Coming to Poland has encouraged me to go and explore other new cultures

F15 Graduate Programme is a fast-track graduate program to become Arla’s future leaders and help shape our business moving forward. Meet Nadine one of those amazing young people.


How did your story with Poland start?

I am originally from the UK and moved to Denmark in September 2021 to be an F15 Graduate at Arla. The F15 programme is a 2-year programme where you live in 3 different countries for 8 months at a time working across different business functions. I was just over halfway through my first rotation in Denmark when I found out that I was moving to Poland 3-months later and I have been here for almost 4 months now.


Can you tell us about your first impressions when you moved to Poland?

My first impression of Poland is very much based on Gdańsk and the Tri-City area as that is where I live and work. The vibrancy of the city is what struck me first, with such a variety of buildings spanning from the Old Town to the apartment blocks that were built in the communist era, to super modern buildings that are continually being developed. You can find the whole spectrum in Gdańsk and I love that as you can feel the history and progression all in one. I also found the people to be super friendly and welcoming, and very keen to help recommend me places to go, food to try and beaches to explore.

Polish language is always a big challenge for foreigners and there is a reason why it is described as one of the most difficult languages in the word. We are very interested in what your progress in Polish looks like.

Well, this will sadly be a short answer, as polish is even harder than I initially expected, particularly the pronunciation.  For now, I survive with the 3 key words anybody needs to know: Dzień dobry (Good day), Dziękuję (Thank you) and Do widzenia (Goodbye). But it is actually a great learning experience too to live in a country where (besides in the office), you don’t understand people and people don’t always understand you. It has really emphasised how spoilt we are as native English speakers. So, whilst my Polish ability is quite terrible, I am also appreciating the experience of being the one who is not always understood in shops and out and about in daily life. It makes you a more empathetic person I think, so I strangely enjoy those moments.

Are there any funny stories you have associated with the Polish language?

This is more embarrassing than funny, but I recently text my landlord to say thank you for something and wanted to use one of my 3 key words “thank you”, which I pronounce like Jen-koy-ah. However, I did not realise the spelling was so different and so she was very confused by my “Jenkoyah” message. I then found out a couple days later it was spelt “Dziękuję” which taught me a valuable lesson to always Google translate before assuming I know the spelling!

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

My family was a bit surprised but being on the F15 programme they knew that I could be sent anywhere so it was not a totally unexpected surprise in that sense. Some friends from university recently came to visit me and they loved it, particularly the Old town, pierogi from Mandu, Wiśniewski (a Cherry Vodka bar) and the nightlife at Stocznia and Elektryków.

What do you miss most about your country?

I always wanted to live in different countries, so I actually do not miss that many things as I spend most the time feeling super fortunate to have this experience. I guess as a stereotypical British person I do miss good tea which I actually drink more of when I am outside the UK, than when I am home. Recently, I have been craving Steak Pies and Fish and Chips. And of course I miss my family and friends, but FaceTime is a great saviour there 😊

 What do you like about Poland?

I really love the music scene in Gdańsk, even the Disco-Polo which I have been told is terrible by some locals, but I enjoy it and it will always remind me of Poland now. I also love how people always say “Dzień dobry” when they get in the lift with you, and “Do widzenia” when they leave, despite not making any actual conversation in the lift. It is a small thing, but something I wish we did in all countries. I think it is super polite and it always makes me smile. There is only one small thing I dislike about Poland and that is having to wait for the green man on the traffic lights to cross the road, even when there are no cars coming. I walk to work and I think I spend about 20 minutes every-day waiting at traffic lights. Although, this is also the same rule in other European countries, so maybe it is something I need to get used to.

Do you have a favourite dish you can tell us about?

I think pierogi is a clear winner for me, I love the fried ones from Mandu with some soy sauce which I suppose is a mix of Polish food with an Asian twist. I also like the Polish donuts which I was introduced to quite early on and doesn’t count as a dish, but I have a sweet-tooth and Polish donuts are different to the ones we typically get in the UK which are more like the American style.

What have you learned while living in Poland?

Moving to a new country the lessons you learn are indefinite and sometimes hard to articulate, but I find the biggest things you learn are often about yourself, your ability to adapt and be resilient. In terms of the culture and people here, I can see how ambitious, hard-working and empathetic the people here are. I think Gdańsk is a city with a bright future ahead. I have also learnt that no matter how different people may sound, or different customs and cultures, most people fundamentally are the same and want to be kind to others, build relationships and have fun. So, in that sense, coming to Poland has only encouraged me to go and explore other new cultures.