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My Polish story

Updated: May 18, 2023

A note to the reader, this blog will try to give you a snapshot of how I got to Poland, my experiences here and be a summary of key highlights as I've made a life for myself out in Poland. I will continually add to this blog over time:


The story of my transition to Poland begins back in November 2017, I was one day away from a holiday away with my friend Matty to Amsterdam when I received a phone call from work to say there was a restructuring of the company and essentially this would mean around 20-30 people from our team being made redundant...so you can say Oxford office morale was a bit low. As the time went on they confirmed who would lose their position, the redundancy package, I was confirmed as losing my position.

At the time I guess it was something I needed, a change in career, on the other hand it's always sad to be separated from your work colleagues and being in that safe bubble of security.

The managers would go on to ask me if I would be willing to live in Poland for 2 and a half months helping with the onboarding of the Polish team and to help them with their work there.

It didn't take me too long to agree to this idea after discussing it with family and friends, this could be an interesting experience, living in a foreign country and getting paid by the company for doing it.

So it was decided, from mid February 2018 I would work in Poland until May as basically a last act for the company before parting ways with my pay out and the fun of job searching.


I would have meetings with the managers to discuss my role out in Poland, I got to meet a few of my new Polish colleagues as the office had organised some visits.


First the Warsaw managers Alicja, Marcin K, Agata P and Ola would travel over and join us in the office.

Ola I had worked with for some months already as she was taking some clients from me previously, I had helped her with some training and handovers and we had always worked together well, she was quickly able to handle the job, it was very weird meeting her in person for the first time.

I remember one of those evenings we all went to this bar in Oxford called the White Hart, had some dinner and drinks. The Oxford managers didn't stay out too long leaving me to host our colleagues from Poland, we had some beer together and we had a long discussion about work, Warsaw and Poland, I remember being very excited and I really enjoyed that night.


Alicja had been in the company for a good few years, much like myself working her way up the ranks to where she was now, a truly lovely and empathic woman who I always felt looked after me when I was in Warsaw, someone I could always turn to and who could challenge me in the right ways to grow!


Marcin K was your classic salt of the earth type, he enjoyed a good drink with the team and was always approachable, hard working and forward thinking he is someone you can rely on and feel comfortable with, a really positive yet down to earth energy.


Agata P was lovely, she was a bit of a geek like myself and we could talk about a lot and worked well together, always someone to get things done and someone you could trust.


Secondly Piotr B and Michal came to visit the Oxford office and I was asking Michal a lot of questions about day to day living in Poland and I was getting my first visions of what it would be like to live there, sadly I don't remember going out for drinks while they were staying...


My office had a general goodbye party for some of the managers who were leaving, we went to Junkyard Golf, had some games and drinks and it gave me a good chance to spend quality time with my Oxford colleagues before we went our separate ways. With all the redundancies a lot of people were moving on, though also some good people were staying...at least for now


I had my goodbye celebrations with friends and family in Oxford, having meals with my parents, my brother was living up North so I didn't get to catch up in person. Also going for drinks with friends Matty, Chris, Andy, Dan, John and Craig, to eat burgers and drink Craft Beer in Headington as a bit of a small send off, I had known these friends for years, a lot of us met while working at Homebase, others were friends of friends, but we formed this close group. We would go on holiday together, do pub quizzes and regularly meet along with some other Cohorts like Lisa, Gemma and Amara, Dennis, Shelly and a number of other characters down the way.


This was my last night out in Oxford before the trip...


Feb 9th 2018

I would wake up early the next morning to get the bus from Headington to Heathrow airport for my flight from London to Warsaw.


At this point...I didn't believe I would live in a foreign country long term, it was meant to be a fun little adventure to leave me with a bit of a financial cushion when looking for a new job, I'd even considered doing a small trip to the states with the Redundancy money.

I'd taken a backpacking tour with my good friend John around Latvia and Lithuania in previous years and I thought I could use a bit of a travel experience, as you may see I needed it haha

Before going I don't think there was a lot of preparation, I got a travel guide for Poland, work was taking care of all the bookings and accommodation, they set up these cost allowances to my bank account...and in truth I didn't know a lot about Poland...


As it neighboured Lithuania I perhaps thought there would be similarities in culture, I had never travelled to Poland before and other than some World War history learned in school I really didn't know what to expect when I would begin my stay in Warsaw. One thing I knew is it would be cold...I packed a lot of warm clothes on that first trip...also taking my PS4 to get into Witcher 3 while out there.


Taking British Airlines I actually found the flight rather smooth, the only funny thing was taking my Playstation out for security, my parents had got me this large blue samsonite suitcase which I took with an overstuffed backpack and a Laptop bag.

A bit of extra explanation here...When I knew I was in my last days of work I may have been a little rebellious and had my profile picture at work set to Optimus Prime. We didn't do so many video calls back then so this is what a number of the people working in Poland would see when speaking to me on calls or exchanging emails. I was involved in a number of handover calls for my clients so was already engaging with several people.

So this is how I was greeted when I arrived on Polish soil at Chopin Airport by MJ and Ewelina bearing this salted Polish bread as a gift and picking me up from the airport, helping me with access to my flat we chatted a bit and got to know each other a little better before I was left to my own devices.


I had flown out on a Friday so I had a weekend to settle in to my flat and see some of the city before starting my work out here.


The temperature was something like -10 C, and there was a pretty good dusting of snow on the streets.

Once I was in the flat and alone I think is when it really started to dawn on me that I was actually now in a foreign country...I had not really prepared and knew no Polish, I wasn't sure how many people would speak English...so I was a little bit nervous about things like shopping and public transport at the beginning, I may have survived on that Bread I was gifted at the airport for a day or two...

I just settled in on the first night, setting up the Playstation so I had access to Netflix and just really taking it easy, it was dark pretty soon after I got settled in so didn't really feel like taking a walk.


The Flat itself was paid for by my company, it was a fairly basic AirBnb studio, the bed was also my Sofa, the Kitchen was about 3 sq. metres, I think the overall apartment was 28 sq. Metres, a view of a quiet street with the odd tree here and there in a built up area. I had a small balcony where I could sit and watch the street. It was part of a complex, Warsaw is full of Blocks of flats, some going back over 60 years. Anyway, it may not have been luxury but I was able to make myself comfortable.


It's funny, or a little sad but I don't remember much from that first weekend. My memory tells me I was exploring but my icloud photo history shows nothing apart from a picture of my apartment:



I believe that first weekend I mainly walked around the local area, saw where my office was, surveyed what shops were around, less sightseeing and more practical. I think I was actually quite nervous about the city, the weather as well took some getting used to at first. I'm sure I must have talked to friends and family about first impressions and done some walking to get my bearings though I think I probably watched films and played on the Playstation a fair amount...

The most adventurous thing which I must have done that weekend was to go to the local shop, A Zabka I believe and buy some basics including a frozen Pizza.


So looking back I see a much less adventurous soul and further makes me reflect on how living in this country helped me grow...


Feb 12th 2018


The first day at work began with a short walk, maybe 5 minutes from my flat to the office complex, I had to enter the main reception and request a temporary key card before going up to my floor in the elevator. The building felt very modern, around 8 floors, lovely glass exterior, company banners on the roof and part of a small district of offices and flats.


Getting to the main reception I'm sure I was met by Alicja the manager of the UK team based out here in Warsaw and I was taken round to meet the team. Over that week I did the usual admin stuff, like getting my security badge, having a brief orientation about the office. I was meeting and greeting a lot of course, there were maybe around 40 people in this new team I was working with covering a few departments of operations.


People were generally friendly, nice to talk to, I have no negative impressions from those early days except I got the feeling some people were a little shy or nervous around me and there was a bit of a barrier to get through. I felt surrounded by a very intelligent an focused team who had a lot of questions about how UK operations functioned and the various processes we had in place.

I remember people being very helpful, even taking me around the shops so I could get more familiar and settle in, they would teach me some basic Polish words and expressions...and swear words haha


I got a very good feeling about these people, though at the beginning I did feel a little isolated, certainly for the first week, maybe a couple of weeks there were no social engagements outside of work that I remember and this was a bit surprising.


I would do a number of functions in my role at work, training, sitting with people and helping them with tickets, handing over my remaining clients and giving specific industry training which for me was Health & Beauty...taking over for this team were Aga S, Karolina and Weronika...and soon into the start of the process we had Magda M.

Now Health & Beauty always felt like an odd specialization for me, I was dealing with all kinds of categories most men would know very little about but after 6 years working in the UK on this sector had me know the key players and brands, the weird Masking rules we had to follow on our databases...all kinds of specific information, I worked with this circle a lot in the beginning.


You could say I was in a very lucky position working closely with this group of intelligent and beautiful women, all with great personalities we worked well together and over time taught them everything I could


...but I'm drifting off into the future now, let's get back to that first week.


All in all the week went very well, I was starting to get to know people better out here, getting secured with the office and work routine, get a nice scope of my responsibilities and just settle in to everyday living in Warsaw. The nights were dark and cold so I didn't spend much time outside in the evenings. For sure I got to experience Arkadia for the first time, which was the local 'Mall' to where I was staying...a massive place full of just about every shop you could need...especially with the big Carrefour inside


Feb 17th


The second weekend in Warsaw I visited the Palace of Culture and Science.


Still a bit nervous about Public transport and wanting to explore the city a bit more I walked down to the centre for about 40 minutes to an hour, it was still cold outside and even though there was a lot of snow still the paths and roads were relatively clear and easy to walk on.


My first impressions of Warsaw was just how modern it was, the big Skyscrapers that dominate the Skyline, the little things like the number of Public bins or the automated crossings...which most people strictly obey here due to possible fines from the local law enforcement. The city felt very clean and it was actually quite nice to walk through, tough constantly being glued to google maps when in transit...the city did feel a little concrete and over time it would feel to me a little like a larger version of Cardiff where I had lived for a good 8 years in the past.


The Palace was immense, really standing out as a landmark from various points in the city, it was pretty impressive as a structure, actually it was among the first buildings in Warsaw to be built after the destruction of the War as a "gift" of the Soviet Union to Poland, commissioned by Stalin himself.

After taking a long walk around to find the Main entrance I would then to join the queue's inside for the observation tower at the top.

Freezing my ass off in the cold and windy weather once you went up 40 or so floors to get a total view of the city, I buy a little statue or two from gift shop after checking out the views and reading some of the information boards with some highlights in the City.



I also visited the Evolution Museum of Warsaw which is also part of the Palace, basically a few rooms with Fossils and Dinosaur Skeletons, more of a place for Kids and not really in English at all, though still fun to visit I think at only 10 Zl too...it was a bargain


The second week of work just progressed things on with more of the real work kicking in things being done to move the transition along, a lot of calls, a lot of meetings and sit downs with the team.


With time I started to work more generally with other industries and departments and therefore got to know a lot more people in the team, so I would get to know Szymon, Piotr U, Ula, Kasia A, Paulina M, Ignacio and Artur in addition to those names already mentioned so far


One fun diversion in the office was playing table football which I was surprised to find out was so popular over here, we had a table in one of the meeting rooms, this one being pretty spacious and shaped like a small amphitheater, sneaking away maybe once a day or so to play a quick game was a good bit of office fun :) or another option was Fifa...or was it Pro evo? Anyway they had a console, Xbox or Playstation which was also hooked up to the big projector screen...


At this stage in the transition it was a very low pressure environment, people were training and not all yet taking full ownership of accounts, so people worked hard but didn't get stressed so it was a very pleasant working environment.


I think it was in this week I brought up the idea of a team night out with the managers.


Feb 24th


The next weekend I took a long walk through the city down to the Warsaw Uprising museum which was say a good 40 minutes by foot, despite the low temperature it was sunny outside and it felt quite pleasant, not being as damp as the English air back home.

The Museum ended up being a good start on my education of Polish history and culture, with very eye opening displays, well laid out content, I found the museum to be quite powerful and really gave you the picture of life in Warsaw during World War 2 and seeing the many tragedies that befell Warsaw at this time. I'd say I spent a good 3 hours there reading the exhibits. Of course learning about the almost total destruction of Warsaw during the War.




Feb 28th


This night was my first social engagement with some members of the team, they promised me Hot Wine as its almost essential to drink this at night to keep yourself warm...we also firstly went Ice Skating at the Warsaw National Stadium which during the winter gets converted into a big ice rink.



Aga S, Ewelina, Ula and Marcin A, this nice guy from another team took me on this trip


Introducing Aga a bit more, I have to say she carries this spark of energy inside her which would explode when she got excited, she could often come across as a very serious person but with a strong curiosity and a lovely attitude.





Fair to say I was terrible at the skating, I hadn't done it since I was about 10 I think...I spent a lot of time moving slowly or clinging to the sides...I in fact only fell over once! But I sucked...rewarded for my efforts we either took a tram or grabbed an Uber to Old Town and enjoyed some hot wine from the stalls there (at least I think that's where we went after the Ice Skating...memory can be a little fuzzy...


Work wise...well nothing too exciting sticks out in the memory, just getting on with the job and building up my connection with the team and organising a night out drinking with the wider team which I think may have been the following week...


I think I ventured around the Old Town area of the city various times, which you would have to say is the most beautiful part of Warsaw, wrapped in Red Brick fortification walls, inside with nice streets, a big square in the centre with beautiful buildings and plenty of restaurants and tourist shops. To this day it's one of my normal destinations for evening walks with my friend Anna.

The whole part of the city here is where you would say Warsaw is at it's most beautiful, even the main connecting street running down to the Centre is a popular place with a lot of restaurants and bars, Nowy Swiat is a fun area to go out in the city.



March 2nd


I went back to the UK briefly to see my family, I had some holiday time to use up before my contract came to and end but I think they gave this weekend as a bonus.

The bus I took from the Airport managed to crash into a lamppost due to the snowy conditions on the UK roads.

I would spend time with my parents and catching up with friends before returning to Warsaw a few days later


March 5th until 9th


With not the perfect memory and a limited collection of pictures from the early days...at times this Blog may be partly guess work, however I try to be as accurate as I can be!


Here I find a picture of some Polish food...so I believe this is the week where a UK colleague Paige was visiting Warsaw to give some training to the coding team, she was down for the week and was assigned a member of the Polish team to chaperone her during that time...I'm trying to remember the name of the guy, I believe it was another Piotr...


Having a colleague from the UK was a welcome treat, Paige and I had worked together for around 2 years and were on friendly terms, during this week two events stand out...the first is the meal that me, her and Piotr went to, this was my first time at a Polish restaurant, I believe we went to Zapiecek one of the chains you find in Warsaw, I went for a Pork Knuckle which was quite a feast, with a bed of cabbage I think...





On a side note...I have to say the quality of food in Warsaw has been pretty excellent, I think every restaurant I have been to I have not been disappointed, the quality of ingredients, the reasonable prices and the portion sizes have all been something special!


Another evening I remember us going to the gym by the office, one of the Zdrofit chain...this was actually free for me, here in Poland most companies can offer you something called a Multi-Sport card, which either gives you free or reduced entry to a wide variety of Sports facilities.

For sure we would have also gone for some beers and taken a bit of a walk around the city.

I'm pretty sure we had a good moan about the whole redundancy situation as she was also losing her job and talked about our impressions of Poland, for sure positive ones!


It had been a welcome distraction having a familiar face to spend some time with and it had helped me get to know a new person in the team as well at that time.


The RD team


Now primarily I was working with say about half of the Polish team out here in Warsaw and they were the people taking over the roles I had more personal experience with in my career.

However we had a team responsible for ensuring the coding of products in our systems was kept to a high quality, and to take on projects of this nature.

Headed up by Agata P, I would work with some very diligent though you may say more introvert characters such as Dominika K, Dominika C, Dawid J, Elzbieta, Hubert, Oriana, Bartek W, Oksana and Aleksandra K.

Mainly I would not end up socialising with this team so much, though occasionally we would see the odd member here and there join us for nights out.


March 12th


For some reason I bought a small rug for my flat, I know this from the picture I took of it haha, it was nice to have something soft on the hardwood floor...and perhaps it helped to warm things up underfoot...but perhaps it also indicates the beginning of my thoughts to stay in Warsaw, I'm not 100% sure though I think my colleague Ewelina had driven me to Ikea to help buy a few things for the flat as I was a little low on some basics like bed sheets...I think I also bought a small round side table so I had a surface to rest drinks.


Ewelina is a strong Vegan, but boy could she cook good food, she was always very self conscious about her work and would often ask me questions, someone with a good soul and a strong personality!


March 14th


After consultation and a bit of research I believe this is the date of the first significant socialising with the team...


Firstly let me introduce Szymon, he has throughout my time in Poland been a close friend. One of the founding members of the Polish team we had had some brief contact over calls while I was onshore. Szymon is a man who likes to have a good time, someone who enjoys to be social and to enjoy a good drink, yet at the same time very health conscious and always kept a regular workout...you will hear him mentioned a lot over the course of this blog, having lived in the UK for a number of years he carried a bit of an English accent.


After work that day I had been invited to go for drinks at Bobby Burger, this was a restaurant very close to the office...as well as a fair variety of burgers they also had some cheap Polish lager on tap.

We went there as a small group and sat upstairs and had a couple of drinks.

It was good to just go out to a bar with a group of people, something I had been looking forward to in Poland since I landed here...


In fairness it is worth to point out that during the winter it is quite uncommon for people here to go out to the bars drinking, especially during the colder winters, more commonly people will have gatherings in their flats.


After a bit of a chat and some drinks, we would proceed to move to Szymon's flat, the plan was to watch Chelsea Vs Barcelona in the champions league. There was some issue with the internet or the site we were trying to watch the game on, so it was skipping a lot when it worked at all.

Quite a few people would arrive at this flat during the evening, I ended up talking to a lot of new people including Kasia R and Aga B.


Being English certainly brings the perk of people asking you a lot of questions, such as what I thought of Poland so far, why I am here and so on...so it's rare for me to be left to my own devices at parties when there are new people there...


The night got pretty rowdy, there was a lot of drinking...including quite a few shots, Polish music was being played and the front room became a bit of a dance floor, this often seems to happen at the bigger parties! I was introduced to Disco Polo...music from the 70's in Poland which is often moaned about...yet when people are drunk enough it seems to come out...

I was very happy to have had this experience, to drink with people from the office, to meet new people and to start to feel included to the social scene.

I believe I walked home in the freezing cold (around -20), managed to get a little lost...but eventually found my way back to the flat.


March 15th


We had some new visitors to the Warsaw office from the Oxford team, Andy, a South African chap and Ana from Spain, they had come to do some hands on training and get to know the team a little better, at this point Andy was meant to be staying on in his role and Ana would be moving to a different team.

In the evening the three of us went out into Old town for some food and to grab some beers and have a good catchup along with the site seeing, again it was nice to see the familiar faces and to see some more social action :)


As I can't place the exact date I will also mention we had more visitors from the Oxford team, Henry would join...here I think the girls from the Health and Beauty team joined us for some walk around Old Town, also the managers Wancy and Matt would come over and with them we went for a meal in a fancy restaurant called the Soul Kitchen, Matt would also take out the supervisors and myself for drinks in the centre...though the conversation was heavily focused on work matters...which dulled the evening somewhat...


March 21st


It was was this time that I had started talking to this girl Olivia, who was from the South of Poland. I had met her through one of these dating apps, it was early stages and get to know you conversation right now...


I believe it was this week...though it stands for correction that there was finally a work night out, I had been pushing for this and a colleague Ignacio who was a Spaniard living in Poland had helped to book some bar...now I have no idea of the name of the bar or even if it still exists, but for sure around 10 or so people from the office came out to have some drinks...the snow was still very thick and the pavements were covered completely which made the walk somewhat interesting...

I believe we may have been to a few places that night...memories lost in the fog of drinking ;)


Ignacio was a good laugh, someone who carried a lot of passion and fire inside him yet who also had a sensitive soul, when he did come out he would bring a lot of energy to the table!


March 22nd


With more holiday remaining to take...I went on a trip to Krakow...


I'll note that this is the first time I took the train in Poland, being completely clueless I had help from Paulina M with booking the tickets in the office using the PKP site...with everything in Polish this help was invaluable!


Paulina was incredibly beautiful, though she was also quite self confident and I would say shy, she has a really lovely spirit and always tries to be super helpful, we would work quite closely together as her main role was to improve quality of work.


On the morning of March 22nd I made my way to the train station with my backpack, eventually figuring out how the boards worked I went to the platform where the train was already waiting and took my seat, I was in one of the compartments, with Polish trains you either have a 6 person compartment seat or the general trin seat, and the journey took about 2 and a half hours. I got my first opportunity to view some of the peaceful Polish countryside on my way.


Arriving in Krakow I made my way through the station and out to the street, having the name and address of the hotel I walked there with Google maps as my guide.

I was staying at the Pod Rosa which my parents had arranged, and this being before Brexit I was able to call them when I got to the hotel and we met there.


The first day was spent walking around the main part of the Old City, taking in the beautiful architecture and seeing a very different city from Warsaw, Krakow for me had a similar feel to Oxford, a preserved historical city with much ornamentation.

With the big square there was an Easter celebration and we were looking at the market stalls, my Mum being very happy as she was interested in these traditions, with many coloured eggs and the like, though not as much chocolate as the UK.

The weather was sunny, and pleasant though not too warm, we had a good look around the churches and the shopping arcade in it's centre before heading down to Wawel.



Wawel was a massive historical complex containing the Castle, Cathedral as well as several museums...it's fair to say we spent some hours here exploring. For me what stands out in memory was the cathedral, with this we purchased two optional excursions, me and my Dad went to the top of the bell tower...which was a fair number of steps to traverse, and then all of us went into the crypts below and got to see a small shrine to Chopin among other graves.


As a side note, I look forward to taking this all in again in the future, knowing much more about Polish history now I feel I will understand much more context and more of the information from the museums will sink in.



After a long tour of Wawel we went around some of the shops on the way back to the main square and ended up going for dinner at one of the restaurants there, I remember very polite service, having some beer while my parents had wine I ended up trying Zurek for the first time, this traditional Polish soup was served in a bread bowl, and I loved it!




March 23rd


This day we had arranged a sight seeing trip with a local company...well my parents arranged it I will add.

Being picked up from the hotel or some nearby meeting point we got on a small bus with our guides, having been given a small care package from the hotel with some food to keep us going.

Our first destination was going to be Auschwitz the infamous concentration camp.


Of course I had heard of Auschwitz, who hadn't learned about this in school? But the reality was far harder than the information from text books and photos...immediately as we got there it stood out as a grim place, feeling very grey and foreboding...we had a guided tour from building to building and learned of the living conditions...as well as the horrors that this camp was responsible for...


Poles, Italians, Greeks, Jews, Gypsies...all manner of people were sent to this camp, with barely any accommodation, minimal food and forced labour being just the tip of the iceberg...

Not only were many sent to the gas chambers for slaughter or shot by firing squad...but their remains were then used, everything from their hair to their skin was harvested, the visuals and artefacts in the displays were harrowing and the actions here went beyond my wildest imaginings, this was a demonstration of the worst possible human actions...



The tour of horror didn't stop here however, as we also went to the site of Birkenhow, this was not as preserved as Auschwitz but it didn't stop us of learning of the mass graves and the furnaces used for the bodies...a very grim but important history lesson.


After all this on the way back to Krakow my parents were tired and didn't take the second half of our trip, also the guides had run out of time so we hadn't stopped for lunch, so with the trauma of history their fatigue drew them back to the hotel.


Our next excursion was to Wieliczka salt mines, again we were taking a guided tour as a group in the long trek underground, these mines were immense! Going for many many miles underground in many different directions, we learned about the history of these mines over the centuries which exploring, seeing great rock formations, seeing exhibits and eventually ending up in the cavern where a sanctuary had been established with many scenes from the bible carved out of rock by the workers, it was a very impressive sight!



March 24th


This day me and the folks explored more of the outskirts of the Old Town, taking in the old city walls, touring the Jewish quarter and taking in the ethnographic museum where I would start to learn more about traditions surrounding Easter and Christmas.

I also visited a Pinball bar and had beer while using the machines, I also picked up a metal figure of the Krakow dragon.


March 25th


This was the final day and we went to take in another museum, I can't remember which one but it had some exhibits focusing on Egypt and pre-history, one to find again when I return one day!

Saying goodbye to the folks I took the train back to Warsaw, one surprise was getting a free bottle of water from the conductor...this was part of the Pendilino express service...which basically meant a faster connection


Reflecting on the trip, this was my first taste of Poland outside of Warsaw and I had a wonderful time, learned a lot and in a way it was a bit of a life changing experience, especially after that second day...I have been back to Krakow briefly a couple of times since then, but this trip was the ultimate time I have spent there so far. It's just a shame this was undertaken before I had started my channel, so I have no videos from this trip...meaning all needs to be repeated, but in truth it will be good to go back and experience it all again!


April 2018


With only memory to fall back on and a small handful of photos...I won't be able to give the day by day accounts as much as previously here, so let's group some of the key points:


Olivia


You may remember that I mentioned this girl before my trip to Krakow, I had met her through one of these dating apps and we had been exchanging messages, sharing photos and the like. I don't remember when our first date was exactly or for that matter where we went precisely...


This was my first relationship in Poland and would certainly not be my last...


I'm pretty sure we met for craft beer in the beginning as a get to know you routine, we were able to talk well together and enjoyed each others company.

I remember that she was a bit of a tour guide for me in Warsaw, which was slightly ironic as she was from the south of Poland, the Silesia region.


She took me around Old Town and explained the ghetto markers, and for those not acquainted these are posts with information on the Jewish Ghetto present during World War 2, as well as markings on the ground to help indicate the border of the Ghetto...which was very extensive in size!


Having a car she took me to Kampinos, a forest in the North of Warsaw, where we took in the Palmiry area where thousands of Poles and Jews had been slaughtered on mass by the Nazis, which unbelievably they had tried to keep a secret! Now as well as a museum there is a mass cemetery present on the site.

We would walk along the Vistula river which runs through Warsaw, which was still a little cold but starting to warm up as we entered Spring.

We would enjoy the odd drink and had a lot of fun together, though ultimately one day we met at Lazienki park and things would come to an end, it was a very mutual ending...I wasn't clear on my future at that point and I'd say the chemistry wasn't strong enough for things to carry on, though I will always have fond memories of that time and you could having that experience contributed to me staying in Poland...Oxford was not an easy place to meet Women, and here there seemed to be more opportunity...



Work and colleagues


This was meant to be my last month living in Poland, with me being scheduled to return to Oxford to finish my last two weeks with my company.

Looking back at my photos from this month there are few...though this doesn't mean I was doing little!

I was working hard in the office to help finalise the transition of work from Oxford to Poland, working closely with the whole team to help them understand the UK operations as best they could and give them the skills they needed to have confidence and efficiency in their work.


For sure there must have been some socialising during this period, trips to various bars, the odd flat party, it's fair to say that life was beginning to Blossom after the cold and quiet winter and people were becoming more active as the days got longer and the temperatures increased.


I would watch Football with Szymon and perhaps a few others, I would go to the far side of the river and have a few beers with team mates (Piotr U, Piotr B, MJ and Ula), I was finally starting to feel at home in Warsaw.


Some intros:


Piotr B is one of the tallest people I know, very smart, down to earth and focused, always thinking big and pushing himself to learn as well as help others, working in bars previously he carries quick thinking and hard working ethic and enjoys a good time in the club!


Ula worked closely with Piotr, very business minded she always had some side hustle going on, having worked in London she could carry a very good English accent, very quick witted and with a positive energy!



I think at this point I realised how much happier I felt living in Poland, there were many reasons for this...and I am always asked about it, I may do a more extensive article on the subject, but essentially I had good colleagues/friends here, I enjoyed the food and drink, the cost of living was affordable and it was easier to meet women...plus I was a bit of a novelty for most Poles and often engaged in a lot of conversation with new people.


So after some discussions with managers here, HR, my friends and colleagues and of course my family I finally bit the bullet and accepted an offer of a promotion to become a Subject Matter Expert and to move to Warsaw...

Having had no intention of making this move before I went, and now writing about it over 4 years later...you can say it was the most life changing decision of my life to this date and I am happy I made it, carrying next to no regrets over the years...except of course now it was harder to see my family and keep in touch with my friends back home, all of which I was close with.


May 2018


Originally this was meant to be the end of my Polish journey...however it was now more of a stop back to Oxford to finish my last few weeks with work and to catch up with friends and family.


I had to go to the Oxford office, a new building on the Oxford business estate, much smaller than our previous office but much more modern. It felt pretty surreal to be back working with my old colleagues, the fact that this was an entirely new office also contributed to the bizarre state of mind.

I had already handed over my clients and so spent most of the time debriefing the managers about the status of the team in Poland, trying to help build bridges between the two teams and helping out my colleagues in Warsaw via calls. It partly felt a little frustrating working remotely, I always preferred to speak to people face to face, though at this point I was more or less running out the clock of my old position before I moved back to Poland.

I also had a nice surprise of some gifts from my team in India, here I received a small wooden knife and two bronze deer.


Working with India:

Throughout my time with my company we had been working with our technical teams in Baroda, this was something I always enjoyed, the team in India were friendly, hard working and nice to talk to. Even though at this point I had barely met any of them I felt close to a lot of them and we had a good working relationship which I valued.

Palak, Azaz, Umang, Priyank, Anup...these were only a handful of the people I had the chance to get to know and I considered them more than colleagues. We worked on many problems together and they had really been an asset in terms of learning about the technical sides of the job, as well as having talks on Sport, religion, philosophy and of course weather.




My friends at home:


Many years prior I had worked for a retailer called Homebase, I did a bit of everything there over the years, check out, shop floor, garden centre, board cutting, colour mixing, extra choice and information desks...This was a place I worked at during school, my gap year and also when I came back for University holidays.

It was also a place where I made many good friends, some of which I still hold dear to this day!

When I worked there I was a very young, shy and naïve lad, and with my colleagues there we would often go out drinking around Oxford.

Matt was one of the first people I got to know, a couple of years older than me, but always a good and close friend, over the years he had visited me at Uni, we had gone for holidays together and often met up for drinks and deep talks.

Andy was Matt's younger brother, quite different in many ways, certainly more alternative in terms of his tastes, the two were not so close, but I considered them both very good friends.

Chris is perhaps the nicest person you have ever met, he always enjoyed a good beer and was a bit of a geek like myself, another good friend who I spent a lot of time with.

Craig was the guy who had actually got me the job in my previous company, we had worked together, been at the same school and even though his interest was more about Sport, we always go on well.

John I had met through Craig and through work, a good and honest guy with a passion for travel, someone good to spend time with and have a good old chat and a drink, actually we had backpacked across Latvia and Lithuania some years prior.

Dan was another of Craigs friends, with a great sense of humour and an outgoing spirit, a good life and soul of the party and always someone to make a good evening more entertaining.

This group I would not only go for drinks with but would also regularly attend pub quizzes, go to beer festivals and have the odd adventure here and there.


So while I was back in Oxford we would catch up a few times and I would share my stories of Poland, generally they would say I was quite brave for taking this step and making the plunge into this new life, Matt though was clearly sad to see me go and over the years I would keep the best contact with him.




While I was back in Oxford I also took some pictures of some of my collections back home to show my friends in Warsaw and when I did go back to Poland I carried as much stuff from home as I could to help settle myself in to my new surroundings.


I would then after time to take care of my affairs back in Oxford travel back to Warsaw.

Here I got to face Polish bureaucracy for the first time...and boy was it a shock!

My HR team at work had told me roughly what I needed to do, the main thing at this point was to take care of my residency papers and I had to register my stay with a local office as well...let's say it sounds easier than it was...


When I was a child I loved Asterix and Obelix, one episode of this cartoon stood out in mind, where they have to get a permit from this office in Rome...which meant them going from window to window, room to room to get all the permissions and paperwork...this is kind of what Polish paperwork felt like for me.


I would go to the local office to be told I needed to have various forms/paperwork available to process my stay.

Eventually I would go to the residence office and find out I needed extra documentation from my work...and nothing could be a photocopy. So I went back to this office twice to get paperwork submitted and a third time to pick up the residence permit, before I could go back and register with the local authority... It felt like torture, especially as these offices weren't really catered for the English speaker.

I also had to get a new bank account in order to be paid in Poland, though this was a little more straightforward...except it seemed a nightmare to get my debit card delivered...

Eventually though I got everything done that was required for work, well almost everything...I will come back to this topic later...


Towards the end of the month I went to perhaps the best work party I had ever been to!

The company had splashed out for our office to spend the night at a fancy hotel which was in a place called Jachranka, we got loaded onto buses from the office and made our way to the hotel, leaving our bags in the main foyer we were then diverted to play team building games, which were like a basic version of the Crystal maze, solving mats problems, untying knotted ropes, filling buckets...all kinds of random challenges, we would then get keys from each successful challenge to try and open some chests for points at the end.

It was a lot of fun, though my team was not successful in the end, we then had a BBQ with plenty of Kielbasa before we went back to the hotel to check into the rooms and begin to get ready for the evening activities.

Here we would sit in a large ballroom, listen to a few speeches from leadership, have free meals, Wine, Vodka and Beer and end up with music playing and the dancefloor opening up.

Soon once we were done with the above we would move around the complex and mingle, with some 400 of us there I would talk to a lot of people, both inside and out of the hotel, drifting from group to group. People were getting drunk, high...and having a lot of fun!

Once the bars closed around 1/2 there were a series of room parties, we had prepared for this stage of the night by bringing our own alcohol...particularly Turbo Cola (Basically a large coke bottle with Vodka and Coke mix), myself I had prepared a bottle of Gin and Tonic...which I had to retrieve from my room, where my designated room mate had got 'lucky' with a girl.

In the end I slept in another persons room that night and the next day in our destroyed states we would again board the buses and head back to Warsaw.


June 2018


I went back to the UK briefly to attend my Nieces christening up in Newcastle, it was a good chance to spend time with my family again, particularly my brother Peter who I didn't get to see as much since he moved up north to be with his wife Marie, we got to go to the beach and at the end of it, I loaded up another batch of stuff to take to Warsaw in my suitcase.


Shortly into getting back to Warsaw I went to Ewelina's place with Piotr U, Szymon, MJ and her friend Nicholas, another person from the UK. We had an all night social gathering, going back to the 24hr alcohol shop at least twice...it got pretty crazy with singing, dancing and much talking, even getting a little emotional/heated at times, but in the end it was an epic night, followed by us grabbing some food from the shops in the morning for breakfast.


Introducing some more teammates


Piotr U is a very intelligent guy, I have always had good discussions with him, though we tend to differ when it comes to certain political views and philosophies we always have good debates, he loves his Vodka and certainly becomes the life of the party, being one of the best dancers in the group!


MJ I was very close with in the beginning, he carried a more American accent which was more common for strong English speakers in Poland, partly because of his international schooling, but also American movies play their part...he was one of the quickest learners in the team, a very bright individual!




This month we also would go to watch world cup games, especially as Poland were in the competition this year. We would go to a few places to watch the games, but mainly we had this bar near the office called Pub Trend, a bit of a local dive bar, but one where we often escaped after office hours...




There would also be a pretty epic party hosted by Kasia R, a colleague from another team in my office and a staple member of the social group at the time. With much Vodka flowing...I can say I lost my memory for a portion of the night, went to sleep, waking up around 3 or so to continue the party, with a lot of people there and a pretty big flat with an incredible balcony we had a fun time!



Also in this month I needed to secure a new flat...my work had been covering my accommodation up until the end of June. Being new to Warsaw and a bit lost with this sort of thing I ended up going through an agency, good service...but a months rent as commission meant this was a bit of an expensive way to got somewhere to live, but I have to say they delivered and I found a really nice flat just across the road from my office.


Ewa S joined the UK team, to work close with me on Health & Beauty, a very beautiful yet mysterious girl, very intelligent and hard working though often quite quiet, often she would be teased by the guys in the office but she always laughed it off, and always good company to have at parties!


July 2018

The move there was a little random, as I moved all my stuff into a room in the office before I could move it to the new place, but in the end it was a nice transition into a proper flat and I really loved the new environment! Of course I would have people round to celebrate the move...


Agata P had recommended this comic book shop in the centre of town, here I spent a small fortune on figures and posters to decorate the new place, friends would also bring me some plants for the apartment.


Magda L joined the team from another department, she was always a ray of sunshine in the office, with this playful spirit and great smile, a very lovely person!


Bryn, a colleague from the Oxford office would also come to visit for work purposes and we would catch up over a few drinks in old town.


During this month my friend Artur would celebrate his birthday in Gniezdo Piratow, a pirate themed bar in Warsaw, he would play the guitar and we would enjoy some drinks with a good few people attending, with some slightly heated discussion over Polish history that Ewelina's friend Nicholas would provoke...


Artur I consider to have an old soul, he always sounded wise and was vey forthcoming with direct advice for me on how I can improve myself, most of which I ended taking up in stages over time. One of our first conversations was about Roman history in the staff breakroom from what I remember, him and his lovely wife Magda make a lovely musical couple in their spare time, when they can escape the children!




At the end of the month I would host my own birthday party...however rather than write it all out again I will share this blog for you to refer to: My birthdays in Poland


August 2018


I am a bit of a loss to remember what happened this month, there are next to no pictures or Facebook posts to go back to, so maybe I will fill this out later if people come forward with something I've forgotten, for sure there would have been some nights out, we would have gone to the river to drink as well as to bars after work.

I remember back then weekends were generally kept to myself, as people would spend time with families, go out of Warsaw and such...


One key thing that happened this month was Szymon leaving the company, this was a major event as he had always been the best motivator in the team for all things social, so after he left it proved more challenging to get people to come out for a drink...not without a lack of trying!

He had moved to a Turkish startup firm that basically ended up trying to brainwash him and make him a work slave...I didn't get to see him so much after he left but we certainly stayed in touch.


I think it was also around this time we had some new blood in the team, Maciej L, Masha, Pawel and Kasia Z, I worked closely with them for onboarding and helping to pass my knowledge of the UK marketplace along.


I was still getting to know them at this point...though


Maciej was a solid guy, someone with a good soul who knew how to have fun, a good source of entertainment on a night out and a lover of clubs and dancing.


Pawel was a go getter, pushing himself hard to learn and move up the ranks, a very relaxed and deep presence who always seemed to know what was going on.


Masha was always cool, someone who knew herself well and was never shy to give an opinion, coming from Ukraine you may have thought she was an outsider but she spoke perfect Polish, truly a great person and good friend!


Kasia Z I found to be very kind, smart and dedicated, you would never have guessed she had two kids at home if you didn't know, a truly lovely and caring soul with this free spirit inside her who always makes a difference when she joins the team to socialise!


I believe it was this month where I first met Agata K, I had met her through

Tinder I believe and things really hit it off between us, for sure we would go out a few times for drinks, going to one rather nice Italian restaurant I had found recommended online. I even invited her to work do at Jas & Malgosia, a lovely bar with good food. We were in contact for about a month or so and I was very enamored with her, being a cute Polish girl with a sharp wit, lovely hair and beautiful eyes, however things came to an abrupt end leaving me slightly heart broken at the time...however this was certainly not the last time I would see her...


September/October 2018


I remember at this point I would spend more time with Artur, he would take me to Harenda for Blues nights, I would also see him and his wife perform at La Boheme, a very alternative location, half art gallery and half wine bar and somewhat of a hidden place in Warsaw's many streets.


At the end of the month I would return the UK yet again to see friends and family, picking up some more board games so I could host more varied games nights with friends at my flat. I would also travel with my parents to London to visit the British and Natural History museums.

For sure in this first year I would travel home a fair amount, keeping good contact with friends and family and busily carting stuff from home to Warsaw...You could say I was a little homesick at times even though I was loving life in Poland


I would take a tour organised by work around some of the Praga district across the river, in particular to see the amazing mural painted on the sides of the buildings and see still remaining bullet holes from World War 2 in some of the residences.



After the sightseeing we would eat at a mexican restaurant and go to a bar, this outing was with a random group of people from the office and let me get to know a few new faces


November/December 2018


I wonder why I wasn't taking many pictures at this time, I think that things got rather quiet socially, with the weather descending into the cold people were generally going out less now, I had more time to myself and in truth I think I got rather lonely at times, I would of course see people in the office every week day and for sure there would have been the occasional night out, but for sure I learnt that Winter in Poland was more of a quiet time.


It was around this time that Ula left the team to pursue a career in property management, which I believe she founded.


One night stands out as it got pretty crazy...a colleague from a different team in the Oxford Office Mark had come down to Warsaw for a commercial conference. After work a group of us met up at the Novotel for drinks before going to an American restaurant called Brooklyn, we went to a few bars...but what stands out is where we ended up...

We actually found ourselves in a Strip Club down Foksal street, we would have a few drinks there, the dancers would sit and talk with us, having us buy them expensive drinks...and plying us with a lot of Vodka...

Eventually I was coerced into a private dance...things turned ugly after a short spell when they started to try and drain all the money I had in my wallet, after starting to make a scene they let me go...I stumbled home, with a hangover that lasted for days...part of me wonders whether they may have even poisoned me...fair to say I never want to go to that kind of club again, especially in Poland!


The big things to come were surrounding Christmas, I had been placed in charge of a competition our office was running...my role to coordinate the decoration of our department into Santa's workshop, for this we went over themes, with Ewelina, Weronika and Magda L being the main people working with me to come up with the theme, to find supplies and to do the decoration...

It's safe to say we worked many long hours to provide the needed work and we even worked out a theme and a bit of a play for the judges, where we had a drunk Santa (Piotr U) and a general state of chaos...also, we were joint winners with a couple of other departments meaning we got 1500Zl to spend on a team night out!



We booked a table at a Piw Paw (a craft beer pub in the centre of the city) and worked hard to spend all our winnings!


We also had the work Christmas party that year, hosted in the Warsaw Expo...basically we had around 1000 people invited, as we had included the other office we had in Warsaw, so I found myself getting lost half the night trying to find people, there was a photo booth, of course a lot of free beer and Vodka and everyone was dressed up for the occasion, though after such an incredible summer party...I couldn't help but feel little let down by the event, it was definitely the start of the company winding down in spending...


I would go home for Christmas to see friends and family again, with my brother, his wife Marie and my niece Alicia coming down to join the family in Oxford, one of my star presents was a PS1 loaded with some classic games like Final Fantasy VII, which I hoped would fill up some of the spare time I faced in Warsaw.


I was back in Warsaw for new year and this year I went to the flat of Magda M, from what I remember there weren't too many people from the office there, so I got to meet a few of her other friends...and much Vodka was drunk, with us going outside at midnight to see what fireworks we could from the street.

Magda herself was a strong person, she had been hand picked to join the UK team near the start and had a very strong work ethic, she was always one to speak up and take control of a situation. Also her boyfriend at the time Clarence was there, he came from Singapore and was a very kind and friendly person who I enjoyed talking with.


2019


Looking back I would say this year was one of the most impactful on my life, I would experience a lot and change a lot as a result of what I faced, in some ways it was one of my best years and in others my worst...


January 2019


It's fair to say that Poland can get pretty cold in the winter...it isn't the best of countries to live in from November to March, though the summer months I feel make up for this. I don't think this Winter was as cold as the last, maybe averaging -5 degrees, so it's fair to say not a lot happens in these times, however I still wanted to keep busy.

Turning back to Tinder I thought I would try and get my dating life back in gear and I met this girl Alexandra, though I would go on to call her Lexi. She was a key runner who enjoyed a beer and owned a cute though blind or at least partially sighted dog.

We would first meet at this bar PINTA, where I would try this Russian Imperial Stout for the first time, by far the strongest beer I'd tried at around 20% proof. We had a nice conversation and would text. She was training to become a programmer after working as a recruitment consultant and although I wouldn't say we had a great deal in common we got on well, we would have some subsequent dates, drinking in Drugie Dno, this cool old bar with a prewar building and we went to Pole Mokotowskie, a large park in Southern Warsaw where we drank in the Bolek bar/restaurant.

However despite my hopes she wasn't interested in a relationship, though we did stay friends and would meet occasionally afterwards.


Also in this month I got into the newly released Assassin's creed Odyssey game and also we had a new addition to our team Mateusz T, who in time would become one of my closest friends, he is a pretty tall guy, I think of him as a gentle giant though, he has a very warm and calm soul and a strong mind for business, though at this point we were casual colleagues in the workplace.


Towards the end of this month we also went out for Piotr B's birthday, we started in this bar called Warmut, one of my favourite places in Warsaw, it is a characterised by Vermouth that they distill themselves and the ceiling has this model skyline of Warsaw which is quite impressive!

We would then go out clubbing and I experienced my first Techno night, a lot of heavy dancing and drinking for sure!



February 2019


As the cold winter continued we would be a little less social as a work team, so I decided to invite some friends around, we would play some Jenga and some other games, have some shots of Vodka and drink beer and have a nice chilled time and a good few laughs! I very much enjoyed hosting and bringing people together :)




I also had cause to celebrate as it had been one year in Poland for me and I was feeling very happy for it, with a lot of good friends, so many new things going on, a better career path and a fair bit of personal growth, everything was heading in a positive direction!


So in this spirit I booked some space in a place called Multipub "Pod Gruba Kaska", this was a bit of an underground dive and a bit of a hybrid between a pub and a club, a place to go for watching Football, singing Karaoke or just enjoying a beer after most other places in the area had closed!

There was a fair turnout of people from the office, we drank a fair bit and enjoyed some dancing late into the night, I think a few of us even went back to Aga B's place to continue drinking for a few hours more, so it was definitely a memorable night and part of what I think of as the Golden times for me in Warsaw!


This month I would also visit home once again as a bit of a surprise to celebrate my friend Chris's birthday, going back to Oxford we would go for a nice meal, and there was even a Chewbacca style birthday cake for him, as he was a big Star Wars fan, and when we went drinking in some bars in the newly refurbished West Gate shopping centre.

This was only a brief stop for me, though again I used the opportunity to pick up some things, such as the collection of the Witcher books in English and other trinkets to take back to Warsaw...I had some fun at security at the airport, as they pondered whether my bookmark could count as an offensive weapon...luckily their supervisor was a bit smarter...


This month we also had a surprise birthday party for Piotr U, a lot of us crowded around his flat while his partner had taken him out for an errand, he was not expecting a thing and we would drink a lot of Vodka, so much so that Piotr himself was too drunk to continue and we had to continue the night without him, we went to at least one bar and ended up in some fancy club, though for the life of me I can't remember where it was!

Fair to say it was a very random night which led to a lot of fun and good times!


March 2019


Even though it was still pretty cold at least it was starting to get a little sunnier in Warsaw, so I would start to go back outside and walk a little more, taking in the stunning river views...




I hosted another smaller games night where we played Catan and this was a little more civilised that the last attempt...if you want a serious games night where you actually focus on the games you need to refine your group!



I would go back to the Piratow bar with Lexi this time to celebrate St Patrick's day with a green half litre of Tyskie and some Irish dancing.


Also most noteworthy is we had Neil join us for a week from the UK, now Neil was the person I was closest to in the Oxford office, we shared one big account and he was a positive influence who I learned a lot from.

Of course while he was down we would go for drinks a few times, particularly we went to this bar called PiwPaw, a large Craft beer bar where we watched Poland playing Football on the big screen as well as enjoying a good few beers!

I was happy to have Neil to visit, it was good to catch up and have some honest and frank discussions about how the cooperation between our office and the Oxford one was going and to show him a bit of Warsaw, the health & beauty girls were also happy to finally meet him, as they all got on well with him, particularly as he was very calm and helpful.



At the end of this month I went out with Marcin K and some other colleagues, we had won a small competition in the office, where we got points for certain competency badges we had earned, this led to us visiting a rather fancy steakhouse at the companies expense


April 2019