Please introduce yourself.
My name is Suzanne Malkiewicz. I am Polish Egyptian. My mother is Polish and my father is Egyptian. I was actually born and raised in Egypt. I left Egypt at the age of 17, right after high school in order to pursue college in Warsaw Poland, where my mother’s family lived. During my last year of studies in Poland, in 2002, I was offered the opportunity to come as an exchange student to Appalachian State University (ASU) in Boone NC, for a semester, to jumpstart my college’s exchange program with
universities in the US. I loved the experience, the college and my friends here so I made the decision to transfer permanently to NC and finish my undergraduate studies there.
In Poland, I was studying International Negotiations. Once I fully transferred to ASU, I majored in Hospitality and Tourism Management.
I currently live in the Vinings suburb of Atlanta GA and have been in Atlanta since 2007.
What is the best and worst about Atlanta for you…what is a typical day and weekend?
The best I would say is the dinning scene. I truly feel Atlanta is a “foodie” city, with so many great restaurant options and new ones opening up daily it seems. The worst in my opinion is how spread out the city is. I lived in Boston for a couple of years prior to moving to Atlanta, and I truly loved how one could walk everywhere there. You have to drive everywhere in Atlanta.
A typical day for me consists mainly of work during the day and gym in the evening! On my weekends, I try to catch up with friends, try new restaurants in the city, catch a movie or concert and occasionally do a day trip to a nearby city or town for shopping or sightseeing.
How do you find the lifestyle in Atlanta compared to Egypt/Poland?
The lifestyle in each country is totally different. Poland is more European with a lot of character and charm. Warsaw feels much smaller than Atlanta. They have a very well developed transportation system so when I lived there I never needed a car.
Egypt is much more family-oriented, much more traditional. It is an extremely exotic and diverse country. I grew up in Cairo, which at the time had a population of about 16 million people. Traffic was atrocious, which makes me appreciate Atlanta traffic, however bad it can be at times. It is a largely Muslim country, which makes it very different, although there is a lot of religious freedom, and you have other religions represented as well. It is a country of history, it is littered with Ancient Egyptian sites including the Pyramids, so it is extremely beautiful and touristic. It is also a diverse country in terms of ecosystem – it has the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Nile River. Cairo is a very metropolitan city, with lots to do – Opera, Museums, Restaurants, Cafes, Clubs, Resorts.
Food is different and unique in both countries. My favorite is definitely the Egyp tianfood, which I would liken to Lebanese. I have yet to find an Egyptian restaurant in Atlanta!
How do you make your living now – and how would you like to develop that career?
Currently I work in Sales for an IT Consulting Firm. I actually just recently joined the firm in October and they are expanding in the Atlanta area so this is my main goal.
Egypt is a muslim country and Poland mainly catholic – how do you feel about religion?
I consider religion to be a very personal thing – I believe everyone has a right to their own beliefs.
What do you absolutely miss from Poland or Egypt…or elsewhere?
In Poland, I miss the parks, and palaces one could visit. I also miss the traditional deserts there.
In Egypt, I miss Sharm El Sheikh, which is a resort area on the Red Sea. And of course the food!
How do you balance your career with other obligations – mate, children, job?
All of it is a matter of prioritizing and planning ahead! I currently only have the responsibility of a 3 year old Boston Terrier so I do not have to juggle too much!
What do you think about the economy and how safe it feels in Poland/Egypt compared to the USA?
It seems no place is 100% safe anymore. Anywhere we go, I feel we need to exercise common sense.
Do you try to go back Home (where is that?) every year? I think the cultures are different.
I have sadly not been back to Poland since I came to the US in 2002, so it is definitely a trip I will be planning in the very near future. I have also not been to Egypt in 4 years. My parents tend to come visit me here in Atlanta.
Work-wise – how do you see Europeans being different from Americans/Egyptians– also culturally, what stands out in your chosen profession?
Americans seem to change career paths much more frequently that Europeans. There is much more work mobility in the US, in my opinion, that in Europe. I think Europeans have a much better work-life balance, largely due to more time off. I also feel American workers are consumed by the rat race, which is not such a priority in most European countries.
When you think about what did you think about life in Atlanta before you moved there – did you misconceptions that turned out to be wrong?
I think many foreigners think one thing about the US before they come here and then some of these opinions change. A lot of people see the US as the land of opportunity. I personally feel there are more opportunities in general here than in Europe, especially now where the economy is not that great, but I do not think that works out for everyone.
You have to work hard wherever you are, be smart about decisions you make, and take some calculated risks!
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