Polish Expat in England

“England is better organised and not so bureaucratic like Poland. You have better roads in England. The English don’t have many national dishes, whereas in Poland we have many! 

England is multicultural, Poland  is not! Poland has got better weather. We have a proper summer- England does not! England has a royal family.
The Polish people are better at saving money… English spend what they have and then complain that they don’t have money!”

When she was 22, Polish national Jolanta found a job offer online and headed off to England alone in search of something “different and exciting”!

“I had to go to Warsaw to sign a contract and I was a little cautious as I had never heard about that agency and didn’t have anyone to ask.” says Jola.

“I found some reviews about it online, which were positive, so I knew if there were reviews that at the very least the agency actually existed!”

Jola admits though that it was a risk to just sign up to an agency and leave her home country, and of course her parents were far more worried than Jola…

“They worried about me, that the agency could be a human traffic mafia… you never know,” adds Jola half jokingly.

“When I went to sign the contract I had to choose the city I would go to. I had 3 options, 3 cities to choose from. I didn’t know any of them so I chose Sheffield because it sounded nice.

Later on I discovered that there were many agencies out there recruiting Polish young people for work abroad, in countries such as England, Germany, and Holland etc.”

Choosing England because she had studied English and wanted to practice and improve her English, Jola was also driven to move overseas because she wanted to do something different and exciting with her life.

“The most difficult part for me was telling my parents that I was going! They were shocked and I knew they worried about me.

But it was not difficult to get to England. Once I signed the contract with the Polish work agency they secured a job for me, a place to live, and also transport to England.” says Jola.

Arriving in England Jola quickly realised the English she had learned in school, and the English in Sheffield was vastly different, among some other things that were not how she expected…

“You have two separate taps in one sink, for hot and for cold water, carpets in the bathrooms, no electric plugs in the bathrooms, and English people wearing shorts while I am wearing a coat and hat…Because it is winter!,” Jola jokes.

Heading off to England alone I wondered if Jola ever felt scared or unsafe, and Jola says that while she was technically alone, many other Polish people came through the same agency, and  there were ten of them living in one house.

“We travelled to work together so I didn’t feel alone. I felt quite safe. Every second week we finished work at 10 pm, so at this time I didn’t feel very safe to travel back home on public buses, but I would feel that in every country I guess.”

At first Jola went to England on a 3 month contract, but returned to England again when she was 23 to stay for 5 months, and then made her final and longest continued stay in England when she was 25, living and working there for 6 years.

“On the first contract I worked a lot, I wanted to save a lot of money. Gradually with time I made friends, people I cared about, so I spent my free time with them. However, I still always counted the days to go on holiday, usually to Poland or Portugal.”
I felt like I didn’t live in the moment but was always waiting for something. The job I had didn’t give me much satisfaction so I decided to do something interesting in the afternoons.

That was when I started Zumba classes, Portuguese classes and acting classes, which was the best thing I did in England.

I love the people I met in England, I loved the freedom and independence I had in England. I didn’t like the weather and there is mould in almost every house.”

I wondered then, once she made friends and had something to feel passionate about, did England ever feel like home?

“I got used to the country and I felt comfortable there, but it never felt like home in England, “ says Jola.

“Maybe I didn’t let myself feel at home there. I knew I went there only for a while. I always missed my family, my real home.”

Jola says that home for her is a place with her family, and after living in England for 6 years Jola returned at the end of last year to Poland, the “place where she feels safe, a place with traditions”.

Moving overseas at the start of her 20’s gave Jola a lot, and changed her a lot,  and she is certain she will never be the same.

“ It gave me independence. I have learned many new things. I have met many different people. I see the world in a different perspective. I believe I am an open minded person now.”


If you are looking to move to Portugal or invest in property here I work with a real estate company for a more personal and fun approach to finding your dream home…contact me at warnes@live.com.au for more info, or any advice on living and loving this great country!

Carbon Offsetting: An attempt to increase positive business public relations or a way to actually help solve the issue of greenhouse gas emissions?

I always wondered whether when I clicked on the “offset my carbon footprint” option when booking flights whether or not the 6 euros (or the relatively low addition to the overall flight cost) was actually worth while…

Did the money actually go towards offsetting my carbon footprint or was it a scheme to make me feel as if I was doing something good when the reality was that the money wasn’t helping the environment, or worse it was actually being counter productive?

By definition “Carbon offsets are measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) and may represent six primary categories of greenhouse gases:[5] carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).[6]

One carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases.”

There are two markets for carbon offsets, and both have both good and bad elements.

On a larger scale big companies, governments, or other large entities buy carbon offsets in order to comply with limits placed on the total amount of carbon dioxide they are allowed to emit. This exists to comply with obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, and the Emission Trading Scheme.

On a much smaller scale,  individuals (like me and you when we choose to fly) or smaller companies,  purchase carbon offsets to mitigate their own greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, electricity use, and other sources.

This money is then supposedly put towards financial support of projects that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in the short- or long-term.

I always thought that the money might be spend on planting trees and thereby offset the carbon footprint that way but there are a number of reasons why tree-planting to offset carbon production is not a viable choice, but mainly because trees reach maturity over a course of many decades and it is hard to guarantee the permanence of the forests and because often in an effort to cut costs, some tree-planting projects introduce fast-growing invasive species, that end up damaging native forests and reducing biodiversity.

So instead the 6 euros you choose to pay to offset your carbon footprint on an individual level typically goes towards renewable energy sources such as wind farms, biomass energy, or hydroelectric dams.

Carbon offsetting has gained momentum and appeal on both an individual and corporate level, and the Kyoto Protocol was set up to keep a check on governments and private companies, who can now earn carbon credits that can be traded on a marketplace.

Basically, organizations that are unable to meet their emissions quota can offset their emissions by buying CDM-approved Certified Emissions Reductions.

So basically you can buy your way out of having to reduce your fossil fuel consumption…

While the scheme is at least raising awareness to the fact that companies need to measure and effectively be charged for the damage they do the environment, this doesn’t actually solve the problem…

One website outlines the element of the ridiculous in the scheme. CheatNeutral.com, makes a clever point by drawing a parallel between the scheme and infidelity…

 “When you cheat on your partner you add to the heartbreak, pain and jealousy in the atmosphere,” the website explains. “CheatNeutral offsets your cheating by funding someone else to be faithful and not cheat. This neutralises the pain and unhappy emotion and leaves you with a clear conscience.”

Others liken it to those who use religion as a way to be forgiven so they can go out and commit more sins…

On a global scale it’s a money business where companies can buy themselves more tickets to produce more emissions…

On a personal level it comes down to the question…Does the money I am spending actually achieve any carbon savings as promised? Truth is no-one can say for sure…

But here some questions we do have answers for…

Why is the offset price so low…can 6 euros really offset my long haul overseas flight?

The carbon offset price is low because there are all kinds of ways to reduce emissions very inexpensively, and so yes theoretically even a small amount can make a difference.

Why do different companies quote different carbon offset prices for the flights of the same distance?

Companies quote different offset costs because often they estimate the impact on the environment using different measures.

If carbon offsets do work, shouldn’t these projects be financed by governments anyway? Are the two really related?

“Even if offset projects do work as advertised, some environmentalists argue that they’re still a bad idea. If we’re to tackle climate change, they argue, the projects being rolled out by offset companies should be happening anyway, funded by governments around the world, while companies and individuals reduce their carbon footprints directly. Only in this way – by doing everything possible to make reductions everywhere, rather than polluting in one place and offsetting in another – does the world have a good chance of avoiding runaway climate change,” such critics claim.

However, those who support carbon offsetting programs say that the projects that are invested in with my 6 euros are long term, and may actually offset my carbon footprint 3 or 4 times over, meaning I might not only offset my footprint but reduce it even further…

The truth is I am not sure if this is the right message to send, that we can buy our way out of the pollution we cause, and yet, when I see the option on the flight website to offset my carbon footprint I click yes, and I pay the 6 euros, because well, I am hoping it ends up doing even a small amount of good.

Jet Lag…Is it All in your Head?

After taking a few long-haul flights from Europe to Australia during the last 7 years I often wondered whether jet-lag was a real thing or whether we just made ourselves believe that we would feel pretty rough after being stuck that long in a small flying box breathing the same recycled air for up to 15 hours.

When I was young did I get jet leg? I can’t remember. The first time I flew from Australia to Europe I was 13 and I can’t say I noticed feeling tired, but I was most likely fairly excited and preoccupied by other more interesting things!

So is Jet-lag just in our heads? Or is it a physical thing the body experiences? And can we prevent it?

For years, jet lag was considered merely a state of mind but studies have since shown that it does actually result from an imbalance in our body’s natural “biological clock” caused by traveling to different time zones.

Our bodies work on a 24-hour cycle called “Circadian Rhythms”…This is why I start yawning at 10 minutes to 10pm and I wake up promptly at 7am without an alarm (note that some peoples clock is more persistent that others), and while my body clock is fairly set in its way I know some people who can push the snooze on their body clock and it doesn’t seem to notice.

This circadian rhythm flexibility (or lack there of) does have an impact on jet lag!

If you are a “morning person” who wakes up promptly it is most likely that you find it difficult to sleep in past 9am, and for those “morning people” jet-lag is probably going to hit you a lot worse!

The  “circadian rhythms” in our body are measured by the distinct rise and fall of body temperature, plasma levels of certain hormones and other biological conditions. All of these are influenced by our exposure to sunlight and help determine when we sleep and when we wake.

When traveling to a new time zone, our circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and remain on their original biological schedule for several days. This results in our bodies telling us it is time to sleep, when it’s actually the middle of the afternoon, or it makes us want to stay awake when it is late at night. This experience is known as jet lag.

Cristina Ruscitto (PhD) has done extensive research on this topic after completing her PhD in Health Psychology, at the University of Surrey in England.

Last year Cristina led two major studies into how to reduce jet lag: 1) Ruscitto, C., & Ogden, J. (2017). The impact of an implementation intention to improve mealtimes and reduce jet lag in long-haul cabin crew, Psychology and Health, 32(1), 61-77, and 2) Ruscitto, C., & Ogden, J. (2017). Predicting jet lag in long-haul cabin crew: The role of illness cognitions and behaviour. Psychology and Health, 32(9), 1055-1081.

Cristina says she chose this topic for her research because of her previous work as a member of a long-haul cabin crew (experienced jet lag and sleep disruption) together with her interest in Health Psychology.

“The study particularly showed the importance of mealtimes for alleviating jet lag in long-haul crew. There is plenty of evidence in animal research that feeding times affect the body clock but this evidence in humans is limited:  e.g. a study found that late eaters lost less weight than early eaters. In my study, the group of crew who made a meal plan (to eat regularly, breakfast lunch and dinner) before a long-haul trip,  had reduced jet lag symptoms after a long-haul trip when compared to a control group (no meal plan). The results showed that planning ahead your meal times by eating in line with the local time help adjust more quickly and reduce jet lag levels.”

So basically, if you are flying to the Uk from America you should put your self onto the UK meal and sleep time as soon as possible.

“These findings are new because traditional countermeasures look at improving sleep or taking medication to deal with jet lag but this study shows that ‘when’ you eat can also help reduce jet lag levels.

This is particularly useful if the person in question is unable to take sleep aids as in the case of a crew member, who must be working during the flight.”

However, as I mentioned above not everyone suffers from jet-lag, at least not to the same degree.

“Not everyone suffers from jet lag,” says Cristina. “This depends on different factors, but one of the most important is a person’s chronotype, whether one is an ‘evening’ or ‘morning’ person.

Evening people, or people who can easily sleep in past noon, cope much better with jet-lag because they find it easy to prolong sleep.

“Their sleep is more flexible (e.g. they can extend their sleep) and therefore can adapt more easily than morning people following time zone transitions.” adds Cristina.

So how then can meal times help us adjust more quickly?

Well of course when we eat our blood sugar levels spike, and our blood sugars plays a role in regulating our body clock.

So if you are planning a long journey, and you are a morning person like me, the best you can do is get onto the new sleeping schedule as soon as possible by adjusting your mealtimes accordingly!

Want 3% better rates and no Fees when Transferring Money Overseas?

When I first moved overseas 7 years ago I was often shocked to see the transaction costs and rate of exchange offered by the leading banks when transferring money from Australia to Europe. It wasn’t as if they actually had to rent a boat and ship it over, and yet the click from their computer to a computer somewhere else seemed to cost a small fortune, and the larger the amount you were sending the more they seemed to take.

My mum was told about Forex Sport by a good friend of hers and we have been using their service ever since. Offering a 3% better rate than the banks, CEO and founder Dion Ciavola started the company ten years ago, and is happy with the growth of her business as it expands into new markets.

“When we started ten years ago we were looking after the foreign exchange needs of international athletes. (Hence the name Forex Sport)

Since this time the business developed a need to do foreign exchange for individuals and business  and for the last 10 years we have had  a strong commitment to our customers providing them foreign exchanges rates that are close to market as possible, “ says Dion.

While the business still looks after over 400  Australian international athletes, Dion says that personal and business customers have far exceeded expectations and is now the majority of work that the company does.

“The company is regulated in Australia and has an AFSL (Australian financial service license). We are based  and owned in  Australia, but we employ people that have lived abroad so that they better understand the costs of sending money around the world, and have experience with it personally.” adds Dion.

Saving their customers, myself included, a large amount of money on foreign exchange transactions Dion says that her company is the better choice for a few major reasons, but mainly because they offer excellent rates and no fees on transactions over 1000 dollars.

Using a very simple online platform, customers simply need to register online and then begin…For my first transactions I actually wrote to Dion personally and she was able to help me through the process. I received the money in Portugal within 2 days which was quite a shock considering I was used to the ten day lag time when dealing with the big banks.

“It’s important for expatriates to get locally domiciled accounts so the transfer on money can be electronic. Most of the transfers arrive within 24 hours!” says Dion.

For transactions under 1000 dollars there is a 10 dollar transaction fee, so it is better if you are living overseas to transfer in larger sums.

My only question was, given the great rate and no fees on larger sums of money, how does the company make a profit?

“We get close to market rates and we show the customer a worse rate than we get, but as an individual the rate that we give them is a lot better than they would get stand alone!”

In my experience with the company we often had savings of up to 400 dollars on transactions over 4000 dollars, (this is including fees, bank rates and exchange rates), and after using Forex for 5 years I wouldn’t consider ever putting my business back in the hands of the big banks!



For more info contact

Dion Ciavola
Forex Sport Pty Ltd

ABN 22 147 363 175
AFSL 401379

T  +61 3 9008 1880 / 1300 36 99 73
M +61(0) 435 966 957

Level 2, 100 Collins Street
Melbourne Vic 3000

or register online at
http://www.forexsport.com and start saving money on your international transactions!!

If you are looking to move to Portugal or invest in property here I work with a real estate company for a more personal and fun approach to finding your dream home…contact me at warnes@live.com.au for more info, or any advise on living and loving this great country!