#5 of 12 things I’ve learnt living 12 months in Poland

Here’s the latest episode of our summer/winter reflective series “12 things I’ve learnt living 12 months in Poland“.

Nowa Huta

5. How to live without a backyard

For an Australian, your own backyard seems to be a rite of passage. Even in my student share houses, there was always a backyard, usually under-used and overgrown. I hardly knew anyone who lived in an apartment – that’s something only for rich, inner-city, business people. Here in Poland (and the majority of the world), that equation is rather reversed.

This apartment block in the centre is so large it has it’s own post code! Katowice

Almost everyone lives in an apartment here – and so, I too found myself for the first time in my life living above ground, without a private green space of my own. At first, it was really hard to get use to, I felt cooped up! Keeping pets seemed cruel! And even trying to do the simple act of keeping pot plants became a mystery – where the hell could I put all this dirt?! It seemed unnatural to me that children should grow up in apartment blocks with no place to run and play outside…

But then I realised that there were these spaces to run and play and be outdoors – parks. I also realised that these shared outdoor spaces meant that kids (and dogs (and adults)) tend to go out and use public parks more than we do in Australia, where we stay hidden from each other behind our large, secure fences. And this simply means people get to meet each other more. Far from a deprived childhood, these Polish kids who grow up living in apartment blocks (even the grey communist ones) have memories of always having a gang of other children to play with and make fun with (and apparently the bars between the blocks for hitting the dust out of carpets made the best monkey bars!) A contrast to my own childhood growing up with a bit of land out of town, where I’d only had my siblings and sometimes the neighbours kids to play with. Living in an apartment doesn’t mean being trapped in a small indoor space. I’ve learnt it means getting out and using your city as your backyard instead.

Let’s take it to the park!

Polish children don’t grow up cooped in their apartment, but having adventures in their city!

When you live in an apartment, the city parks become your backyard


Missed an episode? Check out our previous posts from the series!

12 things I’ve learned from living 12 months in Poland:

  1. To see the beauty in every season
  2. Eat and cook to the season
  3. If it ain’t broke, fix it!
  4. To look beyond the blocks

About Wendy Allan

Wendy comes from Australia. She left her biomedical laboratory bench to explore other ideas of "wellness". She is drawn to projects centred around community engagement & social inclusion. Passionate about education, food and bringing people together, Wendy sees her travel as a way to study these interests further.