Poland…I am surprisingly going to really miss you.
I lived in the north of Poland in a beautiful city called Gdansk which is part of the tri-city area where it’s like three cities (Gdansk, Sopot, Gdynia) combined into one.
It only takes 30 minutes to travel between all three cities by car or train and each place has it’s own unique charm.
Gdansk — Industrial and working area and where a lot of events happen.
Sopot — Where the night life and party scene is. Also where the wealthy opt to live.
Gdynia — Quiet and peaceful area
I’ve been regularly told by the locals that their favourite place to live in Poland is in the tri-city area because of the friendly and more open minded people, the quality of life here and the variety they get from the three different cities.
What did I think of Poland?
I can’t speak for all of Poland, but I can speak for Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia…
Before I came to Poland, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect because when I spoke to other Polish people, many would say that Poland is boring or has nothing interesting to do (which I can understand if you’ve lived there your whole life).
From other travellers, I heard mixed reviews — some loved it, some said that Polish people were cold or rude while others said that they were the loveliest of people with big warm hearts.
My experience was the latter — EVERY.SINGLE.PERSON that i interacted with was friendly and always helpful.
Not once during my entire 3 month stay did I experience any negativity (okay maybe just one time when I didn’t weigh my carrots before going to pay at a new grocery store I had never been to and the lady at the register was probably already having a bad day! I’m certain though that had I of talked to her elsewhere, she’d be lovely too).
What did this lesson teach me? Don’t listen to the opinions of others and let that affect how you perceive something. Everybody has a different perception and experience so go out there and experience it for yourself before deciding for yourself what you think of something.
One thing that stood out for me while living here was the feeling of growth and persistence in moving forwards. Initially I thought I was the only one that thought this but as I spoke to other travellers and expats, I soon learned that it was quite evident to them as well.
The Polish people are proud of their country and who they are and while it may not seem so obvious to them, outsiders like myself who come with fresh eyes and perspectives could clearly see how much the people, the government, the society are all striving to move forwards, to progress and improve.
It’s something I really admired.
“Do you speak English?” “Only a little bit…”
It was funny for me the amount of times someone said to me that they only spoke a little bit of English and then they would go on speaking perfectly understandable and sometimes even fluent English!
I found that most people spoke English quite well and it was easy to get around even if I only used English (I wanted to learn at least some Polish so I could interact more with the locals to show that I care and put in effort while living there).
I learned from friends and other Polish people who I spoke to that many Polish people are shy and not so confident about their English skills and this generally comes from school where they are so strict about grammar and making mistakes that they’ll sometimes be quite afraid to converse in English, especially with a native English speaker.
Monthly living expenses
Earning in USD and AUD makes living in Poland very affordable for me. From what my local friends and house mates shared, it seems that the average salary in the tri-city area allows for a person to have a decent quality of life and not having to scrape by just to pay the bills.
I usually like having my own space so before I moved to Poland I was looking on the local Facebook groups to find a studio or 1 bedroom apartment. Being that it was the Summer holiday time, it proved to be very difficult to find any studio or 1BR apartments in a good area so as my trip was getting closer and closer, I decided to rent a private room in a shared apartment.
I’m really glad I did because I made some amazing friends with several of my housemates and for my first experience sharing a place with other people, it was immensely positive.
Here’s a breakdown of my monthly expenses:
Accommodation and bills— 1000zl/$268 USD/$375 AUD (from my research, a studio apartment would cost around 1700zl/$455 USD/$640 AUD to 2300zl/$615 USD/$867 AUD)
Food —600zl/$160 USD/$225 AUD (I did grocery shopping once a week and cooked all my meals for the week)
Transport — 52zl/$14 USD/$20 AUD I would take the train about one to two times a week, the rest of the time I could walk to many places since I stayed in a great location
Gym membership — 120zl/$32 USD/$45 AUD
Total average monthly living expenses: 1772zl/$475 USD/$670 AUD
Every once in a while I would go eat out with friends, and do miscellaneous activities but the extra expenses wouldn’t account to much more.
What I enjoyed most about living in Poland
In the video summary of my trip, it looks like I got around a lot but actually most of my time in Poland I spent in solo mode — getting work done, grocery shopping and meal prepping (meal prepping has changed my life and made it so much more efficient!), going to the gym and practising my bamboo flute.
Having moved around so much most of this year, it was nice to get into a routine and have a lot of “me time”. I got into such a nice flow and life here just felt so relaxed, calm and peaceful compared to many other cities I had lived in including back home in Melbourne where things felt much more rushed and stressful.
I walked through a park every day to go shopping, to the gym or to catch the train and I would always see people of all ages relaxing and being outdoors from the elderly, couples to children.
What I really enjoyed each day as I walked past was seeing the children all playing on the playground, drawing with chalk and playing hopscotch, playing with balls or riding their bicycle and scooters — not a single ipad or iphone in sight!
Highlights of my trip:
1. I met so many amazing friends that I’ll cherish forever
2. I learned some of the most common Polish phrases and used them frequently everyday
3. Got into a beautiful flow of work/life balance
4. Discovered beautiful nature all over the city
5. Discovered the magical tastes of various pierogi’s (a very popular Polish dish)
6. Became friends with a Sherpa! No, not the ones that just carry peoples things up Mount Everest — someone from the original Sherpa bloodline.
One of his uncles was the very first person in recorded history to climb and survive Everest and another one of his uncles also set the world record for most Mount Everest climbs.
What REALLY fascinated me about the Sherpa people is that there was an American study conducted in 1976 which concluded that the Sherpa people had undergone genetic adaptations after living in one of the world’s highest regions for thousand of years. This gave them an advantage when in high altitudes with low oxygen. Since then many more scientific studies have been carried out. They’re a little bit more superhuman than the rest of us!
7. Most importantly, I found a place that I would consider as a home base and could potentially see myself living long term some day if I chose to!
I certainly did not think before my trip that I would love Poland as much as I do now, it definitely has made on imprint on my heart.
Bardzo dziękuję Polsko!