Following on from Finding Poland’s review of the book – ‘Poland – Culture Smart!’ – I caught up with co-author, Gregory Allen, for a good old chinwag on the topic of living as an expat in Poland.
If the truth be known, this is more of a retrospective account of what living in Poland is like. After all, Gregory moved to Poland in 1994 and stayed there until 2006. Nevertheless, with his riveting recollections, knowledge of present-day Poland and candid sociological insight popping up at regular intervals, this is one interview you won’t want to miss reading.
A little bit about Gregory Allen
From Winnipeg in Canada, Gregory Allen, Ph.D., is a sociologist and Senior Lecturer in Organizational Behavior at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England. He specialises in cross-cultural management, workplace diversity, and critical management studies. Gregory wrote his doctoral thesis on the perceptions of expatriate managers based in Poland – a topic on which he has written for both academic and industry-related publications.
1. Before we go into the ins and outs of your take on living as an expat in Poland, can you talk a little bit about your background and perhaps what led you to Poland in the first place?
2. I’ve read one of your papers – Skewed Integration: the Negative Representation of Poles by Expatriate Managers. One sentence really stood out for me: Ethnocentrism, the idea that one’s own race, nation, group, etc. is better than any other, was evident in the stories told by interview partners about the Poles they interacted with in their workplace. When living in Poland, did you get the sense that expat life in Poland for many foreigners, particularly expatriate managers, was never going to be a rosy affair because they had come to Poland with very negative preconceptions of the country?
3. My review of Poland – Culture Smart!, which you co-authored with Magdalena Lipska, paints a picture of a book that’s witty, recent, candid and very much from the heart. For a newbie looking to read up on living as an expat in Poland, why do you think they would benefit from reading the book?
4. Why may expat life in Poland prove to be frustrating for those from the west? What are some of the biggest challenges expats have to overcome?
5. I interviewed Richard Blanks – founder of Youtube channel Brit in Poland – some time ago on the topic of living in Warsaw as an expat. Can you relive some of your experiences and memories living in Poland’s capital?
6. You taught English in a secondary school (liceum) through a Canadian government funded programme. You then taught English for Academic Purposes at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Can you share a few of your memories and impressions of working in Polish education?
7. I do admire the way Poles put their hearts and souls into preserving family values and Polish culture as well as keeping Catholic-based traditions alive. Frankly, I regret not making enough effort to witness or attend more events, customs and holiday celebrations than I have done since moving to Poland in 2006. Did you immerse yourself in Polish culture as much as you intended to from the get-go?
Allen, G. (March 2018). Skewed Integration: the Negative Representation of Poles by Expatriate Managers, Journal of Economic and Social Development, 5 (1), pp.59-66