Warsaw

Live Like a Local: Warsaw Integration

20 Oct 2020
There was a time, not too long ago, when people would come to Warsaw just to visit, sometimes by accident, but certainly not intent on living here. Times have changed, there's been a decade long economic boom, and now the city is seen as an attractive place to either study or even settle down! It may be the case you have arrived in Warsaw and have explored the touristy side of the city, hopefully using our online guide with its 'Essential Warsaw' recommendations and our magazine (below) with its self-guided tours with maps in one package, or by going on a guided tour of the city. Whatever the case, once you've settled, you just wish to live like a local - for that, you'll need to integrate!

Everyone's motivations will vary, from feeling homesick and wishing to mingle with expats from your home country, or with other internationals, potentially to learn a new language (Polish, huh?), or you are an Erasmus student simply wishing to increase your social circle. Everyone's circumstance will differ - but there's always something going on allowing everyone to participate in events, meetings, and simply enjoy life and get to know people. So where to start? Where do you even begin to search? That's why we're here, to keep you entertained on your travels, but to also help you along if you have chosen to call Warsaw your home. We have listed various organisations that specialise in integrative events which regularly take place around Warsaw that not only offer you the chance to mingle with expats and fellow students, but with travellers and local Polish people too.

If general leisure events are what you seek (social events like board games, bar meetings, sports, Warsaw trips) then we recommend Warsaw Yeddel (formerly Warsaw Social). The premise is simple - the majority of events are free, unless otherwise stated in the event info, so just turn up, mingle and have fun. Easy. Run by Robert (UK) and Joanna (PL), prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there almost wasn't a day when an event was not organised in the city. Although due to uncertainty about the ongoing situation Yeddel events are not currently taking place, they will, thankfully, return in the near future. Follow their site to check updates on their eventual return and for a full list of all upcoming events. 
 
Couchsurfing Warsaw day trips always prove popular! Photo: Saurabh Bandyopadhyay.

You may have heard about CouchSurfing.com, the homestay and social networking service created in 2003 for travellers around the globe. Today, the most popular aspect of Couchsurfing is the potential to suss out local events, meet local people and other travellers. The Facebook page CouchSurfing Warsaw regularly advertises bar meet ups and events taking place in and around the city, and even beyond, with weekend trips (most recently to Toruń, Kazimierz DolnyBiałowieża National Park and Lublin), all the initiative of Event Organiser Łukasz Piwowarski who hosts CS Weekly Meetup Warsaw. Social drinks, events and trips - perfect for travellers, locals, students and expats to meet and have fun.
 
The monthly Expat Mixer meeting in Elektrownia Powiśle's Kandela Bar.

A fairly new event aimed at Warsaw's expanding expat/international group takes place on the 3rd Thursday of every month in the relaxed Kandela Bar (found inside the stunning former power station turned multi-use centre, Elektrownia Powiśle). The adequately titled event, 'Expat Mixer', is just that, a chance for the city's international community to meet, talk and have social drinks, alcoholic or nay.
 
Commemorative coin celebrating 12 years of Tandem Warsaw International Community!

If you seek some fun-through-education, and learning languages is more your thing, then Tandem Warsaw International Community is right up your street. These free meetings, running since 2008, take place throughout the week and include a whole host of languages including English, Polish, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish, to name a few. The meetings are free, although out of courtesy, you are encouraged to at least buy one tea/coffee/drink in the premises. Visit their Facebook page to see all upcoming events, and in times of COVID-19 restrictions, they even have online meetings!

The organiser of Tandem Warsaw is an expat himself, Mirko Kiril, from Italy, who has lived in Warsaw since 2008, and although the concept of the meetings is fairly easy to grasp, he explained to us the deeper meaning, which must be considered:

"Social life is very important to the health of everybody. The WHO definition of health is the status of wellbeing - physical,  mental and social - the social part is fundamental to having a good life. Some people met at tandem and got married - six couples to date! In tandem, you will meet so many people, that certainly you will find friends or partners to play sports or go to a party. The quality of life in Warsaw is good, but it gets much better when you make a lot of friends."
 
One of many regular well attended meetings organised by Tandem Warsaw International Community.

And despite the challenges we are all experiencing around the world, the situation in Poland is not as severe as other countries. It's important to remember to adhere to the new sanitary regime, including social distancing measures, which allow for events to continue, so long as people stick to the rules. Tandem meetings survived the lockdown, and are currently thriving, as Mirko explained:

"Tandem people are very sociable, and they were just waiting for tandem to start organising meetings again. From our point of view, we survived the pandemic, simply because we were never dependent on a business model, but rather a not for profit spontaneous group of people that meet every week to talk".

The yearning to socialise will always trump any adversity we may encounter, here, here!

There are, of course, more general expat pages available on Facebook, such as Expats in Warsaw and Warsaw Expats (among many others) for general issues and topics, but it's not uncommon to see events advertised here too. If you're an Erasmus student in the city, then the various Erasmus and ESN Facebook pages and more official ones for the University of Warsaw and University of Technology will be more than helpful.

Whether you're only staying in Warsaw for the short-term, or you're in it for the long haul - we've got you covered!

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