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City Profile: Gdynia, Poland

By ExpatExchange.com Member

Summary: The Gdynia area is made up of a group of small cities connected by a train line. It's a coastal area that only recently has begun to open up to the outside world.

Gdynia, Poland - A Glimpse into the Past

How long have you lived there?

a year

What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?

University groups, take dance classes, playing sports at the beach: soccer, volleyball, jogging, etc. Sports associations, cultural associations. Nature related: hiking, wall climbing, trekking... there is a lot to do on that matter here, Oliwa (church and park), the beach that is all bordering coastline from Gdynia to Sopot is nice.

Summer is nice and hot and fresh (or not, very dry) always with an umbrella in your bag, please. Nice pubs in concentrated areas - not all over. Beside that, is all quiet. They don't have dancing, parades. But, there is a Heineken festival, summer concerts, and the teathers in Gdynia and Gdanks. They are mostly making efforts to present attractive and massive productions, for the size of the city they pull it out quite alright. Much more than that, mmmmm nope.

In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?

They are not that open, but the last generations. It is a group of small cities in one, it is not a metropolis. Last generation up to 30 years old is opening gradually and many have gone out through Erasmus or student organizations, also through student exchange programs, etc. These are the ones who look after more diversity in the city. Half of them speak English (among youngsters) in different levels, due to studies or by having lived abroad or travelled, only 2 out of 10 will practice it with you, shyness card. Since Poland is improving its quality of life and people who once emigrated are coming back, there is an economic sense of well being. It's experienced in the new products and variety of lifestyles that are just starting to be experienced and shared as a community. Wanna watch this and be part of it, then come. They don't have, say, Spanish style of going out in the night. There are a few pubs and mostly Sopot is the place to go, but the sense that you are in a set of small cities connected by a train line never goes. They close at 16h00 in winter (stores) and night places at 03h00 (but if you're a frequent goer you can stay inside with doors closed). Gdansk is great for historical visits but then the rest of the is like any other place on this side of Europe.

People are very Catholic and they keep broad stereotypes due to their slow opening to what we call globalization. But, it is like any other place, if you are polite and learn a few words of the language, it will work, in general :-)

In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.

I do not think they are diverse, this is a young population, but foreigners are still looked at as the exception. Certainly they have been in touch with non locals much more intensively in the last decade than in all their history. It is easy to understand. Also, it is not a big place (Gdynia) - it's basically residential. Do not expect London!

If you find your niche and stick to it, and like I said young people are the most active into walking the diverse side, it would be fine for you.

They are interested in mingling, socializing with other cultures, they find exotic or appealing, e.g. Latin Americans, Spanish, Italians, etc. Any Western in sum. People from India, Africa or Asia are viewed more suspiciously and you have to gain their trust and let them get their guard down. You are part of a process they are living now, you are generating the change! hehe

What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

Anything related to a port, there is a port here and in Gdansk as well. Funny, we are in front of the sea, but it is really hard to find fresh fish. Multinationals, basically in Warsaw and in Krakow, you heard it here first. There are two multinational, maybe three and if you are fluent in more than one language it helps you get attention.

Internet is quite useful to find real estate, products and jobs in Poland. Old school is never old enough, but the way they have clinged to the internet is remarkable and they make use of its resources :-)

If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them. Why?

There are other cities, but it is up to you. I would ask my friend what he/she is looking for: short term stay or long, do you hate big, crowded cities, what are the other reasons he/she is coming, is he/she coming for a boyfriend, fiance/e or he/she has a good job offer to get real? Consider the exchange rate zlotys (local currency) vs Euro since you can start reasonably saving only from 2500 zlotys ( less than 750 EUR aprox, check it by urself) and comparing it to other salaries elsewhere in Europe it won't let you save enough for frequent flights to see your family/friends, or just trip around. Your choice.

Nature is great and watching these people produce and work hard is great, but if you don't have the antropologist vein, don't listen to me. I appreciate them in my experience for what they achieve with their constance and hard work. But this country just went out of a different era not so long ago. So well, give them some time and have low expectations. Overall, they are nice people, so keep your expectations low and positive and you will have nice surprises with people and finding natural treasures yet untouched around.

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Comments about this Article

guest
Dec 6, 2012 02:09

Actually L, the unhappy sttiauion of Western expat spouse is not new . and not unknown (to Asians like me) It is certainly a common topic in expat forums. In novels, the unhappy/bored/frustrated expat spouse is a stereotype often portrayed. I know many many expat spouses. Those who gave up successful careers seem to find it most difficult. The language barrier made it harder to adjust.For those who did find a measure of fulfillment, they get involved in their local communities (volunteerism e.g.) take up a study course or Asian art/craft/activity e.g. taichi, meditation, yoga, cooking which they sometimes parlay into a second career when they go back!I am an expat spouse in a different way. I'm spending more and more time in Switzerland. Although it's lovely here and there are many wonderful things about Switzerland, it is massively different from living in Asia .I cannot work (as I am not a resident or citizen) and unless one speaks Suisse Deutsche it is hard to make friends with locals. But I'm trying to be positive. Since I love to sing maybe I will audition for a JodelChor! I am taking German classes, and so on.

First Published: Jul 12, 2008

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