I’ve been in Poland for a couple of months and though for the most part I love it, there are some little things that are different from back home*:
They have great peanuts and bad peanut butter.
I don’t understand this. The peanuts are very good—great flavor. Can they just crush them and get great peanut butter? I miss Teddie Peanut Butter.
At salons they use paper towels to dry your hair.
This has happened to me in two different salons. I suppose it’s because keeping up with laundry is tough but this is both weird and bad for the environment. There doesn’t seem to be much awareness about stuff that’s bad for the environment though.
At salons they seem annoyed when you walk in to make an appointment.
This has also happened to me twice (coincidentally—perhaps, perhaps not, at the two salons that used paper towel to dry my hair). I walked in to make an appointment because it’s easier for me to communicate in Polish face to face when I can flail my arms around and look into the listeners eyes to search for a glimmer of understanding. In both places the stylist was working on someone’s hair and looked surprised (in one case mildly annoyed) that I had walked in to make an appointment (receptionist anyone? I understand that would be an added expense but if there isn’t one then at least be courteous when potential clients drop in).
They really, really like exact change.
Numbers in Polish are really hard. Because of the cases there are all these crazy (ok, that’s a subjective opinion but I’m not the only one who holds it) rules. Like it feels like there are a million ways to say “two” depending on various things. So going to a store and understanding what I am supposed to pay the cashier is tough if the number is not displayed on a screen. The situation takes on an added layer of stress when, as happens quite often in Poland, you hand the sales person a bill, say for twenty złoty when the bill came to 17.30 PLN and she says, “Does Madame (my English approximation of the Polish Pani) have by any chance two zloty and 30 groszy?” when I am still trying to make sure I understood 17.30 correctly.
The coffee is almost never hot enough.
This is true even if I ask for it to be very, very hot. I don’t know what’s up with this but it’s annoying. (Oh, and it goes without saying—well, maybe not because I am saying it—that it’s much harder in general to find decaf than in the States).
They don’t sand or salt the sidewalks enough (see attached photo).
It’s very cold here. And snowy. So it’s not like they don’t need to sand and salt the streets and sidewalks. I think it must be a question of budget and the fact that it’s a much less litigious society than ours. My Polish teacher’s mother slipped and broke her wrist the other day. She is certainly not thinking of suing anyone. It took me double the amount of time to walk to work this morning because I was so afraid of slipping and falling. Other colleagues had the same experience. One of them did fall.
Some people feel they get too much vacation.
One guy I know was bummed because he had to take “forced vacation.” Another came back from vacation and I asked him how it was and he started saying, “Too—” and I was sure it was going to end with “short,” but he surprised me and said, “long!” “Too long?!” I exclaimed, “In America everyone complains that it’s too short.” “Yes, he said, but you only get two weeks, we get 26 days.”
Sometimes people won’t take a tip.
This happened in one of the hair salons. In the other (which was double the price) she happily took the tip.
It’s really gray here.
Those of you who have heard me speak or read my writing about how people often assume that Poland is a gray or black and white country will laugh at this tidbit ,but the thing is I have never spent an entire winter here. At home I probably wear my sunglasses as much in the winter as in the summer. Here after the first couple of weeks I have not worn them at all. I could never relate to S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) before, but now I see why people get depressed without sunlight.
*I am reporting on my experience and things will surely be different in different places and for other people.