What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral

We're apparently weirdly proud of our boilers - but our littering leaves much to be desired

Senior Reporter

It was a rather unlikely contribution to Britain’s immigration debate: a Polish IT consultant’s account of his experiences of life in the UK in which he expresses his bafflement at sick people who insist on coming to work, cowboy hairdressers and our bizarre obsession with having two taps in sinks.

Entitled “Random stuff that baffles me as an immigrant”, the 2,000-word essay posted on the social forum Reddit has provoked thousands of responses from other users, many of whom praised the author for offering an insight into how Britain appears to foreigners settling here.

In one section dealing with the British habit of littering, he writes: “I’ve once seen three guys in suits in a Tube, around 8pm, eating (in a very messy way) some McDonalds meals. And they left all the packaging on the seats when leaving the Tube. Not even gathered into one bag – no, three of four seats littered with greasy shit. Disgusting. I’ve never seen anything like that before outside Russia.”

He is also mystified by people’s obsession with central heating. “Boilers seem to be a centrepiece of every home,” he notes. “Friends bragging about the greatest boiler maintenance contracts they managed to get. Friends complaining about broken boilers on Facebook. Friends happy with fixed boilers. Friends asking who knows how to fix boilers. WTF is it with boilers?”

The user behind the post, “Michal77”, is a 37-year-old IT worker who lives in Sevenoaks, Kent, with his partner and stepson. He asked The Independent not to reveal his real name as he believes that the anonymity offered by Reddit means that users can express their views more candidly.

He said his family and friends spent a lot of time discussing their perceptions of Britain and that he had read several “very interesting” articles by foreigners who had settled in Poland and other countries. Finding himself with some spare time over the August Bank Holiday, he decided to set out his own views online.

“There were a few hundred comments on it straight away. It just exploded, it was really astonishing,” said Michal, who is originally from the Polish city of Gdansk and moved to the UK three and a half years ago. “I was most happy about the reactions of people, because they were mostly positive. The response was welcoming – only a few comments were hostile.”

Although his post is full of light-hearted gripes about modern Britain, he stressed that he thoroughly enjoys living here and has decided to stay for good. “I love it here. It’s a nice country with generally lovely people – very polite and cheerful, compared to the typical gloom of Poland. I don’t know where that difference comes from, maybe from the heritage or the years of communism, but there is a difference.”

While he said he was aware of the negative political rhetoric about immigration in Britain, he said it was a natural reaction because it was “in human nature” to look for scapegoats. “I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t know anyone from Poland who is on welfare – they are all hardworking people that try to contribute,” he added. “No-one has ever said to my face that I should get lost or anything like that – but I know that it is happening.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments