A Jamaican Tale From Poland


“Marry me.”

That’s what Terry’s boyfriend said when he found out she was leaving.

“Marry me. You can move into my family house. I will work and send you to college.”

Maybe another 18-year-old would have jumped at the opportunity to marry bae and spend the rest of her life in a family house in JA, but not Terry-Ann O’Connor. She was fresh out of high school and thirsty for adventure. Adventure she knew wouldn’t come from getting married at such a young age. So when aunt Jem offered her an opportunity to join her in a foreign land, she ignored her BF’s tears and boarded her first flight ever to Poland.


She had no knowledge of the culture of the Polish people. She didn’t know that a large number of them had never seen a black person in their entire lives and she wasn’t prepared for the stares.

And did they stare!

From older people and babies, she got the What the hell is that thing?’ stare.

From younger people, she got wide-eyed wonderment and the ‘What a cool, exotic chick?’ stare.

And from men, well, they didn’t just stare. Terry recounted two incidents in particular. She said:

“One time, someone grabbed my ass on the crowded underground train and another time when I was leaving home, I looked back to a shout of ‘hey black girl’ and not too far from me a guy was jacking off.”

Needless to say, Terry’s trip to Poland and thirst for adventure became what she called ‘the worst two years of my life’. She said:


“The weather was too cold, the people were cold and the food, I couldn’t stand it. I didn’t find the guys attractive either. Plus, the language just sounded like people constantly shouting at each other and saying what sounded like bitch to me way too many times.”

Terry was scared for her safety. She had no real friends. Men seeing her without really seeing her made her feel unattractive and she was miserable.

In less than a year, she became an angry, rebellious impolite young woman and aunty wasn’t having it. She told her, “If your attitude doesn’t change you either move out of my house or return to JA.”


Maybe it was the fact that she didn’t want to disappoint her aunt, maybe it was the fact that returning home without making an effort would disappoint her parents and maybe it was just learning that people were not really calling her a bitch but were actually saying ‘byc’ (a verb meaning ‘to be’ and changes form to fit a sentence), but Terry decided to give Poland a fair chance.

She started working as a SLT(second language tutor) taking the students her aunt couldn’t fit into her schedule and two weeks after that she also started University. Terry says:

“In hindsight, when I look back I realize that I had the experiences that I expected to happen. Just imagine being the only black person almost everywhere and having kids pull away from you or stare at you. I wanted to fight so many times and the more I expected things to be horrible the more horrible and unpleasant things become.”

The minute Terry-Ann changed her mindset, the minute things started looking up for her. Starting a degree in Psychology also allowed her to open up to people and make friends. She said:

“I began studying Polish language, I stopped complaining and comparing Poland to Jamaica and simply lived in the moment and that is how I had my first crush.”


I’ll tell you about that next week.


Until Next Time:

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[…] when I brought you Keyma’s tale from Dubai, Shawna Kay’s tale from China, Terry’s tale from Poland and various Jamaicans who are ‘Jaminating’ in Japan. This week, I’ll revisit that series by […]