Title: An Interview with My Friend Dominik
Caption: Welcome to Poland!
Making friends in a foreign country can be hard. Language and cultural differences aside, it doesn’t help when people know you won’t be around for very long. This is why I’m so grateful for the people in Poland who have welcomed me into their circle of friends.
I want you to meet my friend, Dominik. He’s a graduate student at KUL. Last semester, we were classmates, but this semester, he’s my student. Can you imagine hanging out with your professors in college? I thought it would be weird teaching a class full of my friends, but because students in English conversation are graded mostly on whether they show up, it’s mostly just a lot of fun.
Our interview was conducted in English, because Dominik speaks English very well and he likes to practice.
What is your full name?
“Dominik Zbigniew Gomuła”
Where do you live? What is your house like?
“I live with my family in Radom (a city not far from Lublin), but when I study, with my flat mates in a block of flats in Lublin. With a married couple in a three room flat.”
I visited Dominik’s flat the other day. By three rooms, he means an apartment with a living room and 2 bedrooms. He has his own small room in the flat. He also has a kitchen in his flat that is very small, but very nice and modern.
What is your family like?
“I have two older brothers, one is a lawyer and another works with my father in our family company. My mother is a nurse, but she doesn’t work right now. When I was born, she wanted to take care of me, so she chose me instead of her career.” (Dominik laughed at this.)
Me: “Is it common for Polish mothers to stay home?”
Dominik: “Twenty years ago, under Communism, it was common. There wasn’t much money and was hard to find a babysitter. Now, under the free market, people have money and can go on the internet to find a babysitter.”
“When I was a child and lived in a block of flats, there were ten families and everyone was the same. All of the women stayed home and everyone had at least one child. You couldn’t find a house unless you had connections in the government.”
“I was born in free Poland, in 1990.”
Dominik’s father is a very successful businessman. This is what he had to say about his father: “Father makes pieces to convert from fuel to LPG (liquefied petroleum gas – a more environmentally-friendly fuel). He – now after 23 years of hard work, he is very successful. He can afford a car, food, fashionable clothes. He doesn’t have to worry about his future because of his creative thinking and hard work. When he started, he only had one machine in one small room and one employee.”
How do you get around?
“I drive a car. If I want to get to my family town, I can take the car. It is because my father can afford to buy me a car. Many students don’t have cars because it’s only twenty years after democracy. I’m a lucky guy.”
In Communism we only had three types of cars – they were all the same. People from the party had one other type of nicer car. But right now, these cars are funny. Twenty years ago, people thought “Wow!” when you had this type of car. 95% of population had one type of car. When I look at photos from my childhood, I see only one type.”
Caption: Can you find Radom?
What types of clothing do you like to wear?
“I like to wear shirts with a collar, like blue, purple, just half-formal. Not formal or informal, but something in-between. Despite the fact that I’m a student, I like to wear fashionable clothes to look good.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“In my free time, I love reading books about the human mind.” (Dominik always has good advice for his friends about keeping a positive attitude and working hard to achieve your goals.) I love your American writer Steven King. I like going with my friends to the club, but I’m the kind of person who has to work with his mind. I have to take a book and read. I also love taking my car and going to the lake. In Poland we have many lakes, like smaller seas. When it’s warm I like to take my friends and go out together, to go swim (despite the fact I can’t swim). Just buy ice creams, hot dogs, hamburgers and have a little party together in front of the lake.”
What languages do you speak?
“Polish, German and English. I’m going to learn Czech next year. I can say a few words in Czech because it’s a Slavic language.” (Czech is a lot like Polish. If you speak Polish in the Czech Republic, many people can understand you.)
Do you have pets?
“I have a poodle, it’s a little poodle and it’s white. Its name is Chucky, like Chucky from the movie.”
Me: Is it evil?
Dominik: “Yes, when he pees he pees on the floor and you have to be careful. He’s a killer dog. Chucky is a popular name because of the movie.”
One thing you should know about Dominik is that he is hilarious! He likes to make outrageous and funny comments. He says things in class like this every week. His classmates and I really enjoy having him around.
Have you traveled? Where have you traveled to?
“Yeah, I was in England for my holidays two years ago, and I was in Malta a year ago, and I was in the Czech Republic. In my country, I was in the mountains and also on the sea. The north part and the south part of Poland. Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Gdynia. Lodz, Bialystok.”
What do you do for work?
“Right now, if I have any kind of job, it’s a temporary job. I translate something from Poland to English, I go to a kindergarten to give lessons in English. If I have to make a call to a company abroad, I take a phone and I do it. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s something. We have to remember I’m still a student, so I’m not looking for a permanent job.”
Dominik is very generous with his money. Today, he bought a woman groceries for her family. The woman approached us asking us to buy flowers. When Dominik told me she said her children were hungry, I didn’t believe her. Dominik told me he had set aside 20 zloty (about seven dollars) of his money from work to help someone in need. I chipped in another 10 zloty (he wouldn’t let me pay more) and bought the women two bags of groceries. When she saw how generous Dominik was, she cried.
Later, after Dominik and I bought some cake, a man asked us for money. Dominik didn’t believe this man really needed money, but he still shared half of his cake with them. I really admire Dominik for being so open and generous. I like to think that I’m a kind person, but sometimes I brush people off who need something from me because I’m busy, or in Poland, because I don’t know the language very well. Dominik showed me how important it is to take the time to talk to people instead of judging them.
Title: Walk Home
Caption: This has nothing to do with the interview, but I found this soccer stadium near my house on the way home
Is there anything else you would like to say to students in the United States?
You are welcome in Poland. Come to our country, because it’s really wonderful. Don’t believe in stereotypes, because it’s not true what newspapers write. We have many things to show and many common things. The only different thing is the language. We also like going to clubs, watching movies; we are also curious about the world. We also like meeting people, we are open and we have many good traits. I have to say that, in Poland, only good people live.”
If you ever find yourself abroad, I hope you find a friend as good as Dominik. Andrew and I are lucky to have him in our lives. I will really miss my friends when I return to the United States, but I know I will keep in touch with people like Dominik for a long time. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to welcome him to my country some day!