If I was to describe myself, I could say that I’m a typical representative of my cultural background. Poland from my childhood days was a country characterised by quite a schizophrenic culture. Deep catholicism mixed freely with a communist pragmatism. This mixture has created a culture of people who are impulsive, deeply attached to their tradition, and have a very romantic notion of history (good old days when Poland ruled the world!), but who, at the same time, are very down to earth and not easily fazed by circumstances.
Shell I give you an example? My decision to move to London took whole 15 minutes. Two months later I was standing in Heathrow airport with my life squeezed into two suitcases. If I knew back then what I know now, probably I would have turned around and ran all the way back to Poland screaming, but as far as I was concerned, I was about to start a new chapter of my life as a hot sales executive for a big corporation.

My early taste of London came from a family who gave me my first lodgings. It was a proper middle class family living in a very respectable neighbourhood. The head of the family, an elderly widow, kept a butcher knife next to her bed in case a burglar attacked her at night. I was told to be really loud coming home at night in order to avoid being confused with a burglar. The woman had about 6 children and 20 something grandchildren. I did my best trying to keep track of who is who but, alas, to no avail!! I moved out of there when the woman started telling me about a ghost of her dead husband, who apparently took up a habit of roaming her semi-detached on moonless nights.

Even though my early days in London were difficult and lonely, I wouldn’t change them for anything else. Events like this shape your character, makes you into the person you are. They bring the best and the worst in you, and are a real test of your strength.

Within weeks of arriving in London, a shy giggling girl had to change into a no-nonsense businesswoman globetrotting Eastern Europe on behalf of a serious corporation. In a job like this, you learn a lot about people and cultures. You lose some of your naivety and realise that constant travelling is not that glamorous as you thought. You develop a thick skin and patience. You also learn that, even at your loneliest, in a strange hotel room after 3 weeks on the road, the best way to lift your moods is to get on the town because, no matter what, there are friendly people everywhere around the world, and with a little effort you can curve a life for yourself out of being a “gypsy”.

 

Kasha, 33, London, England.

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