At the begging of the new era, there was more optimism in the country. A date was set to join the European Union. Some western countries opened their job markets to the new EU members. The economy in Poland was not great at the time, it was far from good. The exodus of young, educated, skilled workforce started after the 01 of May 2004. Few millions of people have left and settled across Western Europe. Money earned in euro by the young Poles was sent to Poland and invested in properties, land, new businesses or paying back the loans. Some did not want to integrate within the cultures they arrived to. Their main purpose in leaving the motherland was to earn cash and invest back home.
At the time I already have left Poland. I went to learn English in Ireland with a plan of staying there for 6 months instead I ended up staying in Dublin for the next 20 years. At the time I had no idea Ireland was going through an economic boom. My idea of the country before I arrived was very different from what I saw, I had a very romantic vision of the place.
Dublin resembled a mini version of London the megacity I visited a few years before. Everyone rushing with a head down to the ground. Fast driving cars through the O’Connel street as if it was a highway. Hectic lifestyle in a town with a smell of the sea and barley in the air and noisy seagulls sitting at the top of the buildings.
The Irish countryside appeared the way I imagined it. If you ever visit Ireland the coastline will not disappoint you. Travelling through, one gets the feeling the country exists off the ocean mercy, that decided to leave the piece of land above the water, creating a unique culture of jolly good fellows.
Back then it was my holiday destination. In early summer the fields were covered with green crops or yellow patches with flowering rape. Ocean of food waiting to harvest. One of the greatest threats at the time to the common European market was the inflood of the cheap Polish food that was meant to take over European shelves in the supermarkets. The Western farmers would lose their livelihood, that was the propaganda at the time, but it has never happened. Today, the food in Polish supermarkets is as expensive as it is in the west despite much lower wages. One of the highest monthly expenses.
2005 is the year when the Polish Pope died. Something in the country has changed forever, we lost the moral backbone and until now the nation has no one to lean on. Today our stomachs are full, we live in nice houses, go on holidays, drive good cars. We are proper consumers the way we always wanted to be. Spend, spend, spend like if there was no tomorrow, indulging ourselves with short-lasting pleasures keeping up with Joneses.
There is a new generation rising, filled with the young integral Poles that are searching for authorities and values their grandparents fought for. Not realising, they become authorities themselves during their lifetime. The circle of life brings hope.
All images are linked to the sources.
Written by: Aleksandra Walkowska