Today’s interview is with David, an American expat who is living in Poland.
This is the experience of someone who left America in search of his roots in Poland. It’s a daily blog of what keeps his and his wife’s life interesting and rewarding after making the difficult decision to move. David began writing his blog before he moved seven years ago and it is filled with information on what it takes to make a permanent move to Poland. It is also filled with slide show pictures of the many places and countries he has visited since living in Poland, recipes for Polish dishes his wife makes, genealogy research of his family ancestors as well as activities going on in his hometown of Poznań. David’s expat blog is called Poland – Our Future.
Here’s the interview with David…
Where are you originally from?
I was born in Hammond, Indiana but spent a lot of my later years in the Chicago area.
In which country and city are you living now?
I live with my wife in Poznań, Poland.
How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
We have lived here for almost 6 years and have no plans to leave.
Why did you move and what do you do?
I’m afraid that’s a rather long story. It started out as a discovery of my roots. All of my ancestors are Polish but I was born in America and didn’t know anything about family still existing in Poland until late in life at age 57. None of my generation of relatives in America knew anything about existing family in Poland. It was only after a few years of research that I discovered I had family in Poland, got in contact with them and came to meet some of them. When it came time to retire, my wife and I decided we would leave America and move to Poland so that I could get to know the family/families there.
What we do in Poland is enjoy our life through travel, visits with relatives, making new friends and studying the Polish language.
Did you bring
family with you?
The only family I brought with me was my wife. Our three adult children and our grandchildren stayed in America.
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
We knew that not knowing the language would make it difficult at times, especially in government offices when you need to have something “official” done. The hardest thing was leaving our family back in the U.S. We use Skype to see and talk with them but, of course, it’s not the same as in person. At first, communication was the most difficult but many young people speak English so it was possible. We’ve learn Polish every day and it is getting easier to communicate with Poles who only speak Polish. Probably the most difficult transition was getting use to the way Poles drive. It’s very aggressive and you always have to be on the alert.
Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We socialize with very few expats. It doesn’t put any demands on us to speak Polish when with English speakers so we try to find friends among local people.
What are the
best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
In the area, we spend our time visiting historical castle like Kornik, Śmiełów, Rogalin and others. Naturally, the market square, Stary Rynek, is always nice to visit during the warmer months. There are a lot of different kinds of museums in Poznan as well as beautiful city parks. For a smaller city, Poznan has several nice shopping areas like Stary Browar and Galeria Malta that are worth visiting. Bicycling is part of the city and in many places it is easy to rent a bike and travel around Poznan. Within the city are numerous restaurants of many different ethnic varieties so you can easily satisfy you culinary needs.
What do you enjoy most about living here?
The people, nature, history, ease of visiting surrounding countries and Polish hospitality.
How does the cost of living compare to home?
Some things are more expensive here, some are not. Housing is definitely more expensive along with gasoline prices. Food is cheaper, and better,in general, in Poland. The biggest difference I see is in health care. In the U.S. we were paying 6 to 7 times as much for it. The quality of the care is lower here but if you can find a good doctor they are just as good as in America. Electronics, of all types, are more expensive in Poland. However, what we receive for our pension allows us to live comfortably and do some traveling. On the same amount in America, it would be hard to survive.
if any, are there to living here?
Leaving my family and friends back in America and little or no sun in the winter. Cost of housing, gasoline, heating, electricity and Polish drivers are negatives.
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Expect it to be different and don’t allow the differences to make you a negative person.
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Learning and understand the Polish language. It can be done but it takes a lonnnnnnnnnng time. .
When you finally return home, how do you think you’ll cope with repatriation?
We are at “home” now. We won’t be returning to America for anything but visits to our children and grandchildren.
What are your
top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
- Be sure this is what you want to do.
- Don’t be discouraged with things you can’t change.
- Start each day like it is a new adventure.
- Really get to know the place you live in. Learn the history of your area and the people who live there.
- Be friendly to everyone and eventually they will return it.
Published by ” Expats Blog “