Jackie: Morning Kawa
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Poland, etc.
I am a girl from a small town in Michigan (USA) who loves the beach, traveling and DIY projects. My husband and I met in college and lived in Connecticut for about five years before moving to Wrocław (pronounced vraught-suave), Poland in June 2013 when my husband was offered an opportunity we just couldn’t refuse - and the rest is history!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experience?
I started Morning Kawa when we first moved to Wrocław as a way to share my experience and new city with family and friends. It also gave me a reason to practice my photography skills, which was an added bonus to blogging. After about a month or so, my blog started to develop a following beyond family and so I started catering to a broader audience - offering travel tips, craft projects, even advertisements from around the world - really, I share anything and everything that I love and think others might enjoy, too :)
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favorite posts are anything to do with traveling - a personal obsession and one of the main reasons for moving to Poland in the first place. Of all of our trips, some of my favorite posts include: touring a Polish Pottery factory in the town of Bolesławiec, Poland, horseback riding through the hills of the Czech Republic, exploring ancient Rome and learning to drive through the Gap of Dunloe in Ireland. For a full list of my travel posts, click here.
Tell us about the ways your new life differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I did not have any problem adjusting to life in Poland, but I am worried about reverse culture shock - I love Wrocław so much, I don’t want to have to leave in a few years! I feel very fortunate that Wrocław is a young, university town and almost everyone here speaks English, which made it easy to adjust, especially in the beginning. Of course, our life here in Wrocław is much different than when we were living in the US. First of all, I don’t work here (I would love to but not speaking Polish and not having an EU passport makes it hard) so I have had to find things to occupy my time, which hasn’t been too tough at all :) In fact, it has been nice to actually have time to concentrate on the things I am passionate about, such as, blogging, photography, running, crafting and learning how to cook (my husband did all the cooking before we moved here so that’s one big adjustment in itself!). Another thing I had to get used to was grocery shopping. Since the produce in Poland has very few preservatives, its shelf life isn’t as long as it is in the States so I find myself having to go to the store every day or so. Plus, I don’t have a car here so what I buy, I have to carry - talk about a workout! Oh, and we also don’t have a clothes dryer which was, surprisingly, harder to get used to than I thought it would be. The biggest difference between our lives here vs. in the States is just the ability we now have to travel around Europe. With low cost airlines Ryanair and Wizz Air flying out of Wrocław, we are able to buy plane tickets for almost nothing, going to places we may not have been able to see in our entire lives. I feel really lucky and am glad we took a chance on Wrocław!
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Poland? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
As I mentioned, our transition was very easy and we were fortunate that we knew some people living here to help answer our questions before we even moved. Because of them, we knew where we wanted to live without even visiting the city. The only thing that I was not truly prepared for was that I thought I would be able to find a job here in marketing, but have not had any luck. Other than that, anything we need, we can find it here in Wrocław (well, other than ranch dressing).
Every expat knows that life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Fortunately, I don’t have any terribly embarrassing stories but one time I did have to get my shoe fixed at a shoe cobbler. He didn’t speak any English and I don’t really speak any Polish but I do know a few words here and there, so I said to him (in Polish), “Sir. Please help my boot.” He laughed but my shoe was fixed a few days later so he must have understood.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Poland?
- The beer is stronger here. Be careful.
- Poland is not cold and grey (something people always say when they hear I live here). It’s honestly such a beautiful country - with great food and even better people!
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you thought you ordered a ham sandwich but got turkey instead, oh well, life will go on.
How is the expat community in Poland? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community is seriously great here! There are people from all around the world of all ages. I think finding the expat group, International Friends of Wroclaw, really helped me feel welcome and learn about our new town. It is most helpful to just have someone to ask for a recommendation for something - you know, sometimes you just need to know where a good hairdresser is and it’s nice to have a whole group of people ready to give you advice.
How would you summarize your expat life in Poland in a single, catchy phrase?