By Ken, Teacher in Warsaw
Dzień dobry wszystkim!
As I write this blog post, I have now been living in Poland for 5 months. It has been brilliant so far, and I’d like to tell you about what has surprised me about Poland and Warsaw in particular since I live in the centre of Warsaw. Of course, other cities are available! So let’s dive into what has surprised me about Poland so far!
How modern it is
I was very surprised to see so many tall, modern, business-y type buildings in Warsaw! I was expecting to see much less modernization but Poland as a whole has really come a long way in such a short space of time. It is growing at such a fast rate and its economy is expanding as we speak, making it very appealing to businesses also. When you think of Poland you inevitably think of the last World War and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Poland isn’t a modern place, but although there are still remnants from the war and a lot of historic buildings, Poland’s advancements are very obvious and it seems like a very safe bet for the future!
Litterbugs? What litterbugs?!?!
Having lived in Japan for the last couple of years where it is almost immaculate in places, I was expecting to see a lot more garbage and clutter in Warsaw. Nope! It is honestly probably as clean as when I lived in Tokyo, if not cleaner. You might see the odd overflowing bin but apart from that, for the biggest city in Poland it is almost spotless! You will very rarely see any litter or gum on the streets. I still wouldn’t recommend eating my dinner off the streets, though!
Their English proficiency
I applaud anyone who tries to learn English as it isn’t very easy (their, they’re, there being a prime example!), but it isn’t uncommon to hear Polish people speak English when you are out and about. Also, I haven’t yet had a client who has been unmotivated to learn English, touch wood! That goes for kids and adults. Everyone seems to be very willing to learn and broaden their horizons, and also participate fully in lessons. And not just in lessons, a lot of my clients will also do extracurricular activities outside of lessons to further enhance their English abilities.
So fresh, so clean
Unlike supermarkets and shops elsewhere in the world, there is very little heavily processed, unhealthy food in Polish shops! That’s not to say that there aren’t crisps (or chips for all you people from across the Atlantic) or sweets to satisfy your sweet tooth, but for the majority of food you’ll buy, it seems to be of a high quality and also very fresh. There are very few “ready meals”, and these are a lot healthier than their American or British counterparts. For all you gym-goers and health buffs, you’ll be glad to hear that the vegetables and fruit are absolutely delicious!
Time is precious
As mentioned on previous blog posts Poles aren’t generally ones to engage in small talk. If a Pole speaks to someone it is usually for a purpose and not just to be friendly and/or polite. It can feel like they are being quite abrupt at times, but it’s just the way they are. This does take some getting used to, so don’t feel offended if a Pole is blunt and very straight to the point with you!
Zapraszamy! (We welcome/invite you!)
I have been pleasantly surprised as to how respectful and welcoming Poland has been! As a man of Asian appearance I generally expect to be stared at/looked at weirdly by a few people, but so far this hasn’t happened and everyone has been super nice. Poles do not seem to differentiate between themselves and other races, and generally keep to themselves. A simple example of this is when I enter a lift people will say “dzien dobry” to me, and not just to other Poles or other caucasians.
I have had a wonderful time in Warsaw so far. As with any new experience, it helps to keep an open mind and to accept other cultures without self-imposing your own beliefs and narratives. Of course, other opinions may vary and I’d highly suggest not listening to negative stories online, whether true or not. As they say, one man’s treasure is another man’s poison and the only way you’ll know whether those stories are true is if you actually come to Poland and teach for yourself!
So what are you waiting for? Apply here!