Why Poles don’t say hello to the strangers on the street? Posted by Kasia on Apr 22, 2016 in Culture
I remember my first impression when I came to USA: how friendly most of the people were and how people on the street were saying hello to me! I thought to myself: what a great, positive, friendly experience! I loved how people were smiling, saying hello and asking how was I doing. I have never really experienced this in Poland…sadly. However, I know that there are so many differences in Polish and American culture and people in Poland are just not used to saying hi to strangers while passing them on the streets.
When my husband visited Poland for the first time, I remember borrowing my parents car and driving to the local village store. He rolled the window down and was waving to everyone he saw, with a big smile! Now, imagine little village where everyone knows each other…and of course they recognize my parents car. And there is a stranger waving and smiling…It was actually pretty funny:) It seems like something pretty normal here in US, but it’s definitely not something you see all the time in Poland!
So why Polish people don’t greet strangers on the street? I think it’s just a difference between our cultures. I’m not saying that one is better than the other, just different. I think that Americans meet someone and want to have a good relationship immediately. Poles need a little time to warm up. After you know each other for a little while, it usually changes completely. I think generally Poles are a little wary or distrusting of others. Something left over from the past… In reality, if you need something from an American, they’re probably nowhere to be found. Why? Too inconvenient. Need something from a Pole? They help you, make you dinner, feed you cake and give you a place to sleep. And offer you a drink:) Americans are more friendly, but I think Poles are more hospitable. Of course there are different people everywhere, there are exceptions and there are different Americans and different Poles, so please don’t think I’m trying to judge everyone. I definitely do not mean to offend anyone.
I have to admit I really like when people say hello to me everywhere! I don’t try to push it when I’m visiting Poland, but I definitely try to at least smile to strangers…and it must work, because a lot of them smile back!
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