Tracing the Journey of Cross-cultural Adaptation by Polish Migrant Women in Ireland

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Increasing mobility amongst migrants in Europe has raised awareness for people’s specific migration experiences. This paper explores the cross-cultural experiences of Polish migrant women in Ireland, and their adjustment to Irish culture. Since EU accession on 1st May 2004, more than 200,000 Polish migrants arrived in Ireland and changed the face of Ireland considerably. Poles are generally expected to adjust very well for their perceived similar background of being Catholic and sharing a similar history of emigration and foreign occupation with the Irish. One may ask whether those similarities make life easier for Polish women than for other migrants here and how life in Ireland compares to their lives at home in Poland? On the surface, Polish women appear to ‘get along very well’. Underneath this surface, a different pattern emerges that questions their straightforward adaptation. From in-depth semi-structured interviews it appears that they are very attached to home and their families at home; they buy Polish food and mainly socialise with other Poles. Maintaining home culture traditions and behaviour is imperative to their process of adaptation. At the same time, they adopt host culture behaviour and follow, for instance, some host culture socialisation patterns by socialising with their colleagues outside home after work. This contrasting behaviour has impact on their cultural identity that changes over time as a result of their migration experience. In this paper, I wish to explore the women’s cultural identity, how it differs to the host’s identity and the changes brought about as a result of being exposed to another culture. One key aspect portraying the differences between Polish and Irish identity is friendship. Polish women are, for instance, strongly attached to their przyjaciółka, who is more than a friend, and for which exists no word in the English language.

Keywords: Cross-cultural Adaptation, Cultural Identity, Friendship, Socialisation Patterns, Host/Home Culture
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Tracing the Journey of Cross-cultural Adaptation by Polish Migrant Women in Ireland

Dr. Katharina Storch

PhD candidate, School of Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies, Humanities and Social Sciences
Dublin, Ireland

Katharina Storch is currently finishing up on her PhD in Dublin City University (DCU) that is entitled ‘Tracing the journey of cross-cultural adaptation of Polish migrant women in Ireland’. She holds an M.A. in Intercultural Studies from DCU and a Bachelor in International Marketing from Savonia Polytechnic, Varkaus in Finland. In DCU, she lectures ‘Intercultural Communicative Competence’. She also teaches English and German at Berlitz Language Schools. As a research assistant, she has worked in an EU-funded research project in DCU, called the European Intercultural Workplace Project, that explores issues of diversity in workplaces across ten European countries. Her research interests are in migration and intercultural studies, with emphasis on Polish and Irish migration, as well as cross-cultural psychology and diversity in the intercultural workplace. She is an active member of the research network “European researcher of migration and ethnic studies”.

Ref: I08P0525