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10 Things That Polish People Remember From Growing Up

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10 Things That Polish People Remember From Growing Up

In many major U.S. cities, there is a substantial Polish and Polish-American population. Whether it be from Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow, or elsewhere, the Polish people have made a huge impact on many major American cities, mainly Midwestern ones such as Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. For that reason, we have compiled a list of 10 things that all Polish people remember from growing up.

1. You Cleaned Things Until They Shined, and Then Cleaned Again

One of the unfortunate stereotypes surrounding Polish people in America is that they tend to take on a lot of menial service jobs, such as that of cleaning lady. However, behind every stereotype is a kernel of truth. Polish people mostly maintain pristine homes in which not even fingerprints or the smallest crumb can be tolerated. If you have every found yourself polishing something beyond the point of usefulness, you might be Polish.

2. You Did Not Understand Why People Could Not Pronounce the Jumble of Z’s, K’s, S’s, and C’s that is your last name.

Pronunciation of Polish words and names for Americans and other non-Polish cultures is almost impossible. For example, my American roommate pronounces the beer Zywiec (zivvv-yetz) as Z-iiii-weck. Similarly, for Polish people, you never met a non-Pole who could pronounce your last name properly on the first try, or even after extended practice. Your name is just a mystery to them.

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3. You Have Been Handed Kielbasa, Pierogi, Kolaczki, etc as You Left Someone’s House

For me, the copious amounts of unique food define my life as a Pole. In this case, you have spent all day eating a huge feast at your relative’s house, and you are trying to be polite by leaving quietly and without a scene, as is the Polish way. However, a relative (your babcia, chocha, or someone else-most likely female) comes up to you as you leave and literally puts a roll of sausage in your hand– no bag or anything. It’s for the road and so you get grube (large/strong) right?

4. Paczki Day

If you don’t know this one, you have never been Polish or even met any Polish people. Paczki Day (a.k.a. Fat Tuesday elsewhere) is the day–no, the week– when your babcia (Polish for grandmother) turns her home into a bakery and churns out what seems like thousands of small, doughy, jelly-filled pastries. If it seems like your babcia is cooking for the whole neighborhood, don’t worry. It’s because she totally is.

5. You Find Yourself Avoiding Credit or Recognition For Most Things

When achieving success, Americans love to boast and dance and show-off, but when you get the job done, you put your head down and shrug your shoulders. I recognize this tendency in myself, especially when I played sports as a kid. Other kids would hit a home run and act like they won the Olympics. I would (eventually) hit home runs and shrug my shoulders. Why celebrate accomplishing exactly what you are supposed to accomplish?

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6. You Spent All Day Sunday/Your Entire Weekend In Some Combination of Church/Polish School

Even if you were fairly Americanized, you spent your whole weekend engaged in church and Polish school, learning the language and culture. You basically had a double life, acting like an American in American school and then cultivating some serious knowledge about your Polish roots and language on the weekend.

7. Speaking of Church, Pope John Paul II Was Basically a God

Depending on when you were born, your first memories may be of your Babcia praying to a picture of Pope John Paul II, who was basically a Polish version of 2008 Obama, except better because of his Divine Powers. Every Polish family had a picture of John Paul, the Pride of Krakow, on his or her wall, and, as you learned more about Catholicism in Sunday School, you wondered how the way your family treated him was not in violation of the First Commandment.

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    8. You Didn’t Understand Fashion and Often Wore Loud, Mismatched Outfits.

    Because it wasn’t necessarily immediately useful, you didn’t have time for fashion or other non-expedient appearance-related endeavors. As such, you often wore something like red-and-black checkers button downs with blue-and-yellow polka-dot shorts, not understanding that the tremendous clash Americans often pointed out was actually a real, visual thing, and not just some silly trend that would pass, as things in America often do. And don’t get me started on socks with sandals, regardless of how comfortable they are.

    9. You Spent Whole Summers, or Good Parts of Them, In Poland Itself.

    Depending on your ties to the culture, when school let out, many Polish people took off for the homeland, not to return until the last day possible. Mostly, these trips didn’t feel like a vacation, per se, but rather, they felt like something every culture should do but didn’t– going back to learn who you are and where you came from, so that you could get a better understanding of yourself. Bonus points for anyone who spent that whole summer on a farm in Poland, especially when you usually lived in a major Midwest city.

    10. You Have a Uniquely Polish Energy

    This one is hard to capture in words, because it mostly falls along those lines of “I know it when I see it” tests. But still, when first meeting someone of Eastern European descent, I can tell immediately if they are Polish, simply based on how active, kinetic, and efficient their actions are. Polish people are intensely efficient, and if you see someone who is standing out of the crowd by working harder than others, getting the job done by moving quicker without regard for their own personal well-being–that person is probably Polish, and other Poles would recognize that Pole simply by  body movements and the need to solve problems. It truly is unique.

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    Featured photo credit: Flag/David Ripamonti via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2022

    10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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    10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

    A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

    To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

    1. Camping

    A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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    2. Staycation

    You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

    3. Island Getaway

    People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

    4. Fancy Resort

    Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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    5. Road Trip

    The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

    6. Charter a Boat

    If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

    7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

    If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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    8. Themed Retreats

    There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

    9. Working Honeymoon

    Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

    10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

    Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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    Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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