How long have you been living in Poland? Can you tell us more about the transition process of moving from India to such a remote country in Europe?
I have been living in Poland for five years now and I remember the day I arrived like it was yesterday. I came in the last week of May 2012, not knowing anyone except a Polish colleague from work. It was my dream to live and work abroad and when I was offered a job in Krakow I said yes, without even thinking twice. I had never been to Poland before and to be honest even when I had the telephonic interview, I was asked what I know about Poland and at that point all I knew was the Pope, John Paul II.
I got a relocation assignment from work, with only a job in hand and a work permit from the company. I had to take care of everything else myself, the flights and a place to stay. The flights part was easy, it was the staying part that got me worried. Luckily for me, I knew a few colleagues from Kraków and one such friend offered me her home to stay till I was able to find a place of my own.
I never thought as much about being a single Indian woman, traveling alone to live abroad. But I later realised that my friends considered me a role model, a person who had a lot of courage to make the move. The first few days of work I was on my own, as my friend was away on business trips. I learnt quickly by observing and making note of the times of the bus and managed to start going to the office and to the city centre on weekends, to explore this city.
What made you pursue a career in Poland? What do you think of this decision from a longer time perspective?
To be honest, it never crossed my mind to work or live in Poland. But sometimes life has its ways. When I was younger I dreamed of traveling the world and even living abroad. So, when I was offered a chance to apply for a position in Kraków, even not knowing the challenges that lay ahead, I said a big yes! This was by far the best decision I have made. I have been living here now for five years, and I have grown to love this country so much. As far as careers go, I have been working in the same company for many years now, so the transition from India to Poland for work was easy. It is the same company values and culture. The people I work with all these years have been just amazing.
Do you feel that the Polish labour market is attractive for foreigners?
Yes, I believe that Poland has a lot of job opportunities for foreigners. The labour market is diversified. I read somewhere that Kraków, for example, is ranked the 8th in the World for Outsourcing and Warsaw is the 23rd on the list. When I first came here, I was one of the only foreigners in my team, that too from outside the EU. These days it’s common to find many foreigners within the team.
Is it easy to relocate to Poland for a non-EU citizen?
From my experience and talking to other friends who are not from the EU or Europe for that matter, it is not so easy. There are two scenarios for this to happen. First you need to find a job and a company willing to hire you and also willing to make your work permit. The other option would be to find an agency who can help assist in this matter, as they are specialised in dealing with paperwork and all legal issues. I feel it is easier with option two for non-EU and those living outside of Europe. From India for example, such agencies usually only have offers to countries like Canada, the UK, the USA or Australia. On your own it may not be possible to find a job and relocate to the EU.
You live in Kraków. Would you choose it again if you were faced with the same decision as a few years ago?
Yes, I love this city and I look forward to spending many more years here. I believe home is where the heart is. So, for me Kraków is one of my homes now.
How is your Polish? Can you share your learning history and progress?
OK, this is embarrassing. I know a little Polish and studied it on and off initially. As the years passed and when many foreigners joined the team, it became increasingly comfortable to talk in English. I am at a stage where I understand 60 to 70 per cent of the Polish conversations, except I have to really focus and pay attention. I struggle to form complete sentences and even sometimes forget the words. When I am outside in shops and markets, I try to speak Polish and get by with the basics and I can see people appreciate my attempts.
Has living in Poland developed you in any way, e.g. has it influenced you as a person, your hobbies, your way of living?
Yes, I believe so. I consider myself an independent person and moving here made me even more so. I have changed my lifestyle habits and go to the gym more frequently, something which I never did back in India. When I first arrived, I used to party a lot, to go out and meet new people, but now I rarely go out and even if I do I like to get back home early. I enjoy spending quality time with friends and people I care about. Also living here has encouraged me to start blogging and to share my experiences online.
Do you see yourself settling in Poland for good or would you like to live in other countries as well?
When I was younger my dream was to move to Australia, even though I have never been there. It still sits with me at the back of my mind and I would at least love to visit the place. I have thought about acquiring a Polish citizenship and that would require me to live here for a minimum of ten years. I am only half way there and would like to see where life leads me.
Thank you, Doreen, and good luck with the citizenship!