Today’s interview is with Edward, an American expat who is living in Poland.
Edward Myska came to Poland in 1993 when he lost his job in the U.S.A. and didn’t see good opportunities for employment in America’s workforce. A foundation from Pennsylvania, which was active recruiting English teachers, opened the door for him in Poland and he then spent the next four years in the Polish Educational System. During this time, he also spent two years as a director and dean of a prominent business college in Bielsko Biala. In 2006, he fulfilled a personal ambition by completing a manuscript entitled “Inside Poland,” which was aimed at giving foreigners a detailed look at Polish society. This treatise captured the basic economic, social, and political forces that Polish people were severely struggling with on a daily basis. The author was shocked when he soon discovered that the world, and Polish-rooted POLONIA, was not interested in Poland’s homeland struggle to build a new nation. He continues to be active as a volunteer promoting English conversation, primarily for adults.
Here’s the interview with Edward…
Where are you originally from?
Union County, New Jersey
In which country and city are you living now?
Szczyrk, Poland (which is in the southern part of the country, very near the Czech Republic & Slovakia.)
How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
20 years exactly. I will be buried in Poland.
Why did you move and what do you do?
I lost my job in the USA and came to Poland to teach English in the Polish School System.
I spent four years teaching English on all levels: grammar school, jr. & senior high school & college.
I estimate having given 2,500 lessons in Polish schools; and another 5,000 lessons encouraging English conversation during the last 16 years, as a volunteer. Unfortunately, Polish schools focus on written exercises, and they don’t have adequate programs dealing with confidence building & actual speaking skills.
Did you bring family with you?
No! I came alone.
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
A bit more difficult than I anticipated. But as a 2nd generation Polish-American, I was able to get along in the Polish language, though Polish was not spoken at home in the USA.
Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
As a school teacher in Poland, many doors were easily opened for me. Poles showed good respect for this American. But there has never been any significant expat, socialization.
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Try to better understand Polish Society and be open to Polish cultural assimilation.
Anyone hoping to stay in Poland needs to have a working knowledge of the Polish language.
Poles are slowly and increasingly becoming more functional in speaking English.
What do you enjoy most about living here?
That I can enjoy a decent Polish lifestyle on my nominal USA retirement benefit.
How does the cost of living compare to home?
It is expensive for Polish people, but still reasonable for this average American.
What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
You need to be able to get along in the Polish language. And though Poles believe themselves to be friendly, it is not so easy getting to know Polish people.
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Take a crash course in speaking Polish and continue to learn the language.
You might try the “Berlitz Language School” but it is expensive. A person will be lost living permanently in Poland without decent Polish language skills.
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Not being able to debate, discuss and convince Polish leadership that even simple changes can be realized that can benefit Polish society. Often, there are more effective ways in doing things.
When you finally return home, how do you think you’ll cope with repatriation?
I long ago married a Polish woman and I will be buried in Poland.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
- Be sincerely interested in your “adopted” country and learn all you can about its culture and society.
- Be diplomatic when bringing attention to differences in lifestyle and societal institutions.
- Find a way to become and stay active in your “adopted” country.
- Read the original novel entitled “The Ugly American.”
- Be patient in the way things are, even though you may often get frustrated in how other people live. It’s unlikely that an expat will ever have much impact on other nationals, though it’s worth trying.
Published by ” Expats Blog “