Living and working in Iceland a unique and positive experience
Dawid and Agnieszka Dawbrowski arrived in Iceland in October 2006 along with numerous other people from Poland who came to seek out work here. In an interview with Morgunblaðið they explain how they felt about their five years living in Iceland.
Before arriving in Iceland they knew very little about it, except that it was cold. Dawid got a job in the construction industry and Agnieszka started working at a playschool and they settled down in Borgarnes, West Iceland. They lived in Borgarnes for five years and then returned to Poland where they live with their two children in a town called Tarnowskie Góry, just north of Katowice.
"We enjoyed living in Iceland, the people there are open, helpful and relaxed. They are less stressed than here. The landscape is of course incredible and it's great living at such proximity to nature. Also, heating is cheap and the hot water is just wonderful, we especially liked the hot tubs in Iceland."
The smell of the hot water in Iceland took some getting used to however. "We didn't really get used to it, and didn't really get used to the weather either. In Iceland it's not that sunny and there's a lot of wind. The wind is what what reminds us most of Iceland. The cost of thing is incredibly high in Iceland. And the imported fruit taste different to the ones we were used to in Poland. But in all, living and working in Iceland we found to be positive and unique experience."
They found the standard of living higher in Iceland. "The wages in Iceland were double the wages here in Poland and if you worked a lot of extra hours you could multiply your wages. But after the economic crash that changed and things weren't much better than in Poland. However the welfare system in Iceland is much better."
The couple kept busy by working full time. Agnieszka worked every other weekend in a local shop as well as working at the playschool and was distance learning at a Polish University. She flew to Poland regularly to take exams and hand in work and ended up taking a MA in bookkeeping. Dawid played football with local club Skallagrímur and both of them worked out at the local gym.
But how did do with learning Icelandic? Agnieszka says that she learnt a considerable amount of Icelandic at the playschool. "I also took a few Icelandic courses and I still speak Icelandic when I get the chance."
Dawid learned a lot of football phrases he explains, and went on a few courses. "But I don't remember very much. Icelandic is so different to ours and it wasn't easy to learn."
After the economic crash in Iceland the couple started thinking about moving back to Poland. The birth of their son Lukasz weighed greatly in their decision. "When he was born we started to really miss our families back home. We wanted him to get to know them and we didn't want to miss out on all the family events. But it wasn't an easy decision. We had become part of the society in Borgarnes and had many friends."
They moved back to Poland in October 2011 after living in Iceland for five years. "We feel that the experience strengthened us. It wasn't easy to begin with, with no one understanding your language and when you don't understand the local language. It was hard during the pitch black of winter but It definitely made us stronger."
The couple are happy living back in Poland. Agnieszka works in bookkeeping and Dawid works for as a project manager for a construction company, using his engineering background.
"When our younger child, Sosja was born, we decided to build a house with a little garden so that the children could play outside and where we could grow vegetables."
They say that Poland has become very unrestful politically but they hope that things will take a turn for the better. "At least the Polish national football team is doing well, just like the Icelandic one!"
Agniezska and Dawid would like to thank everyone that supported them and helped them out in Iceland with all their hearts. "We will never forget the time we spent in Iceland or the people we got to know there. We are grateful that we had the opportunity. "