A year has passed and with it, I was able to tick off a major bucket list item – to live in Poland for one full year experiencing the seasons’ change. I did this completely by accident but totally on purpose – by overstaying on my long-awaited holiday and technically, my visa.
This week marked the one year anniversary of my arrival in the motherland. Thanks to the fluency of my Polish and lack of accent when I speak it, I don’t get the same barrage of questions that legit foreigners get.
However, after speaking to me for a longer period of time, about more sophisticated topics such as politics, cultural traditions or popular Polish authors or even film directors, my language and cultural deficits become apparent. My Aussie starts to show and that’s when the questions start.
Well, it’s legit the best. This question is the simplest – I was born and partially raised here, so my roots are deeply planted into this earth. The ability to grow up in Australia was mint and I wouldn’t have it any other way, however, a part of me always missed Poland, and longed to be here. I longed to come here for holidays and to have a connection to the people and the language – so much so that whenever I had money and time, I would come to Warsaw.
Being a child of immigrants is a unique experience – parents leave their respective homelands eagerly to begin life abroad while their children dream of holidaying in the motherland, often of coming back for good.
It has always been my dream to live in Warsaw for one full year. So, when the opportunity arose last year to stay here longer, the decision wasn’t a hard one to make, but it did take about three weeks to commit 100% to it.
I remember the exact two moments which solidified the decision. I was riding a bike through the forest near my hometown, on the outskirts of Warsaw. I felt absolute freedom and joy, and this new feeling which I realised was – for the first time ever in my life – the feeling of home. The next morning, as I sat sipping tea and watching the squirrels jump from tree to tree, I couldn’t imagine NOT being here. My mind was made up.
Is this forever?
When people ask this, I always ask them to define forever. And immediately they get it. As humans, we like this notion of forever. We like to get married, forever. We like to have full-time jobs, forever. Yet we know that the only thing that’s guaranteed is death and taxes.
The only thing we can be sure of is nature turning, the sun setting and moon rising, for the process to repeat again. The only permanent thing is change.
How long do you plan to stay?
I’ve learnt to live in the moment with very little plans. I know that life will do whatever life wants to do, despite any plans I might have. So, currently returning to Melbourne isn’t on my agenda and I have no want to live anywhere else.
I have built a solid foundation for a life here and want to see what will happen if continue building upon it. How long will that be for? Until I’ve capped this level out.
What about your stuff?
What stuff? Heh.
I was lucky enough that a group of wonderful people helped me (via many FaceTime calls) sort through, pack, throw out and sell everything I owned back in Melbourne.
It was an amazing feeling to get rid of practically everything. You aren’t even aware of the energetic weight your things have until they aren’t there anymore.
I arrived with two suitcases and a Prada handbag. I am happy to report that everything I own (minus furniture, obvi) would still easily fit into those receptacles.
A medium sized cardboard box was sent to me across the seas with some of my favourite items, clothes and books. There are about 4 additional boxes of family photos and books in storage.
So yeah, I don’t really have stuff anymore.
What do you miss about Australia?
The ability to be at the beach in 20 mins.
Easy access to high-quality produce (especially meat) practically everywhere.
Easy going nature of people.
Sun in winter.
What has been the most difficult life adjustment?
To be honest, this whole exercise was a long time coming and so deeply ingrained into the fibre of my being that most of the way it felt natural and easeful. There were a couple bumps along the way – wherever will I live, wherever will I work? – but those got sorted out in due time.
That being said, if I had to pick two most difficult things they would be 1) it’s super socially acceptable to smoke here still and it’s EVERYWHERE and 2) the Polish tax system.
All in all, everyone should pack up their things and move to another country or city at least once in their life.
Do recommend, would attempt again, 11/10.