Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of @bym_e
The Black Expat: Living In Poland Allows Me To Pursue My Side Hustles
Jasmine is from North Augusta, South Carolina. She currently lives in Warsaw, Poland where she works as an ESL teacher. She works at a Polish language school as well as online.
We spoke with her via email about her life as a Black woman in the central European country.
Travel Noire: Why did you decide to move to Poland?
Jasmine: The first thing that caught my eye was the possibility to teach adult students. I taught children in South Korea, and while children are lovely, it wasn’t the gig for me. After seeing this, I did more research and Poland became more and more attractive. If you research “ESL salaries in Poland,” you will be far from impressed, but the low cost of living helps, and if you have additional sources of income like online teaching, Youtube, blogging, e-commerce, etc. That’s when things really start to turn around. I also found that I had the option to work as an independent contractor with as many schools as I liked. That has allowed me to work as little or much as I need to while also having time to work on my side hustles.
TN: What, if any struggles, have you faced as a Black woman in Poland?
Jasmine: As a Black woman, my number one struggle will always be hair care. The good news is that Amazon delivers. The bad news is that I am responsible for all my maintenance. When I was doing my research, I was concerned about how I’d be treated and if it was safe. I tried to find videos of Black people sharing their experiences in Poland, but there wasn’t much out there. I managed to get in touch with two Black expats who both enjoyed their time in Warsaw—that definitely calmed my nerves.
Poland is a homogenous society, so I think it’s important to do personal mental health check-ins. It’s really easy to get caught up in assumptions of what people must be thinking as you walk down the street or jumping to conclusions about why someone might be staring at you. Your mindset dictates your experience in many ways, so I’m actively working on how I perceive these encounters, but it’s an adjustment.
TN: Is there a Black community there?
Jasmine: I have met people from Nigeria, Cameroon, and someone told me about a Nigerian church, so there is a Black expat presence. I haven’t felt that “community” vibe in my first five months here, though. I am one of four Black Americans that work at my school, but it’s still very easy to go a few days without seeing another black person, so I do a “double take” when I finally see someone else. Everyone is not a fan of the “smile” or “head nod,” but I give a smile even though it’s not always reciprocated.
TN: How does life abroad compare to life back home?
Jasmine: I used to be a commercial real estate broker, and I remember just looking around at everyone on this constant grind. They were making money, and I was on my way too, but was I enjoying my life? It felt like my colleagues made money to pay bills and take their families on vacations for two to three weeks at a time. I noticed those two to three weeks seemed like the only freedom they had. I respect the hustle, but I wanted to do it differently.
While in Korea, I launched an online cosmetics store. Since I’ve been in Poland, I’ve started designing my own mugs. Something about being abroad allows me to take time to get to know myself and really explore and run with these ideas. Did I really have to fly across an ocean to seek alone time? Maybe not, but it works for me. Of course, I miss my family, my friends, my dog, and Chick-fil-A, but these are some of the sacrifices I’ve had to make.
TN: What advice do you have for our readers wanting to move abroad?
Jasmine: Moving abroad can seem like a scary idea for most. Doing your research and making plans does not get rid of that feeling. If you’re on the fence about moving abroad, I always tell people, “Planes fly both ways.” You can always go back home, but you’ll never know unless you try. The most important thing is not to let friends, family, or any other excuses get in the way. You’re doing this for you, so please put yourself first.
TN: Where can we find you on social media?