Marija Jakubowycz came to Poland in 2001 from a village near Ternopil in Ukraine in search of a job. She was going to stay in Poland for a month, but she has been living in our county for as long as 13 years now. In the beginning Marija went through a baptism of fire, working as a cleaning lady, a carer for a sick lady and a child… Numbers of various jobs! For the last 8 years, she has worked as a teacher of Russian and Ukrainian, and a translator. In 2009, she set up the Ternopilska Foundation. She uses her skills and experiences in social work and volunteering for the benefit of Ukrainians. She feels best among books, in libraries and bookshops. Her long-standing dream is to read together with others. She likes Turkish coffee and Ukrainian poppy-seed cakes (Ukrainian: palanyci z makom). She likes travelling and visiting foreign countries but also wants to explore as many corners of Ukraine as possible.
I’m leaving the country… What to take with me?
A flower is not always able to blossom there where it springs up …
I’m leaving now…
There may be some moments in our life when we have to move to a new distant place. On the emerging horizon, expectedly or unexpectedly, there appears a non-touristic trip, full of emotions and attractions. It’s only the beginning of our new life in a foreign country. Circumstances force us to leave our cosy old house and build a nest for ourselves in an unknown new place. What to take and not to take on this trip to a new world? Let’s think about that.
Some say that it is only an illusion that you can do without many things. They advise you to take as much as possible, within reasonable financial limits. Starting a new life from scratch may be wonderful, but if you aren’t an oligarch or your grandmother, a first-wave immigrant, hasn’t left you a cosy house with soft sofas, the beginning of a new life abroad won’t be that easy; you won’t be able to afford to buy a TV set, mixer, shoes, shirts, pots and plates. You won’t be able to think about these things, busying yourself with much more important matters such as her holiness red tape, applying for residence permits, looking for a job and a place to live. You will have to work and learn a new language …
Buying everything necessary will obviously cost us a lot of money. But do we need everything right away? Migrating is like starting a business. It’s good to have a business plan. How much will you spend on furniture, cleaning products, cosmetics, food, toys and education aids for a child or two, kitchen utensils, computer, software or dishes? How much will you pay for rent, electricity, gas, water and sewage disposal?
Remember that real Europeans economise on everything! They count their money and count on themselves.
Besides, don’t forget about time. Time is money and you should save and take care of your money. You will have to learn to do so once you’ve crossed the threshold of Europe. In order not to search in new shops for new goods made by new producers, all unknown to you, you’d better take with you some things. I’m not talking about a bag of sugar or a barrel of oil. It would be reasonable, though, to count everything so as not to leave or throw away anything that you will have to buy on the spot right away. Your furniture and electronic appliances may be solid and of good quality. It may be worthwhile to put them into a container and transport to the new homeland. There are lots of international transport companies. You should contact some of them, compare their offers, options and charges. For instance, the TNT company doesn’t provide clients with containers for transport. The client has to obtain them individually. Let’s count: I had to pay about 92 Euros for transport of 10 kilograms (the actual weight) of my favourite books. It takes 4-5 days to transport them to Poland. You can obviously take fewer books with you, reducing the weight of the delivery and transport costs, but you will still have to bear considerable expenses. In the face of this, not all migrants decide to take a whole collection of books with them.
What was my experience?
When I left Ukraine 13 years ago, stressed and in a hurry, I meant to stay away only for
a month or even less. I wanted to earn some money and go back. I wanted to improve the financial standing of my family, even if only slightly; to get out of an abyss of helplessness. There is a house with furniture, utensils and a garden; briefly speaking, you have a roof over your head and a sense of stability. But the roof over your head should have been renovated and walls should have been repainted a long time ago. It would be necessary to install
a plumbing system. But that is all beyond your reach, with unstable income, hardly sufficient to buy food and educational materials for two children. Finally, I decided to go to Poland, to Warsaw, located not far away from my homeland (550 km). With buses plying directly to Warsaw on a daily basis, I had an opportunity to go directly from my house to the city and then to be transported back. When I found a job offer in Warsaw, I decided to go. The decision gave rise to various fears, anxieties, a sense of helplessness as well as hopes. I knew Polish well. I had been reading a Polish primer since my childhood; I had my favourite Polish songs and films; I knew nostalgic family memories; I had read hundreds of Polish magazines and newspapers. I knew Polish culture and customs quite well. I shouldn’t have felt strange. I have no problems communicating with Poles in shops or anywhere else.
As for material things, at the last moment I grabbed Michel Quoist’s The Meaning of Success, Giennadij Malachow’s Detoxicate your organism, uncompleted knitwork, my mother’s old embroidered linen bed clothes, and will to work, earn money and not to waste my precious time.
I’m still leaving…
If we decide that we are not taking too many things with us, we can give some of them, for instance furniture, to your friends our people in need. You can also ask your friends to store some important things that won’t be necessary from the very beginning, for instance seasonal clothes, paintings or books. They will be gradually sending you those treasures in small packets. The best method is to pack everything right away and leave your friends a schedule of deliveries so as not to get spring wellington boots in the winter.
There’s yet another option: to organise a sale of domestic appliances, furniture and other things. If there’s some time left to your departure, it is quite possible for you to turn all the things into money for which you will buy necessary staff instead of waiting for a container.
Anyway, remember to buy several Ukrainian keyboard stickers as well as a supply of indispensable medicines. Although Europe is close to us, medicines can differ not only in labels.
My friend who left Portugal told me that most of her clothes proved useless due to the different climate and clothing style. She bought new clothes in second-hand shops or at the markets. „As for kitchen utensils, we took only the most necessary things. But in fact we needn’t have taken all that staff with us because everything was available at an affordable price at the spot. We could have waited for the first payment of salary and bought necessary things only then. Cosmetics also proved unsuitable for the climatic conditions, so we had to get rid of them”.
Some Facebook friends who moved to Poland shared their impressions: "We took two suitcases, a rucksack with a laptop and a cage with our kitten. One suitcase was redundant, in fact; there’s no point taking bed clothes or pyjamas. We feared we would be short of money, but it turned out that it was more economical to buy things in Poland than to pay for the transport of luggage, including excessive luggage. We had no savings and my husband got his salary two weeks after we had arrived. We were buying things gradually”.
I think there’s no point ordering a container for our lumber. If you want to watch television, or listen to the music, you can do it on the Internet. As for books, there are plenty of e-books. Friendly advisers recommend not to start completing the formalities at the eleventh hour in order to avoid getting upset by being fined. You should consider disposing of unnecessary credit or pay cards.
Much depends on what type of family moves. A childless couple has it certainly easier; they can do without homemade food in the beginning. On the Internet, you will find numerous comments made by young women about how they moved abroad with a passport, cosmetics and underwear only. Families with children, on the contrary, have to think carefully about what to take with them; they have to think about some knick-knacks such as photo albums sentimental keepsakes, gifts from your near and dear ones. Believers should remember to take some religious paraphernalia such as a prayer book, baptismal candle, holy water etc.
The fundamental task for migrants is to decide whether to start a new life in a new place, cutting off all ties with the old life; whether to somehow cherish your bond with the homeland, for instance staring at an embroidered towel hand-made by your mother, your grandmother’s sugar bowl; should you shed some tears of nostalgia over those accessories, so close to your heart? Is there one solution to these problems? Actually no. Everyone has to decide on his or her own what should be kept and committed to memory, and what is an unnecessary burden in the suitcase.
By two Ukrainian women
Written, down, commented by Marija Jakubowycz
Translation: Anna Orzechowska
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I would like to start with some positive aspects but the first sentence goes as follows...
Unfortunately, a Polish employer is not willing to employ a foreigner and fulfil all standards of law. They do not have to be and indeed are not bad themselves nor are they a horror of a foreigner. However, complicated legal rules and disproportionately high costs of the employment cause the employers to look for easier ways of documenting all situations that take place in their firms or companies.
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R like registration of residence
The law has many faces – the theory may be helpful while dealing with them. However, the thing that encouraged me to write this article was the everyday experience of Foundation Ternopilska concerning registration of residence. Step by step, I will write how to register your place of stay in Poland.
When the registration of residence of a foreigner is necessary?
In order to receive PESEL number. Similar numerical identifications function in any country, where tax and evidence data of its citizens is collected and stored.
PESEL is given to a foreigner after two weeks, after registration of a stay for a period longer than 3 months – it may concern 92, 95, 100 or more days. If the stay is shorter than 3 months – PESEL number will not be given.
Why this article is concerned so much with PESEL, when it was meant to provide information about registration of residence? For a foreigner the registration of residence, as I have mentioned above, is the only way to receive PESEL number. Having such identification number makes the life in Poland easier.
We will be asked to provide our PESEL number in following institutions and situations:
- ZUS (Social Insurance Institution)
- tax office
- in a hospital, on ER
- when signing an agreement with employer
- university, higher education institution
If we do not have the PESEL number, we are obliged to present international passport, but still not all institutions are allowed to identify a person on the basis of this document, as the number of the passport may change, just like a surname – PESEL is always the same.
When the registration of residence is helpful?
- when applying for a residence card
- when registering as an unemployed
- for the sense of stability in a foreign country
When the registration of residence is substituted by other documents?
Very important institution for us foreigners is the Office for Foreigners, located in Voivodeship Offices. When applying for a residence card, it is necessary to deliver all the required documents certifying our stay in Poland, and providing certain place of residence. The department demands one of the following documents: confirmation of registration, rent contract, lending contract, deed of ownership of the apartment we live in. It is worth to obtain one of the documents required by the institution, but do not panic if you are not able to get the registration of residence or the rent contract.
I am emphasizing the moderation because in case of registration of residence the good will of the flat owner is crucial – if the owner does not want to register our stay there is nothing much we can do. Owner of the apartment has such right and registration of residence of the others is a right, not duty.
If the department insists on the certification of registration of residence, it’s worth to write a declaration: “I declare that the owner of the apartment I currently reside, has not assented to my registration of residence.” This should be enough to make our case carry on.
Registration – step by step
You would like to register your place of residence but you are convinced that it’s complicated and time consuming. I’ll prove you wrong – there is nothing easier.
You are no longer obliged to deregister your previous place of residence. Now all the formalities may be solved in the office. The whole procedure of registration of residence takes 10 minutes – you only need to collect necessary documents. You may already have some of them:
What else you should know? (Changes from January 1, 2013)
Foreigners other than mentioned before residing on the territory of Republic of Poland are obliged to register the place of residence 4 days at the latest, counting from the day of arrival, if the stay is longer than 3 months. But if the stay on the territory of the Republic of Poland does not exceed 14 days, there is no such obligation.
Source and more information: Ministry of the Interior
By Marija Jakubowycz (October 2014)
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I have a fear of state institutions…
While writing an article about foreigners and Polish public offices together with my friend from Ukraine, I decided to show how Ukrainian public office workers treat their customers. A rhetorical question asked by me friend working for a non-governmental organisation gives an idea of what dealing with administrative matters means for Poles: “Is it also so difficult to do anything in public offices there in Ukraine?”
Anything that concerns dealing with administrative matters creates negative emotions in most of people. Such is also the attitude of many, if not all, foreigners who come to Poland. I will not write, however, about what waits in store for them in Poland; I will write about the Ukrainian experience which has shaped the consciousness and beliefs also of those who begin new lives in new countries with a negative attitude towards public offices.
And the ever-helpful Janusz Weiss from the first channel of the Polish radio, always striking a chord with the spirit of the times with his programme “Everything you don’t know and are not afraid to ask” addressed to a Polish citizen in a public office (and here comes this fear again…).
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Such is human nature that one always wants more money and believes that there is a better world elsewhere… I think this quality manifests itself particularly strongly among Ukrainians – it is better OVER THERE… Many people think that their problems revolve around day-to-day living and money. But when they leave the country, it turns out that the problem lies in themselves – in their hang-ups, stereotypes, behaviours, beliefs, emotions and laziness…
…as a child, when I lived in a small village in the Subcarpathian region of Ukraine, I saw many of my friends’ parents go abroad to earn some money and leave their kids under the care of their grandparents. Those parents seemed to me to be extremely courageous people, almost supermen, because their children stood out with their new clothes, shoes and toys which were quite extraordinary for us. The neighbours who stayed put at home were jealous of those people and often judged them, when family fell apart because they could not bear separation (or maybe that separation was the final part of a break-up caused by weak family ties, a lack of love and understanding). Judging and criticising, devoid of any sympathy, were especially harsh towards the children who got into trouble in the absence of their parents.
Prolonged isolation accompanied by separation from family and familiar environment is psychologically straining, leads to depression, deepens helplessness and confusion. Some time ago, I encouraged people on Internet forums and conferences to set up hostels where migrant workers could at the same time be independent and stay in touch with other migrants, gaining knowledge and skills useful in finding a safe and legal job. Working on grey market, migrants are exposed to abuse on the part of their employers and stand a lesser chance of gaining positive experiences with Poles. This also contributes to the strengthening of organized groups who reap profits from illegal employment, issuing fictitious invitations and employing migrants illegally. Therefore, it is in the interest of the host country to create conditions in which migrants would be aware of their rights and how to assert them as well as would see the benefits of legal residence and employment. There are no hostels for migrant workers in Poland at the moment. Migrants come to Poland at their own risk and look for a job on their own. It is common practice, however, in the industrial, food and agricultural sectors to provide accommodation near the workplace. As for agriculture, the conditions are uneven, but as for manufacturing plants, there are well-functioning hostels for migrants across the country – they are cheap or even free. Employers often invite married couples if they can offer only a family room. After all, it is common knowledge that family ties strengthen good relations between the employer and the employee.
Projekt ‘MIEJSKI SYSTEM INFORMACYJNY I AKTYWIZACYJNY DLA MIGRANTÓW’ jest współfinansowany z Programu Krajowego Funduszu Azylu, Migracji i Integracji oraz budżetu państwa. Wyłączna odpowiedzialność spoczywa na autorze. Komisja Europejska nie ponosi odpowiedzialności za sposób wykorzystania udostępnionych informacji.
Projekt LOKALNE MIĘDZYSEKTOROWE POLITYKI NA RZECZ INTEGRACJI IMIGRANTÓW realizowany był w ramach programu Obywatele dla Demokracji, finansowanego z Funduszy EOG.
Projekt LOKALNE POLITYKI MIGRACYJNE - MIĘDZYNARODOWA WYMIANA DOŚWIADCZEŃ W ZARZĄDZANIU MIGRACJAMI W MIASTACH był współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach Europejskiego Funduszu na rzecz Integracji Obywateli Państw Trzecich oraz budżetu państwa. Wyłączna odpowiedzialność spoczywa na autorze. Komisja Europejska nie ponosi odpowiedzialności za sposób wykorzystania udostępnionych informacji.
Projekt LOKALNE MIĘDZYSEKTOROWE POLITYKI NA RZECZ INTEGRACJI IMIGRANTÓW był współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach Europejskiego Funduszu na rzecz Integracji Obywateli Państw Trzecich oraz budżetu państwa. Wyłączna odpowiedzialność spoczywa na autorze. Komisja Europejska nie ponosi odpowiedzialności za sposób wykorzystania udostępnionych informacji.
Projekt ‘WARSZAWSKIE CENTRUM WIELOKULTUROWE’ był współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach Europejskiego Funduszu na rzecz Integracji Obywateli Państw Trzecich oraz budżetu państwa. Wyłączna odpowiedzialność spoczywa na autorze. Komisja Europejska nie ponosi odpowiedzialności za sposób wykorzystania udostępnionych informacji.
LOKALNE MIĘDZYSEKTOROWE POLITYKI NA RZECZ INTEGRACJI IMIGRANTÓW Projekt realizowany był przy wsparciu Szwajcarii w ramach szwajcarskiego programu współpracy z nowymi krajami członkowskimi Unii Europejskiej.