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Karen, Australia.

We left Australia October 2007 because of my fiancee’s profession. He is a pilot and he had an opportunity to take up a work contract for a European Airline. We first went to England for a short period, then to Hungary before finally arriving in Poznan, Poland January 2008. Before that we have never lived in Europe or anywhere as far away from our family, friends and children. We both thought that it would be a great opportunity to experience a foreign expatriate lifestyle, now that our children are young adults living on their own and they are all studying and working. They were very happy for us to go and have a European adventure and gave their blessing.

Coming here from Australia is a really big culture change. Everything seemed so new for us the day when we landed in Poland. We had left Australia in the middle of the summer where it was about 40 degrees celius and we arrived to the middle of a Polish winter and it was around -10 degrees celcius . That was the first time I experienced living with snow outside my apartment door. It is so amazing and it makes all things so beautiful, I truly enjoy the European winters.

Australia is a relatively young country and even our ‘old’ buildings are very well maintained, so they still look relatively new compared with Europe. Europe has such a diverse history and so many different nationalities in such a small area. You can feel the history just by looking at the beautiful old buildings. In Australia, you can fly for 5 hours and you're still in the same country, meeting people that speak the same language and even have similar accents. Here in Poznan I can drive for three hours and I am in Germany. Different country, culture, language, food, housing etc.

I've met and made a lot of friends within the Polish community. They are very curios about my country, and in turn I want to know a lot about Poland. I like to ask people direct questions instead of reading about the Polish lifestyle in books. Getting first hand knowledge is always far more interesting for me.

I enquire a lot about the Polish traditions and Polish history. I really like the fact that Poland is such a family orientated country. I have to say, having young adult children myself, that young people here really have a lot of respect for adults and their families.

I ask about religion, because it seems to be a strong issue here. Australia is not as traditionally religious, compared to Poland. Many older people still seem to follow traditional religous practice but the younger generation of Australians are definitely not as religious as the younger Polish community.

Coming from Australia I was fascinated to learn more about communism. I have heard amazing stories here such as people having only one pair of shoes, living in the same apartment with the same furniture for most of their life, having problems getting a car and even standing in lines for hours for sugar or flour, shops shelves empty and the buildings lacked any colour inside and out. I just can't imagine what that was like having grown up and spending all my life under capitalism.

My Fiancee and I are really enjoying our adventure here in Poznan and will be sad when it eventually comes to an end.

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