It’s been almost seven years since I moved to Poland. I’ve lived a lot of good moments, but also I had to experience some bad moments as well.
The Reality of Living Abroad
If you have been following my blog for a while, you may be thinking: “This guy loves every aspect of Poland”. This is almost 100% true, I really enjoy my life in Poland, but let’s be honest, when you move to another country, state or city at first you are really excited, you are always surprised by all the new things you are seeing, with all the new food you are tasting and with the magic places that you will always remember. But when you get used to your new life, you start noticing that there are certain things that you just don’t like or try to avoid.
If it’s the first time you read one of my posts please don’t bother to leave comments like: “If you don’t like it, go back to your country”. I love Poland and I will always do, so relax amigos :)
So here I go, these are the things I don’t like the most about Poland:
The Damn Polish Lektor
If you are a foreigner and you had the chance to watch a foreign movie in the Polish TV, I’m pretty sure that your expression was like: “WTF is that..?” when you heard the voice of the Polish Lektor for the first time. If you have no idea what I’m talking about let me explain you: Polish Lektor is a boring voice-over translation that goes together with the original voice of the movie!
It doesn’t matter if there is a guy, a woman or a child speaking, or if it’s an action, romantic, horror or comedy movie, the voice of the Lektor will always be the same! Same tone and same boredom. This guy has a monopolio on Polish TV!
For example, as a foreigner I hate it because I’m trying to pay attention to English language (which is not my native language) and suddenly the voice of this old guy appears! My brain gets so confused and I can’t understand anything!
Now imagine this situation: Angelina Jolie is swimming, she is going out of the pool completely wet, she flips her hair back and then she starts talking with a sexy voice… everything is going perfect, but suddenly the voice of a boring Polish guy goes off! You want to throw something at your TV! :P
I don’t know why this Lektor thing exists, and why people like it. But maybe this is one of the reasons why Polish people are good with languages, because they make the impossible to ignore this guy and pay attention to the original language.
I’m from Mexico, and some of the things for which Mexico is famous around the world is because of the amazing food we have, and because of the problematic and useless bureaucracy we have.
So there I was, going to the immigration office in Łódź trying to apply for my residence permit (Karta Pobytu). I arrived at the building and started asking for help in order to know where should I go. After many unsuccessful attempts I arrived to the correct room.
In my head I was thinking: “You are in Europe now, you are in the First World! This will be a piece of cake!”
But I was completely wrong! First thing I hate about the Immigration Offices in Poland (Łódź and Warsaw at least):
- The staff don’t speak English! No, I’m not kidding, in the immigration offices most of the staff don’t speak anything else than just Polish! I know, I know, I’m in Poland so I should speak Polish, but if 100% of your customers are foreigners that just arrived to your country looking for information on how to legalize their stay, well, it’d better (and obvious for me) if you spoke some other languages as well!
- Eternal queues: when you need to wake up at 3 am, go to the immigration office and stay in the queue for about 5 hours in order to get a ticket / number, then you can wait for 6 more hours inside the building so you can give your documents and they don’t kick you out of the country. Again, I’m not kidding. For some procedures there is no option to make appointments, you must make a long queue in order to get into the office. Maybe staying in the queues for hours is something that some Poles are used to enjoy…
- The douchebags that ‘work’ in the queues: I saw on many occasions that some abusive people ‘work’ by standing in the queue for you. We can say: ‘This might be fair if one person is in the queue and one person replaces him later’, but NO, these guys are there 24 hours, they ask for a lot of money from foreigners (you can see when they charge them). One of those guys stands in the first places of the queue (obviously) and 10 minutes before the doors are opened, dozens of foreigners replace that guy in the queue! So if you were there really early and there were only 10 people before you in the queue, well my friend, now you have 50 people before you! This is disgusting and unfair! The immigration office and police are aware of this, and apparently they haven’t done anything yet, because those guys are still ‘working’ there.
The immigration office is a place that I will need to attend many more times in my life, I have to be honest about this, every year they are improving their service, but there are years away from giving a good quality service.
When Cashiers Give You Your Change Back
I’m pretty sure you experienced this a couple of times in any Polish city or town. If you go to the supermarket, bakery store or any other place where you need to pay with cash, you will live this for sure!
So there you are, you just bought a six-pack of Tyskie beer and some Paluszki to eat, you go with the cashier, you pay in cash and suddenly the cashier literally throws the change at you! It seems that those cashiers are angry just because you bought in their store! I’m not kidding, I’ve lived this in Warsaw, Krakow, in smaller towns, everywhere.
When I pay in cash in Mexico, I put my hand immediately in front of me so the cashier can put my change right into my hand. This works perfectly, because you can just put your money into your pocket and continue with your life.
But in Poland this is different, if you pay let’s say 5.43zl with a 20zl bill. The cashier first will be angry because you don’t give them the exact amount of money, then because they need to get rid of the tons of the famous ‘groszys’, and you will have like 3000000 coins now.
The first few times I paid in the stores, I put my hand in front of me and the cashier just ignored it, and threw all the tiny coins in the special container that all the stores have. So there I was, with my busy hands trying to get all the tiny coins and put them into my pocket. Also, all the cashiers seem to be upset with life :P In Mexico people are smiling, and this takes me to my next point…
People Don’t Smile
Mexico is one of the happiest countries on earth, and as a Mexican I tend to be happy most of the times. I’m not the happiest guy on Earth but if I’m on the bus or just walking in the street I really love to smile! I like to show that my life is good and that I’m happy to be one more day on Earth.
One of the first things that was shocking for me was that Poles don’t smile! If you get into a bus all the people have poker face, from time to time someone is laughing but is mainly at night buses after a couple of drinks :P But seriously speaking, Polish people don’t smile, maybe they just don’t like it or they are not used to it, I don’t know, this is something super weird for me.
Sometimes I get into a bus with my latino friends and we are laughing, smiling and making jokes, and some people are looking at us like: “Who are these guys? Why are they smiling?”.
One of the reasons for this might be the weather, because most of the year it is raining or there are low temperatures, maybe that’s why Poles don’t smile too much.
Length of the Day
Of course I had to mention the weather: come on people, I’m from Mexico, Cerveza, Tequila and Margaritas. For me this was one of the main obstacles when arriving to Poland, when coming from a city where the average temperature during the year is 22-24 degrees, it was shocking to see snow and live with it for months!
During winter I was really sad and quite depressed that when I woke up at 7 everything was gray and dark, I went to the office, I finished my work, I went out of the office and it was night again! Where is the light!? During winter, the length of the day is really short, if you have to work in an office, well my friend, you will not see the sunlight during winter.
And during summer this was surprising for me as well, it gets dark around 9-10 pm and the sun is shining already around 3 am, so if you don’t have good curtains in your room you will not be able to sleep because the sun will be shining like crazy in your window. I like it, but I would prefer a more ‘normal’ length of the day.
Warm Beers in the Supermarkets
Summer is the best season to visit Poland, the temperature is super nice and you can do many more activities in the cities. One of my favorite things to do is to have a cold beer with my friends, sometimes it is good to go to a pub, but sometimes I prefer to buy a few beers at the supermarket and go somewhere to drink them. But there is one problem with this, in most of the supermarkets in Poland, the beers are NOT in refrigerators. Why? I have no idea!
In Mexico if a store doesn’t have cold beer it will go bankrupt within no time, so let’s say that I’m pretty used to it. But in Poland they just don’t do this. Many Poles told me this: “They don’t sell cold beers because when it’s cold you can put your beer on your balcony and it will be very cold”. This is good because if your refrigerator is not working during winter, you will be fine, just put your food on your balcony and your food will be safe.
But in summer that’s a different story, some days are extremely hot in Warsaw, more or less like 35 degrees, so if you go to Biedronka you will find many types of beer but not a single one in the refrigerator! Why? Why you make me suffer? :( This is something that I will never understand, if I were the owner of a store I would put all the beers in the refrigerators so I could sell more, maybe I’m wrong. What do you think?
One funny fact I just remembered: During winter Biedronka was selling Cubic-Ice which was awesome for me because I could be prepared for parties at my flat. And now when the temperatures are hotter they are not selling more Cubic-Ice in Biedronka! True story!
Seats in the Cinemas
One of my favorite hobbies is to go to the cinema, you know, to watch a good film on a huge screen, eating pop-corn and enjoying a cold drink. Agree on this?
Now, it is even better if you go with the girl or boy of your dreams, and because it’s dark and you are watching a horror movie this is a perfect occasion to hug her or him, and maybe because of this you will have a chance to kiss her/him and do something else later. This obviously might happen in any other country in the world but not in Poland, and let me tell you why.
I’ve been in many popular cinemas in different cities like Multikino or Cinema City, and in all of them I found one thing in common: it is not possible to lift up the arm of the seat, so hugging your partner is impossible. Of course you can do it, but you will destroy your ribs with the arm of the seat and I’m sure you will not be comfortable in that position during the whole movie.
In Mexico, between you and your date there are no obstacles when you try to hug each other, if you go to the cinema you can hug and kiss without any problems. But here in Poland, it seems that the cinema’s owners want to make sure that if you go to watch a movie, you are really going to watch it! It is not bad, but cinemas in Poland are not the best places to have a date.
By the way, if you know a cinema where the arms of the seats can be lifted up please let me know asap! I will love you for this!
Oh man! This is one of the most annoying things in Poland for me! I’m living in Warsaw and you may know that soon (maybe in 2030) we will have more stations in the second metro line. I’m being lucky because in my neighborhood they will build 2 metro stations, it sounds great right… but no, it’s not!
As you know I come from Mexico City, and the city is always crowded and chaotic (I miss it), and somehow we are experts in buildings things, we have more or less 12 metro lines and many more crazy transportation installations. And you know the traffic jam is always the same, the time you will spend in your car is the same, no matter if they are building a giant building or just fixing the holes on the way (just kidding, this never happens in Mexico), the thing is that the constructions in Mexico don’t affect the population a lot. We all know what to do.
But here in Poland it’s a different story, I told you I live where they will build new metro stations so the responsible for this construction decided to close all the main streets in just one day, destroy everything and that’s it! It’s your problem now!
There was a period of 2 weeks, when if you had a car in my neighborhood you were not able to go anywhere because all the streets were closed! I don’t know who is the responsible for the logistics of this but he is not very good at his job! In Warsaw they thought it was a good idea to close 3 of the 4 main routes to go to the center of the city, the result of this? One hour to go to the center when before you just spent 15 minutes!
They could close only one street, build what they need to build, open it again and then close other street. Does it sounds crazy? I don’t think so.
Finally…Well you know me, I just can’t look at this Polish food, for me it doesn’t look tasty at all. But many Poles like it, I don’t know why honestly :P
I just Hate Nine Things About Poland
That was a long post but I realized that I hate only nine things about this country, not bad right? If you read the whole post, thank you! :D Now you understand me! Please don’t hate me for hating.