For our first few days of settling in, we’ve spend some time making observations. After we have our observations we can then start to think through how we might approach our service work here in Warsaw more efficiently.
Here are some quick things we’ve observed about Warsaw (both silly and useful):
- Public transportation is really easy… but we get lost a lot because the names of stops aren’t things like Franklin Ave or Main Street. Try to remember that you need to get off at Majakowskiego or Rondo Daszyńskiego. It’s not easy.
- Speaking of, Polish is hard. On average, people in Poland do not become fluent in their own language until 16 years old. For comparison, the average age for Americans becoming fluent in English is 9 years old. Their grammar has more exceptions than rules. It also has seven cases. What’s a case you ask? We don’t know either.
- Polish people loves statues. Even with no plaques in sight, all the Polish people seem to be quite in the know about who the person is and why they’re important enough to have their face plastered in marble. After a couple tours, maybe we’ll know too!
- Traffic lights work just like American ones do. However, instead of going from red to green, they go from red, to yellow again, and then to green, to prepare you to go.
- We were surprised by the variety of restaurants here! There are options for things like Mexican and Thai, and foods such as sushi, kebabs, and pizza, all of which are out on main streets and easy to find. SO different from other European countries, where you have to go looking to find food from other cultures.
- Fruit and veggie stands are everywhere. We at first were a little wary of them, but we were told that typically Polish people get a lot of their produce from the stands. We definitely plan to check them more out soon.
- People seem to be more quiet here, and keep to themselves a bit. Not a lot of playful banter is done between strangers (like in Spain or the U.S.), and the bus rides are almost completely silent. They are a low-context culture—people are more attentive to nonverbal cues. Nothing needs to be said.
- One Polish Zloty equals 0.27 U.S. dollars. We had dinner out at a fast food place for the equivalent of $6… for the both of us!
- Ł is pronounced like a ‘W’ sound and a W is pronounced like a ‘V’ sound.
- Consonants are paired in strange patterns that us Americans can only guess how they might sound together. Czerniakowska. Kasprzaka. Szczęśliwicki. Cz? Prz? Szczęśliwicki? And why so many K’s?
These are just a few of the many observations we’ve had and we’re sure there are many more to come. Hopefully we get a little better at transportation along the way!