February 14, 2011

Quote of the week

A few days ago, at a geek-chic-meets-university-hip conference I heard something very appropriate given the recent course of events:
We spend money we don't have to buy things we don't need to make impressions that don't last on people we don't care about.
No idea who was the genius behind this saying, but there's nothing better to illustrate the days to come. As if I didn't have enough issues already. Time to start packing the fancy dresses, the high heels, the office outfits and what's left of my positive energy and hit the road.

February 7, 2011

Drinking in Poland

Whenever I meet my non-Polish friends, sooner or later the adventures of immigrant life come up in our multilingual conversations. And while we all have different experiences and our very own culture shocks, there is one thing we are all amazed at can't seem to get used to: Polish drinking habits and the oddity of social life. While in most cases (or, at least, in those we are familiar with) drinking is something that happens when going out with friends and having fun, in Poland drinking is what happens so that people can have fun. If there was an alcohol ban in this country, nightlife would be an utter disaster or would simply cease to exist.
After a while, it stops being funny or interesting, which is not to say it can be ignored. The good part is everybody minds their own drinking and while having a non-alcoholic drink on a Saturday night might seem strange, nobody will try to talk you out of it. However, any foreigner might need a few tips to get used to this habit or at least to become familiar with it.
Here's my brief selection:
  • In Poland, drinking is a public affair; always ensure you have a group of friends with you to share your vodka
  • Vodka is always drunk in one gulp, regardless of size
  • Drinks are immediately refilled, so take time between each toast to sip some water or have a Polish snack
  • Drink responsibly! Unless you're Russian, never try to out-drink a Pole.
Lexiophiles - a short yet very efficient guide that helps people not be labeled as tourist in the first 2 minutes. To do that in Poland, one must "wear a track-suit, drink yourself senseless and then scream kurwa at anything that moves".
The bottom line is this: no matter how hard you tried to act like a local, unless you're the last one standing when the last bottle of vodka is empty at the end of a Polish drinking night, you'll never be anything but a foreigner.

February 3, 2011

Life before Google

Yesterday, at the embassy of a lovely country with even lovelier dancing traditions we were advised to ask Google everything we wanted to know about visas, travel insurance, accommodation and university life. I sort of thought it went without saying that we had done our homework and that we were there for a reason - extra info, double checking, making sure we had all the details sorted out before the big trip. Apparently it wasn't as clear for the lady who was supposed to be a source of information somewhat more trustworthy than Google.
It was Kafka all over again and something tells me it was only the beginning.