Polish People

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 16:00

What would you say if I told you that over 100 million paczki (Polish Donuts) are consumed just on one day of the year? Would you believe me? You should— because this little fun fact is not only true (the Thursday before Ash Wednesday) but also averages out to almost 3 donuts per person. It’s the kind of fact not only that you will never forget, but also makes you wish you were in Polish the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. I know I do.

I could seriously ramble on and on for days about how unbelievably delicious Poland’s food is (it’s near magical). However that’s not why you’re here. No—you’re here to hear the tales of my experiences and adventures through Europe’s 9th largest country, and my reflections of the Polish people, the Poles!

The Polish People—Making Friends for Life

Polish people have been called a lot of things, but none of them has never been lazy or rude. Few people are as hard-working and seemingly relentless to never admit defeat. In the face of any challenge, the Polish people find a way—resourceful and coregous to their core are these wonderful people who call this place home. With a history as challenging as theirs, it only makes sense that the people throughout the years are born with nerves of steel and hearts of gold.

I was lucky to experience this without meeting within Poland. While my travels took me Ukraine, I ventured on a tour of Chernobyl and Pripyat to the site of the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl. I bumped into a Polish girl my age, and we hit it off—both being the only solo travelers on this tour we had an enjoyable time talking and sharing experiences. Once my journeys took me to Poland and her hometown of Krakow, I reached out to her, and with open arms, she took me in and opened her home to me. I can honestly say I had one of the greatest hosts and knowledgeable tour guides of all time! She shared and took me to all the hot spots only the locals know about and even to some of the most exciting and energy filled underground bars one could imagine. Her kindness even extended to introducing me to her friends and colleagues who greeted me not as an outsider but as a friend. They shared story after story about life, their country, and this lively and stunning town. In not so many words, I found myself a truly lifelong friend.

The Poles are some of the most kind-hearted people you could ever find in your travels. Some have gone so low as to call them “simple” or “stupid”, but that notation doesn't even “hold water”. Especially since the Polish people are some of the most educated people on the planet. Over 90% of its population has achieved completion of at least secondary schooling; if that’s not enough for you, the Polish people have racked up 17 Nobel Prize Winners, including world-renown Scientist Marie Curie, for her work in radioactivity (even discovered elements). She also is credited with the creation of the term radioactivity—you’re welcome Earth.

The Kind of Culture to Expect in Poland

The Poles have a unique style of life being very gritty and hardworking people. Although one could expect this culture to be very nose to the ground and focused you’d be quite amazed to know the Polish people carry with them a great sense of excitement and liveliness that hides behind their focused exteriors.

Next, to the Scandinavian people, the Polish people are some of the most in touch with their connection to nature in the world. The streets always seem to be packed with people out and about being active with friends, family, or something as simple as a nice hike into the woods to one of Poland’s 2,000 lakes.

Next, to that, the Poles uniqueness stems not only from their modern societal norms but also to their language. To start off, in Poland it’s just a part of the culture to use certain things or have certain things. None more evident than their love for curtains. Whether it's walking down a straight and gazing into the windows of all the homes or being offered to accept the legendary hospitality of the Poles and entering their home (with your shoes off, thank me later); curtains seem to be just about everyone a curtain could hang. Also, Poles, according to a report on marriages, tend to marry the earliest or youngest, in all of Europe. When you know, you know I guess.

Moving on, the Polish language differs very much from that of the English language. Not only does the Polish language contain more letters (32 letters, 3rd most in all European languages), but it’s crazy and nonsensical grammar creates many strange combinations of letters like crazy or krzy. Not to mention, last names in Poland differ from one family member to another. Something that isn’t found too often in other languages. Gender does play a role in how one’s last name is spelled, regardless of the fact of who your family is. For example, many Polish last names end in ski, which is the male-specific ending. If you were a female with your father’s last name ending in ski, your last name was changed the last letter to an “a”, changing the ending to ska. Something probably, you’ve never known, but most likely will remember the next time you hear a Polish last name.

Traveling Poland—A Country of Grace

I thoroughly enjoyed my travels in Poland, not only because I met some great people but rather that Poland is so large that almost nothing there is crammed. In fact, over 30% of the country is forest—making Poland the 4th most forested country in all of Europe. Throw in over 2,000 lakes, over 320 miles of coastline and sandy beaches, Poland has plenty of different landscapes to offer tourists of all kind.

Whether you’re one who enjoys a lively and exciting city life and nightlife, perhaps a city like Krakow or Gdansk is for you. If you’re the type of traveler who prefers to stay close to the coast and the water, the Sopot Beach in Sopot is right up your tastes. If you’re one who enjoys connecting with nature then Białowieża Forest, a conservation biosphere may be your dream spot.

Polish People
Polish-People

Although Poland has so much for so many kinds of travelers, the amazing cities of Wroclaw, Lodz, Warsaw, Gdansk, Kazimierz (Jewish district), cannot be left off your check list. Wroclaw, with its architectural marvel gothic buildings, bridges and street art; Lodz, the epitome of industry and progress in Poland; Warsaw, the city of sights, with buildings as tall as their dreams build them, a commercialized haven for those not so millennials climbing into the 21st century way of life.

Five minutes here and you can feel the life, escaping the heart of each city, through each of their people. The smells, the sights, the experiences--Pryztanek Woodstock (Europe’s largest open-air festival), the River Oder & Lagoon, the salt mine of Wieliczka, and the Jarmark Bozonaroc Christmas market. It’s a place anyone can enjoy and anyone, as I did, make a friend for life, simply by talking with someone.

Poland—A home away from Home

During my trip, I managed to march for Human rights against the Polish ruling party (by accidentally stumbling into a friendly mob in Warsaw). I spent hours and hours going through the Border Crossing at the Belarus-Poland border, danced at the birthday party of a renowned international techno DJ, and got to stand where Polish Kings and Queens once called home in Wawel Royal Castle. My experiences are my own, and as much as they sound so amazing or interesting, they are in fact choices I was lucky to make. Nothing is stopping you from doing the same. Get out there, create memories and friends that last much longer and have more meaning that any picture or article could ever. What do you say?

 

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