Moving to another country, or how pink paint can save you from going crazy
It took half a year of job hunting, several crises and premature rejoicing, but here I am. I drove 300 km back and forth, dragged all the necessities (clothes, cooker, rugs, bedlinen, and most importantly, my ceramic coffee dripper) on my back while panting “it’s fine, I know I could buy it here but it’s just cheaper in Poland…” and finally snuggled down and called this place home for the first time.
Then I’ve discovered that a new home is a new home. I pace it from one wall to another and nothing seems familiar. More than that, everything irritates me. Some tiles are down exposing a brownish wall, the tap is leaking, the oven is broken, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the washing machine is broken as well. And suddenly calling a repairman seems an insurmountable obstacle (not to mention that in my previous, comfy life, things got fixed by saying “Daddy, it’s broken!”). I’ve already went through two scenarios:
- I ask if they speak English. They don’t. Conversation is over.
- I start with my poor, twisted Slovak. They realise something is off and treat me like a retard from then on.
So staying at my new home is not the best solution, unless I want to end up in a booby house. Let’s go out then. Let’s go shopping. Not being able to find a can of tomatoes in a supermarket grows into an existential problem and brings me close to tears. But otherwise I’m sane. I hope.
I get back home, I open a can of pink paint (since I couldn’t get the bloody tomatoes…). I cover the brownish wall with gentle strokes of brush. The sensation is therapeutic, I feel like this atrocious wall represents all my problems and now I’m painting it PINK. When the reason for stepping out of my comfort zone returns home and inspects the mess I’ve made, he slowly shakes his head and says “you need to go to work”. I guess he’s right. Apparently I’m not the stay-at-home type.
Starting work means bureaucracy though.
“Are y’all from third world countries?” — political correctness of the so called Foreign Police
One might have imagined that the European Union saves you some troubles. With open borders, free flow of workforce, common authorities and digitalization, nomadic lifestyle should be a piece of cake. Wanna smoke weed? Go to the Netherlands. Drinking booze in public? Germany will welcome you. You are an Eco Freak? Pick something in Scandinavia. You are a Pole who loves to be challenged with bureaucratic nonsense? Slovakia is your destination.
To start work, I need a permit for residence. I might consider myself lucky — the owner of the flat I’m staying in is happy to write me a permission to live at his place, and sometimes he even makes me breakfast to bed (although it’s been a while since last such a treat). But others, who just got the job and want to rent a flat, might discover it to be a mission impossible.
Anyway, I enter the police office, wielding file with all the documents (those obligatory and those “just in case”). The waiting room is filled with all kinds of folks. Asian families with kids, Romanian couples, Serbian workers, French students, you name it. With just few chairs we are crowded in one corridor, waiting patiently. A police officer comes out and asks something in Slovak. Asian guys reply in fluent Slovak. I remain confused. After three hours of waiting, my number finally comes up. I submit tons of papers, they take my fingerprints and a mugshot. Blonde police officer fit for porn acting (tight uniform, absent gaze) tries to illicit money from me, fortunately her colleagues stop her. I feel vulnerable as no one wants to communicate with me in English. I focus hard to understand her, she is fed up with repeating herself, I give up. I memorize whatever she splutters, I’ll google it later. As I leave these magnificent facilities, she follows me to the door and shouts at the waiting room: “Are y’all from third world countries??” — my jaw drops. She clearly doesn’t realise that to many Slovakia is a third world country.
I receive my permit for residence two weeks later. With it, I can go sort out my health insurance. I’m sure it will be equally adventurous.