To the question “what pleasantly surprised you in Poland”, we most often heard the answer “public transport”. On buses and trams you can check the clock here. They are always clean, they arrive on time. At the stops there is a schedule from which you can find out not only the time of arrival of the transport, but also when you get off at the stop you need. Polish transport is convenient for people with disabilities. Many buses and trams have a special lowering step that allows you to drive in a wheelchair. Drivers, seeing a passenger on crutches or in a wheelchair, often get out and help him get into transport. In big cities, night buses also run. Not a single foreigner, who sat up late at night at a Polish party (“impreza”), was happy that he did not have to spend money on expensive taxis. The timetable of public transport and the shortest way to get anywhere at any time can be checked on the website jakdojade.pl.
We warn you! Trains can upset your plans in Poland. They are clean, comfortable, but they are often late. Keep this in mind when planning trips and travels.
Most Poles have a high culture of behavior. This is especially noticeable in public places, such as shops. The conversation always begins with the words “Dzień dobry, proszę Pani …” or “Dzień dobry, proszę Pana …”. Sellers and buyers here smile at each other, wish a good day, exchange compliments. In public transport, pregnant women and older people give way.
Once the Poles kissed women when they met, but this is already a relic of the past. Now at a meeting, both men and women shake hands more often.
You can safely contact the Poles on the street. The older generation remembers Russian, and young people often speak English. They will be happy to show you the way and help resolve problem situations.
In Polish parks and squares you will be touched by the appearance of young couples with prams, and often just fathers who spend time with their children. According to representatives of the beautiful half of humanity, Polish men are attentive, responsible and caring. They love their children just as much as mothers, they spend their time with them willingly. Men’s family care in Poland is supported by the state. In 2010, a law was passed here, according to which young dads after taking the baby can take a two-week parental leave. The family can also choose who will go on an annual maternity paid leave: dad or mom.
Sense of humor
The Poles do not wait for April 1 to joke and laugh. Humor helped them survive the absurdity of the Polish People’s Republic. In those days, Poland was called “the most fun barracks of the socialist camp.” Jokes today are often heard in everyday life. The Poles laugh at politicians, tell jokes about foreigners, mother-in-law, historical figures and, most importantly, are not afraid to make fun of themselves.
The case with the Polish president Andrzej Duda was indicative. On the eve of the celebration of 2017, Internet users created a fake group “New Year with Andrzej Duda” on Facebook, which was joined by over three hundred thousand Poles during the week (judging by the comments, these were mainly opponents of the current government’s policies). In this online community, they joked in every way at the president, created fake pages of various public people (Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Angelina Jolie, Lech Walesa, Elton John, etc.) who “confirmed” their participation in the celebration and laughed at the head of state. Many media called the “New Year with Andrzej Duda” the best meme of the year, but the Polish president did not remain in debt. 5 minutes before the New Year, he showed that he can laugh at himself by posting a photo on Twitter with his wife under the Christmas tree, signing it with the words “I thank and congratulate all participants of the“ New Year with Andrzej Duda ”with all my heart! Happy holiday. “
If you live longer in Poland, it will become obvious that the citizens of this country are distinguished by rebellion, indifference and a desire to help those who find themselves in a difficult situation. Poles are always ready for resistance in response to pressure. This national trait at one time greatly contributed to the emergence of “Solidarity” and the fall of communism. In addition, today the Poles willingly financially support the inhabitants of the countries in which the war is going, helping victims of natural disasters. According to the website ngo.pl, about 120 thousand non-governmental organizations work in Poland. Each of them is looking for funds for different needs: assistance to sick children, homeless animals, single pensioners, and environmental protection. The largest non-governmental organizations (“Big Orchestra of Holiday Aid”, “Caritas”, “Polish Humanitarian Action”) operate with millions of budgets, which they manage to collect not only through financial assistance from large concerns, but also through individual donations.
Seven out of ten Poles financially support charity initiatives, two out of ten – devote time to social initiatives, and act as volunteers. Charity is also encouraged by the state. Each Pole can transfer 1% of his taxes to the account of some non-governmental charitable organization or private person who, for example, collects money for an expensive operation. It is worth emphasizing that the Poles do not give this 1% out of their own pockets, but transfer them from taxes paid to the state.
We already wrote about the most beautiful churches in Poland. It is worth taking a trip around the country to see with your own eyes unusually beautiful temples, cathedrals, monasteries, chapels. The Catholic Church and the Catholic tradition helped the Poles survive the communist period without losing their national identity. At that time, between the words “Pole” and “Catholic” it was often possible to put an equal sign. Nevertheless, today a significant part of Polish society laments the Catholic Church and expresses dissatisfaction with the fact that the church hierarchs of Poland are too actively interfering in politics. Another part of society supports the Catholic Church and believes that state laws should be consistent with biblical commandments. In Poland, unlike other EU countries, the number of clergy is constantly growing. According to the Catholic News Agency, in 2015, more than 60 thousand priests, monks and nuns lived in the country. Four out of ten Poles go to church every Sunday. (In 2016, the Polish Church announced that Jesus Christ should be considered the “king of Poland”).
Delicious and reasonably priced food
Poles love to eat. They know how to cook deliciously, the quality of products is very important for them. This can be seen by hitting the Polish house for Christmas or Easter. Several types of fish, meat dishes, delicious sweets will certainly appear on the table. Many good quality products in stores are much cheaper than in other EU countries. There were several high-profile cases in the country when, for example, palm oil was found in cheese. Manufacturers who are caught in such tricks pay huge fines or are forced to close production. Arriving in Poland, be sure to try typical Polish products: oscypek cheese, boar sausages, order zurek or bigos soup in a restaurant.
Order in government
City government, tax and sanitary inspections – these and other state institutions in Poland work as a well-established mechanism. Here you will not hear the phrase “I am alone, but there are many of you here” from officials, there is no talk of bribery. In Poland, in one day you can register a company, the tax system is simple and transparent. Representatives of the authorities are always friendly, and visitors are not forced to stand in line for several hours. An unpleasant exception is the Office for Foreigners. To get an appointment on the issue of citizenship or residence permit, a citizen of another country sometimes is forced to wait several months. Nonetheless, foreigners who have been living in Poland for more than ten years claim that the situation used to look even worse: no one could make an appointment by phone, so people queued up in the evenings, spent the night at the office building to get an appointment.
500 zloty not only for Poles
This information will please foreigners who live or plan to live and work in Poland with their family. In 2016, the country launched a program of financial assistance to parents of minor children. Each family can now receive monthly PLN 500 (about 120 euros) for the second and subsequent children. Poor families also receive financial assistance for their first child. Under the law, foreigners who work and pay taxes in Poland can also receive 500 zł for children. An important detail – these people must have a residence permit with a work permit.
Poles can quarrel over politics, be intolerant of fellow citizens who differ from them, however, despite different views, they are united by love for their country. It is clear that this “medal” has a flip side: in Poland, as in any other country, there will also be people whose love for the homeland has grown into hatred of “strangers”, but nevertheless, as it seems to us, they make up insignificant part of society.
Especially in the first months of life in Warsaw, Krakow, Lublin, the ear constantly picks up the words “Poles”, “Polish”, “Poland”, which people pronounce here everywhere: at bus stops, in cafes, shops, and transport. Poles may not like power, criticize the opposition, quarrel with each other, but they are deeply concerned about what is happening in their country.
They are proud of their roots, they transmit stories about their ancestors from generation to generation, on the occasion of national holidays they hang white-red flags on balconies and are not shy of tears of happiness when their athletes win at international competitions. Perhaps it was these feelings that helped this proud people to preserve themselves, to survive the wars, sections of Poland and other difficult periods of history.