Our Global Differences series presents real voices of people from across the globe telling us about their own countries, and the differences between these and the UK.
In this month's post on global differences, we hear from Anna Jakielaszek, a diversity and inclusion consultant from Wroclaw in Poland, currently living in Malmo.
Name: Anna Jakielaszek
Job / Profession: Diversity and Inclusion Consultant
Home country and town: Wroclaw, Poland
Native language: Polish
How long have you been in the UK?
I moved to the UK from Poland in 2008. At the beginning of 2020 I moved to Sweden. I lived in the UK for 12 years!
What was your first impression of the UK? I remember it quite well actually….! Many people associate UK with London… Even thought I never lived in London, some would assume I did! I would not say I thought UK was only London, but I suppose I pictured UK being more about cities. I first arrived to East Midlands and I remember being welcomed with green sceneries everywhere. That perhaps was my first introduction to the “city life” and “country life” division I am by now so familiar with.
What did you find was the biggest difference between here and your home country? I have to mention the “classic” confusion around British’s bathrooms… the two separate taps with cold and warm water, the string to put the light on, the lack of electric sockets…Of course I know it is not in every single bathroom, but you still come across it. When it comes to the people relationships, I think the biggest difference is in the type of conversations you would have in Poland versus in the UK. It’s not unusual for Poles to open up, share their thoughts and opinions, personal details, sometimes even getting a little bit more “philosophical” and you do not even need to reach the “friendship” status to enter those type conversations. With Brits it is easy to do a “small talk”, but it takes time to connect on that other level. On the other hand, as I’ve moved to Sweden now, whilst I cannot make a direct comparison with pandemic changing massively how we work and communicate world-wide, however I find it much easier to connect on platforms like LinkedIn with strangers in the UK than in Sweden, at least for now. I think I am at the observation stage trying to figure it out😊
Oh, and there is one thing I’ve resisted for the whole 12 years- I never had my tea white😊
What is the biggest misconception people in the UK have of your country? After having lived abroad myself for that long, I suspect I may have my own misconceptions😊
However, when I see the reactions of people who actually did go to Poland for a city break or so, I see their positive surprise in the way they talk about that experience…! I suspect some people may think Poland is an “obscure” country with nothing to see or do, whereas we have beautiful cities, lake district, mountains, forests, and sea with wide beaches and dunes😊 Many of us emigrate not only because of the economic needs, but also because of a need of experiencing something new, learn, improve English, meet different people. I think that we can be quite adventurous as a nation!
What’s the one place you’d say we have to visit in your country? It must be the city I am from- Wroclaw! I love this place, the atmosphere, the tag line” Wroclaw- the meeting place”, the inspiration it gave me growing up and the opportunities. It is also worth googling it’s history- I think that being raised in a city that was so much impacted by the historical events, with its entire population being relocated, for others starting new from zero, it makes you wonder about how certain things can be, how to respect those before us, how to appreciate the opportunities you get…. I’ve warned at the beginning we have philosophical tendencies..!:)
What’s the one dish or meal you’d really recommend? Well, it’s just been Christmas so it must be the Christmas dish! Barszcz which is a beetroot soup mandatory with “uszka” which are tiny dumplings with a dried mushrooms filling.
What’s your favourite word in your own language? What does it mean in English? I love this question! I like that there are words or expressions that are hard to translate into a different language or that just simply sound “nice”.
There are plenty actually, but one of my favourites is:
Oj tam, oj tam! – which can’t be translated literally and is used in different contexts, for example to say “do not exaggerate”, “it’s not a big deal”, or to downplay someone’s critique or comment we do not agree with or to downplay own achievements when we may feel slightly embarrassed, for example:
You are a master in your work! And someone may answer with : oj tam oj tam (which means it’s not a big deal” aka I know I am but I am embarrassed by the comment😊).
There is actually a song by a Polish singer Maria Peszek “ladne slowa to” (“nice words are:”) where she sings words she likes and then she moves on to those she does not like, maybe you would like to have a listen to how it sounds?:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRpIiVM-M0w
Is there anything you want to ask Anna about her country?
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