Here I am, an American living in Poland. I just arrived a week ago. To me, it seems reasonable to have somewhat less than mastered that language in that time frame. To the grannies, it’s not a matter of time…but speed. According to an entire generation, anyone can understand Polish as long as it is spoken slowly enough. For the record, this theory does not check out.
The impossible language aside, everyone here has gone above and beyond in the hospitality department. I attended my first Polish wedding last weekend in Międzyrzec Podlaski, where everyone was very generous with the food and perhaps too generous with the vodka. Our host woke up at 4am to prepare an entire feast of kielbasa, mushrooms (which she picked and pickled herself), bread and cheese. The one English word that she could speak? “EAT!”
Today I will attempt to navigate the public transportation network. I used to be a savvy traveler: buying bus tickets in Bangkok and ordering lunch in Sofia. But the Polish hospitality has made me soft. I haven’t had to utter a single word or point myself in a single direction on my own without my friends translating and leading the way.
It’s a big step living in another country where you don’t speak the language or know the customs…but I better start venturing out on my own if I want to actually learn some Polish. And why shouldn’t I when they are all speaking so slowly for me?