Warsaw is the capital of Poland. Tamara and her fiancé moved there in the summer of 2020. Not only to be closer to her family, but also to start a new chapter in her programming career.
Why did you choose Poland?
I have family in Poland. Thanks to this, I had the opportunity to visit Warsaw several times before. I fell in love with the city. When I got the opportunity to work remotely (without having to be at the office), I decided that I wanted to try life in Warsaw. After all, it’s different when you get to know a city as a tourist than when you actually spend some time in it.
How did you look for a job?
The company I currently work for is a small startup. I watched them for about half a year before I started working there. When they opened a position suitable for me, it was a matter of a few quick phone calls and the decision was made.
Were you worried about anything before arriving?
My fiancé and I decided on Warsaw a bit spontaneously and there was not much time for any big worries. We moved from Brno, where the housing situation is a bit different. We were a bit worried about how we would find accommodation in Warsaw while we were still in Brno. In the end we were very pleasantly surprised and had the apartment sorted within two days.
I didn’t see moving to Poland as moving to a foreign country. I knew I was moving closer to my family, who would help me with anything in an emergency.
How did you look for accommodation?
We looked for an apartment on our own, back in Brno. It went very well. We arranged everything online. Overall, there are a huge number of nice apartments in Warsaw, and there are many choose from, unlike in Brno. Even the signing of the contract itself was done without any problem, online.
How was the move?
The hardest part of the entire move was saying goodbye to Brno. I am otherwise used to traveling and moving from place to place. Travels from eastern Slovakia to Bohemia educated me. We have a car, so we packed it to the roof with stuff and hit the road, knowing we wouldn’t be back. We went twice.
What memory comes to mind when you think of your beginnings in Poland?
I moved in August 2020. I took two weeks of vacation and I really enjoyed the exact summer Warsaw I’d been looking forward to. There were no strict measures back then. But after the holiday it came. I had to arrange temporary residence, PESEL, business license, bank account and many other things. I feel like I’ve been running around offices and banks for maybe a month. As the pandemic broke out, there were only a limited number of people working in the offices, so long queues and waits were unavoidable.
What language do you speak in Poland and how do you perceive Polish?
I’m very close to Polish and I love it. I went to Warsaw with the idea that I would learn Polish properly. But since autumn it is almost impossible to meet people again, so I speak mainly in Slovak, in my family circle. I also meet a few Poles who understand Slovak. I understand Polish quite well too, it’s just the speaking that’s the problem.
I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to learn to speak properly as well.
What friends do you have here?
As I was saying, I mainly have family here in Warsaw. Zdeno Fedeš is my cousin and we meet together often with his sister and their relatives. Although I work for a remote company, I am lucky enough to have three colleagues right here in Warsaw. I’ve met them a few times now as well. Most times we’re sitting at home, as I guess we all are.
What do you do in your free time? Do you have favorite places in Warsaw?
Warsaw is alive. The city offers countless places for young people and at the same time you can taste a different cuisine every day. I have a few favorite places from the past. Gwardii Hall, Koszyki Hall, Night Market, etc. But since August it’s been lockdown most of the time, so I won’t go there now. Instead, I’m discovering the beauty of Warsaw’s parks and the city’s surroundings. I must mention Kampinos National Park. I like going back there very much. I can’t wait for the situation to calm down again and for us to discover more of Warsaw’s beauty.
How do you live here compared to Brno?
Me and my future husband love Brno and it was really hard to leave. But Warsaw is almost ten times bigger and logically offers many more opportunities. We had already crossed Brno from one end to the other and nothing surprised us. In Warsaw, by contrast, many things are still waiting for us.
In general, food is cheaper in Poland. That pleasantly surprised me. At the same time, they are of good quality and most of the common foods are local. I have the feeling that the cost of living is lower here than in Brno.
What did you think of Poland before you experienced it for yourself?
My hometown is a few kilometers from the Polish border. I have been used to going to Poland since I was a little girl, so I don’t even see Poles as foreigners. I’ve always had a positive experience with them. In many situations, the Polish are more open-minded than we are. Warsaw has people who overall seem more “open minded”.
What is different about Polish culture?
I don’t see any large differences. Slovaks, Czechs, Poles…we are all very similar. Not only our personalities, but also our holiday customs and culture are similar.
What about you and Polish cuisine?
I’m a very big fan of Polish cuisine. Žurek, pierogi, ZAPIEKANKA, borscht, I can absolutely do everything, even several times a week. My only regret is that Polish cuisine is quite hard to digest. But it hasn’t discouraged me yet.
What do you do at work?
I work as a backend developer. I program in Python. I’m involved in the creation of various software solutions SaaS (Software as a service).
Who are your colleagues? Are they Poles?
By working for a remote company, I have colleagues on perhaps every continent. I have a few here in Warsaw and in Krakow; they are Poles. We have already had the opportunity to meet, but the current situation does not allow us to do so regularly.
If you had the chance to change it, would you move to Warsaw again?
Definitely. Even though it cost us a lot of effort and it was not easy to leave Brno, it pushed me incredibly forward. Career-wise, I made a huge leap and it was worth it.
How has Poland changed you?
Warsaw broadened my horizons. But most importantly, it helped me step out of my comfort zone. I had a nice job in Brno, we had everything set up and we worked without any problems. In Poland I’m no longer an employee but a freelancer and this is accompanied by many changes that drive me forward.
Will you remain in Poland?
No. Warsaw is a great place to live, I still want to take advantage of the fact that I have a remote job and can travel. Next year, my fiancé and I want to go to different places in Europe and work. What will happen next, we don’t know yet.
What would you say to people who are still thinking about making a similar change to the one you’ve made?
I have people around me who do not take opportunities, because they are afraid of change. I think that’s a shame. Every change is difficult at first, but in the end it always gives you more than it takes away.