Cultural: Basic facts about Poland

So many Americans don’t know much about Poland. It can be embarrassing at times.

Let’s do a simple review.

Where is Poland?

It’s in Europe. It’s just to the east of Germany and borders the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine as well. It has a northern border that touches the Baltic Sea and a small part of Russia that is not connected to the main part of the rest of Russian. (Didn’t know that? - it does)

What language do they speak?

They speak Polish. It is in the Slavic family of languages such as Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovakian, Bulgarian and Slovenian. They do use the same alphabet as English, unlike Russian, though, for which I am grateful!

What kind of money do they use?

They use the Polish zloty. They have not transitioned to the Euro yet.

What do the people look like?

They tend to have light skin like most central Europeans and some have a Slavic look. If you don’t know what that is, then that is fine. There are a lot of blonds here though not as many as in Sweden. While we are getting some immigrants into Poland, so far they have not made much of an impact on the look of the population as a whole.

Is the language hard?

That depends on who you ask. It is a Slavic language and has a lot of consonants. Hard is a relative term, but it is generally considered on the “hard side” for a native English speaker. It is not hard for a Russian speaker, for example.

What food do they eat?

As a country, they eat lots of bread - the basic bread is a mixture of rye flour and a white/wheat flour, potatoes, cabbage, pork, chicken, carrots, beets and watery type soups and dairy. They like yogurt, sour milk, and various creams. They also grow a lot of fruit so locally grown fruit in the summer is plentiful and reasonably inexpensive - apples, peaches, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.

What’s the weather like?

Mild - not extreme, though we may have some extremely cold weather for a week or two in the winter and a week or two of very hot in the summer. Most of the time the winter hovers around freezing - a little above and a little below the freezing point and most of the summer around 65-75F. It is NOT Siberia!

What is the standard of living like?

I’d say lower middle class as Americans define it. They don’t make a lot of money, but know how to spend it wisely. As a people they are not wasteful though of course, some individuals are. Some things are inexpensive here (internet on the cell phone can be had for about $6/per month) while other things are, to us, quite expensive (diesel or gasoline is probably double what the US pays - local quilt shop fabric goes for about 1.5 x what you might pay in the USA.)

and so on….

Poland has so many different variations that it is difficult to even answer some of these questions. Parts of Poland are wealthy and parts are quite poor. Some people live beyond their means and some people don’t. Some are friendly and some aren’t. Some are tall and some are short. Some have super nice cars and some don’t have any car at all. Some get along with their extended family, while others do nothing but fight. I suppose in these ways they are very much like a good bit of the rest of the world!

Maybe you should just come on over and visit and see for yourself what it’s like here!

You can take a look at google maps, though, and even do a few street views if you want to see what streets look like in Poland!

I hope, however, that this answers some of the most basic questions that you might have. As Americans who visit back to the states, we get asked these.

Of course, the other main question we get asked is,

“Which is better, the USA or Poland?”

Interestingly enough, we would get asked it by both the Poles and Americans.

It’s sort of like asking a kid which parent he likes better - his mom or his dad!

I don’t usually answer such a question. I just sort of laugh.

So now you know! Have a great day wherever you are reading this!

And if you read this whole post with not ONE picture as clip art, well, KUDOS to you!!! Congrats!

Be sure to check out what my sis has for you in the store!