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Hijran Aliyeva-Sztrauch

Journalist, graduate of the Faculty of Cultural Studies at the University of Warsaw, a PhD in Sociology and Psychology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, the founder of the Azerbaijan Culture and Information Centre in Poland (2001) and President of the Common House of Caucasus in Poland. "Nothing is impossible in this world!  Understanding between the nations of the Caucasus is a necessity for all the citizens of the region. The Common House of Caucasus is the forgotten past, peaceful future and laborious present. It is worth your devotion!" 

Dear readers, in this article I would like to share my views on pros and cons of emigration to Poland.

There are two sides to every coin, and similarly, it is possible to find both positive and negative aspects of every new situation. Where should I start? It may sound banal but we should remember that we live in the era of globalization: the world is shrinking, the boundaries disappear and electronic networks allow people from different continents to communicate.

The decision about emigration is usually well thought over. However, according to the proverb “Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched,” obtaining a visa, getting on a plane and believing in a miracle are not enough. The problems arise after many years.


 From the sociological point of view, the emigrant of any origin has four different options in a new country:

- Assimilation or total rejection of their former language, cultural experience and communication with former compatriots. Completely unconditional acceptance of a new culture.

- Separatism or the desire to preserve as much of the traditions and values of their homeland as it is possible. Living in a foreign country in their own small community.

- Integration or the attempt to combine the best features of the culture of their homeland and the culture of their new country.

- Marginalization or rejection of both cultures, gradual degradation of a person(1).

It is believed that the first 3 years of the adaptation are the most difficult, especially for caring people. … They might think that they should go back home: that people, culture, food, even air are foreign here – they are not what they used to be like at home. For such people, it is extremely difficult to acknowledge a new country as their new home. This is true especially for the older generations. Living under stress, they cannot find their place and adapt to the new situation, because they are still attached to their former habits, which often no longer match their new living conditions (3).

Separation from the family might even result in the end of the marriages. According to some experts, the reason for the divorces among the immigrants is their social or professional unfulfillment. In most cases the divorce is initiated by a man. The reasons are obvious. In their homeland people can easily find a job and determine their place in the society. And everything changes so quickly once a person finds themselves in a different environment. They become “the other” they feel helpless and unwanted, their life becomes uninteresting; sometimes it seems a failure. Such a person loses their interests and hobbies. Their plans often do not apply to the reality. These negative reasons lead to numerous conflicts among the family members, which then leads to the complete breakdown of relations (4).

People in the West are believed to be “cold,” focused only on their personal interests, and polite in order to get rid of another person. I think that this opinion is mistaken. We should remember that in some cultures, people live in conditions of social collectivism, whereas other cultures can be characterized by individualism. It is necessary to adapt to the new situation and to assimilate some values that are important in a place where we want to build our lives.

I remember the first time when I went to Germany to take part in an international conference. The meeting was to take place in Mainz. I came to Berlin, and then … I did not know what to do next. I do not speak German but I am a communicative person and I know that I do not come from another planet. I approached two people speaking Turkish and asked them where I could get on the train to Mainz. It may seem strange, but ”my brothers in culture” pointed me to the right direction using hand. At the railway station I met two Poles who were very happy to meet an Azerbaijani speaking Polish. They saw me to the right station, helped me buy a ticket and in the end they sang “JeszczePolskaniezginęła” (“Poland has not yet perished,” the first line of the national anthem of Poland, “Dąbrowski’s Mazurka” – translator’s note). I got off the train in Mainz. There another difficulty arose – how to get to the building where the conference was held? I must have seemed lost because I was approached by a German woman with some health problems. She was limping. She had a beautiful face and a nice smile. She just came to help me. She asked if I needed help. She did not speak English, she addressed me in German. I showed her the conference programme. She told me to follow her and in silence we were looking for the building. Mainz is a nice city. I was admiring its monuments and my guide was smiling at me. She was moving with difficulties, she was limping and just kept telling me to follow her. On the way, I told Helena (that was her name) that I came from Azerbaijan, that I was a journalist and I studied in Poland. She was just smiling but I felt safe with her. In silence, she led me to the hotel where my meeting was to take place. I was very happy. As farewell, I raised my hands and told her that I would pray for her soon recovery. She seemed moved. With tears in her eyes, she hugged me and quietly walked away. I have had many similar experiences in my life. I have been to almost every European country and everywhere I encountered nothing but kindness. It is important to be moderate and respect a different culture and, of course, the law of a different country. Also, the stereotype that people in Western countries are cold is false. In my opinion. And the West is not a different planet, although it strives to explore some of them.

And now – Poland. The “brothers from the post-Soviet region” have to take into account that this country really understands our problems. It understands what we are facing, it understands our common language, Russian (the language of “our older brothers”), it understands our fashion, culture and history. After all, in the times of Stalinism thousands of Poles were sent off to the countries of the USSR. As far as 25 years ago Poland was facing similar problems. And it regained its independence. Although some countries of the post-Soviet region are thought to be building democracy, the truth is different. But it is a topic for another article.

It is believed that Poles love complaining. Always and everywhere. But I am happy. Let them complain, because my daughter, a Pole, can live in this country. Thanks to that complaining, Poles have accomplished many beautiful things in their (contemporary) history, which we did not manage to achieve in our countries.

It is all about the minimum of what every human needs – about the freedom of speech. Every day it is possible to hear both good and bad news in the Polish television. I think it is normal, because the country is alive. The newscasts are the best source of information, since they report the most important events at home and abroad.

There is also the possibility to enter free of charge various interesting attractions which exist only in the European countries: famous museums, the monuments of the European architecture, or churches. For instance, during so called NocMuzeów (Eng. Museums at Night), all universities, museums, palaces, and even PałacPrezydencki (Eng. The Presidential Palace), are open for visitors.

What should be also taken into account is that each year there are competitions for the foreign students held in Polish universities. After graduation in Poland (which helps to get accustomed to the European culture) it is possible to enter every European university.
I would like to share one of my discoveries, something that I call “European aesthetics.” This means that after crossing the border between Poland and other post-Soviet countries, one can feel the difference. Drivers do not use horns and they let pedestrians to cross the street, people do not talk loudly and say hello and goodbye to each other in a lift. They do not paint trees blue and white or build high fences in front of their houses, they protect flora and fauna. There is no need to buy a lot of things in a shop – because it is possible to buy fresh products on the next day. Anyway, while staying in Poland, one braces oneself in a way, one does not want to stand out. Maybe that is why some people in the post-Soviet countries change their behaviour or even the style of their clothes after their return from Poland.

To conclude, I want to give the last piece of advice: before making the decision about emigration one should visit a country and get to know the two sides of the reality.


1) Emigration Is Not Limited To the Question of How to Do It, 18 December 2013, http://btimes.ru/emigration/problemy-emigrantov-za-rubezhom
2) http://epsychology.ru/articles/rebenok-s-analnym-vektorom-osnovy-vospitaniya-i-harakter-samogo-poslushnogo-rebenka/
3) The Question of Immigration. The Complexity of Adapting to the New Environment, the article based on the materials by Yuri Burłan: http://sashpsy.livejournal.com/20914.html
4) See: The Problems of the family on emigration, http://www.psychologskype.com/article/74-familie

By Dr Hijran Aliyeva-Sztrauch

Translation: Alicja Kosim


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The First Steps of an Emigrant in Poland

Dear Readers! I would like to address people who consider leaving their own country and moving to Poland. Here is some advice for future emigrants:

1) Most of all, before leaving, one should visit some websites, on which emigrants write about their “new life.” It will help set priorities and manage financial resources. Make good use of the time spent on planning your future abroad and remember about the fast integration with Polish society.


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The migration policy of Poland and the European Union

Dear readers! I would like to address those who are interested in the information on the migration policy of Poland and the whole European Union. We should remember that Poland closely cooperates with the offices of that European organisation in this regard. At first, I would like to remind some key terms, among which the most important seem: emigration, immigration, migration, remigration, repatriation and deportation.

  • Emigration, in short, "means a group of people who left their native country and now live in another one” (1).
  • Immigration is “group of people who come to a country and settle there as permanent residents” (1).
  • Migration describes the state when people who move from one place to another in a country, an area or in the world.
  • Remigration means a group of people who return to their native country after emigration.
  • Repatriation also means the return to the native country, but it is caused by some particular reasons. More information can be found on the website of the Polish Ministry of the Interior. (2).
  • Deportation means the forced resettlement, the expulsion of a person or a group of people as a penalty for their deeds (3), e.g. deportation of Poles to the USSR (1940-1941). More information can be found on the website about the history of Poland, Russia and Eastern Europe. (4).

Each European Union country has its own statistical system of migration. “According to the Polish regulations, every person intending to live permanently in Poland, is obliged to report their permanent residence in a municipal (Polish: gmina). Similarly, every person who leaves Poland permanently should de-register their permanent residence in Poland.The information about registration and de-registration is put in the Personal Identification Number system (PESEL), which is administered by the Ministry of the Interior. The statisticsreceive data on the international migration quarterly from the system” (5).More information can be found on the website of the Polish Central Statistical Office (GłównyUrządStatystyczny).

I would like to present some numbers concerning the legalisation of the foreigners’ residence in Poland. According to the Office for Foreigners:

  • in 2013, 35.000 applications for the residence permit for a fixed period were accepted ...,
  • in cases of the permit to settle (4.500 applications in total), the number of applications due to a marriage to a Polish citizen increased,
  • the number of the applications for a long-term resident-EU permit increased (over 2.000 applications),
  • 3.000 visas were issued (renewed) on Polish territory,
  • about 80.000 invitations were issued,
  • 9.000 citizens of the EU countries applied for the residence registration in Poland,
  • the expulsion decisions against 1.000 foreigners were issued …,6.500 foreigners were obliged to leave the territory of the Republic of Poland,
  • 34.000 people were refused entry to the country by the heads of border authorities.

More information can be found on the website of the European Migration Network (6).

Economic, political, social, educational, ethnic, religious, medical, family or other issues are the main reasons of emigration. The process of migrations in the EU is not easy to control, since some immigrants come here illegally, and they do not have the registration or Personal Identification Number. The management of the process is crucial. “Indeed, the existence of irregular immigration and the perceived failure of migrants to integrate successfully – especially in some European countries – have helped drive a trend in many OECD countries in recent years to make traditional migration more difficult, especially in family migration. There is also a new emphasis on encouraging immigrants to play a bigger role in managing their own integration. Language courses are becoming widespread, as are information programmes that provide practical advice and describe the country’s administrative systems and the formalities to be fulfilled” (7). It is a common knowledge that an immigrant faces many problems at the beginning of their visit to another country. That is why they sometimes do not hold to the formal regulations of the residence. But we have to understand that when one resides on the territory of another country, e.g. Poland, and does not provide complete information about oneself, one infringes not only Polish legal order, but also the legal order of the whole European region.

The information about the process of migration in the EU is collected by the Eurostat – the European statistical office. It “compiles the statistics concerning many issues connected to the international migration flows, the size of the population of the foreigners and acquiring citizenship. The data is collected on the annual basis. They are provided to the Eurostat by the statistics offices of the EU member countries” (8). Interestingly, that European statistical office encounters problems concerning measuring the emigration: “it is more difficult to count people leaving a country than those entering it. The analysis including the comparison of the emigration and immigration data from the EU countries in 2008 (mirror statistics) confirms that it applies to many countries” (9). Let us also remember that a non-citizen of the EU who enters any EU country, enters also the Schengen area – an area with free movement of persons, without border checkpoints. The whole area uses one Schengen Operation System that is a self-contained database. It allows for controlling the information of the people who enter or leave the area, to which 26 countries belong. These are Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, France, Holland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Greece, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta, Portugal, Norway, Finland, Switzerland and Sweden. It should be noted that only Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are not members of the European Union.

Poland joined the Schengen area on the 21st of December 2007. According to the Office for Foreigners, it resulted in “a substantial increase in the number of lodged applications for the refugee status in 2007 in Poland. 4563 such applications were accepted in 2007. 10.048 people applied for the refugee status. In comparison to 2006, there was an increase in the number of lodged applications by about 45% and an increase in the number of people applying for the refugee status by about 41%” (8). No wonder that Poland has to control every citizen of the Third World country who enters the Schengen area by crossing the Polish border.

“In order to find the solution for the immigration problems and seize the opportunities, the countries of the European Union have to cooperate with one another and with the immigrants’ countries. Therefore, the European Union has adopted a consistent policy on migration, setting clear and fair rules of the legal migration, preventing illegal migration and promoting integration” (10).

Poland has also another task: by protecting its borders it is responsible for the borders of the whole Schengen area. Therefore relevant structures of Poland increase their cooperation with the eastern neighbours. A number of projects concerning internal affairs have been realised in recent years together with the Ukrainian partner. A big number of people crossing the border and the length of the border line (535 km), which is also the external border of the Schengen area, determine the fact that it is essential for Polish interests to support the activities of the Ukrainian authorities in terms of the internal affairs” (10).

It is estimated that 200 million of people settled outside their country. It constitutes about 3% of the world’s population. Together with the development of communication and technology the process of migration will gradually increase. The economic and political instability in some areas of the world will contribute to the development of this process. On the other hand, many countries improve their systems of managing the process of migration, of the transfer and the protection of information. The international security cooperation becomes more and more globalised.




1) M. Tytuła, M. Łosiak,Polski bez błędów. Poradnik językowy dla każdego

2) MinisterstwoSprawWewnętrznych RP

3) ekstradycja.eu

4) Internetowy serwis historyczny dotyczący historii Polski, Rosjii Europie Wschodniej

5) System badań migracji zagranicznych w Polsce

6) Migracja do Polski w 2013 r. w liczbach, Europejska Sieć Migracyjna

7) B. Keeley, International Migration: The human face of globalization

8) The statistics concerning migration and the population of migrants

9) europa.eu

10) Polskie doświadczenie transformacyjne w programie polskiej pomocy, MSZ RP, Departament Współpracy Rozwojowej, Warszawa 2013, s.13.


By Dr HijranAliyeva-Sztrauch

Translation: Alicja Kosim



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Mummy, there is no place for me in the kindergarten!

Dear Mummies! I would like to give you some advice about how to secure a place for your children in a kindergarten or crèche. This applies in particular to female immigrants who have decided to spend their life in Poland.

I am from Azerbaijan. My husband, and the father of our 3-year-old Patrycja-Aisha, is a Pole. I was excited when my daughter was born because I had defended my PhD thesis just then. I was thinking of pursuing an academic career and developing the international scholarly magazine “New Prometheus,” the editor-in-chief of which I am now.

We came up against troubles when we started to search for a public crèche for Patrycja because we could not afford a private one. We live in Warsaw. We had believed we would find a place in a municipal unit in the capital city quite quickly. Quite the contrary. Due to a lack of places in the crèche, I had to suspend my academic career and devote all 3 years completely to my daughter. Of course, this was wonderful! Thanks to me little Patrycja knows almost all the letters, can count to twenty, knows some basic social rules, can use a computer and recite poems in three languages (by the way, I write poems and fairy tales for my daughter by myself). Still, I felt as if someone had deprived me of a chance to pursue a career, and Patricia of a possibility to learn Polish well.


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What are the benefits from setting up an organisation?

Dear readers! I would like to address the people who have been considering the idea of setting up an organisation. I would like to share my experience with you.

I have been leading a life among quite interesting people. My studies at the University of Warsaw and the Graduate School for Social Research at the Polish Academy of Sciences have taught me to express my ideas openly and loudly, carry out bold projects and listen carefully to advice offered by experienced people.

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Video from the IV Forum on Local Migration Policies in Wrocław
Film Zobacz-Zrozum-Zareaguj (3Z)


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Projekt LOKALNE MIĘDZYSEKTOROWE POLITYKI NA RZECZ INTEGRACJI IMIGRANTÓW był współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach Europejskiego Funduszu na rzecz Integracji Obywateli Państw Trzecich oraz budżetu państwa. Wyłączna odpowiedzialność spoczywa na autorze. Komisja Europejska nie ponosi odpowiedzialności za sposób wykorzystania udostępnionych informacji.

Projekt ‘WARSZAWSKIE CENTRUM WIELOKULTUROWE’ był współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach Europejskiego Funduszu na rzecz Integracji Obywateli Państw Trzecich oraz budżetu państwa. Wyłączna odpowiedzialność spoczywa na autorze. Komisja Europejska nie ponosi odpowiedzialności za sposób wykorzystania udostępnionych informacji.

LOKALNE MIĘDZYSEKTOROWE POLITYKI NA RZECZ INTEGRACJI IMIGRANTÓW Projekt realizowany był przy wsparciu Szwajcarii w ramach szwajcarskiego programu współpracy z nowymi krajami członkowskimi Unii Europejskiej.