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Work & Costs

If by some sick twist of fate you don’t happen to be fluent in Polish then work options may appear somewhat limited and it doesn’t help that any form of street entertainment or tour guiding requires a licence which, aside from being blood-boilingly expensive, is of course subject to bureaucratic timescaling. It is therefore an unofficial fact that every single foreigner in the country started out as a language teacher and, with Poles displaying an unrivalled lust for learning English in particular, demand decrees that any „native speaker” shall be hunted down like a whale in Norwegian waters.

In practical terms, simply getting out and talking to people will result in students and nobody tends to bother with those silly little bits of paper with TESOL or TEFL written across them. Even if you stutter incoherently through your very own grammatical version of the language, rambling listlessly about nothing and boring everyone within a 5 mile radius, you will still build up a sizeable student base effortlessly. 50 PLN (€12) per hour is a standard rate to charge and, if you’re good or just greedy, it is quite easy to up that to as much as 70 PLN (€18) per hour.

For the less tolerant or more adventurous, there is a fairly large expat community to tap up for bar or restaurant work. English is trendy and trendy customers will gleefully indulge in bezpÅ‚atna (free) English conversation so a scattering of essential phrases in Polish will suffice. The owners should be happy enough to accept your proposal when you point out the marketing value of having a „native speaker” behind the bar although they’ll also probably want to keep everything above board. You won’t make as much money as with teaching but you should be able to come away with 2500 PLN (€640) per month after tax.

There is also plenty of PR work (i.e. dressing up as something ridiculous and attempting to give out flyers) and seasonal agricultural work to be had too but only if you’re willing to accept the sort of wages that a 10yr-old Taiwanese child worker would baulk at.

Your Travel Budget in Poland

Poland must definitely be considered as a cheap destination in European terms and, while it sticks with the złoty (PLN), the contents of your savagely-smashed piggy bank should stretch out nicely. 2500 PLN (€640) is a comfortable monthly budget to get by on, breaking down as follows: 1500 PLN (€385) for accommodation and rates, 500 PLN (€128) for food and drink, 150 PLN (€38) for public transport and 350 PLN (€89) for extras.

However, as any Scotsman will point out, it’s always possible to do it cheaper and you can start by taking advantage of the outrageously great value tourist cards which are in vogue in most Polish cities at the moment. You might have to fork out up to 65 PLN (€16.50) for the 72hr version of the card but you’ll reap the rewards of free public transport, free entry to various attractions and countless discounts till the cows come home.

In GdaÅ„sk and PoznaÅ„ they take it even further by organizing weekends za pół ceny (half-price) from time to time. That literally does mean your hotel at half-price, your meals at half-price and your entertainment for half-price but, unfortunately, you’ll still have to pay the full 2 PLN (€0.50) fee to the resident hag guarding any public toilet. Some things never change. To find out when the next one is it’s probably best to head for the dedicated Facebook pages (GdaÅ„sk/PoznaÅ„ za pół ceny).

Culture fiends should mark 15th May on their coveted Monet calendars as this is usually the date for the nationwide Museum Night. You’ll find yourself treated to hoodied teenagers kurwa-ing* in front of Renaissance masterpieces and the like, making it arguably more interesting as a people-watching exercise, but the main thing is that you’ll get into just about any museum in the country for free. Legally. Get all the details at http://www.noc-muzeow.pl.

On a day-to-day basis, don’t shop for clothes or electronics unless you enjoy being hideously ripped off and for a really cheap eat try out a so-called Bar Mleczny (Milk Bar), one of the communal canteens from the socialist era where the plates and cutlery used to be bolted or chained to the tables. Ok, your fellow diners will make you feel homeless but you’ll get a surprisingly tasty and filling meal for 15 PLN (€3.80) or so and you can’t knock that. Also, pick up a Polish „Pay-As-You-Go” SIM card from any kiosk for no more than 10 PLN (€2.50) and invest in a monthly travel card if you’re planning to stay a bit longer.

Aly Kerr