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Transitions

Warsaw, Poland - March, 2015. “There is nothing for them (polish expatriates) to come back to. The social security is okay and they feel safe. Young and ambitious people will go abroad. It is often about work and the money and there is not enough opportunity here.”

Warsaw, Poland – March, 2015. “There is nothing for them (polish expatriates) to come back to. The social security is okay and they feel safe. Young and ambitious people will go abroad. It is often about work and the money and there is not enough opportunity here.”

Transitions, photo essay by David Shaw.

Your EUrope Poland

Zamosc, Poland - April, 2015. A statue of Pope John Paul II in Zamosc.

Zamosc, Poland – April, 2015. A statue of Pope John Paul II in Zamosc.

Poland is a Catholic country however many of the more old fashioned traditions are pushing some people away.


In contemporary Poland there is a decades old culture of emigration which intensified when the country joined the EU, which brought its citizens the freedom of movement around the European continent. Large numbers of Polish people are moving away from the country looking for a better life, particularly to the UK, Germany and Ireland.

Warsaw, Poland - February, 2015. Old style ‘Milk Bar’ in Warsaw. These establishments very popular during communist times as they provided very cheap and filling food.

Warsaw, Poland – February, 2015. Old style ‘Milk Bar’ in Warsaw. These establishments very popular during communist times as they provided very cheap and filling food.

Warsaw, Poland - February, 2015. A Western society sits in the frame of the old.

Warsaw, Poland – February, 2015. A Western society sits in the frame of the old.

Warsaw, Poland - February, 2015. Warsaw’s central tower that was built by Stalin 'as a gift'; in the reflection on the British Council office.

Warsaw, Poland – February, 2015. Warsaw’s central tower that was built by Stalin ‘as a gift’; in the reflection on the British Council office.

Warsaw, Poland - February, 2015. “Like everyone, we went for money. Poland in 2004 was not the bright country that it is now, and you could only get terrible wages. Like every Polish guy, I am thinking about it [leaving], maybe [for me] not for money but for travel and adventure. At my age everyone [in Poland] is either thinking about it, or is abroad.”

Warsaw, Poland – February, 2015. “Like everyone, we went for money. Poland in 2004 was not the bright country that it is now, and you could only get terrible wages. Like every Polish guy, I am thinking about it [leaving], maybe [for me] not for money but for travel and adventure. At my age everyone [in Poland] is either thinking about it, or is abroad.”

In Poland the old-fashioned and the modern are clashing. Religious and old mentalities are forced to compete with the new free-market-led and progressive society. There is less acceptance of the stubbornness of the old generation but this also creates a sense of confusion and longing with the youth. As a country that still seems to be in the process of changing, much of the population is finding that there is not a space for them within their homeland society.

Zamosc, Poland - April, 2015. A local man collects water in Zamosc.

Zamosc, Poland – April, 2015. A local man collects water in Zamosc.

Zamosc, Poland - April, 2015. A Zamosc nightclub over Easter Weekend. Many of the party goers had returned to see their families and friends from abroad.

Zamosc, Poland – April, 2015. A Zamosc nightclub over Easter Weekend. Many of the party goers had returned to see their families and friends from abroad.

Warsaw, Poland - February, 2015. Cosmopolitan loves Warsaw.

Warsaw, Poland – February, 2015. Cosmopolitan loves Warsaw.

Reszel, Poland - April, 2015. Local youth in hanging out in Reszel Parks, many of whom are looking to move away.

Reszel, Poland – April, 2015. Local youth in hanging out in Reszel Parks, many of whom are looking to move away.

Lodz, Poland - March, 2015. "I feel like people from the West still see us as Eastern European. I meet people from the West and they are very nice, but sometimes they treat us differently. There is the syndrome we carry.”

Lodz, Poland – March, 2015. “I feel like people from the West still see us as Eastern European. I meet people from the West and they are very nice, but sometimes they treat us differently. There is the syndrome we carry.”

Reszel, Poland - February, 2015. Many, especially the older generation under communist rule, have been left behind in today’s Poland. Meanwhile, the younger generation are seeking a better life. Everyone hears from their friends and relatives about the new lives awaiting them abroad.

Reszel, Poland – February, 2015. Many, especially the older generation under communist rule, have been left behind in today’s Poland. Meanwhile, the younger generation are seeking a better life. Everyone hears from their friends and relatives about the new lives awaiting them abroad.


The pictures in this series explore the reasons why so many Polish people are moving abroad to live and work by looking deeper into the clash of cultures which is causing Polish society to be stuck in the transitional years after communism. (David Shaw)

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