Niedziela Palmowa in Poland!

Posted on 29. Mar, 2015 by in Calendar, Culture, Holidays, Religion

Today is Palm Sunday (Niedziela Palmowa). It marks the official beginning of Poland’s Easter festivities – perhaps the country’s most sacred holiday. Leading up to the season you’ll see decorative handmade palms (palmy) for sale almost everywhere in Poland. These traditional decorations made from a variety of dried flowers and plants are crafted in villages all over Poland. Palms are taken to church on Sunday to be blessed before decorating homes for the duration of the season.


Image by PolandMFA on

Image by PolandMFA on

As a deeply Catholic country, Poland takes its Easter celebrations seriously; throughout the period, the visiting foreigner can expect large shops and shopping malls and many bars and restaurants to be either empty or closed beginning on Good Friday (Wielki Piątek). A traditional day of abstinence, dutifully observing Catholics visit church to attend stations of the cross (droga krzyżowa) – a series of prayers following Jesus Christ’s route to his crucifixion.

Image by kingary on

Image by kingary on

On Easter Saturday (Wielka Sobota) Poles, typically children, bring brightly decorated baskets of food to church to have them blessed. These baskets traditionally contain a piece of sausage (kawałek kiełbasy), bread (chleb), egg (jajko), mazurek cake (a traditional Easter cake), some salt (sól), pepper (pieprz), some horseradish (chrzan) and a symbolic ram made from dough (symboliczny baranek z ciasta). In addition ‘pisanki’ are included – painted boiled eggs which have been prepared in the lead-up to Easter by the whole family. Each of these components of the basket has a symbolic meaning. The eggs and meat symbolise new life, fertility and health, the salt protects against bad spirits and helps you follow the right path, the bread symbolise the body of Christ and by this future prosperity in terms of always having food to feed yourself, the horseradish represents strength and physical health and the cake represents skills and talents needed for the coming year. Rezurekcja (Resurrection), a traditional mass with procession, is held Saturday night or Easter morning depending on parish tradition.

On Easter Sunday (Niedziela Wielkanocna), families gather together to celebrate with an Easter breakfast of żurek (Polish rye soup), bread, eggs, sausage, horseradish and poppy seed cakes. Each person places a small piece of the blessed food on their plate before exchanging wishes with other members of the family. The symbolic dough ram is placed on the table to symbolise the resurrection of Christ.

Things take a more light-hearted twist on Easter Monday. Known as Śmingus Dyngus, the day is dominated by public water fights and everyone is given carte blanche to drench anyone they see with water. You, as a foreigner, are not exempt from this practise, so move fast if you see someone armed with a water pistol or bucket and a grin. Although it’s never pleasant to have a jug of water thrown over your head, this is an improvement from the past when young people were beaten with sticks from Palm Sunday trees – explained away as bringing luck and strength for the year ahead.

Happy Easter to all of you!

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

How internet is changing the way we talk? How to translate some abbreviations to Polish?

Posted on 22. Mar, 2015 by in Internet, Phrases

When it comes to the way we communicate with each other, it’s obvious the Internet influenced some major changes: Email superseded snail mail, Facebook pretty much swallowed the idea of calling someone and wishing them a happy birthday, our job hunts are conducted through LinkedIn…

Image by nicolasnova on

Image by nicolasnova on

It’s slightly less in-your-face, but the Internet is also shifting the words we use to speak to one another, not just the way we choose to communicate. Our obsession with the Internet even influences the simple act of talking – out loud, in real life (IRL, if you prefer). Certain acronyms, neologisms, and abbreviations have infiltrated everyday speech – if I say something like “OMG, WTF, why did this happen?,” most people would know what I’m talking about. Since people often communicate online and through text messages, truncated turns of phrase and space-saving emoticons are now mainstream.

Here are some popular abbreviations in both Polish and English:

2U2 – To You Too – Wzajemnie

4 – For – Dla

4U – For you – Dla ciebie/Dla was

ABT – About – Mniej więcej, w przybliżeniu

ATM – At the moment – W tym momencie

BBL – Be back later – Bedę później

ADN – Any day now – Na dniach

AKA – Also known as – Znane (-y/-a) także jako

ASAP – As soon as possible – Tak szybko jak to jest możliwe

BION – Believe it or not – Choć trudno w to uwierzyć

BRB – Be right back – Zaraz wracam

EOM – End of message – Koniec wiadomości

IOU – I owe you – jestem ci winien przysługę

J/K – Just kidding – Tylko żartuję

IMO – In my opinion – Moim zdaniem

LOL – Laughing out loud – śmiać się głośno

NRN – Not right now – Nie teraz

TBH – To be honest – Szczerze mówiąc

THX – Thanks – Dzięki

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)




As non Polish citizen, do you have to pay for the education of your child during your stay in Poland?

Posted on 12. Mar, 2015 by in Education, Kids

Image by Krzysztof Pacholak on

Image by Krzysztof Pacholak on

Recently, some of my friends asked me this question. After doing some researching, this is what I came up with!

Education (edukacja) is free of charge for foreign children (dzieci obcokrajowców) in public elementary schools, gymnasiums and secondary schools until the child turns 18 or completes the school he was enrolled in before turning 18 (e.g. in comprehensive high school). Exceptions are listed below:

post-secondary schools (szkoły policealne)
post-secondary schools for adults (szkoły policealne dla dorosłych)
artistic schools (szkoły artystyczne)
teacher training schools (szkoły nauczycielskie)

Foreigners learning in a public post-secondary school, post-secondary school for adult education or teacher training school pay the equivalent of 1,500 euros for each year of study. In public arts and music schools the fee is the equivalent of 3,000 euros, and in ballet schools, circus art schools and post-secondary colleges for librarians and organizers of cultural activities it is 4,500 euros per year of study. For the first year of study all of the above fees are increased by 200 euro. For a period of study shorter than a school year, the fee shall be paid in proportion to the planned duration of the studies.

In justified cases, the school authorities may agree for the fee to be paid at a later date than the day before classes begin, or to payment in installments (płatność w ratach). In the case of a foreigner in financial difficulty the school authorities may – at the request of a parent or guardian of a minor foreigner or at the request an adult foreigner himself – exempt the student from all or part of the tuition fees.

In every case the fee is paid into a current account – the sub-account for the school authority in PLN, as calculated using the average exchange rate of EUR to PLN of the  Polish National Bank announced for the day of the bank transfer.

Attendance in public kindergartens (przedszkola) for children who are not Polish citizens is payable on the same basis as for Polish children.

Can you apply for a grant or waiver of fees if you can not afford all the expenses of your child’s education? Depending on your status as a foreigner in Poland, your child may or may not be eligible for social assistance. For persons entitled to such assistance, the Polish social welfare system (Polski system opieki społecznej) provides for financing of the purchase of school books for children and free lunches in the school cafeteria.

Many schools also administer some kind of aid fund for children from the poorest families – most often a part of the contribution to the Parents’ Council is spent for this purpose. Thus it is possible to apply to the school’s Parents’ Council or a given form’s Council (representation of parents of students in a given class) for an exemption or reduction of fees, funding for a child’s participation in class trips, etc. Such benefits are also available to Polish parents in difficult circumstances, so it is nothing unusual to make such a request.

You should also familiarize yourself with the current offer of assistance programs for migrants made available by Polish NGOs.

Every child that is not a Polish citizen is entitled to additional free classes of instruction in the Polish language held in the school he attends for the first 12 months, not less than 2 lessons per week (in Poland a lesson hour is 45 minutes). The weekly schedule and  number of hours is set by the school headmaster in consultation with the entity organising the classes. These classes may take the form of individual or group lessons, depending on the situation in the school. The total amount of additional free lessons in  Polish and remedial courses in other subjects can not be greater than five hours per week per student.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)