Who are you?
My name is Carlos Vázquez, I am from León, Spain, but currently, I live in the capital of Poland, Warsaw, for the past year and a half. Since I started living here, I decided to create my website “Yo en Polonia” meaning “Me in Poland” where I write about many topics and lifestyle related to this country. I am a computer engineer, working for a multinational company. I am a big football fan (Real Madrid and Cultural Leonesa are my teams) and I have played the French horn for five years in the music school of my hometown.Where, when and why did you move abroad?
As I said before, I have been living in Warsaw since November 2015. Everything started in 2009 in the Czech Republic on an Erasmus course, where I met a beautiful Polish girl (Ewa) who is my wife today. We were separated for one year, but after that, we decided that we wanted to be together and Ewa moved to Spain where we lived and worked for four years. Later we decided to start a new life and look for new experiences in Poland… why not? It sounds like a topic, but I can say that I moved to Poland for love the same as she moved to my country almost six years ago. Until now, all our decisions have been good ones and we cannot complain about them.
What challenges did you face during the move?
I came to Poland by car from Spain and it took two days. I can say that this was my biggest challenge, in crossing Europe by car, full to the brim with our possessions, but to be honest, being with my wife made everything easier with her close to me, I have not had any problems with the bureaucracy here, even speaking almost no Polish. In addition, as a European, I did not need a visa or anything similar. My actual challenge is to learn Polish, not an easy language, but not impossible.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Yes, of course, all the capitals of European countries are full of expats; generally, there are more job opportunities than in other cities and it is normal everywhere. Warsaw is a very multicultural city with people from other countries. For example, there are many Spanish speakers from Spain and Latin America so I can feel at home in speaking my own language. Also in my job, there are colleagues from India, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, and Spain, and like me, they feel very comfortable here. Lately, Poland is growing more and more each year in all aspects, so it is not strange that many expats choose this country.
What do you like about life where you are?
I can say that I like many things about Poland. I have to say that the Poles are hard-working people, very honest and very hospitable. Generally, Poland is a safe country; the criminal index is very low. It is a country with a lot of history and there are many beautiful places like Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Poznan, Wroclaw, Lublin or Bialowieza. Also, Polish food is awesome. There are many reasons to live here.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
I am living with my wife and she is my main support here, I love her a lot but of course, the hardest part of living in another country is that I do not have the rest of my family close to me, I mean my parents, brother, grandparents, etc.… From time to time, we try to visit them in Spain and we are in touch almost every day via smartphone (calls and WhatsApp) so I try to handle it as best I can.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
In this aspect, I have not any doubt about what I am going to say and I am sure many Poles will disagree with me, but I have experienced it many times. In Spain when I casually meet someone in the place when we are living, we always say “Good Morning”, “Hi” or we even talk about how nice the weather is. At least in the building where I am living here in Warsaw, when I meet someone in the lift or in the hall, many times I do not receive any answer and for me, it is a shock, but I do however sometimes receive a “Good morning” back, but this is rare.
There are other differences between Spaniards and Poles. In Spain when I meet someone, we give each other two kisses (man and woman or between women), it does not matter if we have met each other before or not and here in Poland, the first time when you meet someone, they always give each other a handshake regardless of whether they are male or female.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Do not get carried away by the clichés that Poland is a poor country with few resources or the Poles are reserved because this is not true. Let me tell you that Poland is a country that is growing in all aspects which are noticeable in its society. There are great job opportunities, very good cuisine, landscapes, and sites that you have never seen before.
I always say the same about going to live in another country; if everything is going well, perfect and if not, you always have the choice to go back to your country, but at least give it a go!
Another piece of very good advice I can give is do not believe everything that TV programs say about expats, it is not easy to start from the beginning in another country as they say; it takes time, patience and effort.
My last advice is to be financially prepared at least for one month, you have to pay for a room and eat three times per day (as my grandma says) for a whole month until you receive the first salary.
What are your plans for the future?
I will be here in Poland for two years more because my wife has a contract with that term. After that, we will see what happens; I do not want to make any plans now. The truth is that here in Poland, I am very happy, I have a good job, I am very content in living here and that is the most important thing right now.
You can keep up to date with Carlos' adventures on his blog, Yo En Polonia.
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