I woke up, opened the window and I saw the beautiful sun entering my room. It was warm, about 25 degrees, a perfect morning in Mexico City. I took a shower and came downstairs to enjoy breakfast my mother prepared for me – scrambled eggs with beans, and of course tortillas and spicy green sauce to complement it. I went back to my room to finish packing my suitcase for my coming two-week trip. In the last moment, I decided to pack a few Mexican candies and snacks to not be hungry on the plane.
The First Goodbye
I spent a few hours playing with my dogs playing, but they were quite sad, maybe they already knew that I wouldn’t be there with them for a long time. I helped my mother to go to the market to buy a few things for dinner. On that evening, at 7 pm Mexico City time, my dad told me to bring my bags because we were ready to go to the airport.
My dad drove my mom, brother and myself to the airport in Mexico City. We arrived at the airport and I checked-in with destination to Warsaw, Poland. After a couple of hours, it was time to say good-bye to my parents. Of course, I knew I would see them again in 2 weeks when my flight back to Mexico was planned to be. I got on the plane, I looked for my seat and the adventure began…
…16 Hours Later I arrived at my destination. After a really good flight, with a transfer in Paris, I finally arrived to the Polish capital, a beautiful and incredible city called Warsaw. I went out of the plane, I passed immigration without trouble, I took my bags, I crossed the gates and… before I continue with my story, let me tell you why I’ve decided to come to Poland.
How I Ended Up in Poland
My whole life I’d always dreamed of traveling abroad, to see if people were the same as Mexicans, or to know if the food was as tasty as in my country. When I was studying my first semester at Universidad Panamericana in Mexico City, we would always have conferences and workshops reminding us that there were opportunities to apply for an exchange to a different city anywhere in the world.
I was determined to try this, but first I had to accomplish a few mandatory things like English certification, to have a good average during the previous semesters, and of course not have any pending payments :P I applied for an exchange semester, it was a really long process. I had to choose a few cities I wanted to study in, I was not sure where I would like to spend the next months of my life, but I was ready for everything, so eventually, I chose: Paris, Zagreb, and Milan.
After several weeks, the exchange office called me that my letter of acceptance from the University had arrived. I was extremely happy because that meant that my chance to study abroad was real, but I was not sure to which city I would have to travel. I went to the office, I got the envelope, I opened it and I started reading it…the University that selected me was Institut Supérieur du Commerce de Paris. I screamed like crazy and called my parents, they were also excited for me. I was thinking: “Oh my god! I will live in Paris! That’s awesome!”.
After that, I had to deal with all the bureaucracy stuff to get my visa, but that’s a boring story, you know how horrible bureaucracy is all over the world.
One month before my trip to Paris, I was looking like crazy a shared flat or a room anywhere on the internet, the prices were insane and honestly I had a really limited budget and no knowledge of French language at all (I should have had studied a little bit to be honest before my trip). One day, on one internet forum, I got a message from a Polish girl named Karolina, she was going to study at the same university as me, so it was great! Karolina and I had basically the same profile: limited budget, no French at all and no idea what we were doing.
We kept talking for a few days, and suddenly she wrote me that she had found a small flat with other girl from New Zealand, and she asked me if I would be interested to live with them for the first weeks. I was really thankful for her offer mainly because I didn’t want to be a homeless student in Paris. However, she and the other girl would arrive to Paris 4 days later than me, so I had to book 3 nights somewhere, but that was not the worst thing to do, so I said yes to her offer, and now I was more ready than ever to live this unique experience.
One day after Christmas of 2012, my time to travel to Paris had come. I got on the plane ready for the adventure. It was the first time of my life, after 21 years, that I travelled to a different country. In the middle of the flight I thought: “This is happening… what am I doing? This is a mistake”. But it was too late to regret my trip, so I just went with the flow. After many hours I arrived to the biggest airport in Paris. One French student from my future University went to pick me up from the airport, and he was for real my first life saver on this trip.
For my first three nights in Paris, I booked a hostel in the city. The only things I knew about hostels were that they were not safe, that they were dirty and I could get killed there (then I realised this was not entirely true). On my first day I was super afraid when I arrived there, I was watching my suitcase 24 hours a day. After the first night and realising that I was still alive, I decided to chill out and enjoyed my first days in the most romantic city in the world.
Paris – The City of Love
After four days of exploring Paris by myself it was time finally to meet those girls with whom I had to live. First I met the girl from New Zealand, her name was Jojo. A couple of hours later we went to the address where the flat was located. Karolina, the Polish girl, was waiting for us. She was blonde, tall, with blue eyes, beautiful face and I was thinking: “Wow, she is gorgeous..”.
I got closer to her to say hello – in Mexico when we meet a new girl for the first time, we always give a kiss on the cheek – I though it was the same all over the world so I kissed Karolina on the cheek, and she was extremely surprised by what I did, but I didn’t understand her reaction so I didn’t care at all. Months later I found out that Polish people just do a handshake when they meet someone for the first time. That was my first cultural mistake ever.
So we were there, living our Erasmus life in Paris, studying, partying, meeting new people from all over the world and having the best time of our lives. I was seeing Karolina almost every day at home (later we moved in with two Mexican guys: Omar and Marianne), at the university, at parties, etc. Eventually I started to feel really attracted to this blonde Polish girl. I kept trying and I decided to invite her for a date one day, surprisingly she said yes to my invitation. The place for our first date was a McDonald’s (I was a really poor student in Paris…), but we had a great time. During our exchange program we kept dating and we became a couple. I had with no doubts the best time of my whole life.
Time to say Goodbye to Paris
After 6 great months, I had to come back to Mexico City, mainly because I had to graduate from my Bachelor’s Studies. Karolina also had to come back to Poland, because she still had 2 semesters to complete. When we had to say goodbye it really felt like we wouldn’t see each other ever again. It was truly the first time I felt that my heart was broken. It was a really sad moment.
Hello Again Mexico City, Did You Miss Me?
I arrived to Mexico City, and my family made a great dinner for me, a lot of tacos, I was really happy. Weeks later, I graduated from my Bachelor’s Studies, I was looking for a job for months, I went to hundreds of interviews, but for some reason I’ve never got an offer. I had no idea why, and I started to feel desperate.
I kept talking with Karolina everyday, we were having a really long distance relationship (10,174 km). Skype was our best friend and we talked for hours. It was extremely hard for us to maintain this relationship for eight months, and I really missed her. I needed money in order to buy a ticket and visit her in Poland, but the companies never offered me a job.
As I was desperate, I started working in a small cafe, I worked there for months I saved all the money and I finally bought a ticket to Warsaw. The ticket was only for 2 weeks (25th March 2013 till 8th of April 2013), but that was better than nothing! I was counting days for this day to arrive. It was the longest waiting time I’ve ever experienced.
She Was There Waiting for Me
The day had arrived, 25th of March 2013, my parents took me to the airport, we say goodbye to each other, and we were sure that we would see each other again in 2 weeks when my flight back to Mexico was planned to be. I got on the plane, I looked for my seat. After 16 Hours I finally arrived to Warsaw, I went out of the plane, I passed immigration without trouble, I took my bags, I crossed the gates and she was there, waiting for me with that beautiful smile.
I hugged Karolina for several minutes, I couldn’t believe it was actually happening that moment. I was extremely happy, I kissed her like crazy. After those moments of excitement, it was time to leave the airport.
I’ve Never Felt So Cold in My Entire Life
Karolina asked me if I had warm clothes, I told her: “Yeah, sure, I bought a jacket in Mexico and I have a sweater somewhere in my bag”. She looked at me like: “Seriously man, you need to put warm clothes, the temperature is -26 degrees!”. I couldn’t believe what she was telling me. When I left Mexico City the temperature was 25 degrees with a glorious sun, and here in Poland it was probably the worst cold weather I’ve ever experienced in my whole life! I started unpacking my bag looking for the warmest clothes I had, I started to put them on me (the onion technique), and I was “ready” to go out.
As soon as I set a foot out of the airport the cold wind of Warsaw hit me, it was the worst thing ever. I couldn’t believe how that cold was even possible to exist. The only reason I didn’t cry was because I was afraid my tears would have gotten frozen on my face.
The first thing I did the next morning was to go to a store and buy some winter clothes and shoes, yeah I had never imagined I had to wear a scarf or gloves in my life. The days passed, we were exploring Warsaw and Łódź, we had dinners with her family (the first time I ate pierogi!). I also made my first snowman ever and everything was awesome!
The Unexpected Decision
The days passed and I had to come back to Mexico City with my family. On the 7th of April of 2013, one day before my flight back to Mexico City, I was talking with Karolina. We were sad because we didn’t know after how many months we would see each other again.
I was hugging her and I asked: “What if I don’t come back?”. She was like yeah right it would be great but crazy. But I started to think, in Mexico, I didn’t have anything apart from my family and friends, I didn’t have a job, and my biggest responsibility so far was to take care of my dogs. So the idea seemed not that crazy.
After a couple of hours, I was decided and I said to her: “I will stay here in Poland, I want to stay with you and I will not go back to Mexico”. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing and she asked me: “Are you serious?”. I was like: “of course yes! I love you more than anything in the world and I want to stay here with you”.
I called my parents that night, and they were thinking that I would asked them to pick me up from the airport next day or something similar, but when they answered the phone I told them: “Hi mom, hi dad, listen I have to tell you something, I won’t take my flight back to Mexico, I will stay here with Karolina…”. When I said that to them there was a minute of silence, they were shocked by hearing that. My father took the phone and told me: “Are you crazy? What will you do there? You don’t have money, you don’t know anyone, you don’t even have enough clothes”, and he was right, I was prepared only for a 2 weeks trip and that was it.
My father was really upset and he told me: “If that’s what you want it’s your choice, but as you are behaving like a man now, be aware that we won’t give you a single penny, it’s your problem and you have to deal with it”. The conversation lasted a couple of more minutes and we did not end on the best terms.
My parents didn’t call me for a few days, they were quite angry but they were mainly worried about me. (Eventually, when they knew I was fine everything became normal, we agreed to talk every Sunday, and we keep doing it after 6 years).
Sh*t Got Real
After that conversation and after I lost my flight back to Mexico the sh*t got real. I had to find a way to legalize myself in Poland, as my dad said: I didn’t have enough money, clothes or a job to survive in Poland. Those first weeks in Poland were magical but also the worst in my life. I had to find any job available, no matter what it was, but I had to find someone willing to help me with a work permit.
After exhausting weeks I was able to find a job in a Call Center in Spanish and English language. The working hours were from 8 pm till 4 am every day, but I didn’t care at all and I accepted the offer. After a few months, I got used to it, my life was getting better, at least I had money to buy a pizza from time to time. Honestly speaking I didn’t want to spend my whole life in a call center, that’s why I decided to apply for Master Studies at Warsaw School of Economics (SGH).
I got accepted at the university, but unfortunately, my Polish level was not even close to study in Polish language, so I had to study in English, but the cost of this Master was really expensive so I couldn’t quit my job just like that. I was studying during the days and working during the nights, I kept on like that for 2 long years. If you ask me now if I would do it again, I would tell you honestly: “Of course not, it was a one time experience and I don’t want to repeat it”.
My life in Poland kept improving with a lot of effort, I was able to have Polish language lessons, to look for a better job, to travel around Poland and to start writing on Chido-Fajny to share my experiences with all of you.
Take The Risk
This is my story of how I ended up in Poland, it might seem a little exaggerated and impossible to believe, but believe me, it’s the truth.
For all the people out there that are willing to relocate to Poland or to any other country, maybe because you found the love of your life, your dream job or you just fell in love with the culture of one place, my advise is: Don’t give up, keep trying, and if your destiny is to move to the other side of the world with the person you love, just like me, take the risk and just do it! It is worth it!