Why I Left the U.K. for Poland [Kult America]

Poland is a V sign, Poland is the leader, Poland is freedom, Poland is hope, Poland is future, my home, my country, my family. Poland is pride and dignity. Poland is us. Estimations suggest that nearly one million Polish citizens currently reside in the United Kingdom, yet very few Brits have immigrated to Poland. There’s one exception however and he goes by the name of Patrick Ney. Not only has he immigrated from the United Kingdom to Poland, but he actively takes to Social Media to encourage the national pride of his new home. On today’s episode of Kult America we’re going to find out why Patrick left his home in Great Britain for Poland. If there were a hypothetical war between Great Britain and Poland which side would you fight for? Oh that’s a good question, I would just run away to Switzerland. I’d have to. In that situation I couldn’t take a side between those two. What I can tell you, is that even if anything did happen here in this country I would fight to defend this country because there’s something about these people, you know, they are so divided, they are so angry at each other but you know that the minute an invader came knocking they would come together like they have done for so many hundreds of years and I feel very strongly about this country, so I can tell you that if something, if someone, anyone else other than the UK invaded Poland you’d see me there in a front rank, trying to do something about it, helping to defend this country.

What team do you support? I’m not entirely sure what’re you asking but when it comes to football than I support Legia Warszawa if it comes to football in England I support the Ipswich Town. Now I’ve been living and working in Warsaw, in Poland since 2010. I’m a writer, I love writing, creating content, and just talking to people, it’s just a way to have interaction with people. And the biggest exposure I have in my life is my 8 month year old daughter, Zosia, she is just the source of such joy.

A lot of people might imagine that if you moved from Great Britain to Poland, a country where Poles are just flocking to that something may have been wrong with your life. I was 27, I’ve been working and living in London for 6 years, I’ve done a very high pressing job working in a Prime Minister’s Cabinet office during the global crisis. And the whole experience of just being there, and experiencing through that storm just chewed me up literally, so I was emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted when I moved over here, but I was also 27 I didn’t have any obligations, I had no kids, all the thing that tie me down here now to Poland and it was more of the sense of “I’m 27 and it’s about time I did something more interesting than just living and working in London”. And nothing is more dangerous than a 27 years old man with the thirst for adventure, I tell you that Ryan. The British passport is one of the best passports a human being could obtain on this little planet of ours and I suppose you could’ve chosen any country.

What was it about Poland that made you choose to come here? I’ll tell this in brief. I’ve been to Sierra Leon I’d unfortunately eaten a falafel kebab on Siaka Stevens Street in the centre of Freetown. Over the next two days before my flight back I’ve had some unfortunate uncomfortable experiences and I’ve haven’t eaten in three days. And I went, as a traditional British person would do rather than go to the nearest tropical disease hospital, I decided I would try and cure it by drinking as much Guinness as possible. And I went to a little pub in the Angel in North London and had about 6 pints of Guinness, which on an empty stomach after three days what I’ve been through was a dangerous experience. My friend then said “Let’s go to this pizza restaurant around the corner.” I was sitting in this restaurant, and there was that beautiful blonde girl dancing like a ballerina around the tables. And she was a Pole, and we started to date each other, and very quickly I traveled to Poland, and very quickly, yeah, fell in love.

It was an emotional reaction to the country, but of course you as a tourist see the best parts of the country. And after about three years of having being together she then move back to Warsaw and it was one of that s**t or bust moments when it’s like are we going to stay together or not, so as I said, 27, no obligations, whether or not, I had no plan whatsoever, I did not had a clue what I was even for at all, literally so disorganized, I can’t believe it. It’s been a hell of the experience. Would I be accurate in assuming that you were kind of a party guy at the time? You know it’s a good question because the society that you live in really does define your behaviour. In Britain we have a big drinking culture, it’s different to the one that’s here, a very different to an American drinking culture, it’s quite unique and it’s not unusual for someone at 12 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon to be in a pub, having two quick pints in their lunch break. Living in Poland had completely changed my behaviour.

I find it interesting because you go, you oscillate between one very different culture with many similarities and another. And these things, you know, there are lots of things that divide you. And I act and talk and maybe even think slightly different in those two cultures when I’m there. It’s uncomfortable going between one and the other, because I’m mostly used to living, working, thinking, and kind of acting in Polish. I know that there was an incident with you here in Poland which is why I wanted to ask about your take on the safety and it involved football hooliganism. I was trying to get a ticket to the Puchar Polski between Legia Warszawa and Lech Poznań. I got that ticket, I also I did what I always do which was I went to the pub with my mates. I was just on the corner of one of the busiest streets in Warsaw and I was attacked.

I had a fractured skull and a very large hematoma inside my brain. Lying in a hospital bed, realising that I could very well not be on this planet or suddenly with very serious mental problems, memory problems, speech problems. I thought a lot about what was important to me. And I realize you don’t think about work, or all those kinda stuff from day to day.

When you’re facing your own death you think about the people who you love, the people who are close to you, and just want to be close to them. Having being saved with the hands of Polish doctors, what can you honestly say about medical care here? Budget of the Polish National Health Service is about 5 times smaller than the British National Health Service, massive injection of European Union funding. I was in an old military hospital, in fact my fiance’s father had stayed there when he had yellow fever in 1980s. My wing hadn’t changed very much, but a lot of the rest of the hospital was completely modernized. And both that hospital and the hospital where my baby was born were as good if not better, much better, than the average British National Health Hospital in terms of the quality of the equipment. I would agree with you, I think Polish people have an unfair understanding of many of their public institutions and how they work and that says a lot about how they see themselves in their country. Did you have any epiphany of regret that you might be dying in a place where your mother and your immediate family were not? Every decision in life has it’s cons and benefits.

It’s certainly a painful one to realise that you can’t wake up and see that your mother can be with your granddaughter, you know it hurts, it does. But on the other hand that’s the way the cookie crumbles and if you’ve looked at the train times between the Edinburg and where my parents live it’s twice as long as between where I live now and where they live so in fact I’m closer here than certain parts of the UK. You actively put out videos on Facebook and YouTube to encourage Polish national pride, at least that’s how I’ve perceived it. What is your motivation in doing that? Originally my blog and my Facebook profile were all about communicating with the group of people in Polish about my views of the country. And on 11 of November, Poland’s Independence Day I released a poem that I’d written about Poland two years before that it got a great reaction. “What is Poland? Tradition, history, unity, respect for elders, hostility, combining, complaining, dealing, pushing, registering, baking.

We’re celebrating or being festive, are we gossiping and fighting. We remember.” People literally saying, and that’s when you send to yourself congratulates when you know that it made them cry, it made them laugh literally in a space of two or three sentences, that they’ve never seen anyone talk about Poland in that way. I am someone, I think I do have a voice of unique perspective like everybody does in that country I live in. I want to help Poles to understand the country they live in better than they do today. I know that it sounds like a noble ambition, but I want to help to bring Poles together and just like you Ryan I also feel that Poles don’t quite understand what a wonderful country they live in.

I work in Polish, think in Polish, speak in Polish, read Polish watch Polish, listen to Polish podcasts and the foreign country for me now is the UK What is your favourite thing about Poland? I love walking down the street in the summer and picking up half a kilo of the freshest fruit you can possibly imagine and paying peanuts for it and literally just scoffing down black hearts and raspberries and strawberries that are so seasonal, you know and you pay four times as much for a half as much in the UK. And it’s just full of vitamins and goodness. And I love the fact that when the Pole says that you’re his friend, he really really means it. Tell me what are the differences between British women and Polish women and which do you prefer? I’m probably telling everyone what I already know which is that Polish women are some of the most beautiful women in the world but what makes them super attractive is that they’re super intelligent.

Do I think that British women are particularly attractive, I can’t lie to you don’t think they do. But not many people have ever told me that they are more attractive than Polish women so I think I’m in the majority in that opinion. Oh I think they have attractive accents. Are you finding my accent attractive right now? Oh I love the british accent. Actually I’ve always aspired to learn it. But it’s been a while. Thank you! Oh my God, that’s creepy. I’ve never heard someone doing the american accent like this. Really? What are you favourite foods in Poland? I just like to eat sandwiches. Bread in Poland’s really nice. I like bigos that my father in law makes, he does really really nice hunter’s stew and he just makes the bomb. Top 3 favorite cities in Poland. Warsaw, Wroclaw, I don’t think I have a third. The hardest question of the whole interview. Question everyone wants to know. How the f**k did you learn to speak Polish as well as you do? Funny you should say that Ryan because I have actually produced a video on YouTube which is “12 steps for learning Polish”. I think that’s how it goes, I should probably remember the titles of my own videos.

“Oh hello, what a coincidence! I am reading very big biography of Piłsudski, really nice book. Listen, today I would like to give you 11 ways to learn the language”. You find it on YouTube if you type in my name, Patrick Ney, it’s my channel there, it’s also on my Facebook. Or if you click the card in this video. Man, these guys are good, aren’t they good? About ten years ago, when I started my life in Poland I thought if only I could say at least a few words in Polish, it would be nice. And if i meet another foreigner, he also could. Today we have the opportunity to make my dream come true. But I have to admit I am very jealous. Stop it. Seven years? Six years summing up. I’ve been here for 10 years, but your Polish is twice as good. You know, everyone has his own road, so I can only say that I’m very sorry that I cannot speak on the level I want to.

I would like to speak like a true Pole, I still have an accent, I still make mistakes. But the most important thing is that I can communicate and I know you do well in Poland. I think that comparing you to the others, you are really good at Polish, and damn it, we have a long road ahead. Patrick, thank you so much for joining us on the interview, everyone check out his channel, he actually speaks Polish publicly and consistently, and all the time, so if you want to hear how a foreigner speaks Polish, Patrick is your lad. Thank you, see you. Thanks a lot. Socash, you’re a hot interviewer man, you ask hard questions, I like it, that’s something new. This is actually, like I told you, this is a soft Pole interview. Yeah, when I work on the radio I was. F**k no..

As found on Youtube

Hacking language learning: Benny Lewis at TEDxWarsaw

When I was 21 years old, I could only speak English, which is typical for those of us from English-speaking countries, and I had many reasons why this is going to be the case for me for the rest of my life. And I was very confident of this, because I had no natural talent, I had a very bad memory, I couldn’t travel to the country yet, I was too old, I felt too old and I was sure that I was going to frustrate the native speakers and embarrass myself. And on top of this, in school, I did really poorly with languages. So, I did actually get the opportunity to get into languages after I graduated at university with a degree in Electronic Engineering, still only able to speak English, I moved to Spain. And I figured, this is it! this is going to solve my problems, living in the country. No! Six months later of living in Spain, I couldn’t speak any Spanish. Now, a sensible person would have given up at this stage and gotten the point.

I’m not very sensible though. So I figured if I change my approach and change my attitude, maybe I can change my language skills. And what happened to inspire me to get into language learning was I met a polyglot. A polyglot is someone who can speak many languages. And the first time you meet someone like that, you can’t help but feel really impressed. Like, for instance there’s Richard from the UK, and there’s one video online where he speaks 16 languages. Let me just show you a little clip here and you can see him: French, Estonian, Czech and Catalan which is pretty impressive. We also have Luca from Italy, and here you can hear him speak in: German and Portuguese. And we also have Susana, who goes through here: Italian Russian. And a very impressive video I saw once of this 16-year-old from America called Tim, goes through 20 languages in one video, and in this part here you can see him go through: Wolof, Yiddish, Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, Swahili and Hindi. So wow! I met someone like this and I was so impressed. I thought to myself, “I want to be like that!” But the reason I wanted to be like that is because I wanted people to think I’m smart, to be impressed with me, and I met this polyglot at the start of my time in Spain and with this very superficial motivation, just because it will be cool to learn a language, I failed.

So, what I discovered after those 6 months is one of the biggest problems we have in language learning but we don’t know it, and that’s motivation. A lot of us start with the wrong motivation to learn a language. We are learning the language just to pass an exam, to improve our career prospects or, in my case, for superficial reasons to impress people. And what I’ve found is that those polyglots that I’ve just shown in the video, the reason they’re learning the language is because they’re passionate about that language, They’re passionate about the literature, and the movies and being able to read in a language and of course to use it with people.

And when I changed that priority of use in the language of people, I was able to learn the languages myself. But there are a lot of things that people feel will not allow them to learn a language. So I want to go through… I think there’s five, I asked a lot of people, there’s five major reasons they’d never get into language learning. So, let me go through some of these here. The first is they’ve no language gene or talent. No language gene or talent, well, what does that mean? I mean, sometimes this is actually just a self-fullfilling prophecy. In my case, when I had to learn the language growing up, or the six months of failed learning Spanish, it was just me telling myself, “I don’t have the language gene, so there’s no point in doing any work in the language.” Because I didn’t put the work in I didn’t learn the language, it’s just a vicious circle, it’s all in your head.

There’s no language gene, we all have it already. But let’s just imagine some people who do better, because we see it in school, people advance faster than the rest of the crowd. So let’s say there’s some inborn trait to give somebody 20% advantage over the rest of the people. Good for them! But that doesn’t mean that you can’t, it just means that you have to work 20% harder. And I’ve found that, at least in my case, when I work harder, I can catch up with the naturally talented and even overtake them. So, not having talent is not a good excuse. The next reason is that you are too old to learn a second language. I certainly felt this myself because up to 21, I didn’t learn a language, and lots of us feel that children… their brains are hard wired to learn languages better. But is it really neurology at play here or could it be the environment in which the child is learning the language? Well, a study at the University of Haifa in Israel actually found that under the right conditions, adults are better language learners than children.

It’s sound incredible but it’s about your environment, it’s about your motivation, it’s about the enthusiasm and encouragement you get from other people. And when you think of it, adults tend to be studying dusty old grammar books and doing boring exercises, while children are playing in the language, having fun in it. So I found that when I changed this to live through the language, not making it by studying the language, but living the language, then I was much more successful. So you’re not too old to learn a language.

I’ve met people in their sixties starting to learn a language and being successful with that. The next excuse people would have, is that they can’t travel to the country right now. Now, maybe 20 years ago this would have been a valid excuse but nowadays the world is smaller than you think. Thanks to the internet, we can connect with native speakers from across the planet and you’ll see that in a lot of cases, they might want to learn your language, and then money is not even an issue, because you teach them a little and they teach you a little. But even forgetting the internet for a moment, a lot of us live in cities or towns that are more international than what we think, and when I was travelling in America, I made it to Columbus, Ohio, of all places, to meet this very interesting polyglot called Moses, and he does what he likes to call “leveling up”, where he’ll go to some public place and just see if he can find some foreigners and practice the language with them.

And I joined him when we went to a mall in Columbus, and the two of us managed to practice twelve languages, and just here in this clip you can see he goes through: Cantonese, and here’s Cambodian, and you can see that the guy really appreciated him trying. So, you can learn a language anywhere, and I wanted to push this to the limit, in my most recent project I went to the middle of Brazil, of all places, to learn Egyptian Arabic. And I succeeded, because even though there were no Egyptians around me, I got on Skype and I talked for one or two hours a day and I managed to go up towards conversation levels. So no! not being able to travel to the country is not a good excuse. The next one people might give is that they’ve got bad memory for learning all the vocabulary. And this was certainly what I felt because when I first tried to learn Spanish, I get a big list of words, I tried to go through them and I forget them very quickly.

But research on memory capacity has found that it’s better when you revise these words with the right frequency, and there’s this technique called “Spaced repetition”, where you revise the word just before you’ll forget it. And it looks something like this forgetting curve, the red line is what typically happens when you first see a word but to get it into your head and stuck there permanently then just review it to make sure it goes, like review it one day later, then a week later and then a month later. And there are apps in your Smartphone and there’s free programs that you can download that help you time all of this.

And that’s great but you can learn the words faster and better if you combine this with an image association technique. So, for instance, let’s say I wanted to learn that the Spanish word for “to fit” is “caber”. Well, what if I imagine then that’s barely possible to fit a bear in a cab? “Cab-bear” it’s “caber”, it’s “to fit”. So you do this for a lot of words and it actually gets very easy with time and you can learn vocabulary instantly.

So no, having a bad memory is not a good excuse. Next, and I think the most important one that the people always say, is that they’re going to frustrate native speakers. And this is just so not true. I’ve been to many places, I’ve spoken to many people and every time I attempt to use their language, they’re overjoyed, they’re so pleased that I’m even trying! And I just feel like, especially adults, when we learn a language, we are such perfectionists, we want everything to be just right, and perfectionism is a really bad thing in language learning, because a language is a means of communication, it’s a way to get to know new people and new cultures, and when you embrace this, it’s okay to make mistakes! And I actually have a goal to make at least 200 mistakes a day because then I know I’m getting somewhere, I’m using the language! So embarrass yourself, go out there, talk to people it’s okay.

When do you think I was learning a language better: here? or here? (Laughter) So, anyone can indeed learn a language when you use it with people, and it’s okay to use it early, And this is so important, that you don’t have to wait until you speak the language perfectly and fluently and so on. You can get into it sooner than you’d expect and it opens up so many doors to these other cultures. So for instance, after I’d learned that Arabic in Brazil, I made it to Egypt and I made all the way deep into the Sahara desert, I sat down in the sand with an Egyptian and we had some tea, we had this nice little chat here: (In Arabic) (In Arabic) and there I’m just saying that Egypt is so much, so vast, so great, it’s so much more that just Tahrir Square in Cairo. And, now when I was speaking with him, I used the wrong word here and there and I conjugated the wrong verb every now and again, but that’s okay, because even with this conversation level, I had this fascinating conversation with him.

And I’ve done this with other cultures and other languages and I even managed to learn a little American sign language. And here you can see Juliana had asked me why I didn’t learn Irish sign language, and I said, because when I’m in Ireland I like to improve my Irish and my Gaelic which I can then speak here: (In Irish) so that was me on Irish radio saying about my travels and whatever, and I learned Irish for ten years in school and I wasn’t able to say the most basic phrases after that. But as an adult, I went back to Ireland and I embraced using the language as a beginner. And that helped me to reach this stage. And it’s okay to be a beginner, it’s okay to be conversational, but when you take this on, you take it to the next level, then you can reach very well.

I mean, I’ve got a very good level in French, Spanish and acouple of languages. I’ve worked as a professional translator like here I’m having a chat in French: (In French) and that’s great, that’s what everybody thinks of when they’re getting into language learning, they think, “That’s what I want to be, I want to be at this very high professional level, have deep philosophical conversations.” and that’s fantastic and yeah, it’s impressive when you see people like that.

But rather than be impressive, I think it’s so much better when you embrace the beginning stage of language learning. And one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had, was when I was in China, on the train, at 2000 kilometers deep into China, and I had a basic conversation of “What’s your name?” and it turns out I was given my Chinese name there on the train, and look, this is how it went: (In Chinese) “What’s your name?” “I’m Benny.” (In Chinese) “I don’t have a Chinese name.” and then (unclear), says, “I tell you your name is Pun Li.” because this sounds like your normal name and it means ability or skill. And you know, just, I can have that conversation, even with a basic conversation level of Chinese. And I do have the ability, I do have the skill to learn a language.

But I always did, we all always do. And the reason I have this skill is not because I was born with it and others weren’t, it’s a decision I made. And the problem a lot of us face is that we feel that we’re better studying and preparing for speaking a language some day, because if we do it too early the world will end from all this frustration we cause people. There are seven days in a week and some day is not one of them.

I say, rather than see if the world will end, a whole new world will begin if you try to learn a new language. So I hope you’ll give it a try. Thank you. (Applause).

As found on Youtube