Barbara Tarka, a Pole, Silesian, avid traveler. In an interview with Joanna Stypula, she talks about her move to Crete, her Greek family, the company she runs while constantly on the go and her plans for the future. Tarka put everything on the line on the road. After college, she packed her backpack and left to conquer the world. He adheres to the principle that even the most sour lemon can be used to make delicious lemonade.
How was the idea of moving to Crete born? “Tarka on the road”
My history is related to tourism. I graduated from Krakow’s AWF, where I studied tourism and recreation. Immediately after I got my master’s degree I packed my bags and decided to combine pleasure with utility. I was employed as a resident in a large travel agency. After two seasons, I decided to open my business recruiting tourism students who wanted to do their professional internships in hotels on the Greek islands. I spent part of the winter in Poland recruiting students and pupils, and from May to October I was in Crete. After a few years, I met my husband here and have already moved here permanently.
You support students by organizing international work placements. Where did such an idea come from?
I didn’t earn a penny on my internship, and copying documents, answering mail and brewing coffee for a month in no way showed me the practical side of the profession. That was the starting point. Tourism is about selling dreams, it’s about constant human interaction and, above all, it’s about being able to work under pressure and solve problems creatively. So 13 years ago, I set up a company so that schoolchildren and students could get a live look at how hotel managers handle unusual situations. In tourism, anything, literally anything, can happen, and apprenticeships should, if only minimally, make us aware of this. This is also a good time to train foreign languages and gain experience serving tourists from around the world.
What does the company you founded do?
I organize trips for people who want to combine the pleasant with the useful. It is learning combined with traveling, learning about other cultures, and making new friends. Such practices show that you can get money doing what you love. Apprentices earn about 450-500 euros per month. In addition, the hotelier provides them with flights to the internship site, lodging and food.
In the 14 years I’ve worked at apprenticeshipstudent.eu, I’ve “married” at least 20 girls to Greeks, several weddings between apprentices have happened, a dozen have stayed in Greece permanently, and hundreds have started promising careers in tourism or hospitality.
I also hope that young people, for whom this is often their first solo trip abroad, by overcoming their fear and uncertainty, gain self-confidence and discover layers of energy that point them to entirely new paths and opportunities that they did not see before.
It is said that if one Greek lives in a country, there is already a Greece there. Did you, while living in Crete, bring a bit of Poland here?
I think it is. After I got married, I learned to cook. A family from Poland supplies me with potato flour, and I make an occasional Silesian dinner here, namely rolls, noodles and red cabbage. My husband loves such food.
How did your Greek neighbors react to you?
In my case, the move did not involve any changes and the compulsion to “adapt”. I knew the mentality of the Greeks, I had friends and work here, and to this day I love this island. The husband is an atypical Cretan – he was born in the US , and his immediate family lives in Athens. I mentioned the Greek family for a reason. For girls coming here for love, it can be problematic that the Greeks are a very family-oriented people, to the point where my mother-in-law meddles in what I cook for our benefit, and a bunch of my cousin’s children sit in our bedroom. This, of course, has its good and bad points, but we need to be conscious to clearly mark the boundaries of what we are willing to agree to and what we are no longer willing to agree to.
What are your dreams and hopes?
The year 2020 was a huge challenge for us. Due to the fact that I work in tourism, I was left practically overnight without a job or income. To keep from going crazy, my husband and I opened our YouTube channels and started learning how to edit and create videos from complete scratch. Today we are focusing on Crete, but in the future we want to report on our travels, those far and nearer, in vlogs. How it will go on, we still don’t know, but we are waiting for what fate will bring, so that even from the most sour lemon, we can make delicious lemonade.