My stories of Lublin - Part 3: Strangers in a bar

Irish bar Quelle: Christian_Birkholz via pixabay; CC0 Public Domain; https://pixabay.com/de/bar-lokal-cong-irland-irishpub-209148/

Last winter semester (Oct`15 - Feb´16) I‘ve been in Lublin, Poland for one semester abroad. This article is about my experiences in a Polish bar - flavoured beer, why it's (nearly) impossible to stay alone in a Polish bar and about two persistent guys, who flirted with me.

Please note: This text is part of a competition for former Erasmus students, which have spent for one semester (or longer) at the John Paul II. Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. One of the requirements is, that the text (article / blog or video) is in English. That‘s the reason why I wrote this text in English and not in German. Enjoy reading!

 

What is a well-known stereotype about students? - They love to drink and party. Of course, there are also other common stereotypes - but that‘s another story. Many people do have this stereotype about students and usually forget, that to every rule there is an exception - like me. I sure like to got out once in a while, but I don‘t really like to go to clubs or discos. There are too many people in one limited space, it‘s awfully loud and it‘s so hot and sweaty in there, it‘s hard to breathe. You need to yell at each other, if you want to talk or have to say something, but even then it‘s hard to understand what someone yelled at you.

Nevertheless - I've been to a club once or twice. And yes - I danced a little, I had some fun. But I stll prefer a bar anytime!

Shine club - Group PictureQuelle: Dunja Kuster

OK, maybe it is that hard for ME, because I have to wear hearing aids and it‘s exhausting for me to focus on a simple conversation sometimes. Or maybe it‘s because somehow I‘m usually bored in clubs / discos. So I prefer going to bars instead. For me, bars are the perfect compromise: You can drink, listen to music and you can talk to each other and you don‘t have to shout or yell as if you were in a club. Some bars even have a dance floor, so if you feel like it, you can dance.

My favourite bar in Lublin was the „Publika“ - not only, because Magda worked there. They mainly played rock songs with different types or styles. Fun Fact: What surprised me the most there, they always had the German Rock-Band „Rammstein“ on their playlist.

I always went to the bar alone - all my other friends usually preferred going to clubs and discos and s.o. Surprisingly, I‘ve never been alone in this bar for a long time. It only took a few minutes, then someone asked me something or talked to me and then we were chatting the whole night until the bar closed. One time I was even invited by a completely stranger to drink with him and his friends, who came to Lublin because of the fantasy convention „Falkon“. At this point I should tell you about some drinking facts:

  • If you order f.ex. vodka orange (vodka with orange juice), you‘ll get a vodka shot and a glass of orange juice. You drink the vodka shot first and then some orange juice. For comparison only: In Germany you mix both „ingredients“ in one glass and drink it.
  • In Poland you can order your beer with flavoured syrup in it. Girls usually drink this „flavoured“ beer with a straw. The first time I saw this, I was completely surprised. Magda asked me: „You don‘t know this?“ - „No.“ - „You don‘t drink your beer in Germany like this?“ - „No. The only thing we do, we mix our beer sometimes with cherry juice or lemonade. But we never drink our beer with a straw!“
  • As you can see - Polish people are quite open-minded and companionable. They love to have a good time - even with strangers, they never met before. Of course, there are this and those people. But that‘s how I experienced it.

Most of the times, I just made good experiences. But I also made some pretty strange experiences. And it would be wrong, not to tell you about it: If you‘re a woman and you‘re going out, it‘s no surprise that some guys are flirting with you. A few times some guys also flirted with me and yes, I was flattered. But I always made clear, that I have a boyfriend and there is no way, that anything is going to happen. Most of the guys accepted it and either backed off or went back to a „normal“ conversation. But there were two guys, who were a little persistent. Nothing unusual - except for one thing: According to their age, one guy could‘ve been my father, the other one could‘ve been my grandfather. And now just imagine dating your father or grandfather... It‘s just „a little“ creepy.

The „grandfather“ said he came from England and is travelling between England and Poland. He always kept telling me, that he has about five different jobs and one of these jobs was some sort of a coach, helping other people to start their career. He always carried a portfolio with many different CV‘s in it, showed them to me without any hesitation and offered me to help me with my career. All I need to do is giving him a print of my CV. Before you completely freak out: Don‘t worry. I never gave him my CV - for two reasons:

  1. He showed me the CV‘s from his clients without any hesitation. I guess you all know, a CV contains a lot of personal data - sometimes even adresses, phone numbers etc. And I don‘t think, someone who‘s doing this, is very trustworthy.
  2. The CV‘s he showed me looked very curios. The script was coloured, with serif and everything was disordered. There were citations from (more or less) famous persons, pictures of them. As far as I know, the script in a CV remains black and sans serif. The only picture is a portrait of yourself and all the informations are ordered in some sort of chart.
George Beranger in Flirting with FateQuelle: By film screenshot (Fine Arts Film Company) (http://archive.org/details/Flirting_with_Fate) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The second guy (the „father“) kept telling me, he was a lawyer. But when I asked him what kind of a lawyer he is - if he‘s a general lawyer or if he‘s specialized in some areas - he couldn‘t give me a clear answer. First he told me, he was teaching law at high school. Maybe I don‘t know anything about the school system in Poland and the subjects at Polish schools. But I assumed, that this couldn‘t be true. He also denied this answer, when I asked him about this the 2nd time. Then he said something about German law, Polish law, about treaties, that he‘s giving advices during treaty negotiations and that he could choose between Polish law and German law. I thought: Wait, what?! Are you kidding me? I might be no lawyer, but even I do know, if I break Polish law in Poland I got punished by Polish law - and not German law.

To make things short: It was very confusing. And after a while he started to annoy me, but I kept being polite. He asked me, if he could invite me for a drink and I asked Magda, if she can make me a cup of coffee. I didn‘t deny his offer, but I certainly didn‘t want to drink anything alcoholic, while he was around. I also kept an eye to this cup of coffee and made sure, that only Magda gave it to me so he couldn‘t mix something in it. Later she told me, she was doing the very same thing. After a while I was getting tired and I checked the schedules for the next night bus back to my flat.

Several times he offered me, to drive me home or call me a taxi. I kept adamant and said: „No, I‘m taking the night bus. But thanks“. And no matter how many times I told it to him, he still kept asking, if he could drive me home or call me a taxi. When it was time for me to go to the bus stop, Magda asked me, if one of her friends should go with me. I had no idea, why she was asking me this, until I turned around and saw this guy waiting for me at the main door. In a badly way I was surprised, I thought he would stay at the bar. But I said to Magda, that she didn‘t have to. It‘s not that far away to the bus stop, there are still people outside and if anything happens, I start to yell. And before I left the bar - unfortunately with „him“ - I promised to her to take the night bus, to text her and to keep her up-to-date.

Of course, on the way to the bus stop he tried to come close to me and reached out his hand - obviously to try to grab my hand. But I kept my hands in my pockets. And every time he made one step closer to me, I made a step away from him. He kept babbling, asking to call a cab, to flirt - and still I tried to be polite and tried to ignore him. But sooner or later everyone reached their limit and I finally had it with him. He asked me again (for the 3rd or 4th time, I don‘t know) if I have a boyfriend. He asked me this question several times before and I always said „Yes, I do have a boyfriend“. This time I turned my head and I nearly shouted „YES! I do have a boyfriend!“. He nearly jumped away from me - maybe my reaction scared him - and apologized. Then I added „And I would never cheat on him!“.

Then he finally left me alone. At the crossing he made one last attempt and asked, if he can call and buy me a taxi. „No, I‘m taking the night bus!“ - „OK, bye. Was nice to meet you.“ End of conversation - finally!

One lesson I definitely learned from this situation: Yes, you always should try to be nice and polite to other people. But sometimes it is OK - and necessary - to be an „impolite ass hole“.

________

This article is one of three articles I wrote for a contest. Here you can find the links to the other two articles. Enjoy reading!

Story Nr. 1) „Living in a flat“

Story Nr. 2) „History strikes back!“

Story Nr. 3) „Strangers in a bar“