"Expat Teen Down on Dubbing" - A personal essay

GL reader Maggie H. is an American teen living in Poland. She is currently attending her fourth school in six years, and has lived in New Zealand and Venezuela. She says she's a master at making new friends, and we think she's a pretty darn good writer, too. Tell us what you think of this short essay about what it's like to be, well, her.

"Expat Teen Down on Dubbing" 

I’m an expat teen living in Warsaw, Poland. Poland is a terrific place to live: it’s beautiful, civilized, and safe. However the language is impossible. Every weekend I walk to the fruit market with my mom and struggle to communicate to the vendors that I would like some of the round red things, indicating the apples. No, not the beets! Another fun activity is buying bus tickets. I kindly ask “proshay yeren bilette,” the whole while thinking that I am saying, “proszę jeden bilet.” I see the kiosk ladies snickering behind their fur-lined coats.

For the most part, not knowing the language here is not an issue. Most Poles speak better English than I will ever speak Polish. While I struggle to say hello without an accent, they claim that they do not speak English but then explain to me that the coffee shop I am looking for is down the street to the left across from the pottery store. All with hardly an accent.

Poland is truly amazing. They have wonderful shopping malls, beautiful castles, parks, and delightful people. But the one thing that gets to me is that I can’t watch children’s movies!

I can find action and rom-com movies in English. But since small children have not yet learned the art of reading subtitles, all the animated and live-action children’s movies are voiced-over in Polish. I guess the Polish movie committee people didn’t take into account that there would be a teenage American interested in seeing Wreck It Ralph. Boy, were they wrong.

Kid’s movies are the best. I’m not ashamed to admit it. In a kid movie I don’t have to worry about encountering risqué material with my parents sitting right beside me, or seeing blood gush out of someone’s face when I have a queasy stomach. Kid’s movies are all candy and marshmallows. But the best part is that the Bad Guy always loses and the Hero always gets the girl.

It’s nice to take a step back and escape reality every once in a while. And don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy seeing Andrew Garfield in a full-body jumpsuit swinging around on spider webs, but even that isn’t a big enough escape sometimes. And sure, I could wait till Wreck It Ralph becomes available on Apple T.V., but there’s something magic about being in a theater. Perhaps it’s the chemically flavored popcorn and 50 foot screen.

All in all, I am a very lucky kid. I have lived other places where going to a theater in itself was a safety hazard. Poland is fantastic and 98 percent of the time it’s awesome, but when Despicable Me 2 comes out and I cant understand what’s going on, I’m gonna have a talk with somebody.

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by GL Reader | 2/1/2016