Interview with Anita from Poland
Which country would you consider to be your country?
I think that Spain is my country. I feel better in Spain than in Poland. Because of the people, because of the weather and the sun. I really love it. When I walk I love the smell of coffee in the streets. People smile and are just more cheerful than in my country. So, I feel better in Spain. And a lot of people told me that my soul is from Spain or from a Latin country. And I think it´s like that too. When I talk to my family and friends in Poland they tell me that mi alma es espanola (my soul is Spanish). And the people here in Spain confirmed it. But I feel Polish and I´m really proud that I´m Polish. I just prefer to be in Spain and among Spanish or Latin people.
What do you feel when you are in Poland? Do you feel at home there?
I just feel like everything is normal, it´s regular and I feel comfortable. Yeah, I feel really comfortable in Poland because I know everything. I know how to deal with a lot of things there and I just don’t have to look for information like in Spain. So like the informal part of living in Spain is really good, but just the formal one is a bit difficult because I don´t know Spanish formal reality. But the informal one is perfect for me.
When did you discover your alma española (Spanish soul)?
Actually, I don’t know and I am still looking for the answer when it started. But I think that it started from the Telenovelas from Muñeca Brava – I don’t know the name in English. But when Natalia Oreiro was singing I was like “Wow I really like it”. And then I started to watch Rebelde – it´s a Mexican Telenovela and I just always wanted to go to Mexico and get to know this country. I started to learn Spanish and then I started English philology with Spanish. Spanish classes were my favorite classes. I couldn’t wait to go and to learn something in Spanish. Then I found a Spanish friend and he told
me a lot of things about Spain about the Spanish culture. His personality was also so different and so weird for me. In the first minute of our conversation he told me a lot of things about him and about his daily life. He sent me photos of his shopping and we knew each other for like one hour. And I thought “What is wrong with this guy?” But then I just realized it´s everything okay, he´s just Spanish. He has gasolina in his blood. Yeah and then, it was getting deeper and deeper when I started to know Spanish more and this guy more. I read more about Spain, about Mexico. I had another friend from Mexico. The two told me a lot about their culture and tradition and they sent me photos and I was probably more in Mexican and Spanish reality than I was in Poland. My body was in Poland but my mind was, my soul was with them. And I think that I just got so deep into these cultures that I started to feel like I was from Mexico or from Spain. My dream was to live a month in Spain and I found a way how to do it. And here I am now.
So it´s your first time living in a Latin country?
Do you want to stay here in Barcelona?
Yeah, I want to stay. My favorite region is Andalucia. And now I am looking for the answer why. First I was looking for the answer “Why Spain?” And now I´m looking for the answer “Why Andalusia? “ I´ve been to Sevilla and Jerez de la Frontera and this region is amazing. I felt something, I can´t explain what it was, but something attracted me to go there and to live there for some months to realize if it´s this place where I want to live. But for sure, southern Europe is my place. I feel really good in Poland, really comfortable. Of course, with my family it´s my comfort zone. But when I have to deal with some office matters in Poland or with people… I´m the only person that smiles on the streets. Sometimes I feel really like I give people my energy but I don´t get energy back from them. This makes me really sad. But here, in Spain, I give people energy and I get this energy back. So, I really like it.
What would you say is a general misconception people have against Poland?
That we have vodka in our blood. Okay. Polish people drink a lot. But I don´t think that Polish people drink more than English people or than people here in Spain. I think it´s the same. It´s just a misconception because maybe our alcohol is stronger. And we don´t drink a lot of cocktails and sweet drinks. We just drink pure vodka. And I think that´s the misconception. But I think the amount of alcohol we consume is more or less the same as in Spain, in France in Italy.
What is the first thing you get to hear when you say “Hey, I´m from Poland”
Oh, really? You speak Spanish very well. (laughing)
So they assume that because you´re from Poland you don´t speak any other language?
Maybe not any other language, but for sure not Spanish. Because still Spain is considered as an exotic country in Poland and Spanish is not a popular language in Poland. So that´s why people here are really surprised somebody from Poland can speak Spanish. This language is not popular in Poland. Why should Polish people learn Spanish? But our language, Polish, is really difficult and almost nobody uses it, so we have to learn a lot of languages to communicate with the rest of the world. For sure English, but still – sometimes when Polish people come to Spain and I work at the reception the hostel, it´s really difficult to communicate with them even in English. But people who study, who live in big cities they speak English really well. Of course, we have our hard polish accent. But I think that is not the most important thing. The most important thing is the ability to communicate and to understand each other.
What would you say is the biggest difference you spotted between Poland and Spain?
The behavior of people. Like people here sometimes are like oh, we don´t care, don´t make drama, just calm down. And for sure they are more cheerful, they express more emotions, they really like to hug, to kiss and it´s really nice for me. In Poland, we have a cold, not a warm culture. Spain is a warm culture. So, in Poland, we like distance, we don’t like a lot of emotions or being really expressive. But Spanish people really like it. It´s normal for them. And I think it´s better, because we are all humans and our relations are important. Especially now in the time of the iPhone, mobile phones everything and we spend a lot of time texting, on messenger, Instagram, Facebook and with this and with our cold culture we could maybe become afraid of talking to each some day. I think that is better here in Spain. But sometimes it´s better in Poland. It depends on the situation. But I certainly prefer it here. But I also love my country, I love my radiations and my holidays.
What do you especially love about your traditions?
I love Christmas and the preparation for Christmas, baking, preparing cookies, gingerbread, decorating the Christmas tree, setting the table and then just spending time with my family. The smell of oranges and gingerbread, dumplings, yeah I really like it. But this gathering at this time it´s another example of my southern soul. I really like it, because all people are together and we are doing things together. And this is my favorite holiday in Poland.
Did you already find a tradition you like as much in Spain?
Hmm not yet. I think the time I spent here is not enough to discover it. And I didn´t spend any holiday with a Spanish family just to discover it, so not yet. I think it´s ahead of me.
If you would have to define yourself would you rather describe yourself as Spanish or polish?
I´m Polish. I´m always polish, but maybe I have some other influences from people from southern Europe. And I don´t know why. Nobody from my family lived in Spain or a Latin country. I´m the first one who decided to immigrate to Spain. And maybe it´s because I studied foreign languages at the same time. They always told us that each language gives you a new life. So let´s say I have four lives in my soul. But I´m not sure. I´ll always tell that I’m Polish. I´m not Spanish. I live in Spain I love this culture, no, but I’m not Spanish I´m Polish with a cheerful soul.
Do you have any other prejudices you´ve already heard against Polish people you would like to clarify?
So the first one is about alcohol. The second one is that Polish people don´t speak Russian. We don´t know the Russian letters. Only if somebody studies Russian, they know, but if not Russian is not similar to Polish. Maybe it sounds similar but it isn´t. And Polish girls are not similar to Russian girls. This makes me so angry when I tell people I´m from Poland. “Oh it´s like Russia!” No, it´s not like Russia. It´s Poland.
And that we are not a dangerous country. Polish people are not dangerous. We are cold, sometimes we don´t smile, but we love people form foreign countries. We have really good hospitality. And we are always going to welcome our guests from Spain, Mexico, United States, Italy with tea, with cake, dinner and with some food and a really nice atmosphere at home. I think that Poland is considered as a country without any important influence in Europe. And since Polish people are not that known by any stereotype or somethings like that, it´s normal that people are afraid of something unknown. So I think that´s why Polish people are sometimes afraid of other cultures. Because of our sad history, sometimes because of our economic situation – which could be worse. I think that we are afraid of Spanish people because they are a bit noise. And they are going to hug you. We are like that because of our history, that´s my explanation of our personality. Yeah, but for sure when you go to Poland we are going to meet you with open arms. Because we love that. We like people from other countries who want to know our history, our country, or cultures, our architecture. We really like it
Would you have some additional thoughts you would like to share?
That we don´t have really good weather in winter, but in summer the weather is really nice. It´s not too hot, it´s not too cold. It´s the perfect weather for sightseeing, for visiting my beautiful country. And we have everything. We have mountains, we have the sea and we have lakes. We have an amazing history, sad, but really rich. And we have many beautiful buildings and I would recommend everybody to go to Wroclaw, for me, it´s the most beautiful city in Poland, to Poznan, Crakovia, Varsovia. Okay, this is the thing I would like to clarify. Because when I ask people what they know about Poland or I tell them I´m from there, oh they only know Varsovia and Crakovia, claro, solo. But we have more beautiful cities, especially than Varsovia, it´s not so beautiful for me, I prefer Crakovia,but Wroclaw is my favorite.
And we have really nice beaches, they are really clean. For sure they are cleaner than here in Barcelona despite the fact that we have a lot of tourists. The sea is cold, but it´s beautiful. It´s perfect for walking, for relaxing, maybe not for swimming if you are from southern Europe. But just for walking and relaxing it´s perfect. You have to try Polish food, because it´s really nice – and maybe one shot of polish vodka.
In this interview, Antia really made me wanting to travel to Poland! I think Poland is not our most wanted travel destination – or at least for most of us. But why not? It is a beautiful country and I´m just waiting to go there and meet some new amazing people. However, I do share her feeling of having a different, more cheerful soul than the rest of her country. It´s awesome to find another culture you really feel you belong to – with your own adaptions, your own roots. The more you get to know a culture the more it can become yours. I also loved the stereotypes she mentioned, because the first thing I think of when it comes to Poland is, indeed, Vodka. I´m sure they have nice Vodka there, but it shouldn´t be our only assumption should it? So, this interview led me, once again to learn more about a beautiful culture most of us certainly don´t know well enough.
Images: Source: Google