Before we left Poznań, I was interviewed for a coming issue of the Poznan International Ladies Club (PILC) newsletter. The questions, as you might expect, had to do with my experience with the club, looking back at my time in Poznań. Sometimes it helps you get a clearer picture when you step back and look at the past few years.
From the outside looking in, many PILC gatherings are large events. For example, a monthly meeting of 25-30 women, fund-raising parties with 100 people, not exactly comfortable for an introvert like me, but I have loved doing things with the ladies individually. As we talked about it, I realized that the one-on-one meetings I’ve enjoyed with other club members were only possible because I had stepped outside my comfort zone and attended the big meetings. That’s where I met the individuals with whom I’d had so much fun.
It started early. My first function was an Irish luncheon hosted by two Irish members for the club on St. Patrick’s Day. They had a huge turn out. So I found myself thrown into this new feminine subculture.
New things to learn, always take your shoes off when entering someone’s home, or at least start to and maybe they’ll tell you it’s OK to leave them on. And everyone is greeted with hugs and kisses. That’s wasn’t at all natural for an American. The hugging and kissing has become second nature for me over the years, and have caused me to startle more than one old friend when I’ve been back in Tucson.
It was at that first luncheon that I met Elzbieta, who has become my dear friend. I have learned many new recipes hanging out in her kitchen. We’ve had fun adventures in the great outdoors too — biking to the dairy farm to see their newborn twin calves, paddling around the Swardzęz lake.
One day at a breakfast meeting, Joanna asked what I was doing after, and invited me to check out the design event at the trade center. It was a fun time, and we both left with a new handbag.
Barbara invited me to join her for the culinary part of the Transatlantyk film festival, something that had always interested me, but I just hadn’t been able to figure it out by myself.
The cooking lesson at Gosia’s house where she taught the three foreigners in the book club to make pierogi were just the beginning. After that, I would get emails from Gosia’s with suggestions on how to prepare traditional Polish produce as it came into season.
All this got me looking back through photos. My memories have grown from the wonderful, rich view of Poznan that these ladies have shared with me, to the fun we’ve had sharing it with family and friends from the states.
The advice for new expats in Poland that wrapped up our interview:
- Don’t expect it to be like home
- Don’t expect to change them
- Enjoy the adventure!