NRI Voice: Pulse of Poland
In the three years of her life at Wrzesnia in Poland so far, Heena Saran has fallen in love with the European country and its people.
Heena Saran has been living at Wrzesnia in Poland for more than three years and she couldn’t be happier with her life there. With time, she has managed to successfully adapt to life in the country, having crossed challenges such as language barrier and an unfamiliar culture.
She tells Little India why Poland will always remain a cherished country for her:
India to Poland
The journey has been really exciting. When I first got to know about shifting to Poland after marriage, I Googled about life there and was curious to see the country, especially Wrzesnia, in images. My husband was transferred here a few months before our marriage so he used to send me pictures of the nearby lake, departmental store, the house where I was supposed to live after marriage, etc.
I had never had an opportunity to live outside India, so for me it was a big change in terms of starting a new life — in a new relationship at a new location. After spending more than three years here, I can proudly say that Poland will be always be very close to my heart. I have created thousands of priceless memories while living here.
Life in Wrzesnia
I recently wrote an article in a Polish magazine about my experiences in Wrzesnia. Adapting to this place, its culture, people and weather were quite exciting as well as challenging. Coping with the weather here, especially from December to February, is a big challenge. But a much bigger challenge is language. Most people speak Polish and you meet English speaking crowd mostly in big cities like Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan, etc. But if you can learn the language, everything can be really smooth.
First impression of Wrzesnia
My first impression of Wrzesnia was nothing short of an imaginary small beautiful town in a European country where you see huge green fields with gigantic wind mills, Jersey cows grazing the fields, church bell ringing at a distance… Well, you do get to see all of this here. The best thing about Wrzesnia is that the town gives you a perfect amalgamation of urban and small town life. The city has offices and production plants of many big companies like Flex Films, Volkswagen, Krispol, etc. But at the same time, you get to see a relaxed pace and attitude in life of people. Life is so simple and relaxed here, unlike in Delhi or Mumbai.
Learning the Language
Language barrier was the biggest challenge for me but now after living here for more than three years, I have got the knack of Polish language and can easily communicate with people in my day-to-day life. But for people who cannot speak and understand Polish, it sometimes gets extremely difficult.
As with almost every Indian living abroad, sometimes you get so emotionally drenched that you want to kick away all the comforts of life and want to be near your family.
The Indian community is very close because they are the ones you have in your moments of happiness and sorrow. We are nothing less than a family, and celebrate festivals, birthdays, and anniversaries together. We have a Hindu temple in Warsaw where Indians gather to celebrate festivals and give their contribution to increase the activities and presence of the community in Poland. Indians living outside the country are closer knit than people in India, simply because they feel more attached to fellow countrymen than the people of other ethnicities.
Celebrating Festivals Together
Indians here do not leave a single opportunity to celebrate festivals as that gives us the true feeling of being at home, and we miss our families in India a little less. From Navratri, Ganesh Chaturthi and Teej, to Karwarchauth, Diwali to even Halloween, we love to celebrate every festival. My family and friends back in India are amazed to see us observing festivals, which are losing their charm even in India. The feeling of oneness multiplies as we cook, eat, sing, dance and celebrate together.
I do have some Polish friends, but not many, as language is a barrier. Many Polish people usually withdraw if they see a person speaking in English. But if they see you trying to speak their language, they are very open and encouraging.
Finding Work in Poland
Finding work in Poland without proficiency in Polish is very difficult. Even if you find English speaking jobs, the process to obtain work visa is a big challenge. But many Indian students come to pursue higher studies in Polish universities and also get work after the completion of their courses. So, it is difficult to find a job but not impossible.
Must-visit Places in Poland
Poland is a beautiful country that has to offer something for everyone. If you like mountains, Zakopane is a must visit place. I went there on my honeymoon and the trip was truly magical. For beach lovers, the trio of cities Sopot (Baltic beach), Gdansk (beautiful old city with huge square) and Gdynia (a port) are the attractions. Those who are interested in history must visit Auschwitz concentration camp near Krakow to get a better understanding of the World War II.
The foremost learning has been about the value of punctuality. People here are known for being always on time, they may be five minutes ahead but are never late.
Another amazing quality that I deeply admire in Polish people is the equal respect they have for every profession, whether it is being a sweeper or a doctor. They do not discriminate on the basis of a person’s financial or professional status.