As many of you know, my partner is a Turk and he has been living in Poland for almost one and a half year now. As any other immigrant, he had to go through a couple of culture shocks so that he could finally get used to living here.
I often read about the experiences of Polish women moving abroad but I guess it is not that usual to read about foreginers managing somehow in Poland (or at least I have not come across too many of such articles). I would like to present to you some of his “challenges” when trying to get accustomed to living here, which I found interesting.
It’s so flat in here!
It seems that in Istanbul you always climb something. It was only after some time that I realised that Warsaw indeed is completely flat! There is no exercise opportunity when climbing one hill after another, there is no car riding over a hill 45 grades steep, there is no risking your life when trying to climb any hill by car in winter (on plain summer tyres, as they always do in Turkey).
2. You drink so little!
Really, when compared with Turks, we do drink very little water. In Istanbul, there is a Man With Water at almost every corner and Turks buy those half-a-litre plastic bottles almost all the time (yes, they do have a big problem with plastic consumption). And of course tea – always and everywhere possible.
“Your tea is so tasteless! And you have such a small variety of it!” – we are talking about black tea (not teabags!), of course. Maybe you are not aware but even the famous yellow Lipton tea in Turkey is not from India/Sri Lanka but from Turkey actually. There are many types of tea and everyone has an opinion about each type. But they would still drink each type when served one 😉
We have also recently realised that it is quite difficult to find “real coffee” (according to a Turk) here – small, strong and full of aroma. Usually the only possible option is espresso but it is nothing when compared to the Turkish coffee, naturally.
3. You drink so much!
This time it is about alcohol, of course. It must come as a shock for any non-Pole (or non-Slavic person?). Every possible party means a certain bottle on the table. Each celebration; each joyful or sad occassion; together with a herring, pizza or desserts. Always. Everywhere. I also do not understand this “tradition” myself but I have not been noticing it until I looked at Poland through the eyes of a foreigner. What a shame.
4. Alcohol is so cheap!
It is a matter connected with the above point. Foreigners are in awe when they see that vodka, wine and beer can be that cheap. But what comes along is the numbers of drunkards in public transportation – my personal tragedy. Each time when I enter a bus/tram, I check two things: where it would not be windy/cold and where there are no stinkers. It’s nice we have a big variety of products in shops but I do not think it is something we could be proud of. I have been in contact with foreigners for over 10 years and I have heard just too many stories of hindus or muslims who would “forget” what their religions require; I have seen too many couples splitting because of hmm uncontrolable behaviors during parties… Seriously, one day you have to say STOP.
5. You eat so heavy!
Obviously, when compared to the Mediterranean cuisine, ours is way fatter/heavier. Look at the menu of any holidays – heavy soup, fatty meat, mayo, more mayo, cabbage, eggs… I assume it is so because of the climate (body needs more calories to deal with the cold plus many veggies and fruit simply cannot grow in Poland) but it seems that Poles themselves also choose more fatty meats (e.g. pork) over e.g. groats, “light” veggies or dairy products. Ok, Turks do like meat but they pay so much more attention to its quality and consume more dairy with it. There is also a great choice of fresh produce but hmm I somehow never saw any Turk eating much of it (ok, apart from potatoes in any form because potatttties are also veggies, right?).
6. There is nowhere to go here!
Wherever you go in Turkey, there are always tea gardens (çay bahçesi) and tiny cafes everywhere. It is normal that people meet in them at any time of the day. You can have a chat, play tavla (backgammon), you will always meet a friend/neighbor/cousin there, and if you get hungry, they also have toasts or some places even have some more extensive menu. It is also not uncommon for two guys to meet in such places. I suppose that in Poland guys don’t really have anywhere to go – they cannot go to a pub (“I already have a girlfriend” and “a gentleman doesn’t drink before noon”), cannot go to a cafe or for a walk (“it’s gay”) [Polish homophobia is a topic for another post], cannot go to a restaurant (“I will go bankrupt if I go there everyday”). Apart from that, there are simply no such nonchalant places here – where you could be sitting for hours and simply be sipping your tea for 1 USD, and besides we also don’t have this culture of sitting outside (ok, the climate, I know). But seriously, have you noticed that most people simply make their homes into bunkers and so often call off the meetings because “I don’t feel like”?
7. There are so many empty spaces here!
Whenever we go somewhere and pass an empty field/uninhabited area/wasteland, my beloved cannot stop wondering how it is possible that such places still exist. He is already so used to omnipresent construciton sites that he finds it amazing that such places are possible at all 😉 It is indeed difficult to find any district in Istanbul that would not be developing and the results of it are: growing real estate prices, demolishing old buildings for the sake of modern ones (so somehow losing the national heritage but on the other hand also increasing safety in case of an earthquake) and… more and more great Turkish engineers. This is why the Varsovian M2 metro line is being constructed by a consortium which is half Turkish – those are really good experts out there (have it from a girl who’s been working on the 47. floor of an Istanbullu skyscraper and who will surely get lost in Istanbul again because she will not recognise anything again).
8. You arrange everything so “officially”!
When I want to meet with my girlfriends, we start planning and calendar syncing some two weeks before. We start by saying what dates are out of the question for each, which dates are “better not” and which days are preferable. After a couple days we manage to choose a preliminary date which then gets changed 2-3 times and eventually one of us still cannot make it. A Turk calls his friend: – Hey, what’s up? – Nothing much, you? – Same here. Wanna meet? In half an hour? – Ok, see you! Don’t think they’re so untalkative. No, no, no. When they meet, they would discuss every possible topic (apart from the one I asked about, of course). And this ability to talk for hours is regardless of the gender. In case of women only the topics would change (as there will surely be a discussion about the family, kids, unmarried cousins and TV shows there). But this ability to quickly arrange a meeting is something that keeps on fascinating me. And I know that other “Turkish girls” are also in awe with it (and, same as me, can still not learn it).
Do you have anything to do with Turks in Poland? What are their impressions? What drew their attention most, what are they mad about and what do they love most?