Here are the most popular stereotypes of Poles and Poland. However they happen to be hugely exaggerated, especially by those who want to ridicule the image of Poland.

First stereotype: Polish people do not speak foreign languages

In some ways it is true that it is not Poland’s best feature. Some statistics say that only 8 percent of Poles speak fluently one foreign language. However, the situation is changing and the younger generations know the basics of English. Adults and elderly people speak a little Russian because it used to be the only foreign language at school in communist Poland (besides Latin) which was taught to students. Nowadays, learning foreign languages has become a trend in Poland. Language schools and university courses are full of people who would like to study foreign languages and use them in practice.

Second stereotype: Poles never smile, but complain a lot

Once more there is a grain of truth in this statement due to the fact that for many years Poles lived in a communist system which led to lack of basic goods forms of suppression (censorship, propaganda). As the system was so oppressive Poles learnt to complain and be constantly dissatisfied with the situation. Nevertheless, the same system developed a kind of sharp and witty sense of humor which was shown in cabarets and comedies.

With the change of systems a big group of Poles who keep complaining still exists, especially when it comes to giving pessimistic opinions about the benefits from joining the EU. On the other hand, young people are more similar to their Western European peers for they don’t complain, and they smile a lot.

Third stereotype: Poles are intolerant

Poland used to be a multinational country where citizens generally learned how to accept and respect the beliefs of other people. Lots of foreigners used to immigrate to Poland because the country was named as a tolerant one. Nowadays, most of them come from poor African or Asian countries, former Yugoslavia and the Soviet bloc. It is not a huge problem to get a visa to stay in Poland if you prove that you can’t possibly live in your country because of political or economical problems. Moreover, refugees are legally free to keep their own culture, traditions and religion.

Fourth stereotype: Poles use too much alcohol

Drinking alcohol is one of the favorite pastimes in Poland. In the times of monarchy the most common pattern of any kind of gatherings for people was to celebrate according to slogan “eat, drink and loosen your belt”. This way of spending time is still very popular in Poland. However, the culture of drinking has changed very much. Now, Poles often go to bars and pubs to meet friends. The traditional alcoholic drink – vodka is now being replaced with beer and high-quality liquors.

Fifth stereotype: Poland is a small country somewhere in the East of Europe

Unfortunately, many people from outside Europe still do not known much about Poland especially about its location on the map of the world and its geographical features. Geographically, the center of Europe is in Poland, near Warsaw. Poland is situated in the very center of Europe, not in the East. Such an idea probably was born after the WW II when Poland was made to be one of the inferior countries to the Soviet Union. What is more Poland is one of the bigger countries in Europe, its size comparably as big as New Mexico state.

Adapted from:

Stereotypes about Poland - what your countrymen think about Poland in general and Polish people?

Opinions from the Internet

Some people say that (our) polish girls are among the most beautiful women in the world. That’s quite a nice stereotype I think and sometimes I was surprised to hear that poles are well educated. (thanks to communistic education system)

I've met a few people from Poland. They were intelligent and funny and had clear goals.

Poles are funny. They have a great sense of humour. They get English jokes far more better than anybody else. I love it.

I was working in Poland as a guide part time. A tourist from the USA, a military officer stationed in Austria said, "I did not have an idea that Poland is bigger than Austria. I thought than Austria was bigger than Poland".

On a couple of occasions when asked, "where I am from?" I answered "from Poland" then people confuse Poland with Holland. I heard several times: "Wow, Holland, I was there!". When I try to correct, "I am not from Holland but from Poland" then, there is a silence.

I am Canadian.. I don't really have a stereotype about Polish people.
I used to work for a Polish guy - he seemed alright. I don't think he knew my name though and I worked for him for nearly 3 years..
The only country I tend to have stereotypes for is Americans.. :)

Well, Dutch employers see them as hard workers, which from what I have seen on construction sites around my country is true. A lot of Dutch people still look upon Poles as thieves, and people who take their jobs away by working for less money.

Muley Bob
I don't think people in my generation still have that idea about the Polish. Really I don't have any stereotypes about them. The world has changed so much since the fall of communism in Europe, I think all the old stereotypes are out the window.

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