The most precious in Poland are people ...

Meet Diana and find out what she thinks about living in Poland. What surprises her, makes her happy, how confusing some words can be ...

 

How did your story with Poland begin?

I wish my story with Poland would start in another way, but indeed it started at 5 am on the 24th of February… My family was awakened by the sound of Russian missile strikes on a military base in my city… With my husband, we grabbed our two children, a few things that my eyes caught, and hopped in the car. When we realized the situation was getting worse from day to day and because of some private reasons we decided to move to Poland.

What were your thoughts on Poland before moving here and how does that compare to how you see it now?

None of us have ever been to Poland but when we crossed the border, my whole family was shocked by the warmth, hospitality, kindness and support of the Polish people. Poland is a very beautiful, welcoming country with lots of places for sightseeing. But in my opinion, the most precious in Poland are people.

The only thing I knew about Poland was that Polish people are very religious and take huge care in saving all the historical relics concerning Poland. But I have never thought about what kind of people are living in Poland. This was my main discovery. I used to cry several times by the kindness and support that were provided to my family by unknown Polish people and I am still amazed by your hearts.

Polish language is always a big challenge for foreigners. Can you tell us about your experiences? Any funny stories?

I am Ukrainian and my native language is very similar. That is really helpful. We also have different endings according to gender and time. Of course, I must study the language because we’ve been here almost half a year and my family has found polish friends.

The first funny story is connected to my current workplace. When we came to Gdansk, I was supposed to meet with a man who was helping me to find accommodation. He arranged a meeting in… Wrzeszcz. I looked several times at my phone, but I really couldn’t catch the name of the place, and thought that there was a mistake… I even couldn’t read this word which consists of consonants and has only one vowel letter …  Who knew on that first day in Gdansk that soon I will work in Wrzeszcz…? During the first polish language lesson my teacher told me that the most difficult word in your language is “dżdżownica”, but for me it was obviously Wrzeszcz 😉

And just a few examples of funny translations in Polish and Ukrainian languages. For example, on the first day in Poland my host family invited me to go to “sklep” (store) which in Ukrainian means “crypt”. So, all the way to sklep I was a bit confused about why we were going to a crypt. In Ukrainian “drużyna” (team) means “wife”. Tania (cheap) is a short form of the full name Tatiana, and Taras (terrace) is a typical Ukrainian name. One of the most famous Ukrainian writers is Taras Shevchenko, known by every Ukrainian.

How did your family and friends react to your move to Poland?

My family and my friends support the decision because me and my husband are responsible for the lives and psychological health of our children. My uncle has already visited me, soon two of my friends will come, and in September we are waiting for my granny.

It is always a challenging decision to move so far away from friends and family. What do you miss most about your country?

When it’s a planned decision, then it’s ok. But I had to leave my career, my academic achievements (PhD in Ukrainian law), my family, my friends, my children’s friends and the ground they tread on – home, toys, activities… I need to rebuild, step by step, an environment of safety for my children and my family…

What do you like about Poland? 

I like people. Maybe, it’s just my experience, but I’ve met so many good people that helped me believe again that there are many good people around.  Another thing that is worth mentioning is how much your country encourages a healthy lifestyle: special marked roads on the sidewalk, elevators for vehicles, parking places for bikes in SKM etc.

I must admit that there are some things that my family needed to get used to while living in Poland. Firstly, on Sunday everything is closed in Poland. Because in Ukraine the situation is different: all the cafes, restaurants, shops and activities are open. They can be closed during the workdays, but on the weekend they will be open for sure. Another thing is the receipt for medicine. Every time I need something to buy, I must go to the doctor and ask him to prescribe me the medicine which in Ukraine I can buy without “any papers” in a pharmacy.

What about the food?

I can’t imagine my life without sweets, candies and cakes. But most of all I like cake called “Napoleon”. To my regret, this cake is not popular in Poland at all, so I can order it only privately, but I can’t buy it in a market or order it at the restaurant.

Are there any Polish customs that are either incomprehensible or surprising to you?

I can’t think about something extraordinary, because our culture is much alike. But there was one thing that amazed me. Both my kids are attending kindergarten. At the beginning of June our kindergarten organized an event dedicated to Family Day. To be honest, the event was made on the professional level: animators, trampolines, cakes, aqua grim, kanapki and lots of big toys that are convenient to play outdoors. There even was a real police car with policemen. But after two hours, I saw something that deeply amazed me. In the middle of the playground a big bonfire was prepared by the employees, and all the kids and their parents were welcome to fry sausages, and pour them with ketchup, mustard… I was speechless because 1) open fire 2) in the kindergarten 3) with sausages …. are just out of my understanding. In Ukraine, all these three things are strictly prohibited to be combined. Maybe, it’s a common thing for polish kids, but for me, it’s not. It shows that there are no boundaries between people, teaching children to enjoy life and at the same time to behave safely.

What are your favorite places in Poland?

To my regret, we didn’t have much time to travel around Poland. We were for two weeks in Warsaw and according to my inside feeling, this city reminds me of Kyiv most of all. As we settled in a city near Gdańsk, when the weather is good, we drive closer to the sea. We have already been in Biała Góra and Kuźnica. I like skiing, so in winter my family is planning to visit Zakopane.

What have you learned while living in Poland?

I have definitely become more organized and mentally stronger. I started driving a car. I have a driving license since 2008. I have my car since 2017, but I sat down in the driver seat just a month ago because my family leave nearby Gdańsk and my kids have some activities in Gdynia and in Gdańsk. So, I need to drive a car to save my time and energy and to be a modern mom, eventually 🙂

What do you think was invented in your country that we don’t have in Poland?

In Ukraine we have an application that is called “Diya”.  It contains data about a person: photo, passport, driving license, property, fines and any other additional information. It’s a convenient way to have a passport on “your phone”. For example, in Poland if I want to receive any information according to my number that is registered on me, I need to show my passport, I can’t confirm that me is me by telling the workers my personal info, I need to show a paper document that it is me. And it’s kind of risky to carry the document all the time. So, this application can be very helpful in such situations.

And I must admit that BLIK is a brilliant application, you should definitely spread this option all over the world.

Anything else you would like to add?

Life is so unpredictable. There is nothing stable in this changing world. Obtain a universal profession that can be used all over the world.  Obtain a profession that will inspire you (half of our life we spend at work). Be kind to other people and be kind to our planet. Live your best version of life.