“I am thinking of taking up that job in Poland”, I told my friends. All of them were shocked with different reactions.

“You are going to where? Are you crazy???”
“Where is Poland? Is it in Europe?”
“It is my country. Don’t go there! Bydgoszcz is just a tiny village with nothing in it”
“They beat up and kill foreigners of colour there” “They are racists”
“Oh la la! You are going to freeze there!”
“The people there are perpetually drunk. They drink vodka for breakfast”
“What is Poland? Is that where Polar bears live”
“I can’t believe you would even consider going to Poland, Romania, Russia, Middle-East kind of countries”
“Think of it, the people there are all running to the UK to take up whatever kind of job! There must be something to that”
And then
“Aww! That’s my native country! We are hospitable people! There are a lot of hidden gems in my country”

After toying with the thought for a while, I decided to give the move a try to the surprise of my friends and the disquietude of my family. If I don’t like it, I said to myself, I would just “run” back to Paris.

Finally, I reached Poznan, a city in Poland. I had come in with 4 heavy suitcases, none of which I could actually lift myself. The border control had seemed pretty interested in me much to the amazement of the American girl who was sitting next to me. “I was expecting this”, I said to her. “I was told to expect this”. My passport was stared critically at and I was asked many times for my final destination and what I was going to do there.

Getting a train to Bydgoszcz was so stressful. As I was tired of tugging 4 bags (one mostly filled with shoes which turned out to just be excess luggage), I left them somewhere and tried not to look as dead as I felt and ignored the curious looks I got. From nowhere, a not-so-clean looking boy, started to point at me shouting something. I froze. Others did not seem interested in what he was saying and so I added him quickly to my list of “things” to be ignored.

I met so many helpful people in Poznan. There was a girl who talked her head off of how she doesn’t see colour and how racists could go “fuck” themselves. There was a really nice priest who spoke English haltingly and was really surprised that I was headed to Bydgoszcz.

I had two friends (I was meeting for the first time) come meet me at the Bydgoszcz train station and we headed to the apartment I had rented.

Work: My name was wrongly spelt which affected all legal documents and office-related applications. Things also weren’t as cheery as the HR had painted.

The people: It was like I was in a movie. At least, that was how I chose to see it. Some people I came in close contact with were nice and pretty helpful. Others just pointed at me and stared openly. I would walk towards people; see them giving themselves nudges and then turning to stare.

Living conditions: My landlady spoke very little English and was the kind of person who smiled at you while lying through her teeth. The house was extremely dirty with leftover food in the oven when I moved in. The cupboards had stuff (iron, soap, tea bags, plastic bags, pasta,…) in them. All these things were probably left over by the previous tenant. She even had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to have the toiletries and food. I politely asked her to trash it. Some days later, it turned out that she hadn’t paid the utility bills and I came from work freezing to an apartment with no electricity and no heating. She brought me a candle. A week after that, the water supply was cut.

By then, I had enough and was completely fed up. As I sat extremely miserable in my flat, I started to check out flights to Paris. After all, I had a job there waiting for me too with the promise of another. As I was checking for flights, I remembered a friend betting that I would not survive in Poland for more than 3 months. Now, I hate losing bets and so I decided to stay for 6 months just to prove her wrong and that I could be tough when put in not-so-pleasant situations.

Over the course of the next few months, things actually started to look up. I learned to ignore the curious looks from people. I moved into another apartment. I made more friends. I went out more without being too scared. I toured the city with expat friends. I started to block out the complaining attitude of the Poles. Then the light bulb moment came! Things aren’t so bad here. There are nice and not-so-nice people everywhere. Every city in the world has its good and not-so-good sides. It just depends on how you choose to see things and what your priorities are!

Till date, I keep thanking God for the fact that I hate losing bets. I would have left this quaint city with nice people missing out on making genuine friendships. Bydgoszcz also offers the opportunity to take a break from the hectic city life and reconnect with the truly important things in life.

Over the course of the years, I came up with ideas of helping other expats find it easy to settle in a country with one of the hardest languages in the world especially for native English speakers.
To be honest, I have had and still have my highs and lows here.

Am I glad I stayed? Yes!

Now let’s enjoy the beauty of Bydgoszcz 🙂


Steve · 25th February 2016 at 4:45 pm

I am glad that you stayed, too!

    ahuosee · 4th March 2016 at 6:36 pm

    Thanks 🙂

wtf · 25th February 2016 at 5:48 pm

“It is my country. Don’t go there! Bydgoszcz is just a tiny village with nothing in it”
“They beat up and kill foreigners of colour there” “They are racists”

Srsly? There are polish people that say those things? Whaaaat?

Sherri · 3rd March 2016 at 10:41 am

I really enjoyed your perspective of living here while being a minority. To the person who posted the above-

“Srsly? There are polish people that say those things? Whaaaat? ”

Racism happens everywhere. The majority of Poles are not afraid of people that are different, however, some people with limited experiences and education are- but…..look at what is happening in the U.S. at the moment—-Poland is no more racist that America.
I have lived in Poland for 12 years and it has grown into something almost unrecognisable. And it is great. But just like any other country it has its problems. Look and France and Germany at the moment. These countries are a mess and the population is angry- I would be more frightened of being a minority in a small German town than one in Poland.
However, Nathalia, your experiences are yours and I hope you enjoy your stay here- but you will find that there are shockingly rude people here and it doesn’t matter what colour your skin is. Just yesterday I was told off by a man because I parked in the wrong place. All he had to say was “sorry lady, this spot is not very good because the cars can’t squeeze through” instead he flew off the handle over a stupid issue. I moved my car but I find that the first response of Polish people is to get angry and aggressive instead of just being polite.
Look forward to reading more!

    ahuosee · 4th March 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Thanks a lot Sherri! I totally agree with you. I actually find a lot of the people to be pretty helpful once the initial barriers are crossed (if any) and i steer clear of the not-so-nice looking ones. Like you said, the not-so-nice ones are not nice to everyone!

Erik · 3rd March 2016 at 7:10 pm

Your friends comments at the begining of this text show how they are uneducated and how they also put negative labels on some parts of the world and its people. First they should learn about some country before judging it.
And after all, what makes them so cool to judge about others, doesn’t it make them similar to these who are judging you?
(I am not Polish and I am dark skinned and never had any issue coz of it).

    ahuosee · 4th March 2016 at 6:40 pm

    well, I find that a lot of people are guilty of this irrespective of where they come from. There are narrow minded people everywhere. Now, my friends are more aware of Poland as a country cos I chose to “educate” them. Here, in Poland, I get asked jungle questions and how much i am enjoying civilization and such. So you see, we need to help broaden the horizon of all we come across who need it.

Segun · 5th March 2016 at 9:05 pm

Good story…glad you held on and didn’t miss the “lightbulb” moment. Many countries are not as bad as they feel at first blush and the experience is there to be had. Thanks for helping to cut through some of those stereotypes.

    ahuosee · 6th March 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Thanks a lot!!! I always tell people that no place is ever as bad as people say it is. You need to visit a country yourself with an open mind and then come up with your own opinion(s).

Elizabeth O. · 7th March 2016 at 1:11 am

It is never easy to move from your homeland to a completely unfamiliar country, and with a different language too. I think there will be good, okay, and not so good people anywhere you go, so that’s pretty much normal.

Shubhada · 7th March 2016 at 5:25 am

It is fun to explore some hidden gems of the world. Great that you got an opportunity to visit one such place.

Fred · 7th March 2016 at 2:28 pm

Thank you for sharing with us your story about moving to a new country. That miserable first apartment with no electricity and water would have totally discouraged me. You are very brave, determined and persevering.

PJ Zafra · 7th March 2016 at 11:18 pm

Great story. That place sure sounds interesting. Anywhere you go where they don’t speak English is always a big change. Different traditions and cultures in general. It’s all about our ability to adapt. I know this firsthand because I’m American and I lived in the Philippines for a while.

Sunshine Kelly · 8th March 2016 at 3:55 am

Great! I am glad you make the right move. Although I have not been to Poland but I think to move to a new place and country takes time for us to adapt. Glad you make it happened, thumbs up.

Claire Marie Algarme · 8th March 2016 at 6:10 am

Traveling to a different country for a few days is exciting. But moving to a new place and staying there for a longer time is a bit different. I remember my own experience when I worked in a country other than mine. Good and bad things happen everywhere as there are good and not-so-good people in various places, as you have pointed out. It’s good that you stayed and saw the other side of this place. Now, you are able to help other expats because of your experience. 🙂

Erica · 8th March 2016 at 8:40 am

Wow what an experience. I’m glad you went regardless of the scary comments you heard about racism and whatnot. But as someone else said, it happens everywhere and it shouldn’t be an identifier of a certain place.

Yvonne Bertoldo · 8th March 2016 at 9:07 am

Never new a place such as Bydgoszcz exist. That is something great to know. It’ s just a bit saddening that it is known to many as a scary place to go to.

Arisa · 8th March 2016 at 11:23 am

Well life is all about taking a step out of our comfort zones, please do share with us more pictures! Would love to see more of it!

George Felix · 11th March 2016 at 1:11 pm

This is am awesome step. I wish you all the very best for your future!

Leke Awonuga · 11th March 2016 at 2:35 pm

Sounds pretty cool! Glad you followed your instincts in exploring other aspects of the world. Indeed, there’s beauty and tons of goodies in whatever we desire to pursue in LIFE!!

Mila · 9th May 2017 at 7:41 am

Do you still live here ? If so would you like to meet up maybe ?

    ahuosee · 29th August 2017 at 6:52 am

    Hi Mila, thanks for the message. Unfortunately, I moved from Bydgoszcz to Krakow. It would have been nice to meet up. Hope you are having a nice time in Bydgoszcz!

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