Dear Readers! I would like to address people who consider leaving their own country and moving to Poland. Here is some advice for future emigrants:
1) Most of all, before leaving, one should visit some websites, on which emigrants write about their “new life.” It will help set priorities and manage financial resources. Make good use of the time spent on planning your future abroad and remember about the fast integration with Polish society.
2) Before you decide to move to Poland, look for a place to live. Note: it does not necessarily have to be an apartment in a big city. It is worthwhile to look for a place in a village or town, where life is easier and the rent for a flat or a house is not so high.
3) It is also useful to visit some websites to find information about acquiring documents, guidance, anti-discrimination, assistance to victims of human trafficking or psychological violence, and about one’s rights and obligations in a country. Looking for an organisation or institution that helps migrants is a necessary step (1). Some of these organisations provide specific programmes or workshops for making foreigners comfortable in Poland. The examples of such organisations are International Organisation for Migration (IOM) (2), and Caritas in Poland that helps migrants and refugees. It should be noted that “Caritas daily receives more and more proposals from farmers who want to provide fruit and vegetables for social objectives. These declarations involve approximately 10 thousand tonnes of fruit and vegetables”(3). These products can reach the needy. Do not waste your chances and go to such organisations.
It is also necessary to visit the websites of the Fundacja na rzecz Integracji Zawodowej, Społecznej oraz Rozwoju Przedsiębiorczości VIA (the Foundation for the Occupational and Social Integration and for the Entrepreneurship VIA), the Fundacja Rozwoju “Oprócz Granic” (the Foundation for the Development “Beyond Boarders”) (5), Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, and other organisations (6), which can be easily found on the Internet.
4) Let us remember that the EU countries are still in the midst of the economic crisis. So let us not complain about the unemployment or small wages in Poland. “The analysis of data including the number of the issued work permits and submitted declarations shows that the number of the immigrants who work legally in Poland is increasing. In 2010, 37,000 work permits were issued, 70% more than in 2008 ... In 2008, the number of declarations of the employment of foreigners amounted to 156,000. In 2009, it was 188,000 declarations, in 2010 – 180,000” (7).
In order not to get lost on the job market in Poland, it is useful to visit the website of the Urząd Pracy m.st. Warszawy (Employment Office for the Capital City of Warsaw) (8). There are job offers not only for the local market but also for the whole country (the Central Job Offer Database – Centralna Baza Ofert Pracy; CBOP), or even for other EU countries. The Employment Office in Warsaw holds a few programmes: the pilot project “Partnerstwo dla pracy” (“Partnership for Work”) or the programme “Praca z Internetu” (“The Job From the Internet”), which intends to “build the system of the so-called multimedia stands in the offices, libraries, job clubs, the offices of non-governmental organisations and other partners of the job market in Warsaw” (9). The authors of the project believe that the network of such multimedia stands and computers with access to the Internet will allow the unemployed to “benefit from the job assistance with the use of the Internet free of charge and for the easy access to the big number of job offers and different news from the job market” (9). It should be noted that the employment offices can be found in every Polish town, and it is advisable to visit them after the arrival to the country.
5) It is a common knowledge that “Man does not live on the bread alone,” so we need to remember about the integration with the Polish society by participating in the projects held by different organisations. For instance, it is worthwhile to have a look at the projects held by the Fundacja Inna Przestrzeń (The Other Space Foundation) (10). Here you will find new friends and you will not be bored. On the Info Migrator website, there is some information about the new campaign “Turn to Poland”(“Włącz się w Polskę”). Its aim is “the active participation of the immigrants in the social life in Poland” (11).
6) It is advisable to establish friendly contacts in Poland even before the arrival. Remember that every migrant leaves their friends and relatives in their homeland. It usually results in feelings of sorrow and loneliness. It is good to get to know new people, go to the cinema or for a walk with them, actively participate in social life. One should not be afraid of one’s own ideas but boldly contact the right people. The organisers of the action “Turn to Poland” believe that nowadays, foreigners who come to Poland, usually stay passive – they do not take up their own initiatives and they do not join the activities of the local authorities or non-governmental organisations. We believe that such a situation adversely affects not only immigrants themselves but also the whole society. The immigrants cannot be only the object of the activities of other groups – they should become a subject whose voice is heard and taken into account” (12).
7) Language is the basis in establishing contacts. Do not limit yourselves just to your own circle. Look for help and other people will be willing to give you a hand. Remember that we are the guests here. If we want to become the members of the Polish society, we have to earn respect. Learning Polish language will help you open many doors in this country.
Allow me for a short digression to share my personal experience.
I came to Poland in 2001 to study. I had never been here before, I knew Poland from books and associated it with Chopin’s works. In addition, it was June, foreign students, with whom I was supposed to begin studies in October, had not come yet. I arrived during the weekend. I did not have any Polish money and I did not know where to look for the currency exchange bureau. I went to the nearest shop, next to my hotel. I started to talk to the shop assistants (there were only young people) and I asked for a cookie, promising that I would pay on Monday. I got the most needed products: water, rolls, some jam. I knew that I needed to learn Polish really fast, otherwise I would have to go back home (it was one of the conditions set by the school). At the beginning, my knowledge of Russian was very useful. But I understood that everyone is willing to talk if someone addresses them in their mother tongue. You do not have to be a linguist to know that. It is enough to know a dozen or so words in Polish to encourage a Pole to talk. You just need to try talking in Polish.
During the first evening, my new friends invited my for a coffee. I did not know Polish but I tried to pick up every word. On Monday it was me who invited them for dinner. And we met every evening in a small restaurant near the hotel, after my classes (I took Polish language course) and their work. They encouraged me to speak Polish – making mistakes or not, but I tried to speak. Just as Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan (Antonio Banderas) in the film “The 13th Warrior,” I tried to lip read and to guess what my friends were saying. After two months of our meetings I passed the exam in Polish and I stayed in Warsaw.
If one wants to learn Polish quickly and to get to know more about Polish culture, one should contact the Ośrodek Migranta FU SHENFU (The Centre for Migrants FU SHENFU). This organisation “offers Polish language courses for refugees and migrants who plan to stay in Poland. … The aim is to teach Polish effectively and to present different aspects of Polish culture” (13).
It is good to know Polish and to make friends with Poles!
3) „Żeby się nic nie zmarnowało”, http://www.caritas.pl/aktualnosci/wiadomosci-z-polski-i-ze-swiata/9838-zeby-sie-nic-nie-zmarnowalo
7) M. Matkowska, Współczesnie problemy migracji w Polsce, pp. 99, http://www.wneiz.pl/nauka_wneiz/sip/sip24-2011/SiP-24-7.pdf
By Dr Hijran Aliyeva-Sztrauch
Translation: Alicja Kosim