy on 11/10/13.


What brought you to Poland?

My Polish GF and eventually wife. We met in Dublin where there is a large Polish community.

Describe the city you live in in poland and your impressions of it.

I've lived in both Warsaw and Krakow. These are very different styles of city so it's interesting to experience the contrast. Warsaw is around 2M, so pretty much the biggest city in Eastern Europe. It was totally destroyed in WWII, so much of the architecture is brutalist, but there is a region called the old town which was completely reconstructed to its historical renaissance appearance, and they did a fantastic job.

There is also plenty of green spaces. In general Warsaw had quite a vibrant feel in some areas. Commercial space is still cheap, so in the areas where I lived (Powisle) there were plenty of funky bars and cafes that had an experimental feel to them. The nightlife went strong to the wee hours and I even had some visitors comment that it reminded them of Berlin.

Krakow on the other hand is a very beautiful city as it was never bombed during the war. It is one of the few cities in Europe I've visited where the castle is not some tourist attraction outside town, but is right in town and its grounds pretty much define the downtown area. So there's a bit of a fairy-tale feel to it. But, it is definitely a bit quieter than Warsaw in terms of the nightlife.

What are the people of Poland like? In what ways are they different than people in other places you've lived?

The Polish are quite fun-loving, and have a great sense of humour, if you like things on the silly side. Hey, it a Catholic country :)

But at the same time there is a good work ethic here. I wouldn't say people work long hours, and there is a lot of time off, but they take their work and education very seriously. There is a big focus on family.

You will find prejudice however. While not non-existant, there are few visual minorities, so "foreigners" are more white ex-pats like me. I had a Nigerian friend here and he said he experienced occasional prejudice, but it was nothing like Russia where he actually feared for his safety.

How does the language barrier affect you (if it all)?

I had to learn a bit of Polish to get by at the shops and the like, but in general young people will reliably speak very good English.

What sort of work/school do you do in Poland?

I'm a programmer that works from home for an American company. There is a strong tech scene in Poland, the technical education is quite good and you'll find a lot of Polish developers at companies like Google and Facebook. Krakow in particular has a fast-growing start-up community.

Does your money go further or not as far as it does in other countries and cities?

Poland is quite cheap for the basics. I don't rent in Krakow, but in Warsaw it set me back about 400 Euros/month for a one-bedroom in a central location with a great view over the city. I got the place through a friend though.

Groceries and alcohol are cheap. Fight connections are decent and very cheap with Ryanair. Brand-name clothes and electronics tend to be a bit pricier than farther West, but that's typical for countries like this. There are a few good restaurants, and we even managed to find decent sushi after some searching :)

Do you have any stories/observations to share about dating, relationships, gender norms, or sex in poland?

There is a stereotype that Polish girls are really attractive, and that's true :) Particularly in Krakow. But in Warsaw they're less snobby ;)

Would you recommend poland as a place to live, travel to, or neither?

Absolutely I would recommend it. If you're the entrepreneurial type, you'll find a lot of like-minded people, and an interesting market in that at 40M, it's sizable, but insular enough to have a high viral marketing potential.

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