Our observations, odd experiences and learning moments from our first few weeks in Poland.
- the road leading up to our apartment block was pretty rough and we were glad to see the paving crew come. Until they paved in behind where all of our cars were parked and trapped us in the night before a national holiday.
- buying paint was an event. You have to tell the person in the paint department what you want. They write out a form that you take to a special cashier. You pay there and take the receipt back to the paint person who then tints your paint. You buy the white paint and then you pay for each tint that they add to make the colour you want (one tint was more costly than the entire bucket of paint). Then you have to go see the person you paid who will clear you with security.
- keeping with the paint, you have to mix your paint with water. You do the first coat super watery to act as primer. Several coats followed to eradicate the bright peach walls in our apartment.
- stores have trust issues: you buy light bulbs, the cashier opens each box to check. You buy a vacuum, the cashier calls security who comes over, cuts open the box and inspects the contents.
- in one of the major food retailers, if you spend so many złotych, you get a little plastic toy. This is set to join the ranks of the Slovak bucket of dirt and free carp and bottle of champagne. Here is our team of toys:
- our passports, visas, rental contract and credit cards are not enough documentation to get us a cell phone or internet at home contract. The rep in the store said “globalization hasn’t arrived in Włocławek yet”. Canadian is not even an option in their systems.
- Poland is rich in history. Toruń, the city our university is in is celebrating it’s 777th birthday this year. We colonists can’t even begin to understand. Here is the building we have class in and the room we study in…not as elaborate as the outside.
- apparently Polish people study us Canadians and it takes place in the room right next to us in the Centre for Canadian Studies.
- in the basement of our apartment building is a meter that displays how many kilowatt hours we have left for our apartment. When we get low, we take our energy card (about the size of a credit card) to the Energomat. We pop in a few coins, take the card home and top up our meter. When the meter runs out, the lights go out.
- the heat in our building remained off until October 15th, but the temperature lows hit -5 well before then.
- driving on Polish roads is like learning a whole new set of skills that include passing multiple trucks at one time, using your emergency flashing lights to say thank you, knowing that you can and will be passed at any moment, always being mindful for bicycles and farm animals, and avoiding potholes at all costs because they are huge!
- as you drive along it is common to see cows on leashes as people in villages don’t have huge farming operations, but rather a few cows for personal use. So rather than building a fence, the leash and stake is the preferred method of cow control in the Polish countryside.
These are just some random tidbits from life here, but we want you to know that we’re settling in, keeping a smile on our faces and learning about the place we now call home.