This weekend I was browsing through the notes I have stored on my phone and found one with the title “Things That Are Different In Poland.” How could I have forgotten the fun list I made while in Poland over Christmas, talking about the unique things about my newly adopted homeland (for if I and my husband are one, his homeland is also my homeland, right?). Some have pictures, some don’t, but these are differences you will also encounter if you are ever lucky enough to visit Poland one day.
1. Potable Water
That Husband’s family drinks bottled water or boiled/filtered water at all times. I guess it isn’t very different from my own family using one of those filtered water dispensers with the interchangeable jugs on top, but they drink that way because they want to. TH’s family drinks that way because they have to.
They drive on the right side of the road. I realize this is the same as the US, but it is different than I expected to I consider it a difference. Don’t you find it hard to remember which countries drive on the left side of the road?
3. Breakfast Sandwhiches
They eat “sandwhiches” for breakfast every day. This was one of the hardest differences for me to adjust to. I didn’t realize how much I love my cereal, eggs, fruit and other t ypical American breakfast items.
4. Doughnuts at McDonalds
I find the international menus of the worlds largest fast food chain to be fascinating. It’s always entertaining to check the menu out when I fly somewhere and see what unique items they have added.
5. Cop Bribery
In Poland, if you are pulled over, you slip the officer some cash and you go free. I kind of wanted it to happen while we were driving because I can’t really imagine how this would work. If I ever get pulled over while driving in Poland I’ll probably get myself thrown in jail while attempting to slip him some money. Or I will just pull the clueless American card.
6. Car Headlights
Most cars drive with their headlights on at all times. I actually think that all cars should be forced to do that in all places.
7. Traffic Signal
In America the traffic signal pattern goes green-yellow-red-green-yellow-red. In Poland the traffic signal pattern goes green-yellow-red-yellow-green-yellow-red-yellow. It’s hard to visualize, but adding in the extra yellow between the green and the red allows drivers in Poland to release the clutch and prepare to take off. I drive a manual here in the States, so I would love to see a feature like this!
You never walk around barefoot at home in Poland. Whenever you enter a house you take off your shoes and find a pair of slippers next to the door to slide on. I caught TH wearing his mom’s slippers around the house several times which made me laugh.
9. The Signage
Another thing I love to do when I visit other countries is to look at the different ways they portray the signs for the bathrooms. The Polish characters are so gosh darn cute!
10. “American” Products
This one really needs no explanation. The manufacturers of this toothpaste must have figured that portraying it as the “toothpaste of the stars” people would believe it worked better than anything else that can be found in Poland.
All of the doors lock with keys just like this. Doesn’t it make you think of Secret Garden or something?
12. Christmas and Day-After Christmas
The 25th AND the 26th are national holidays in Poland. Everyone has the 26th off, and no one has the 24th off.
13. Picture Pass
When you tour a museum or other local attraction you usually have to pay a “camera fee” to be allowed to take pictures. They give you a little sticker to wear. If you don’t have it on they will stop you and tell you to stop taking pictures. It’s actually a really great way to make some extra money at the attractions.
This is a difference unique to TH’s family. A sauna in the basement! Staying with them for a few days has convinced me that having a sauna in the same room you shower in is like having a little piece of heaven on earth. The trick is to go down to the basement a few minutes early, flip on the sauna, hop in the shower, and then go straight from the shower to the sauna to finish the drying process.
These German instructions for the sauna are hilarious. Here is my own interpretation of what they say since I don’t speak German.
- Take a shower before you get in the sauna
- Go inside and stay until you are about to melt into a pool of sweat
- Go make a snow angel to cool off. Dive into a barrel of water just for fun.
- Get a massage and soak your feet.
- Go lay by the pool in the most uncomfortable position possible.
- Head back into the sauna to start the whole process over. Make sure you do all of these things naked.
15. Old Things
Antiques and old things are a lot more common over there. Isn’t this Singer sewing machine one of the most amazing antiques you have ever seen? That FIL said I could have it, now I just have to find some way to get it.
The last two things aren’t differences, rather similarities.
1. The radio station plays Billie Jean
2. When Grandma cooks, prepare to eat a whole lot
And because I don’t want to write a post on just these three things, I’m attaching them to the bottom of this post.
Here are some of our favorite things from Poland:
1. The coolest nativity set ever.
Look at the detail in Joseph’s hair.
2. The Dwarf
It’s a long story, but I have an obsession with Polish dwarves. His name is Nrut and he keeps me company when TH is gone all week long.
3. The jewelry.
That Husband’s great uncle was a famous jewelry designer who made pieces for the Queen of England! The white eagle from the Polish Coat of Arms, and the ring his uncle received after fighting in the war. I wanted TH to wear the ring as his wedding band, but I think it’s a little bulky for him.
Unfortunately I think this will be the last thing I write about my personal experiences in Poland for a long time. The sad state of the economy means we won’t be going back for far too long.