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Monday, 15 January 2018

Family Matters in Poland: The Children

Dearest sweethearts,

There is no such thing as a "broken family." Family is family, and is not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, and adoption documents. Families are made in the heart. The only time family becomes null is when those ties in the heart are cut. If you cut those ties, those people are not your family. If you make those ties, those people are your family. And if you hate those ties, those people will still be your family because whatever you hate will always be with you.
C. JoyBell C.

Family is what matters the most in life. If you come to think of ones daily schedule you will see we spend 1/3 of our time, life, at work + 1/3 at home (and sometimes stuck in traffic... in transit) + 1/3 sleeping (or at least we should, but whom nowdays sleeps 8 hours?!). That would lead us thinking that at least a third of our life should be spent with the ones we love, doing the things that make us happy. Dunno how life treated you or what your values are, and I do respect your decisions and opinions, but for me Family does come first. The ones whom I love matter the most for me. Family is important both in my home country (Romania) but also in my adoptive home (Poland). I tend to be subjective on my writings, so please don' throw any stones if you feel you do not fit what I am saying :) 
The Three Kings festivity, Krakow, Poland - January 2018
If I am to talk about "Family Matters in Poland" I must also speak about the religious life - Romania is mostly Christian orthodox country as Poland is Catholic. You will find a church every couple of meters and you will find people do go there often, maybe even more regular here in Poland (than in Romania). Religion for sure is not gone! Let's just think about World Youth Day in Krakow in 2016, and the great enthusiasm and the large number of participants that came throughout the world (reaching a peak in the tourism industry, peak that has not dropped ever since!). Of course Catholic church is against abortion and against using protecting as well, so that does make religious familis have many children. Of course, children are a blessing, don't get me wrong; but looking at the generation of my age (people in their 25-30s) you can see the number of children dropping. I also observed that people of my generation are more liberal in their way of thinking, they do want to have kids - maybe 2, maximum 3! - but they also want to make sure that they have a life of their own, that they can travel and develop themselves not only personally but also professionally. Let's face it, mothers can take maternity leave for 6-12 months and that cuts them away from the work environment. Research shows that the capacity of a woman, up to one year after birth, lowers by 10%! Of course it does come back with exercise, but hey! Your brain no longer thinks of Lean, Six Sigma, Process Excellence, KPIs, SLAs or whatever... It's too busy thinking how to stay alive and not get crazy, how to keep alive and well fed and protected and satisfied another human being, that is totally dependent to yourself!
The joys of childhood - January 2018, Krakow, Poland 
Of course, both parents are entitled to the leave. It can be a paternity leave as well and the father can stay home with the little one, but if you are breastfeeding I don't think that's doable at all... I mean from all my friends here in Poland not one tried paternity leave, and I would say at least 80% of my friends stayed the full year with their babies. When I come to think of the fact that in the States you can stay only max 3 months, I find that so hard to do... but in comparison with Romania where you can stay at home 2 years! Oh, that's a privilege! Also, in Poland, the first year after you come back from maternity, you can choose to work only half term (4 hours per day) for a year and they can't refuse you or fire you, so keep that in mind ;) Anyway, what I was trying to say here is that Family and Faith are central pillars in the Polish community. It's very important for the child to be baptised (they can be baptised, as far as I remember, even up to the age of 1 year). It's important for the family to go to church on a regular basis, in their finest clothes, and behave properly throughout their lives. The First Communion is almost celebrated like a small family wedding and the child gets expensive gifts from his/hers godfather and godmother. It's all about the confirmation of joining the Catholic church sacrament.
Losing Your Color - January 2018, Krakow, Poland
The "500+" program - Law and Justice ruling party in Poland recently introduced this program in Poland. For every second and next child under 18 years of age a family receives 500 PLN per month (approximately 110 EUROS). This money is given to the family in order to better raise the children, to help them out financially. I think it's a brilliant idea, though it may have some downsides to it as well... I mean in a way this may increase the birthrate, but experts still can't tell how much :/ some believe this might be an incentive to leave the labor market and entice women to just pop out children like a conveyor belt... I find that very unlikely, especially when we speak of people in the big cities that are focused on a different way of living and a different quality of life. But when we look at the countryside I still think that is possible and probable at the same time - where people mostly work in the field, in agriculture, and still have a very "rural" way of thinking. There family is even more important, and the survival of the family comes from the father that ploughs the field, plants potatoes and takes care of the apple trees VS. the wife, the Mother, who's supposed to cook and clean and make babies and take care of the family. All wrapped up with at least a weekly visit on every Sunday afternoon, at church, in the finest clothes, to praise The Lord for the blessings that they have. It's sometimes a piece of fairytale to see that still happening; nowdays when it's all about speed and information and depersonalising everything...
First Communion - 2016, Krakow, Poland 
I would say that about 95% of the Poles still identify themselves as Catholic, but if you take a closer look that figure is slowly shrinking, especially amongst the youth - who love to challenge everything that they hear or see. Church going is still popular both in the countryside (a lot!) But also in the big cities. The Polish people also love saying that the Church helped them survive through Communist times. It is still a social pressure to be there, in the Catholic community, but I also see it as a good thing, as it brings up the Children in the Light. It helps them understand from an early age the difference between wrong and right, between the light and the darkness. I firmly believe it's never too early to teach your child about that, and about the fact that there needs to be a balance in this world. I also believe that Children should be encouraged to think and speak up their own mind, less watching of TV and computer games, more reading books and playing outside - and I love to say that this is the tendency that I see here in Poland. Everyday I was talking my little Ladybug Baby Girl out for a walk in the park, while I was on maternity leave - for a year, I would see groups of children from kindergardens and schools, going in the park and doing activities outside - tracking competitions, orientation contests, gathering leaves and chestnuts to do manual things... I remember doing that when I was small, I remember being happy and bonding with others, for sure I want my Baby Girl to have that as well. In the end, as parents, don't we all want the most to have our children healthy and happy?! Well I think that's totally doable in Poland, maybe even more than in other countries where one has to worry about a roof over ones head or about being shot in the streets, in broad daylight. Thank God for Peace!
Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Loves Poland and Her Family (Especially Her Little Ladybug Baby Girl)
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Thursday, 11 January 2018

10 Things You Should Know About Krakow Business Park

Dearest hearts,

So sorry for the week long absence from the written blog, I tend to be a bit hectic at the beginning of the new year and this year more than usual as I've just started a new position in the corporation I'm working. So do be kind and gentle and bare with me while I wake up like Sleeping Beauty from her long slumber :) Now I've been working inside Krakow Business Park for more than 4 years now and as much as I would have wanted to see any changes, any great developments I could not see much. Zabierzow is not Krakow - it's far away... Zabierzow is a village located in southern Poland in the Krakow metropolitan area. On it's main website about Krakow Business Park you will find that it presents itself as "one of the most modern office centres not only in Poland, but also in Europe" - now that might have been true, many years ago, when it was built (in 1997) but now, over 20 years fast forwarded, I can tell you for sure that there are many more modern and suitable places in Krakow to call "Business Park" than this one! But hey, that's my personal opinion, so don't throw any stones my way, I'm here to present you 10 Things You Should Know About Krakow Business Park:
1) Krakow Business Park is not in Krakow - to be more precise, it's less than 13 km away from the centre of Krakow. Now you might not think that as much, but the traffic combined with the public transport and the renovation work on the railway system might make you have a very long transit time (getting to and from work) especially during rush hours. 
2) Krakow Business Park boasts of "four A class buildings", office areas ranging from 500 metres to modules consisting of entire floors, even up to 2700 metres. Nowdays there is plenty of space free in the Krakow Business Park as many of the big companies/corporation, due to the fact mentioned above (transit) decided to move inside Krakow, to the newest Business Parks created inside the city perimeters.
Interior Z1 building, KBP, Poland
3) Krakow Business Park has one big plus: great location in connection with the Krakow Airport (John Paul the 2nd) and a perfect connection with the A4 motorway. That is a huge plus if you have your own car or if you call a cab/taxi - it's about 5-10 min drive. But if you need to rely on the public transport... you are doomed!
4) Krakow Business Park has parking spaces for car drivers. Actually each of the 4 buildings has an underground parking lot, with dedicated spaces and access for the employees of the companies residing in that particular building. There are nice places around the buildings as well and there is also this huuuuge parking lot but that's always a horror during wintertime or when it rains, as it is actually not paved and it gets extremely muddy (loads of lakes, rather than puddles...). Nowdays it' quite deserted as there are fewer and fewer companies working in KBP. I remember 4 years ago if you would come to work after 9 am you would have an issue finding a free spot anywhere!
Train stop for Krakow Business Park, Krakow, Poland
5) Krakow Business Park had a great advantage by having it's own private train station and train ticket office - it still has that but now the trains are not as frequent as they used to be due to the fact that there are renovation works on the tracks. Poland is very good with obtaining European Union funds and using them correctly, to its citizen benefit. There were 2 tracks - one for each way - but now only one is open at a time. They are changing it for better trains (speed trains) and working on the ground to get it stabilised. It' a long process that will make the line going to Wieliczka and Oswiecim (Auschwitz) better and faster and more reliable. But that also means that a couple of year there will be ok limited traffic, a limited amount of trains coming that way and an even more restricted number or those that will actually stop at the KBP station. If you are lucky now, they come maybe once per hour and even then they are late...
6) Krakow Business Park does have 1 ATM machine from which you can extract money and but what you need - for example yummy food from the Food Trucks. I never caught it out of order or out of money and never caught a line when I tried to get money out. The ATM is located in the first building next to the public transport bus stop, KBP 200 (not the Z1 building!), on the ground floor - as you enter the revolving doors, to your right.
View to the parking lot, coming from KBP800, KBP
7) Krakow Business Park has 3 "push-the-tray" food places (the KBP site calls them "three restaurants" but I would not venture to call them that highly...). If you didn't bring and food and if you are very hungry and just want something warm to eat, canteen like - old school - not very yummy but filling food. There are 3 options: the best one of the 3, in my opinion, is "Blackberry", located in Z1, ground floor as you are going to the train tracks - decent, warm food, mainly Polish cooking. Then there is "Krakowskie Przedmiejsce" - "Dollar" (hope I wrote that right...) and it's located on the side of KBP 200. It's Polish food and here the food is portioned (in "Blackberry" you take a plate and put into it as much as you want from any dish). You can also take just half a portion and pay for half, if you don't want it all. The 3rd option is called "Cent" and it's at the ground floor of KBP1000. It's plus, since a week now, is the fact that daily after 1 pm there is a salad buffet and "Italian dishes" - must try that once and see how that is... don't have high expectations!
8) Krakow Business Park has another plus: Manufaktura Zdrowia Fitness & Gym. I used to love this place! I was going there 3 times a week for Pilates classes at 7 am. It would open up at 6:30 am and I would be there, running a bit, then doing the Pilates and finally relaxing with some half a hour of sauna. It was perfect and I would start work at 8:30-9:00 am with a positive attitude. I stopped when I came back from maternity leave as the trains, as I have said, have horrific train schedules + I choose to spend my morning time with my little Ladybug Baby Girl. But just FYI, this is a great place to spend time before/after work. Very nice people that speak English and you can use the Multisport Card here ;) They also do, from time to time, at the company/people request, stretching classes that last 15-30 min. Great for when you are being stuck in a chair for 8.5+ hours daily!
Your Healthy Jar Food Truck in Krakow Business Park, Zabierzow, Poland 
9) Krakow Business Park Food Trucks - in order to save us from the typical daily polish menu, in order to create diversity in our daily meal, KBP management agreed with a Food Truck area - located between KBP400 and KBP800. The trucks come on a daily basis (2 or sometimes even 3 of them) and serve food between 11 am and 3 pm. Each day there is a different one, a different menu. I tried and like a few: Twoj Zdrowy Sloj (Your Healthy Jar) and Hindus are my personal favourite - at Hindus you MUST try the "Butter Chicken" and at Twoj Zdrowy Sloj you MUST try the "Serniczek" (Cheesecake) that is done with a very smooth chocolate mousse (heavenly!). But there is also hamburgers, Mexican food, Greek food, by rotation they all come at least one day there. Try them all and let me know which you likes best. Oh! Almost forgot! Hindus also does a mean "Mango lassu" drink - smooth and tasty, a perfect treat to go with the "Butter Chicken" ;) 
10) Getting to Krakow Business Park -  since lat year, when the heavy repairs started at the train lines, and the schedules changed, the companies remaining at KBP started providing additional buses for its own employees (for sure both Amway and UBS do that). If you own a car an you come to work around 8 am and get back around 5 pm, then you will always be in trouble and you will need to start early from home - that's the rush hour. It can be faster for some people on some routes though... Depends! Depends of your location - sometimes it takes me 2 hours (both ways) by public transport! Of course the public transport is the most used one - lines 238, 248 and 258 get you to the Krakow Business Park or Zabierzow Dzialki stop (from which you need to cross the street and walk a bit). For the public transport to get from Krakow to Zabierzow (Krakow Business Park) you must buy a Strefa I+II ticket/abonament (as it is located in the 2nd zone/area, the metropolitan area). There are also private buses that can take you up to the Zabierzow Dzialki station - but I would not recommend that to the people that have never been in the area because they might miss the correct stop. There are also the trains - that used to work on time and pretty often, but now... we must wait until the works on the lines are done. I used to take something up to Galeria Krakowska (Tunel Station) and then go straight up to the platform/train that would take me to work. I'm missing that :( now there is so much time wasted catching and waiting for buses. Oh! By the way! Those lines that connect to Krakow Business Park are almost 80-90% never in time and always filled up to the brim - I always end up feeling like a sardine...

Yours sincerely,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Works In Krakow Business Park 
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Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Things I Am Thankful For - December 2017

Dearest sweethearts,

If you've been reading my blog this year you must have noticed the challenge I have proposed for last year. It's hard sometimes to see the bright side of life. Even when looking at a glass of water we tend to see the empty half, nor the part filled with water. In fact, all that is relatively as the glass is never empty - the other half is filled with air! So what I proposed was that at the beginning of each month we should think of the things we are thankful for.  It might be hard at first but you'll get better as time passes. Train yourself to see the beauty in the little things in life. Start with 5 things/Moments and work up from there ;) Here's my take until now for the month of January, FebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctober and November. For December, I am thankful for many things, but here are 5 picks:
1. Star Wars Universe - specifically The Last Jedi (that I have seen on the big screen, up to this very day, for 4 times - both 2D and 3D) and all the new Canon books and comics that appear like mushroos after heavy rain. Some people can't take the Disney(fied) version of Star Wars nowdays, but I say: Bring it on! I've always been a Star Wars fan ever since I was a little lass, I ain't stopping now! #carriefisherismyprincessforever  ♥️it is true I do not agree with the road taken with the original characters (especially Luke) but the new movies  have this cinematic beauty that makes everyone want to watch and rewatch them. I , for one, am rooting for a match between Kylo Ren / Ben Solo and Rey. And somehow I find it hard to believe that she's a noone.  
2. Christmas Markets - nothing gets me more into the Christmas spirit than the Christmas Markets opening at the end of November, but when there is some snow and frost (in December) they get even more magical. Going out with family, treating yourself to some mulled wine and some oscypek (mountain cheese), having some pictures in front of the huge Christmas tree... that's somewhat magical in itself. Enjoy the Szopka Christmas Nativity Scenes Contest next to the Adam Mickiewicz statue, maybe buy a small wooden version for yourself - for home... children love Christmas Markets and what better time to become children again then Christmas Time?!
3. Time spent with Family - I am blessed to have both my mum and granny with me, helping us with the little Ladybug Baby Girl. That allows us to go to work and not worry about a nanny or child care. It is a blessing indeed! And we were fortunate enough to have also my sister over for both Christmas and New Year - I wish she could have stayed forever, but we all have work to do... Yet time spent with the Family is the best way one can spend time, especially during the winter holidays. The main holidays should be spent with family, together as one, not necessarily eating like a pig :p but enjoying the time with one another, sharing stories, playing cards, having long walks... even fighting from time to time... I guess every family does That!
4. People still being human, people that still give, people that have a heart that beats not only for themselves - I love the fact that even if corporations are greedy and they do tend to take the soul and spirit away from People, they do provide CSR activities to balance the artistic urges. I know for sure that in Krakow there are corporations that host once a year large artistic events created, directed and acted by employees; done on their own sweet time. The artistic acts are usually plays or musicals and the money raised goes to diverse charities. Capgemini does that, Cisco does that and UBS does that too... This year I finally managed to go see my friends at the Musical: Kasting - it had 2 shows in December and it will have 2 more in January. It's nice to know that people still care and would give up their time and money to do something good for others. Think about it! Pay it forward!
5. Holidays - to be more precise: Christmas and New Year - what can be better than winter Holidays?! What brings family closer, what puts a smile on everyone's face? Christmas brightens the spirits, it lifts people up... it makes one think of God and the fact that he came here as a babe for us. A King became a baby, when usually it's quite the opposite... the other way around... I love this time of year, when everyone gets together and there is present sharing and this lovely smell around the house. Everyone gets a break from work and everyone turns jolly... oh, how I wish it were Christmas all year round!

Yours very much truly,
The Twisted Red Ladybug That Wants To Be Thankful For All The Lovely Things Life Brings Us
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