GB// This post is written as a part of the Pole's Club Abroad (a club for Polish female bloggers who live abroad and write a series of blog posts on the same theme each month)
PL // Ten post jest częścią serii wrześniowych postów Klubu Polki na Obczyźnie
GB// This month's theme is "My ideal country" - i.e. 5 things I miss about Poland and 5 things I love about the country I currently live in. This will be my ode to Poland and Scotland - two countries which I've grown to love over the years, which I am happy to call home.
1. Sense of humour
This is a no-brainer. I simply love the Scotts' sense of humour, their down to earth no-nonsense approach and ability to laugh at themselves. Not a day passes in hospital without somebody saying something so funny that the whole room dissolves in laughter. Interactions and simple every day conversations between Scotts I work with are also full of witty comments, sentences worded in a cheeky way, and friendly sarcasm towards each other. I love it and I will dearly miss it if one day we leave Scotland. The fact that there was a comedy special about the last week's referendum just goes to show how good Scotts are at doing comedy.
Here is a little taster from one of my favourites: Kevin Bridges
I chose to come to Scotland inspired by reading Wuthering Heights and Harry Potter and thanks to my English lessons where we would read about how Scotland was such a romantic country, with rolling hills overgrowing with heather. My dreams weren't far off. Scotland is one of the most beautiful places I've seen. There are the hills, the lochs, old castles, munros just waiting to be climbed, small islands to be explored. It's green, foggy, peaceful and beautiful here. Come visit to see for yourself.
This is an obvious one. My admiration for the NHS probably stems from the fact that I spent my last 4.5 years living in NHS hospitals (as a medical students for those of you who are here for the first time, hi!). The Scottish healthcare system obviously has its imperfections but the culture of the NHS is unique and one that I have not witnessed in any other country. Everyone works as a team, with a sole aim of providing the best level of patient care, often in imperfect circumstances. Of course the funding is a problem, as in any other country with a state-funded healthcare system. But smiles, kindness, sense of humour and a strive for clinical excellence that I witness in NHS hospitals every day are truly unique to Scotland (in my belief). One of the good examples is the most recent campaign by a young doctor suffering from an aggressive sarcoma, who started an initiative called #hellomynameis - to make sure that everyone who's involved in your care form the moment you enter the hospital to your consultant introduces themselves by first name. To make a human connection, to make you feel like a person, not just another patient to deal with in an efficient manner. I think it's brilliant and I love and believe in the NHS.
Want to pay your taxes online? Find out when the public holidays are? Start a new business? Order a new driving license? Done. Scottish administration makes it a breeze thanks to an excellent state administration, which is mostly online.
Now, this is a topic I can't write a lot about (because I'm still a novice!) apart from the fact that going to a Ceilidh is one of the best things you can do if you visit Scotland. Remember that scene from the Titanic where they're dancing on the lower deck? It's that much fun, only better. Scotts learn it from primary school and the band always explains the steps before each dance so that the newcomers know roughly what to do. Scottish weddings often have ceilidh dancing during the reception. One of my most vivid memories from my Fresher's week (back in 2007!) is dancing during a Ceilidh in McEwan Hall with a seasoned Scottish dancer in a kilt. Best fun ever.
Here are the top 5 favourites about my motherland.
Poland does seasons so well. Summers can be as hot as 30 degrees, sunshine pouring generously through the windows and blushing strawberries in the garden. Winters are cold and snowy, with occasional crisp day of sunshine. And my favourite - Autumn. Golden Autumn as we call it. Leaves turning colours, sunny but cold mornings and evenings with beautiful pink sunsets.
It's true; I haven't met a person yet who didn't like pierogi - i.e. dumplings. Polish cuisine is not perhaps well known, or famous, but let me tell you our grandmothers are one of the best cooks in the world (in my opinion anyway). Dumplings, beetroot soup, real sour-dough bread, sausages, roast dinners, duck, mushroom and beef stews - d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.
The thing I miss the most are seasonal fruit and vegetables. When strawberries are in season, you can buy a 2kg basket for about £1-2. When blueberries are ready to be picked, people are standing on markets, street corners, by the small roads in the countryside, selling jars of fresh blueberries - perfect for a crumble or a cheesecake. Autumn has always been a preserving season in our house. From pickling cucumbers, wild mushrooms to sun dried tomatoes and cooking marmalades - we were always helping out in the kitchen.
Polish language is one of the most difficult ones in the world, but it's also incredibly rich and beautiful. Reading in Polish is such a pleasure. Especially poetry. Here is one of my beloved poems by a Polish Nobel Price winner, Wislawa Szymborska
Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.
Even if there is no one dumber,
if you're the planet's biggest dunce,
you can't repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.
No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.
One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.
The next day, though you're here with me,
I can't help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is that a flower of a rock?
Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It's in its nature not to say
Today is always gone tomorrow
With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we're different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.
5. Feeling home
Because even the air smells differently in Poland. It's my home.