The Will / Won’t Miss List

In just a few weeks, we will no longer call Europe home. We’ll not only have an address in Canada, but we’ll actually reside there – something we have not been able to say for the last 6 years. As with any transition, there are pluses and minuses. There are things that will leave a void in our lives and things we’ll happily leave behind:

  • MISS: the Polish version of the kebab. Think grilled panini filled with shawarma, garlic sauce and surówki (pickled, shredded cabbage) served from food carts around town (though our cart of choice is by the train station).
  • WON’T MISS: any number of dishes: pasztet z dzika (boar pâté), czernina (duck blood soup), Slovak bryndza or Polish oscypek (dirty mountain sheep’s cheese), ogórki kiszone (they will tell you it’s the same as dill pickle, but it’s actually slightly rotten – literally)
  • MISS: the high-regard put on family life. Family remains a core element of culture here and we intend to carry this with us. You see it take shape in where people live, their jobs and how they spend their time.
  • MISS: life works more last-minute in Central Europe. It gives great freedom in making and changing plans. There’s nothing a last-minute text message cannot solve.
  • WON’T MISS: the chaos and wasted time that results from last-minute changes. It’s nice to know plans actually stick, especially for work.
  • MISS: the “all rules are flexible” / “just ask” mentality. Poles are incredibly adept at finding ways to make things work. Though this treads the legal / illegal thresh hold at times, it does have some perks. For example, missing an ingredient while cooking? Call a cab and have the driver pick-up the item and deliver it for you. If you pay, it’s possible.
  • WON’T MISS: when people in offices (especially government ones) tell you that rules are flexible after you’ve arrived convinced you have all the necessary documents. Hearing the word “theoretically” in a government office is tantamount to “no”: “Theoretically sir, you have everything you need, but…”
  • MISS: the cost of living. Our grocery bill for a month probably will not sustain us for much more than a week in Canada.
  • MISS: we’ve built some tough, Slavic skin over the years and so we’ll miss Slavic directness. Oh sure people lie and cheat, but if you ask for an opinion (even if you don’t), you’ll get a straight answer. Public opinion on hairstyles, weight gain and fashion choices are never a mystery. Never. The ultra-polite Canadian tango feels exhausting at this point.
  • WON’T MISS: how cash-based life is here. Combine this with cashiers aggressive insistence on exact change and you end up hauling fistfuls of change everywhere you go.
  • MISS: European cities are built more compact than their North American counterparts. We can walk the width of our city in less than an hour and we have not had a car in years. People live very locally. Close-quarters can be challenging, but proximity does create community. Canada is just so very spread-out.
  • WON’T MISS: Agnieszka (the high-heel wearing, heavy walker), Marcin (the angry yeller) and their three children who train for the Olympics indoors – otherwise known as our upstairs neighbours.
  • MISS: our apartment. We really made an effort to make it our own and it feels like us. Also, we know we’ll be sharing space for the next few years and we’ll probably miss some of this independence at times.
  • MISS: Polish culture is rich with traditions. It adds flare to life and we plan on bringing some of these practices with us. One such custom we will incorporate into our family is the tradition of setting an extra place at the dinner table for Christmas. If a stranger were to knock on the door, we would be ready to invite them in and join us. It is a great reminder that the Christmas season isn’t just about us. It’s a push-back against our more insular traditions.

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