migration poland

Migration from Poland



slack demand demanding
norm pick up son-in-law
abroad instead pick up the slack
expect make due hard to come by
fed up take care bureaucracy
wage pension dependent
illegal meager generation
retired unskilled starvation
hope fall apart miserable
debt mortgage price is high
loan emigrant tear/tore/torn
afford available keep in touch
pile up residence hard to bear






For eight months now, Kristina and Marian Snejdek of Gdansk have had to get used to parenting small children again: their son-in-law works in Germany — leaving their daughter alone with three kids and a demanding job.

The grandparents are in their 80s; but they have to pick up the slack.

Marian Snajdek: “We’re old now and this is all pretty hard work. Our daughter manages to bring the kids to school in the morning. But we have to pick them up every day, fix dinner and check their homework.

Their mother comes home from work at six o’clock.”

It’s the norm for families with parents working abroad. There are hundreds of thousands of them in Poland.

Well-paid jobs are hard to come by in Vidgosht, as in most of Poland. Retired people try to make due on meager pensions, while many of the young people just want out.

They’re fed up with the bureaucracy, unemployment and starvation wages.

Of the few jobs available, many are illegal and pay only about 300€ a month.

Artur Gradowski, Road Worker: “My apartment cost 600 zloti, about 150€. With electricity and water, I pay some 220€ in rent. That leaves us with about 80€ a month to live on.

And I have three children.”

Andrzej Walkowiak’s son has also been working abroad for months: first in Norway, then in England.

Andrzej Walkowiak: “I tried to talk him into staying in Poland and studying here. But he wouldn’t be held back — just like half-a-million people of his generation.

He says he can’t lead a normal, adult life in Poland.”

Traditionally, a normal adult life in Poland means a close family. Many parents expect their children to help and take care of them when they are older.

The Walkowiaks too had hoped their 20 year old Jange would eventually care for them. All they see of him now are photos.

He’s doing an unskilled job now in London instead of attending college in Poland.

Andrzej: “He said I have to go abroad, to be able to help you. Your pensions will be miserable. Things are falling apart in Poland.”

Ewa Walkowiak: “Of course it does happen that immigrants help their parents out financially, but the price is high. Families are torn apart and can only keep in touch over Skype, text messages or letters. We might get together at Christmas.”

Back to the Snajdek’s in Gdansk. Their daughter home looks quite nice, but the mortgage isn’t paid off yet.

And the debts are piling up.

The family worries constantly about what the future will bring.

Marian Snajdek: “Soon will be completely dependent on friends and neighbors; Poland’s central services are just too weak. We live in peace with everyone around us, but we can’t expect them to take care of us in our old age.”

At last Marian can get off his feet.

By the time his daughter can come home from the office, it’s been eleven hours since she has seen her children.

Their father, 40 year old Rafael, only sees them on the computer. He’s working in construction in Stuttgart in southern Germany.

The long separation from his wife and children is hard for him to bear.

Rafael: “I’m thinking of emigrating completely. Our house in Poland isn’t paid off. We can only pay back the loan if we both work abroad. And we just can’t afford two residences: one is Poland and one in Germany.”

For Poland, the trend is a negative one. The well-educated, hard working young people are emigrating, leaving the older generation behind.

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1. Describe the Snajdek family. Describe their life. Do they like it?

2. Many people from Poland work abroad. True or false? Why do many Poles live and work abroad? Who works abroad?

3. What is the job, work and life situation like in Poland? Describe work and life in Poland.

4. Do Polish people have close family ties? Give examples of close family ties.

5. Poland’s pension system is very generous. Yes or no?

6. Do Poles do mostly skilled, professional work abroad? What kind of jobs do they have abroad?

7. What does the Snajdek family plan on doing? Why are they going to do this?
A. Do many people emigrate from your country? If yes, what are some popular destinations? Why do people emigrate?

B. Many people immigrate to my country. Is true or false? If yes, why do the immigrate?

C. Have you or your friends considered emigrating to another country?

D. Is emigration good or bad for Poland? For Germany or England?

E. What is the solution to Poland’s migration “problem”?

F. What will happen in the future?

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