International travel woes

Not this time, terrorists!

So some guy decided to stop taking his meds and load up on booze on his way to New York recently. Apparently, that doesn’t sit well with passengers any more, so they taped his ass to his seat with duct tape (though, it looks more like 100mph tape, for my army readers) and finished the flight in relative silence. He wasn’t charged with anything, because passengers just wanted to get on with their lives rather than talk to police about some nutjob, so I suppose he’s roaming the streets of New York as we speak. Hopefully, the city that never sleeps will keep an eye on this guy, but I won’t hold my breath.

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Why Poland?

Bottom line: med school. But I’ll cover that in my next post. For this post, I’ll just focus on Poland itself, and the benefits. I know what you might be thinking – if you’re whole reasoning is to go to med school in Poland, wouldn’t it make sense to explain, “Why med school?” Sure, that’s legit, but I have to start somewhere, and since this is Vikings in Poland, I’m starting with the great nation itself.

Family

My wife is Polish. She was born in the States, but has close ties to the old country (I never get to say that about my family, so I’ll say it about her), and has traveled back there to spend time with them frequently. She’s speaks native Polish (one of 5 languages fluently or better) and will be my essential lifeline in the foreign land we are invading this year. Depending on how various interviews go, we could be VERY close to a majority of her extended family, and I will have a great opportunity to spend time with native Polish intelligentsia, which could give me some excellent connections.

Finances

The average cost of med schools in the United States is somewhere around $45,000. This, of course, is after completing a specific bachelors degree and passing your MCAT entrance exams with reasonable scores. When all is said and done, becoming an MD in the States can run you right around half a million bucks if you’re going to private schools, or maybe half that (what a deal!) if you economize. You will be hobbled for years with student loan debt, and your options will be dictated to you based upon your ability to pay it back.

However, in Poland, the cost of a medical degree in classes taught in English runs you about $11,000 per year. The cost of living in Poland is a fraction of the cost of most places in the States. Also, you can opt for a 6-year MD degree without getting a bachelors, actually saving you two years of school. Even with conservative estimating, a Polish medical degree will cost you less than a third of what you will pay in the US, and you can still take the same boards and enter the same residency pools as any US medical school students for jobs in the States. On a side note, both of my wife’s parents are doctors (one a native born American, one not) in the US with degrees from Polish universities, so it can be done. I call that a win.

Freedom

America is the land of the free… right? But is it really? Taxes are on the rise, the government is cracking down on gun rights, and Obama is bombing foreign countries like he’s trying to prove he isn’t a Muslim. I’m not certain I want to be around for the blowback, and I sure don’t want to pay through the nose for the privilege.

I have always loved to travel, and have been to Eastern Europe a few times before. This will give me a chance to really see another part of the world (again) and will be a jumping off point to other parts of Europe, Asia, and maybe even Africa. It’s much easier to visit these awesome historical locations when I don’t have to pay $1500 per ticket to fly coach for 12 hours across an ocean each way. I’ll already be there! This is the opportunity for my wife and me and our budding family to explore the world and have the chance to do things most people only dream about. What’s not to like?

Caveats

So, there are a few thoughts about this that my wife pointed out to me. Before any of you readers out there go jumping at the bit and decide to move to Poland, realize that it’s going to be HARD. Polish is a notoriously difficult language to learn, and Poland is a very exclusive society. More than 99% of the population is ethnically Polish, and immigrants aren’t treated particularly well. I will be somewhat of an exception due my extreme whiteness and the fact that I’m married to a beautiful Polish woman with plenty of high ranking local connections. That said, you won’t get beaten in the street for having dark skin (like you would in Russia) but you won’t have a particularly easy time meeting people or generating fruitful relationships.

The bureaucracy in Poland is a hassle. Everything requires a stamp, or a letter, or a notary. Slackers need not apply. It takes WORK to live in Poland (or a trust fund). The social services are barely adequate, and people are expected to be taken care of by their families, so if you don’t have one, you’re pretty much on your own. The unprepared or unsupported immigrant in Poland soon finds themselves in a world of hurt.

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Pulling the trigger

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…

For one Viking family, the world is very much as Dickens portrayed. This desperate winter season hearkens a hopeful spring, when we will take to the waters like our forefathers and invade Poland with the promise of riches and valor to come. I suppose “take to the waters” might be a bit of hyperbole, as we’ll likely fly coach, but the sentiment remains.

The decision to transplant my family to another continent, to a nation with a foreign culture and language, was not a decision made lightly. Many factors led to this decision, starting years ago; decisions I made as far as my previous education, my wife’s family background, my experiences in the military, and the life my wife and I have lived since becoming one unit. I’ll break down my goals, my progress, and my reasoning that led me to where I am now, and share my experience and ideas with anyone interested in something like what I’m doing, or just interested in general.

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