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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Orlen’s New LNG Carriers

New LNG gas carriers “Józef Piłsudski” and “Ignacy Paderewski” owned by ORLEN group will start service in 2025 increasing the group’s LNG fleet to...

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In this article, we delve into the phenomenon of expat loneliness in Poland, exploring practical strategies and insights to help individuals step out of...

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FOR STARTERS, POLAND

Nataliia Zhuravska moved to Poland from Kyiv just a few months before the Russian invasion on Ukraine, searching for film education and career development opportunities in the creative industry. Today she studies in Warsaw and works as a production assistant in a Polish film production company. 

Why look for film schools in Poland?

Kyiv has many great universities but creative and filmmaking schools are much better here and there’s also a lot of them. I found a fantastic course of Organization of Film Production in Warsaw at the University of Economics and Human Sciences.

Did you know someone in Warsaw when you first arrived here?

Yes – my sister. She moved to Poland 9 years ago and she is the one who helped me to feel a little bit at home here. I can’t imagine what I would do without her support. When I came to Warsaw, I stayed in the dormitory at first and from the very first days I was also surrounded by fellow students and friends – mostly from Ukraine and Kazakhstan. I didn’t really have much contact with Poles at the beginning, the majority of my class is international and I circled around people who spoke the same language.

But your Polish is perfect…

Well, now it is. /laugh/ After some time I changed my focus. It was a conscious decision, really. I wanted to explore the more practical side of filmmaking and go out of school to real work. I looked for groups on Facebook and got involved in some film projects, working on actual film sets. That’s how I started to hang out with Polish people and to learn Polish language. Back then I was also working in Starbucks so I found myself surrounded by Polish friends quite fast and it really pushed me to speak the language. Once I got to know the film industry here a little better, I applied for an internship at a Polish production company and now I work there as a production assistant. 

So far, so good…

It really is. The job is great. I’m involved in every stage of the production process, I’m able to observe producers, directors, DOPs, set designers etc. in action, so I’m learning a lot! It’s important for me since my goal is to write my own scripts and direct myself one day. And also, the whole community at work is just so good and healthy. I can talk about anything with anyone, people are helpful and just nice. 

And apart from work? Is your family back in Ukraine?

Yes – in Kyiv, which is of course hard given the circumstances. When Russia invaded Ukraine, I was already in Poland. My parents were actually on vacation in Egypt and they were stuck there for two weeks because there were no flights. Eventually they came here, but even though we tried to convince them to stay for a little bit, they decided to go back to Kyiv. I was scared and a little annoyed… Well, not a little – I cried my eyes out! But they are grown-ups who can decide for themselves and it’s not just that they feel better there, they also help with everything they have. When it comes to me – survivor’s guilt kicked in pretty fast, it’s always somewhere in the back of my head. And now I’m even more connected to my oldest friends in Ukraine. We constantly stay in touch. But life is good, I have my support system here – both international and Polish friends. And I have to say that energy from Polish people helps a lot.

How do you like Warsaw?

I really like it. It’s very different from my capital city. Kyiv is hilly. We have the funicular trams as part of a public transport (the city center is at the top). Warsaw is flat but it really combines a lot of different urban esthetics. The city center with all the skyscrapers looks like New York or Tokyo, The Old Town looks like Prague or our Lviv, and then there’s a district with the Parliament, public offices and embassies that looks just like Budapest or Paris. In the summer I really love to get some overpriced iced coffee and take a walk in this supremely diverse city. I’m also a big fan of the Żabka stores. There are millions of them here and you can buy anything you want! /laugh/ Also the public transport really makes daily life easier. You can buy tickets for time, not just the ride. You take a bus, subway or tramway and get practically anywhere within the city in max 40 minutes. That could never happen in Kyiv. Getting to the city center from the nearby districts takes up one hour of your life every time.

Nothing annoying?

I’m sorry to say this but the Vistula River turned out to be a disappointment. /laugh/ Our Dnipro is huge. When I arrived here people were talking about going to the riverside and when they finally took me there, I was like – “Really? That’s it?” /laugh/ There’s also one significant inconvenience. I’m a smoker and in Ukraine we have those cigarettes with taste capsules that aren’t legal in the European Union. I can’t buy them here and at some point, I even had to admit to my mom that I was smoking so she would bring me some from home. Coffee is also way too expensive in Warsaw.

You mentioned that you write. If you had to write a story about something that happened to you here, what would it be?

I would go for the story about a little Polish town that gave me a trauma. /laugh/ I was going back to Ukraine to visit and to do that now you have to take a bus or a train. Trip by bus is really hard, so I was taking the train, which you catch in this small town near the border – Chełm. This place just doesn’t make sense! /laugh/ There are no roads, renovation and construction sites everywhere! Two hours before the train, at 2 p.m. on a Sunday, I discovered that I needed my ticket printed. The town was completely asleep, everything closed. The only person I met asked about a place where I can use a printer, laughed like he heard the best joke in his life, but managed to point me to the only two stores that might still be open. A walk to both of them took me 40 minutes and of course both places were closed. Sitting hopelessly in the deserted street, I heard some construction workers in an empty building nearby and in the act of desperation I asked them for help. The good guy seeing me crying offered to go home and print the ticket for me. “Fantastic!” – I thought and asked him for an e-mail address. He looked at me intensely and said: “Make sure the email is sent and delivered. In Chełm sometimes we don’t get emails”. The mission was successful and I somehow managed to catch this train. But wow – that was surreal and very cinematic. /laugh/

Would you consider staying in Poland for longer?

I like Poland, but no. I want to live in as many places as I can and I want to live as many lives as I can. And after, I would like to go back home – to Ukraine.

Wiktoria Sawicka-Djassi
Wiktoria Sawicka-Djassi
Freelance author, journalist and editor with over ten years of experience in public relations and communication for both domestic and international lifestyle brands. People and community enthusiast. Culture lover with a weak spot for literature. Traveler passionate about social diversity and mutual impact of people and their values.
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