Marc-Olivier Poissant is a 32-year-old Canadian from Montreal. He came to Poland six months ago seizing the job opportunity and fulfilling his dream to experience life and work in Europe.
Why did you choose to come to Poland?
It had been my dream to live in Europe for quite some time. I tried other countries at first but finding suitable work there proved difficult, so I started looking for job openings within my company – BNP Paribas. I saw that there were a lot of opportunities in Poland so I started looking at the economic situation here and I quickly realized that it’s actually really good, the market is growing and developing fast – booming, I would say. I thought – why not? I contacted the manager in Poland via LinkedIn and it was super nice – she was very welcoming person. We were chit chatting for about a year and at some point she asked me if I wanted to move to Poland, because a perfect position for me had opened up. I immediately said yes. It took about three months to get the visa and that was it.
I wonder what was the country of your first choice when you started thinking about moving to Europe? France seems to be the obvious way to go…
You would think that because we speak French but reality is different. I have a friend in France and sometimes we talk in English because we have a really hard time trying to understand each other. Because of the accent there is this kind of clash in the culture between France and Canada, so it’s not like France would be my destination number one. At first I considered London but I realized that wasn’t a place for me. Than I thought about Italy but the basic requirement when applying for a job there was the ability to speak fluent Italian. In Poland English is more than enough, plus the banking industry jobs are really good, so for my skills set it’s just perfect.
How do you like here so far?
I really like it. During the winter it was quite difficult though – it is very dark here in Poland. The lack of sun can be really depressing. But now in the spring, when the sun is back it’s so, so nice. You can go out to the river or to the city center. There are so many good bars everywhere, people are nice and the vibe is good. It’s also very green and there are a lot of parks – that’s not so common for big cities.
How did you make friends here? Was it easy to connect with new people in Warsaw?
It’s not really difficult to find friends here. At the beginning I was meeting people mostly by joining sport groups, like cycling group Ride Warsaw or running communities. And then it’s just meeting friends of friends. The only difficulty is the language barrier sometimes. Because people like to speak Polish when they are all together, it can be quite difficult to jump into conversation sometimes.
Are you learning Polish?
No. /laugh/ I was trying, but the pronunciation is really difficult. My goal is to be able to just know the basics and be able to be courteous and polite, but maintaining a conversation in Polish seems impossible to me. It doesn’t also seem necessary here. Most people in Warsaw speak English and there are no problems with communication whatsoever. It can be difficult when talking to older people or outside big cities, but otherwise it’s just not an issue.
You do a lot of sports. Do you find Warsaw to have a significant sport culture?
Oh yes. Back in Canada people are doing sports but mostly in an individual way. Here people like to spend time together and it’s very social. People meet for sports every weekend and it’s a really good way to make friends and explore the city and the country. In Warsaw you are more likely to join a sport group than doing it by yourself and I like it. I do a lot of cycling and running. I don’t know about other sports, but these two have really large communities here in the city.
How about our work culture? Do you find a lot of differences between Canada and Poland?
The hours are different. When it comes to work, Canada is very American – we are working a little bit more, until you do the job basically. Here you can leave the office when the time is up. You cannot also send e-mails after six or seven p.m. or on the weekend. Back in Canada it’s quite normal. I like this culture in Poland. I don’t have a family and I can work more, but I perfectly understand that others want to be back home for dinner and they have other responsibilities. You just don’t want to send them e-mails or put any pressure on them. You have more vacation as well. In Canada we have two weeks a year, here it’s a month. Otherwise it’s pretty much the same. People here are smart, but you can also feel that the universities around are good because there are a lot of high-skilled professionals like engineers, IT specialists. It’s really interesting to see that.
You mentioned that we have a little more work-life balance than Canada. Do you think Poland is family friendly?
Yeah. At the office a lot of my colleagues that are my age have children. Here people have children earlier in life than in Canada and the family values seem to be very strong as well. For example Easter celebration in Canada is not a big deal – it is mostly about chocolates. But here it is so important to go back and see your family and if you can’t make it, you need to have a really good excuse. People do the big weddings and have all sorts of important family celebrations. Everything is more classic and full of traditional values.
For how long do you plan to stay in Poland?
I have a working visa for three years now and I would like to stay at least for this time. But I am going with the flow, so we will see.