Ayşe Senem Abacı is a young Turkish Global Talent Attraction Specialist who has been living in Warsaw for four years. After completing her master’s degree at the College of Europe in Warsaw, she continues to live here. She talked with Poland Weekly about her adventure from the Mediterranean to Poland and her life in Warsaw.
Could you briefly tell us about yourself?
I am a 26 years old Turkish woman living in Warsaw since 2019. I started my master’s degree at the College of Europe after a bachelor’s in France. I was looking to develop myself in political science or commerce. When I noticed the master’s degree programs in Warsaw, I realized this was what I was looking for. I was attracted to quality education, so I applied and here I am. During my master’s, everything stopped due to COVID-19. I found myself in a campus where many international people were stranded. This wonderful environment made everything easy. I felt safe in Warsaw. After that, I worked at a trade center fair for a year. I continue my project-based work there. I improved my professional side and today I am working as a recruiter specialist. I also love music, I have a band with my partner and I am the soloist.
Turkey, Italy, Greece, France and finally Poland… What is the story of this route?
It was the story of my father’s decision to make a career in diplomacy. I was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. After two years there, we returned to Ankara, Turkey. I started to study in a French high school in Ankara and this education system gives you continuity while travelling to different countries. My second language is French thanks to my high school education and I speak as comfortably as my native language. That’s how I found myself studying for a bachelor’s in France. Thanks to my mother, I can also speak Greek as a native language. I spent part of my childhood in Greece. During my travels, I was also in Italy, which has a magnificent cultural wealth. I am in Poland today to improve myself. I have finished my master’s degree and focus on becoming a professional in my career. I experience every day that it was the right decision.
You have an international portfolio and language skills. Was it easy for you to get used to living in Poland?
My language skills are based in Latin languages. I was educated in French. So learning Italian was easy when I was in Rome. But Polish is a Slavic language and it was completely new to what I was accustomed to. The effort needed to learn Polish was far greater. Polish is interesting, you need to pronounce it in a certain way. But I noticed Polish people are extremely sweet and encouraging when they see you put in an effort. In addition, Polish people have got high English language skills but also someone has got anxiety while talking English. I think this is one of the conclusions of pressures in the early education process.
Do you think the climate is harsh in Poland?
I can not sugarcoat it, it is not easy. I am from Antalya, Turkey, which is the most golden part of the Mediterranean. Every summer I go there to recharge. I think the hardest part in Poland is winter. We are kind of trapped in closed spaces in winter and this affects people’s moods badly. I had a hard time at the beginning. After Turkey, Greece, Italy and France, everything seemed very dark in Poland. On the other hand, I love Polish summer, everything is so green and people are more lively. I can observe everybody smiling, wearing the most beautiful clothes, going out, enjoying life. Summertime in Poland makes people happy. We enjoy sunbathing like the symbol of Warsaw, the Mermaid.
Are you having a good time in Poland? In your social life?
I am having a fantastic time in Poland. I especially enjoy the nightlife. I think it is very vibrant and there are different circles. I recently went to a ballroom. It was interesting. I did not know these people were so colorful. Also, I find interesting events happening in different bars and clubs in Poland. In addition, cultural activities are also very diverse. I have met many people in museums, exhibitions, concerts, workshops, and more. My connections with people allow me to socialize even more. What I enjoy most is understanding the cultural elements of Poland and following its tracks. There is a deep culture here.
How has working in Poland affected your business life?
Poland has been very generous to me. After the College of Europe, I quickly completed the legal processes and started working here. I worked in trade fairs in France. I also had good ties with commercial counsellors from Turkey. Thanks to my background, I became a key player in trade fairs between Poland and Turkey. I could represent both sides. My language skills came to the fore at this point. The most important thing for a new graduate is to work for the first few years and I achieved that in the Poland market.
You work as a Global Talent Attraction Specialist at Ernst&Young. Which do you think is the most talented workforce in Poland?
I work on the French market at Ernst&Young. My task is to find the most suitable talents for their projects. Poland has a highly skilled workforce in all fields, thanks to high-quality education. In addition, the workforce in Poland has impressive language skills. For this reason, the attention of foreign markets is on Poland. Also, universities in Poland host students from all over the world. International graduates add extra value to Poland’s workforce.
Thanks to your current and past work experience, you know foreign societies, especially Ukrainians in Poland. What do you think about being a foreigner in Poland?
I was at a humanitarian help center work experience with Ukrainian people. We accommodated almost 200,000 Ukrainian women and children. Polish society and the government’s hospitality have been fantastic. From my perspective, when I was at the College of Europe, I learned the history of Poland. It helped me understand the Polish people. The respect I felt for the history made me feel closer to them. Thanks to this, I feel good in Poland. People praise me when they find out that I am a foreigner, it makes me feel valued. When they know that I am Turkish, their first reaction is “Why are you here?” But not with a negative approach. They find Turkey beautiful and interesting. I think Poland is also a very beautiful country. It was always interesting, and now it is a center of attraction, especially in terms of education.
What was the most difficult situation in Poland for you?
I would say getting used to Polish and the body language. Body language is more active in the Mediterranean. I can give examples of hand gestures and facial expressions of Turkish and Italians. In my early days in Poland, I thought people were upset when they were talking. But that is not the case, the Poles speak quite clearly and directly. This is not about being sad or rude. It is necessary to see the advantages of this direct speech habit and get used to it. In addition to communication, I can talk about the harsh winter conditions, and I overcome this by travelling.
Are you considering staying in Poland or will the adventure continue elsewhere?
I love adventure and discovering new countries and cultures. But I haven’t got any plans at the moment, my adventure is going to continue in Poland for now. I think as a young professional, there are a lot of beautiful fruits still to be reaped here for me. I want to continue my professional life, relationship, and music here. I may reevaluate opportunities in the future.