April Mirkovic is a 36-year-old English teacher from Philippines, living in Warsaw. Her profession has allowed her to enjoy vast independence and freedom to move. Having travelled the world, she found her second home in Poland – at least for now. Recently, she and her husband welcomed their first baby.
Why did you come to Poland and most importantly – why did you stay?
12 years ago I was teaching English in Kiev and one day I got a job offer in Warsaw from one of my Filipino acquaintances. She said that I should come to Poland because there was a constant need for English teachers here. I thought – ok! After a year and a half in Ukraine, I came straight to Warsaw. At first I didn’t’ plan to stay for long. That’s why I didn’t even try to learn Polish at that time. After six months I was getting a lot of new job offers and they were very hard to say no to. So it just happened naturally. At first I just kept myself very busy working but eventually I met amazing Polish people and they just made me feel very much at home. One day I just realized – ‘Oh! I’ve been here for five years already!’ /laugh/ Later I decided to try USA and left for almost a year to California.
But you came back…
I liked US and I met amazing people there too, but I’m not that much into America – it cannot really be my home. I realized I am European. I feel safe here and I like European diversity with its multiple countries, different languages and cultures. And Poland is my base here. After California I spent some time in France where I learnt French, but the paperwork out there was quite difficult and I never wanted to be illegal anywhere, so eventually I came back to Poland and I got myself a job here again.
Philippines are quite far from Poland. What do you miss the most about home?
Well – almost my whole family is there. My two sisters live in Canada, but everyone else live in Philippines. Of course I miss them, but at the same time I am a very independent person and I cannot really imagine staying in one place forever. Last time it took me seven years to go home because, you know – for summer or winter holidays I would rather think of some different, new place to travel to, than going back home. What really makes me sad whenever I get to go home, is how old my parents are. Then I can really see the time passing. You always expect your parents to be strong and there comes a time when you start to see how fragile they really are. That’s just a part of life but it is something I regret – the time with them, that I’ve lost.
Filipinos are famous for being very friendly. How else would you describe them and what would you advise to someone from Philippines coming to Poland for the first time?
Well, we are very friendly and hospitable but also – very loud! We like to talk loud and laugh out loud. So I guess my advise is – keep it down in public places /laugh/. People in Poland don’t really talk on the phone in buses or trams and they are quite discreet in restaurants and coffee shops, which of course is nice and very polite. But we Filipinos are very spontaneous and expressive. When we are together in a group we really like to laugh a lot and joke around and that can get really noisy. I feel it can be very uncomfortable and disturbing to the locals.
How would you describe Poles? Is there anything particularly interesting about us?
Polish people easily adapt. Especially recently you can observe it very well in terms of the economic situation. The inflation is skyrocketing and you don’t go out to the streets, you don’t protest or revolt – you just cope. Filipinos are very much alike – our weather, as you know, is tricky – we get floods and typhoons and it’s not like we become very depressed about it. We just move on. I guess this is a treat Poles and Filipinos have in common.
Your husband comes from Bosnia and you live here together but when you first came to Warsaw you were single?
Yes. And I never actually had much of a dating life mostly because I was always focused on work. I could see though that it’s completely different here than for example in L.A., Chicago or Paris. There it’s just very easy to mingle. I met my husband while I was in Poland and I met him online /laugh/.
You had a baby few months ago. How was it for you to be pregnant in Poland and what do you think about our healthcare system and perinatal care here?
I must say I am very impressed. I chose the Żelazna maternity hospital particularly because of the English language. Most of their staff speaks English very well. While I was pregnant I used public and private healthcare and I was very happy about both. Once I was in hospital (which is public) I felt like in the first class – I was really well taken care of. I had amazing and very kind midwife. Everything was so comfortable. What doesn’t really happen in other countries is that during pregnancy I was able to take a fully paid sick leave. Some of my friends living in other countries had trouble believing it.
I always tell them that Poland takes care of their women and children, because you can also get a maternity leave here that lasts for a year. France for example offers only three months. In Poland you really get the chance to prepare for going back to work and take care not only of your child but also yourself in the new role of the mother. What’s important you don’t have to pay to give birth at hospital and you don’t have other additional costs that in many other countries, for example USA, are quite high. For me it’s really more than enough.
Are you planning to raise your children here? Is your family’s future in Poland?
I feel that Poland is very safe in terms of family life. In comparison to other countries, Poland can be quite conservative. My experiences with L.A. or Chicago are completely different and I wouldn’t be comfortable raising my children there. But it’s not only safety that makes it a good fit. I also have a good status here. If I’m completely honest, it’s not like I am fully content and sure that our future is here, but it is good enough and so far – the best for us.