As a person from the United States living in Poland, the question I get asked the most is, “Why Poland?” And the answer is very simple, “I wanted to live in Europe.”
Last year I volunteered in San Antonio, Texas serving at a community center assisting people and families receive basic human needs (food, clothes, housing, utility assistance, therapy, etc.) I also served in the community center’s after school program which provided a safe, fun, and educational environment for children living in the poorest area code of San Antonio; and I fell in love.
Throughout my year in Texas I was in a constant battle with my heart and brain as to what my next step was once my year of volunteering was over. At one point I was set on going to graduate school to receive an MSW, but then things began to happen in the non-profit that I served with that I didn’t like. So then I thought maybe I should go to graduate school for Public Policy. But then I thought about my undergraduate degree which is in Psychology and I thought maybe I should go to graduate school for counseling. All these options played in my head and I was unable to choose just one. Therefore, the idea of traveling the world and teaching English as a second language came to the forefront because throughout this entire graduate school idea, traveling has been like a pesky mosquito that flies by your ear, you hear the high-pitched buzz next to your ear and you swat it away, but a few minutes later you hear the high-pitched buzz again.
I loved volunteering and working with and for the people, families and especially the children I was serving with. But, I didn’t like the non-profit I was working with, I was growing frustrated with the United States Social Systems and how they’re the failing the people they’re suppose to be helping, and I didn’t want to spend money I don’t have on a graduate school program I wasn’t 100% sure I really wanted to do. Thus, I chose to travel.
After my year of volunteering, I moved back to New Jersey and a month later was taking a course to get certified in teaching English as a second language. The course was in New York City, 5 days a week, and extremely intense. To be able to afford my commute in and out of the City every day and plan for the traveling I was going to do in the near future, I got a job at the Gap on the weekends. I finished the course within a month and instantly began looking for jobs (I finished near the end of October 2016).
Ideally I wanted to work in Central or South America because I speak Spanish and I have traveled there before and that is truly where my heart is. Unfortunately, most teaching programs in those regions are volunteer or very low paying since the cost of living is so low down there. (I have a ridiculous amount of student loans from my undergraduate that I still need to pay back). So I began to look for jobs in Spain. I have been to Spain twice before and I wanted to live in a Spanish speaking country, so I thought it was a substitute for not working in Central or South America. However, I discovered that it’s actually very difficult for a person from the United States to be hired legally as an ESL teacher in Spain and they prefer to hire EU citizens (for Visa reasons). This frustration with not being able to find a job in Spain led me to look into other countries in Europe and I came across Poland. I have a Polish last name, I have friends and 1 aunt who are from Poland, and I have always wanted to go to Poland, so I thought, “why not?”
I applied to 2 jobs in Poland, interviewed for both, and received job offers from both. I chose one of the jobs, went to the Polish Consultant in NYC and applied for a Polish Work Visa, and was in Poland before the New Year.
I know this post is quite broad in places and I will go into more details later about certain things, but as with every adventure, there’s always a back story of how it began. So how did I end up in Poland? I didn’t know what to go to grad. school for, I was frustrated with the US’s social systems, I couldn’t find a job in Spain, and Poland is one of the few countries in Europe who employ people from the US as ESL teachers. Also, I love mountains, and I’m currently looking outside my window at a beautiful view of the Beskid Mountains.