There are many things that need to go into living in another country. Securing a VISA, making sure that you have the proper insurance, packing everything you might need, the list could go on and on. With all of these more important things, there are many little things that often get looked over. Many of these little things are rather small and unimportant. However, it is my hope today to shed some light on these oft forgotten and overlooked aspects of living in a foreign country.
One small difference between my experiences in Poland and in America has been the showers. You may think, well a shower is a shower, but this has not been the case. In the majority of America, it seems that a wall-mounted showerhead is the most common. This means that the showerhead stays attached to the wall at all times, and it is unable to move from the wall. In Poland it seems that this system is not popular and more common is the showerhead that someone can grab and swing around. In my opinion, this style of showerhead is better. I am a fairly tall man and many times in America I have had a problem with showerheads being mounted too low on the wall, so that when I want a shower, I need to duck down just for the water to hit my head. This is a very comical sight I am sure, but I don't particularly enjoy it. Besides the showerheads, I have also noticed that the drains in the showers are different. I like to think that I know a few basic skills; How to change a lightbulb, how to hang pictures, and how a shower drain works are some things that I considered I knew fairly well. However, the drains in Poland make no sense to me and I have monkeyed around with the one at Adam's apartment, but I still don't know its inner workings or mechanics.
The differences in showers and showerheads aside there is also one small thing that I have noticed in Poland. This is that the sidewalks are different compared to the ones in America. Of course, there are certain cities in America that have their own unique style, but the most common style that I have seen is that of poured concrete. This meaning that the sidewalks are not made of individual blocks, but are instead made with forms and wet concrete. The concrete is poured into a form, it sets and hardens, and then you have a sidewalk. Each of these forms is about one meter long and one meter wide. These sets of forms are laid out one in front of the other, and the end result is a sidewalk. I have noticed that in Poland the sidewalks are not made like this. Instead, they are made with individual small blocks or cobblestones. All of these blocks and cobblestones come together to make up the entire sidewalk. Again, I believe that this style or system is better because if one block breaks, it need only be replaced and then the sidewalk is as good as new. However, in the American system, if one area of a sidewalk breaks, the whole section needs to be removed and then re-poured with wet cement again. This seems like much more work than simply replacing a brick or cobblestone.
Thus there are more tangible things that are different in Poland and America, but one thing that is not tangible is the way items are purchased in a deli. If you would like something in America you must first say how much you would like and then whether you would like it sliced or whole. For example, if you would like some Swiss Cheese, you must first tell the Deli worker that you would like 500 grams, and then he/she asks if you would like it sliced or whole. This was the system that I was familiar with when I went to a deli here in Lębork. At the deli I asked for 500 grams of cheese, and then the deli worker promptly cut off a rather large piece of cheese, wrapped it, and handed it to me. I was very surprised at this and I was hoping that they would have asked if I wanted it sliced or not. However, this question never came and I was left with a big chunk of cheese. Later on, I learned that if you want slices you can simply ask for however many you want and that is that. So, the next time I wanted cheese I asked for 5 slices and that was the end of it. It seemed strange at first that I did not have to say the quantity of cheese that I wanted, but now that I am used to this system, I do think it is better. There is less fuss and it makes things easier. So, now I know how to buy cheese in different countries, but watch out if you travel abroad because I am certain that little things will come up that you never even thought about. I know this has been the case with me here in Poland!
Born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan David was raised by his parents with his two sisters and brother.