From Poland to UK

I was born in 1977, so for me the period preceding the roundtable talks in Poland means the first of all my childhood, spent in small town named Racibórz in southern Poland. Nevertheless, I remember quite well communist school, empty shops and places named PEWEX where you could acquire some “goods of luxury” like LEGO or Matchbox cars, but only for dollars…For me, and for many other people of my generation these toys consist still the symbol of those distant times…I remember also 1989 as I was 12 years old, nevertheless I couldn’t assess yet the meaning of what was happening… If we look at this period after 1945 and its infamous end almost 45 years later from the hindsight, we can really comprehend how devastating communism was for the Central and Eastern Europe, including economy, politics, but also mentality of inhabitants. After 1989 I’ve travelled a lot, and I got some knowledge about the Western world quite early, as I was living in France during one year (1993 – 1994). Since that time I love this country, its language and culture, but after my return to Poland I haven’t thought that I could live Poland forever in order to live abroad. I thought it was my place, and I wanted to accomplish my historical studies there and write books about the history of Polish interwar period. And I did all of that. But in 2012 I got the research grant in Switzerland and moved there for a year. For me it was a kind of turning point in my life. First of all, from the scholar point of view, this stay significantly broadened my research techniques, especially in the area of international relations, opened my eyes on many research fields until now neglected by me, such as cultural diplomacy or collective memory. I was literally “devouring” huge piles of books and articles in French about cultural diplomacy. And I have dealt there for the first time with the thriving, interdisciplinary researches, which was in the initial phase in Poland. Hence, it broadened my horizons, but also allowed me to understand how backward my own country was, where none of my colleagues historians ever dealt with such problems like soft power policies or the meaning of collective memories in international relations. In Poland the history of international relations still means the first of all the history of diplomatic relations, whereas e.g. in France thanks to such acknowledged historians as Pierre Renouvin this research discipline has substantially expanded in the last forty years or so on. In Switzerland I also comprehended how different people we are. Polish mentality is really different than that of people in the Western Europe. And after my return to Poland I knew that I wanted to leave, that I didn’t fit in. Interestingly, it was not only my problem, as I’ve met at least several persons with the same “adaptive” problem after their return from Switzerland, Germany or United States. For me Poland along with the whole Central Europe consists the fascinating object for my researches. But I’m really happy to live abroad. Since 2013 I feel really like European citizen, and now this identity prevails over the Polish one. That’s why Brexit is so weird for me, as it’s against the common sense, my worldview and all my deepest convictions… Why Great Britain? There are several answers. But first of all, I was just curious. I love English language, I’ve been raised on English popular culture, films, music etc. Before I’ve spent a lot of time in French speaking country. So this time I wanted to explore something new and confront images with reality. And I’m impressed. This is not the ideal world, and among serious problems I’m really worried about some economical discrepancies which are still increasing… But this is the only country that I know which provides so many opportunity. Here in UK you can really be whoever you want to be. And you can get really well paid for it! And British society is so open, there are people from all over the world and they live together. I think UK is more peaceful than France torn by social turbulences and it’s not only my own opinion. Briefly, I really feel good here, this country is so interesting and people are so open-minded and friendly, but I’m also afraid of Brexit with all its populism and right-wing rhetoric. Nevertheless, I intend to stay here, as I see a lot of fascinating opportunities for me, my wife and my two daughters. And I want them to join me here as soon as possible.

Place stamp here

Created: 15 Jun 2019, 11:47 p.m.

Nationality: Polish