Leontina Slaninova is a 25-year-old film production assistant from Prague based in Warsaw, who moved to Poland 1 year ago. She now works for a Polish film production company, is enthusiastically learning Polish and discovering that life in Warsaw suits her character much better than the one in Prague.
I’d lived in Prague all my life and never really considered moving elsewhere until I started studying at FAMU, which is a film school in Prague. I was doing a one-year production course, which was international, and I met a lot of people from all around the world. One of my classmates was from Poland and he became a really good friend of mine. Later on, he introduced me to his friend from Warsaw, who was visiting him, and who is now my boyfriend. After school I decided to move to Warsaw to live with him and here I am. /laugh/
Was job hunting in the film production industry in Poland challenging?
Not particularly, but probably because I already had experience from Prague. I did not get to this immediately though. I had some health trouble at first, so I took my time. I started looking for work in the fall last year and after 4 months I came across information about a paid internship in one of the biggest Polish film production companies. I applied and got accepted. And I’m very happy about where I am.
How would you compare your experiences of the industry here and in the Czech Republic?
Obviously as a ‘junior’, I don’t know everything about the industry here or back home, but my particular, personal experience in Poland is, in some aspects, very different from what I was used to in Prague. First of all, the recruitment process was much friendlier, the communication much clearer and also – transparent in terms of pay. And the approach to work itself suits me better here. Back in Prague, it used to be a big deal to leave work in the middle of the day for a doctor’s appointment. Here, there’s just some rationality and also kindness in approaching simple matters like this. No one wants you to feel uncomfortable, overworked or burned out – they really do pay attention to your well-being. And also – all questions are welcome! People are open, happy to share their experiences and be helpful, so you never have to feel guilty for not knowing or trying to be better. Everyone I’ve met so far is so nice and professional. It doesn’t mean that all I experienced in Prague was the opposite – I met some truly fantastic, inspiring and friendly people back home too, and I had the opportunity to learn from really amazing professionals. My general experience of the industry, though, is better in Poland.
How about leisure and social life? Which capital city is more attractive for young people?
I don’t consider myself a typical young person, so it’s hard for me to say. I do like to go out and socialize but probably not as much as the next young city explorer. I think Prague is probably a little bit cooler. Everything there is just around the corner, it feels smaller and is easier to navigate in terms of meeting people. Warsaw is more open and vaster. In Prague I would meet the same friend on the street twice a month, in Warsaw there’s no chance of that happening. And I really prefer Warsaw’s way – I feel I can breathe here. It suits my personality better and, of course, there’s also the entire bike culture, which completely changed my life.
Well, before moving to Warsaw I hadn’t ridden a bike for 13 years. /laugh/ This change made a huge difference in my life and I’m really happy about it. In Prague that kind of a lifestyle is impossible. First of all, there are like zero bike lanes and the car drivers really hate cyclists. It’s also very hilly, so riding a bike is hard to enjoy. Even though some taxi drivers in Warsaw are bullying me, the climate in general is very bike-friendly. I ride my bike to work every day now. I live in Żoliborz (which is a really beautiful and green district) and my way to work consists of 90% bike lanes, so it’s really easy, pleasant and healthy.
Is there something you don’t like about Warsaw or Poland?
I guess the general political climate. It never touched me personally, but it’s really worrying. Especially when it comes to women’s rights and approach to LGBTQ+ community. There’s so much inequality, it’s just very distressing. And on more private note, I would say I have trouble with the people, who throw trash into our garden. We live on the ground floor and some people (probably after visiting the nearby Żabka) throw empty vodka bottles over the fence, onto our loan. It’s really annoying and also strange, because Warsaw in general is a very clean city. You never really see trash just lying around on the streets.
What’s the one thing from Prague you’d like to bring here?
Some traditional meat dishes and of course – the beer. I miss heavy Czech cuisine even though I learnt to really enjoy veggie food in Warsaw. My boyfriend is vegetarian and I have plenty of opportunities to eat absolutely delicious meals. Warsaw is very veggie-friendly and it offers a variety of excellent restaurants – something that is hard to find in Prague. For me, it would be great to have both.
Do you see yourself staying here?I really do! Especially that I am getting more and more confident about my Polish. Me and my boyfriend, we communicate mainly in English, so at the beginning I was speaking Polish only with his family and some friends. Now, when I work, even though English is a common language within the company, I use Polish much more. I hear it a lot, I speak it a lot and I think in Polish a lot. At the beginning there were times, when my brain was baked from the effort. /laugh/ And my company provides Polish classes for me so it’s great – I’m learning and making progress. I enjoy my life here, I’m actually more and more excited about my job and I feel safe. I can definitely imagine myself staying.