It’s always challenging to leave a homeland and start a new life in another country. The delight of exploring new things and the fear of the unknown go side by side. Each day brings surprises and new priceless experience. Let’s not forget that another country often means different culture, mentality and language.
I came from Ukraine therefore Poland wasn’t a wonderland with strange creatures for me. The background for relocation in my case was more than good. My knowledge of Polish language allowed me to understand everything and to talk on a basic level. I had Karta Polaka, a document that certified my Polish origin, which was like a magic wand, helping me to solve problems with visa and residence.
The devil is in the detail
All this sounds nice and easy, but the devil, as always, is in the detail.
Speaking about documents (the most painful thing )... It wasn’t a surprise that in Poland you need all of them everywhere in government offices and banks, because I’m from Ukraine, where the situation in this fields is even worse. In Poland if you don’t have a resident card you will only be able to open an account in some banks, not all. If you want to get a driver’s license, you need to make sure first that you have already spent 185 days in Poland and have documents to prove it. If you want to relocate your family, be patient and prepare to receive a series of notifications about the prolonging of your documents’ processing. If you do not receive such notifications, it’s even worse, because you’ll need to put a lot of effort into getting any information about your case...
But for me the whole endeavor turned out to be worthwhile.
The magic wand: Karta Polaka
I guess it’s important to tell a little more about my magic wand. The Karta Polaka allowed me to get a visa to Poland in one week. No other documents besides a passport and photos were necessary. On top of that, having Karta Polaka meant that I didn’t need a work permit. One more wonderful advantage of this card is the possibility to get permanent residence upon arrival in Poland. The employment contract, the registration of residence and other documents were good to have, but not required in my case.
The language challenge
One of the most important goals after arriving at a new place is fitting into the local society. People in Poland are mostly polite and friendly. Nevertheless, you can always meet someone who won’t understand your pronunciation or pretend not to. The challenge will be much bigger if you don’t speak Polish at all, because not everyone here speaks English.
I learned that the best language practise is to speak with native speakers. But if you speak well enough for people to understand you, they usually won’t point out or correct any mistakes which you may make. I was only able to improve my grammar skills when I started taking Polish language classes. Nevertheless, grammatical correctness aside, your attempts to speak Polish in everyday situations will always be warmly appreciated.
People from Ukraine sometimes think they understand Polish because it is similar to Ukrainian. Well, it is, only there are really millions of words which sound similar, but have totally different meanings. Also, Polish grammar is much more complicated than Ukrainian. So my advice is: plan to learn Polish even if you think you understand it.
Language also can tell a lot about a nation and its history. It’s an interesting field to discover. For me it’s fascinating to compare such close and distant at the same time cultures as Polish and Ukrainian. Both Poles and Ukrainians share strong family values and traditions. We have a long and complicated history that sometimes can cause disputes, but today we have more in common than it would seem.
The adventure of living abroad
I’m from Kyiv and truly love my native city, but it has terrible problems in some aspects that make your life there hard and inconvenient. I can’t compare Kyiv with the Tricity because it would really be invalid, but I can share my expertise and experience from both these backgrounds. After living in one of the biggest cities in Europe I was glad to finally stop spending hours on my way to work, because the Tricity has good transport infrastructure, which allows you to move around the agglomeration with ease. You can even use a bicycle as a vehicle because the main streets are adapted to this means of transport. Clean and cozy streets won’t substitute native places, but will give a feeling of lightness and freshness. Roads are not perfect in Gdańsk, but at least you can see more bitumen on them than holes.
Kyiv, my home city, is often referred to as the city of gardens.
The fresh air, mild climate and large numbers of green areas in the Tricity are among its greatest advantages. Life is far better when the sun doesn’t burn you in the summers and the winters don’t freeze the blood in your veins. You would need only to get used to frequent weather changes during a day: rainy morning, sunny noon, dull evening. Therefore, if you appreciate variety and are ready to experience fantastic Tricity, just go for it and dive into the big adventure of living abroad.
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