So now I have a different list. While I have gotten many emails detailing the little idiosyncrasies of Poles, the cultural norms which seem foreign and at times undesirable perhaps, I have also gotten a lot of encouragement about how much I am going to like it there, and why. I also have my own memories and perceptions, and here it all is, in list form:
- Poles are chivalrous
- Poles are hospitable and warm
- Polish food is delicious
- Poland around the holidays is beautiful
- Poles are loyal
- Poles are spiritual
- Poland is beautiful
- Poland is safe
- Poles are determined
- Poles are hard-working
- Poland has an undying spirit
- Polish schools are rigorous and challenging
- Poles take time to enjoy the little things
- Poles can talk about "real" things
- Poland is "the savior of Europe"
I'm not gonna lie. I am not looking forward to the negative or difficult aspects of the culture. I have expressed to Martin several times that I am worried that if the general attitude of the country is sort of a downer or I have to worry about a pretentious bus driver correcting my Polish around every corner, that I may just become a depressed mess. Discouraged and beaten down by all my inadequacies and faux-pas's and at the same time, the general feeling of just not "fitting in."
The funny thing is, I have never actually experienced a lot of the negative cultural tendencies that Martin and others have warned me about. In fact, I would be more inclined to pass along my little "happy list" above than yesterday's post. My experience has been of Martin's family in Poland. A happy and content group of people, always welcoming and warm, ready to give you the shirt off their back if you feel even the slightest chill. They are devout, and good. The men kiss your hand and open your door. The women care for your children and fill you with delicious food. They love unborn children and the elderly. And the youth, at least the ones I know, really believe in something.
I can't figure out yet if I will be able to see all of the good for all of the not so great.The beautiful forest, for the crooked and thorny trees I hope I don't become bogged down in the "you just can't do that in Poland" and press on to the "well, if you're gonna do it after all, I'll help you til it's done." I hope I will be able to brush off the cold and the dark and the paranoia. And embrace the undying spirit that lies underneath it all.
And, in keeping with the spirit of yesterday's post (which just means silly Youtube videos). Here's a cheerful little diddy that our family loves.