May you have a glorious day in front of you, dear readers! My name is Anda Alexandra and I live in the magical city of Cracow (or Krakow, how the locals write it). I married a fine young Polish lad - if you cut any Polish person, you will see that not blood runs through theirs veins, but a genuine love for their motherland. Born in Iasi, in Romania - the land that everyone knows due to Dracula stories, Nadia Comaneci and/or one of our former leaders, Nicolae Ceausescu.
When and how did you decide to move to Poland? Is it complicated to settle down there?
I moved to Krakow with the thought in mind that I would be here only for maximum 6 months and then go try out UK as well. I have a thing for travelling and trying new things... well... plans changed and I am here for more than 3 years now, married to this awesome Polish lad. It came unexpectantly, like true love usually does, so I ain't complaining. Home is where your heart is and if your heart is in a million places you will always have a million homes. Overall it ain't that bad :) I came through a corporation which is based both in Romania and Poland. We had a team split in the 2 locations: Iasi and Krakow. One year I came visit for 10 days and the Team Leader made me an offer I could not refuse: come and work there, at least for a while. Krakow was love at first sight for me, so I thought it as a unique opportunity and said yes. It was a bit weird as I had to quit my other job and get re-hired in Poland, even though the job/project/company was the same - only the location different. It was not that hard as I did not require a work permit, due to the fact both Poland and Romania are part of the EU. The company, the HR, helped a lot with the paperwork and setting up the unique identification number for the tax office, so I was lucky :)
Have you ever lived abroad before? How many countries have you visited?
Yes, I have lived for 4 months in the USA, New Jersey, in Atlantic City - if you know Las Vegas you surely know its counterparty, right next to the Atlantic Ocean ;) In total I visited less countries than I would wish for but here is a short list: Poland, Romania, Greece, France, Spain, Austria, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany, the USA. But for more details I recommend you to have a look into my Travels section of my blog.
What do you like the most about Krakow/Poland?
I love the people and how warm they are, how unjudging. I love their history, how they stand proud and fierce. I love their music, I loved Chopin ever since I was a wee lass - even though that they barely have voices that you would know worlwide, and take it for example I have met only a handful of people who really know how to sing. I love how they don’t look back in fear and they try to develop as much as they can. I love how they care about their history and how their past is always a part of them, they are proud and they are patriotic. They are not afraid to admit that and I think that they are even stronger nation due to that!
How is/was the cultural shock? What are the main differences with Romania, your home country?
Well, tell you the truth, there was not much of a cultural shock. For me Poland, Krakow, from the very first moment, felt very much like home. The city resembles some of our cities and the old-fashioned feeling about it is just magical. As a difference, people are more settled down here and they do not have as chaotic drivers as we have. The people without cars always have the priority here and it is quite safe to get on the street here. I have not seen any accident since I came here more than 3 years ago! I see traffic jams, and that is quite regular, but they are also working on the infrastructure very well, so that is promising! I also love how men here are more gentleman like, they are not that much into the new age liberation and equality with the girls - here they still open the doors for you, they buy regularly flowers and they take you out for dinners and they always pay.
Do you miss anything from your homeland?
Oh! yes! Family comes first on the list! as it is so far away and there are no direct trains/buses/flights from Krakow to Iasi... I miss my Granny's cooking, as she makes heavenly food that just melts into your mouth. When my husband first tasted my Granny's cooking and sat down to speak with her, he immediately told me that if my Granny would be a bit younger and not married, he would have married her immediately! :) and trust me, this is a great compliment ;) I also miss the specific food that you cannot buy in Poland, that are typical/traditional Romanian - my mum always sends me cheese and chocolate from home and my husband adores it! :)
Any 'memories of an expat' you would like to share with us? Your best souvenir? Or maybe your worst experience?
No bad experiences yet :P but I love to experience new things so each time I visit a new place, a new city, I always write it in my blog. Feel free to drop by and find it out on your own ;)
What does your typical day as an expat in Krakow look like?
Oh, the regular going to work - commuting with dozen other expats in the morning train to the Krakow Business Park, where a lot of corporations are located. Coming home in the afternoon, surprising my awesome husband - who always has a sweet tooth - with something sweet. He cooks heavenly and I clean the dishes and we watch some tv series - currently that is Marco Polo and Ripper Street :) In the weekend we like to go out and have long walks, visit friends and maybe go to the cinema :)
When did you start your blog? For what reasons?
I started my blog on the Friday 14th of June 2013. I was reading some of the blogs of the other expats and I was a bit tired of answering the same question 100 times to all my friends "how are you? what have you been up to?" and I thought, why not create a blog and post what I am doing? It worked like a charm and people always know now what I am doing, where I am going and what's on my mind. Plus, I was tired of Facebook posting all the pictures, knowing that Facebook takes ownership of everything, so now I just post one picture and the link to the post and inside the post you can see more :) Plus I love photography and I am quite fond of my photos.
Did you make new friends with your blog?
Why, indeed! The blogging community is amazing! and it is welcoming you with open arms! the only regret I have is that fact that in Poland there are no blogging gatherings or meetings that I could participate to. Plus the bloggers in Poland would rather post in their mother tongue and that is still an issue to me - regarding the fact that Polish language is only the 3rd hardest language in the world...
Why did you register on expat.com and what do you think of the website?
I believe expats know more about the countries that they live in more than any travel agency. They know what to do and where to go. They take into consideration quality and time and price. They had time to test things and they know locals who share with them secrets and then they can share it to the world, by word of mouth :) I found expat.com when I was looking for expat sites that would give me more info about living in Poland - living in Krakow. To tell you the truth, when I came here in Krakow 3 years ago, there were less expats than now. To show you for example, the Romanian community, I can tell you that until now there was just one voting section in Warsaw. This year we had the vote for presidency and this was the first time when they created 3 places where people could vote: in Krakow, Poznan and Warsaw. Plus the meetings are beginning to be more and more regular. The website expat.com is user friendly and I could do my account in no time! The browsing sections are wisely done and only one click away. You can easily add the blog you maintain and you can see people from the same region and get into contact with them.
Which advice would you give to the other Expat blog members who would like to settle in Krakow (or in Poland)?
Don't be afraid and take the leap! Krakow is a wonderful place, with so many museums and places to visit! Not only in Krakow, but also the surroundings. People are friendly and the city is alive 24/7. Be it old or be it young, every person will find something to like in this city. I recommend it with all my heart, as it is now one of the places I can call HOME! :)