Life & work
You come here to work but having a trusted friend is an essential part of everyone’s life and skyping with your best mate every other day is sometimes not enough. You see people out in the streets having fun but somehow you lack your new best Polish friend. Why is that?
First of all, foreigners need to define the concept of a friend in Poland. Generally, what is meant by this word in English, in Polish can correspond to two different meanings:
Znajomy is someone whom you know well and enjoy spending time with, but that person is certainly not close enough for you to invite them to your wedding. It could very loosely correspond to English acquaintance.
Przyjaciel is a much closer person and could be translated into English as best friend.
Now that you know the difference, you may decide, whether you are going to look for a znajomy, or a true przyjaciel. Bear in mind that a real Polish friendship is supposed to last for years and your friends will not let you go easily!
Polish people are not as open as those who come from Latin America, southern Europe or even the US. The distance is quite visible for many newcomers, but if you see it melting away with time – seize this opportunity. When a colleague asks you to join his friends in a pub – go for it. When they invite you over for watching a football game – do not hesitate. If you turn such invitations down, your potential friend will probably not repeat them in the future. Poles are not die-hards and if they consider you uninterested in becoming friends, they may as well stop trying to win you over.
Your colleagues are the easiest social target for anyone seeking new friends. If you feel homesick in Poland, establishing such relationships may help you ease out the pain. Remember about an important and a little bit old-fashioned ritual while taking your friendship to the next level. As you may know, in Poland we address people by Pani (Ms) or Pan (Mr) to show respect to them in official situations, but if someone says: Przejdźmy na ty, translated as Let’s switch to first names. (= omit the formal Pan/Pani), you have to say yes and as a bonus you get to cross your arms with your friend and drink a toast to both of you. Sounds fun? It’s called Bruderschaft and marks a milestone in every relationship you have!
Since friendships in Poland are forever, you have to make sure that you take care of your friend. Polish people do not want you to be an acquaintance, who talks to them about weather or complains about a broken coffee machine. They enjoy discussions, hearing about your worldview, arguing about it and making up afterwards. Your relationships with the Polish cannot be lukewarm – if you think somebody is a keeper, meet up with them, answer their calls and surprise them with a postcard when you visit your home country. Poles do not enjoy feeling like they are forcing themselves into your life, so sometimes there is some persistence required on your side.
Good luck with making new friends and keeping them! You can rest assured that having a Polish friend is one of the best experiences you can get in your life. You can share your thought on it in the comment section below.