McCall: mccALL Around the World
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Poland, etc.
I grew up in South Florida and moved to Europe last August with my husband. He plays professional basketball so we have been blessed with being able to live in several different places and experience different cultures. Last year, we lived in Vilnius, Lithuania and Riga, Latvia and this October we moved to Wloclawek, Poland about two hours outside of Warsaw.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I originally started blogging to keep my friends and family back home up to date with what we were doing over here. I always find myself in some funny situations over here and like to tell my family and friends about them. I didn’t realize many other people read my Blog until I started getting messages from random people telling me how much they enjoyed it. I never would’ve fathomed other people would find it so interesting! I also plan to write a book later in life about my time overseas so it’s helpful for me to blog to keep all the events fresh in my mind to someday look back on.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I probably received the most feedback on this post that I wrote to my friend warning her about what to expect from her first time in Europe. I’m always joking around so please don’t be offended at anything I say, it’s all in good fun :)
Tell us about the ways your new life in Poland differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I think the most difficult part about living in Poland is having to be so dependent on other people. I’ve always been a really independent person and it’s hard for me over here to swallow my pride and have to ask for help a lot. Whether it’s something small like needing a translator or asking for suggestions on which doctors to use, even the littlest things present a much bigger challenge than they would back home. I had travelled a lot before moving to Europe so I don’t think I necessarily experienced “culture shock”. That’s not to say I’m not constantly struggling with the differences of living over here, but I’ve become really used to this lifestyle. It’s all about being able to adapt to anything! To be honest, the culture shock now comes more to me when I go back home. It takes me a few days to get used to everything: the weather, the vastly different surroundings, everyone speaking English, and just how much easier daily tasks become.
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 said before, I travelled a lot before moving here and my husband is European, so I think I was fairly prepared for what awaited me here. I think the most important preparations you can make are mental: don’t expect people to act just as they do where you come from, you are in a new place filled with people who have had much different upbringings than you. The best thing you can bring to a new country is an open mind.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
My blog is FILLED with these. I feel like every day is a new one. One of the funniest experiences I’ve had here was my first time going for a pedicure in Poland. It was much different than the relaxing pedicures we get back home. The spa more closely resembled a doctors office and some of the tools the women used on me could be considered Weapons of Mass Destruction in other countries. They actually did a great job and I have gone back several times now, but as a first-timer, I wasn’t quite expecting what was coming for me.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Poland?
- Be open minded. Like I said before, this is absolutely the best thing you can do for yourself. Forget your norms and what you believe to be weird vs. normal, and embrace every new country and their traditions for what they are.
- Try to learn a little of the language. I have to admit, I’m struggling with this one myself because I’m currently trying to learn Lithuanian and studying two languages at once is proving to be very difficult. However, you should at least learn the basics. People will really appreciate the effort.
- Realize how blessed you are. Many people would die for the experience to live overseas, and so few have the opportunity. So many good things come when we are able to get out of our comfort zone and experience a new culture. There will be struggles but at the end of the day, the pros will outweigh the cons and you’ll be a better person because of it.
How is the expat community in Poland? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I’m not in one of the larger cities so unfortunately my city does not have a large expat population. I have reached out to some other bloggers in Poland that I’ve seen on InterNations and I’ve enjoyed communicating with them and learning about their experiences. When we lived in Vilnius, I frequented the InterNations events and it was a great way to meet fellow expats and I even met some from my own city in Florida!
How would you summarize your expat life in Poland in a single, catchy sentence?
A crazy, spontaneous whirlwind.