Are you dreaming of living in Poland ? Our interview with a French expatriate will give you an idea of the way of life in that country.
If you are tempted to experience life in Poland, this guy will just give you his best advices.
Where are you from ?
From France, close to Lyon's region.
What was the reason for your decision to leave your native country ?
I felt dissatisfied in France, particularly because of the general atmosphere which I find mediocre, too sad and the lack of opportunities to find a job.
Why did you choose Poland ?
I discovered this country during a road trip with a friend. I first discovered Wroclaw (I challenge you to pronounce the name of this city correctly without help !) and then Krakow. I quickly appreciated the security, the calm and the beautiful urban centers.
What kind of expatriate are you ?
Let's say that I like to have my habits in a city but still discover the rest of the country, including the countryside.
What strategy do you recommend ? Finding a job before leaving or after ?
I recommend first to visit the country to see if you like it, to ask questions to the natives about everyday life before eventually looking for a job there.
What would you have done differently ?
I'm not sure...
What have you learned about yourself ?
That I am more resourceful than I imagined ! Even if I still need to make progress on some things.
What have you learned about Poland and Poles ?
Their country has developed well, but they often keep a rather old traditional European side that is not unpleasant.
What stereotype about Poland can you now reject ?
I think that many Poles may seem cold at first glance. But once you get to know them and especially during the festive moments, they change a lot and are much more friendly.
After how long did you feel comfortable and integrated ?
Even after two years of expatriation, there can still be awkward situations. However, I think that after my 4th tourist stay I was already pretty well established. I've been talking with these people and it's true that knowing someone and being invited to parties and events makes things easier.
In which other country would you like to move to ?
I have no idea. At the moment, I don't see myself living anywhere else but in Krakow.
Did you have a language preparation before leaving ?
Not at all ! I was speaking mostly in English. Alas, I'm going to confirm a cliché about the French : after two years, I think I have an A1 level in Polish, knowing the basics. I should make more linguistic efforts...
How do you manage to communicate in Poland ?
English B1 is sufficient for people under 50 years old who often speak not too badly. Otherwise, online translator...
Some anecdote about the language and your initial communication difficulties ?
I told a Polish woman I met in a bar in Krakow that I had gone to Wroclaw. Of course, I pronounced it as it was for a French and she didn't understand anything. She ended up laughing when I wrote her the name. For information, it's pronounced "Vrlotsouav"!
What useful sentence can you teach us ?
Dzień dobre: hello (djiene dobre)
Dziękuję : thank you (djiene kouyé)
About the language barrier, any advice ?
Don't be ashamed and try to express yourself in spite of everything, even if you feel shy.
Did you take language classes once you got there ? In what form ?
No, I confess that I simply learned through conversation with native people.
What do you think about learning in immersion ?
I think it's probably the best way to learna language. I had already been in immersion with host families in England and it's true that the level increases thanks to that.
What about social life in Poland ?
Restaurants and bars are very popular in Poland. Outside of work, it is mostly where you can hang out. If you are invited to a Polish wedding, hold on and be brave, because the vodka is flowing and the party lasts all night long, even over several days sometimes !
Is it easy to meet people and create a bond ?
Some people are more open than others, it's very random. People who speak good English often like to practice.
What about the expatriate community ? How is it going ?
I don't know about the others, but the French community in Poland by city is very active. It's easy to make contact and to find some mutual help.
How would you describe the Polish mentality ?
Thanks to their history, I think they are a resilient people who have a sense of sacrifice and who like to devote themselves, especially to their families.
Do you work in a company with locals or foreigners ?
What's your current job ?
I work in webmarketing for a multinational web company.
Is your salary the same as the local salary ?
I earn a little more than the average salary in Poland.
What language do you work in ?
In French and we use English quite regularly.
Is there a site or a structure to recommend to find a job ?
Facebook groups of expatriates and work for the city you want. It is easier to work in Poland if you are referred by an employee.
What are the administrative steps to start to work there as an European ?
Poland is part of the EU, so there are almost no steps to take. It is just strongly advised to make your PESEL number if you want to live there. It's like a resident number and the procedure in an administrative center takes less than 15 minutes.
The health system
Were you in Poland during the pandemic crisis ? What measures were taken by Poland in
response to the COVID-19 virus ?
Yes, I was already in Poland when it happened. The sanitary measures were almost the same as in France, except for the attestation system which didn't occur in Poland.
How did the Poles welcome these measures ?
I was not aware of any real protest, so quite good.
How does the Polish health system work ? Is it easy/fast to make an appointment with a general practitioner in Poland ? With a specialist ?
First of all, you have to make sure that the doctor, dentist etc. speaks at least English and you can book that thanks to the Luxmed or Medicover systems offered by big companies. The waiting time is variable but I found that it was faster than in France. Thanks to the company that employs me, I have basic health cares for free. The medical care is quite good.
The cost of living
Did you find an apartment, roommate ? What is your background and what are the specificities related to the country ?
It is easy to find a studio/apartment alone or as a flatmate at a reasonable price, even in a big city if you want to live in Poland. Just post on Facebook or look at the ads on a site like Gumtree.pl, with the help of a translator. Usually, you pay a month's deposit in addition to the rent to get in and there is no need for a guarantor. Look carefully at the terms of the contract in case of a hasty departure before the end of the lease.
For a French person, what is the cost of living in Poland ? And for Poles, what is the purchasing power ?
I would say that Polish life becomes rather comfortable if you earn at least 1000 euros (about 1220 dollars) per month. Knowing that the Polish minimum wage is around 450 euros per month. With 1k/month net, you can live close to a center in a big city, go out quite a lot. In short, you do not deprive yourself too much. For info, a pint of beer costs less than 2 euros ! Alone, I spend about 150 euros per month on food.
Poland in 5 senses
What smell characterizes your experience in Poland ?
Unfortunately, I have to mention a bad point. There is a problem of pollution in Poland's big cities, like any country that is growing rapidly and not yet very concerned about ecology. So I don't really have good olfactory memories.
What sensation describes your experience in Poland ?
I'm quite visual as a guy, so it's nice to observe the many details when I'm in rynek (market place).
What taste do you associate with your experience in Poland ? Recommend a restaurant or a bar.
It is the taste of meat that comes spontaneously to my mind. Go to a small traditional Polish restaurant and try the pierogi, which is a ravioli with different fillings.
Which image, spot is representative of Poland according to you ? Recommend an activity to do, a place to visit.
There is a lot to say. But to make a long story short, I would say Krakow's market square which is very picturesque. I also recommend to go hiking in the south of Poland, which is mountainous. Especially next to Zakopane.
What sound/music/noise is very Polish to your ears ?
The trumpet that you can hear regularly if you pass by St. Mary's Basilica in Krakow ! Disco Polo is also an interesting curiosity, it was a kind of Dance with light lyrics that emerged during the 90's in Poland and is still quite popular.
For more essential and useful information about Poland, visit THIS informative article.