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Sunday, 1 March 2015

Moving Abroad - Stuff None Tells You

Dearest sweethearts,

Happy 1st of March to each and everyone of you :) For all the Romanian people out there I wish you a beautiful Mărțișor. We are already ready to wear for the full month of March the traditional string of red and white. The custom states that on the 1st of March you need to tie a Mărțișor to your wrist and keep it there until the 31st of March, in the evening, when you will put the string in the nearest and dearest tree that you see in blossom ;) In the moment you do that you need to make a single wish and that wish will come true. 
As I told you last year all about this tradition, today I will share with you some thoughts upon the things that none tells you about, when moving abroad. Lately I have been thinking more and more upon how time passed by these almost 4 years. When I got to Poland, to Krakow, my mind was set upon staying here for only 6 months and then moving on to UK and travelling as much as one can. Then my awesome husband happened :)  and like a small tornado he stole away my heart and I remained here. Truly Krakow is a place that can win ones heart and from the first moment here it felt very much like home - the culture (both Romanian and Polish) are not that different. But here are some things that I feel the need to share with you, as one expat to another (or maybe even to future expats out there, that have no clue what to expect!):

Negatives:
  • You are going to miss home! It is inevitable and it's going to hit you - at times - hard, like a hammer. At a certain point in time you will level up into the knowledge that even home is where your heart is, it is hard to focus on loving people from afar.
  • You are going to miss your family & friends! It is true, nowdays is way better with the technology bringing you closer and closer. I have a smartphone with Internet 24/7 and I text with my Sister/Mum/Granny on Facebook - yes, my Granny is awesome and has Facebook as well! Just think of Jane Austen tyme where you would have to wait weeks for a letter!
  • You are going to miss the food typical to your homeland! Even though the culture and the traditions are somewhat similar you will never find things like your Granny did. The taste, the smell, the feeling of security is something that one cannot replicate. You will one day want to do a traditional dish, to only find out that things you could buy home are not available here. If ever you are in Romania I recommend you to try the traditional Romanian food ;) At the same time, if you are in Poland I recommend you their national dishes as well :) You might even dream of your Granny's cooking, but that is ok ;) (even my husband dreams of it!)
  • Sometimes you will feel completely alone and left out! Let's face it, homeland is homeland - you get to speak your mother tongue in the flow that your mind lets you. In a foreign country you would have to translate yourself everything. In my case, I always double translate it: Polish to English, English to Romanian and back again... You will sometimes have a feeling that you don't actually belong anywhere - sometimes not even home, truly - and you are left without anything to hold on to. My trick is going to my husband when I feel like that - he is the sweetest and kindest person; he always manages to put a smile upon my face.
  • You will have to face bureaucracy and it will hurt! All the amount of paperwork one has to do is just ridiculous. The issues we had with the Polish - Romanian wedding were just a piece of what one has to face on a daily basis. You would think that being part of the EU would make it better... NOT!
Positives:
  • It's like taking an instant grown-up pill! You realise that the world is big and you are just a tiny speck of dust - somewhat like Horton Hears A Who :) The idea that you have to manage yourself is both empowering and frightening at the same time and somehow you have to handle all that, being all alone in a foreign country. You better buckle up, partner! 
  • You will learn how to cook! ... well at least the basics, like boiling eggs without letting them explode.  You may develop 2-3 reciepes from which you will live on + the instant food that will become your best friend ;)
  • You will discover the best Free Walking Tours & Places To Visit in Town & you will become the perfect guide for all your friends/relatives that will visit you! After a while, you will know the names of the streets and you will even be able to act as a local by showing the tourists around and arousing them with long lost legends/stories of the town you live in.
  • You will struggle with the local language until you will defeat it and laught in its face! - that didn't happen yet for me, but it is coming slowly and painfully. First 6-12 months in Poland were a constant search for meanings... first I had become aware where one sentence starts and one ends, gradually I became aware of words, then I would ask what those words mean and figure out what they were saying from the context... more than 3 years later, here I am! I can understand that but I can speak it only with kids and only when I am alone with them, as I get shy... but hey! Poland is one of the 3rd hardest languages, so give me a break :) If I would have moved to Italy/Spain I would have been fluent by now (Romanian language being a latin language, like Italian and Spanish and unlike Polish). In any case, if ever in Poland, you might need some sentences so have a look here.
  • You will meet new people and go through a wider range of experiences! than you would if you would have stayed home. I know... home is comfortable; it's like sitting in a solid comfy old chair, with a book in your hand and sipping some chamomile tea. Taking the jump and facing the turning point in your life is not something everyone manages so you should be proud of yourself. You made it! You jumped and now you are standing on your own two feet - no strings attached!
  • You will mingle with the locals and learn more about their true culture! For example, I learned that there is no way anyone could beat Polish people at being proud and nationalistic. It is as if through their veins flows Polish history... Also, on the list of things you should never try beating a Polish person is the ability to party hard. For more, check of my list of things you should never try with a Polish person ;) It's now a decalog, it's only 3 rules, but if you stick to that you should be safe ;) 
Neutrals:

You will feel like an acrobat at the circus, way up high, balancing yourself between 2 worlds. You will sometimes hate your motherland and love your adoptive country and sometimes it will be the other way around... maybe from time to time you will hate/love them both at the same time, but you are entitled to that. What you cannot do is to let go of yourself and be distracted and out of focus - no matter where you are the people that matter will love you. Being an expat is not all rainbows and sunshines but once you take the step you can never come back, and to tell you the truth, you wouldn't want that. If I would be asked if I would do this again, I would definitely say YES!

This one goes to all my fellow expats out there, especially my Romanian friends who selected an adoptive land for theirselves. Rock on lads/lasses! :) 

Yours truly, 
A Romanian Expat, Living In Poland