COVID-19 and expatriation in Poland

Hello everybody,

The COVID-19 crisis inevitably impacts Poland, between closed airports or periods of containment in some cities or even the entire country .
We would like to hear from you during this unusual period, to find out what the consequences of this pandemic are on your expatriation or expatriation project in Poland.

Does the current crisis call into question your long-term expatriation project?
If you are already settled in Poland, do you plan to return to your home country?

How are you living through such an uncertain period, especially if you are far from your loved ones?

Have any of you ended your expatriation in Poland unexpectedly?

Paradoxically, has this crisis brought you closer to some people?

What are your plans for the future?

Thank you very much for your feedback.

Hope you are doing well.


Hi Ex-pat colleagues in Poland,

I hail from Toronto Canada, a warm hello to you.  I was originally scheduled to stay one month here, and return on March 27, but.........
I was given an opportunity by LOT, with the Canadian Embassy's liaison, to return on a special charter on April 3.  Given the rising shutdown and relatively greater spread of the virus back home, I opted to stay instead for an indeterminate longer time. 

A shout out to the embassy staff, and to LOT, for diligently reaching out to me with several phone calls.  Having said that though, I caution my ex-pat compatriots to never rely too heavily on the consular service to get you out of a jam.  This is not the first time I have been “stranded” (I do use the word lightly here; I love it in Poland), and it's not the first time the Canadian foreign service has reached out to me. 

From my previous experience (in a war zone, no less; I was a little younger and a lot more adventurous then) I know that our embassies abroad have very little influence, and of course no authority.  Just read about it on the appropriate web sites, with their cautions.  The bottom line is that you are on your own when it really counts.  So don't ever count on being rescued.  Just ask those couple of Canadians being held in China because of the Huawei deal.  Again, kudos for the embassy staff here for their efforts, but I also know they would never ever be able to make demands in my favour. 

So I'm still here in Poland, I'm keeping my ear to the ground and a finger in the air; it still looks pretty good from where I am, relative to Toronto.  I do have family to get back to, but my job there, like many people's, is on hold for now.  I am fortunate to be staying in a rural area, with a couple of Poles whom I know really well.  Away from crowds, and ‘embedded' or ‘on the ground' as I prefer to say.  Whenever a traveller is safe amongst locals, there is actually quite a lot of social upheaval one could survive.  Even if I were in a city right now it would be fine, provided that I were somehow integrated into a milieu.  Maybe rooming with a family, or even just renting a room in a small neighbourhood in a town. 

The point is to be under the radar a bit, separate from regular hotels with other tourists (those are closed now anyway).  One exception I have found is the hostels.  I've been in Okie Dokie in Warsaw for and extended time, as well as Grandpa's in Wroclaw.  I recommend both, though I know there are lots of comparable places.  I'd go to either for a visit now if I could.  **I also know there are places in the world where it is not safe to be ‘embedded' - these places I avoid.

And how do current events affect my future plans for returning to Poland?  It only reinforces them, I want to really spend quality time getting to know this wonderful land and its people.  Poland has known challenges, and it doesn't seem to be worse off in its spirit; that says a lot in itself.

  I will learn more and more (even the language!!) and enjoy what's at the heart of being am ex-pat.  We all come from a tradition in the West written of by Hemingway and Graham Greene, but we don't have the hardships they described.  I travelled and worked abroad for several years before I did the settle-down-and-raise-kids thing, now I'm ready to continue moving and grooving (please excuse my Boomer vocab.)

Many people everywhere are suffering now, one of the reasons I do need to get home is for my very elderly mother - but I won't even be able to see her, even after my 14-day quarantine.  It will still be the daily phone calls after I get back.  And my family has it lucky compared to most.  But as my almost centenarian mom says, “just taking it one day at a time” will get us there.  And that is the road out in front of us always, expats or otherwise.

Cheers, Jamie