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What drives you crazy while visiting another country? Posted by on Jul 5, 2013 in Culture

Traveling and learning languages was always my passion! Before moving to USA, I used to travel a lot in Europe. There was always something exciting about meeting new people, getting to know other cultures, trying new food, exploring the history and architecture of different countries. Any time I was planning a trip, I had a lot of fun researching different information about specific place. I got used to respecting customs and traditions of each country I visited and my motto was:”Always respect what people do where you are and be happy to learn new things” (Zawsze szanuj to, co ludzie robią tam gdzie jesteś i chętnie ucz się nowych rzeczy).

There is a saying that goes, “Strangers are friends you haven’t met yet.” When you travel, you get to meet all sorts of people from all walks of life. Just by conversing with these people you can already learn so much. Plus, it’s great to meet new friends. You can expand your network and widen your inner circle. Don’t limit yourself with the friends you have at home. Go out there and make new friends. Traveling can really change your way of thinking. Once you have gone to different countries you’ll see that the world isn’t so big after all and that we are all connected in some way. This way of thinking can teach you to value life and the people that you meet. Traveling allows you to experience things that you wouldn’t have been able to experience in your own country. Since each country has their own culture and norms, you will be able to learn many new things.

When you get to know other cultures you also learn that there is no such a thing as the ultimate truth or THE way of doing things. A single situation can be interpreted in many different ways, and not necessarily one will be right and the others will be wrong. Life is not an exact science, you can have many different perspectives for a single problem and all of them can be true at the same time.

There was always something that would bother me while travelling. As you know, each country is different, people are different, customs are different. After few trips I learned that letting little thing bother you is not worth your time. Just be happy, do what people do and the way they do it and have fun learning!

I want to give you an example….My parents don’t speak much English and my husband doesn’t speak much Polish. At first all family visits (either my parents coming to visit us here in USA or us visiting them in Poland) were a little awkward at times. However, we are all pretty happy people and we always found a fun way to communicate. I’m always in the middle translating and always listen to my families making comments ( not really complaining, just “mentioning”) what bothers them. For example my husband while traveling in Poland:

* Why people here don’t use napkins? (They do, but when it is a casual visit, napkins can be placed in the middle of the table for everyone to grab them when you need them, not necessarily at each setting)

*Why Poles drink warm beer and warm soda? (Some people like it cold, some in the room temperature, most people in Poland are not used to drinking super cold drinks with ice every day – and beer is not warm – it just seemed to be to my husband who likes his icy cold)

*Why do people here drive like crazy? (Well, good question, but unfortunately there is nothing I can do about it…)

*Why pople don’t wave back to me? (Poles are not used to saying hello to strangers on the street or waving to them)

These and many other questions…

My parents on the other hand:

*Why people drive so slow here?

*Why people don’t sit  around the table during the party? (in Poland most parties/dinners take place around the table, drinking and eating)

*Why are there so many different products in cans or boxes (ha,ha..that’s true!Where I grew up everything was made from the scratch and I have never seen a box of brownies or cake that would be ready to make while only adding couple things to it)

Well, I finally told them that I will answer the questions and they just have to accept everything the way it is.

What bothered you the most while visiting Poland?

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


Comments:

  1. Meg:

    What bothered me most visiting Poland? Being naive enough to think my language preparation would enable me to communicate. I can write comprehensible letters, toing and froing between dictionary, ‘300 Polish verbs’, minimal memory and Google translate. But I could only speak after a lot of practice and I couldn’t understand the response. When I fell over quite dramatically, all I could think was “I hope no one comes to help me because I won’t understand them”. I’m sure my Australian daughter’s Polish in-laws wondered why I could write to them but not talk to them. If I was flustered I got mixed up with two phrases I thought I knew –dziękuje and dzień dobry. And then there was the stress in words – it took me three days marching round singing to myself to get the intonation of Częstochowa right.

    And then there was the perennial need for drobna, and my inability to hand over the right money. Fortunately, people at the checkout were quite happy to peck though my handful of small change and take what they needed.

    However I spent five months in Warsaw, loving it, and I’m about to return for another two months. This time … Well! We’ll see!

    Thank you for this blog. My daughter is astonished at the things I know thanks to you.