Switzerland was so pretty that it took me a while to continue this journey… Bu now finally we travel from Switzerland to Poland – from rich to poor – from great infrastructure to roads that make you want to trade in your car for a tank. As you can tell, this one might be fun because it (at least parts of it) should be in the category Politically-So-Not-Correct. If you are from Poland I hope that you can laugh with me.
What Germans think about Poland: Polish people are all thieves. Of course they’re not but it is true that every year many people visit Poland with their car and have to take the train back because the car is gone. Or cars get stolen in Germany and the tracks get lost somewhere in the Polish countryside. Also one of my polish teammates didn’t only have quick hands on the basketball court but in retail stores as well. She once said to me: “If you need something from the drug store, let me know, I get a discount”.
Why Germans don’t always say what they think about their Polish neighbors: We need them. It’s simple as that. Without Polish people breaking their backs during fruit and vegetable harvest season, we wouldn’t eat as many strawberries or pickles because they would be too expensive. With cheap Polish labor however, companies are able to turn a profit while keeping the prices low. Also, a lot of German families hire Polish women to take care of the elderly. These women leave their own families for months to go to another country to take care of someone’s parent or grandparent. In short, Polish people do the work that Germans don’t want to do because they get more money when staying on welfare. I love the social benefits that I have as a German citizen but in some ways the system is really funny.
What I admire about Poland:
- The old towns. When the soccer Euro 2012 recently took place in Poland and the Ukraine, the spectators got to see some impressive views of the hosting cities on their TV screens. Yes, a lot of Polish people live in ugly, naked blocks of concrete but you can see the tradition and history everywhere and that always makes a country special.
- Their scientific minds. I have this perception of Polish people that I went to school with that they are incredibly good at math and physics. I don’t know how many polish names show up in the history books when it comes to the discovery of groundbreaking formulas but I’m sure that Polish scholars made important contributions to the scientific evolution.
My “favorite” memory: On one of our trips to Poland with the national team we were supposed to stay a few days to play some friendly games against the Polish basketball girls. My team did just that; I, however, literally spend 4 hours in Poland: 1 hour transfer from the airport to the hotel, 2 hours at the hotel – 1 hour transfer back to the airport. No I wasn’t dying but I had been sick as a dog the week before our travels and my doctor had given me asthma medication so that I could at least breathe and not suffocate. Well, that medication was on the red list of the anti-doping agency and although I thought that I had filled out all the necessary paperwork, the coach and managers of my national team didn’t think so. They were basically scared that I would get the whole German basketball federation in trouble. It was probably the shortest stay after flying to a foreign country. I didn’t even unpack my bag.