Name: Catherine Kopytko
Position: Passenger cabin crew
Since 2019 I have been a short- and medium-haul cabin crew member. I was born in Poland, but when I was a child we went to Colombia, and almost 10 years ago I settled in Spain.
How did you come to work for Iberia? And to your current place of residence?
I arrived in Spain in 2014 for a job opportunity with the Colombian embassy. I worked there in the commercial section, and after finishing my contract with them I started working in aviation. I thought that it was something temporary, until I fell in love with it all and devoted myself completely to the sector. I arrived at Iberia in 2019.
How have you adapted to the way of life in this country, both professionally and personally?
My adaptation was very fast. At school I was the only girl who did not speak Spanish, so for my classmates and teachers I was unusual and exotic. They all welcomed me very quickly and showed great interest in teaching me the language. I remember that they didn’t leave me alone for a minute in the playground; they always wanted to teach me a new word and made me feel like one of the group at all times. I am enormously grateful to them.
What differences do you notice between the two cultures?
Although the same language is spoken, there are many cultural and language differences between Colombians and Spaniards. Fortunately, it was easy to adapt and I never had any serious issues. I think my Polish roots and upbringing also helped, as I was raised in a Polish home in the middle of a Latin American country, which also makes it easier for me to adapt.
We Colombians are very soft and sensitive, and it is difficult for us to ask for something; we take a lot of detours to say anything and we are very helpful, while in Spain everything is very imperative, there are no detours and it can sound abrupt -even though that is not people’s intention-, so one can feel a bit stressed.
I adapted over time, and my husband, who is Colombian, came soon after, and I felt a little bit of home when I needed it. I have also found a lot of cultural variety in aviation and that has enriched and helped my adaptation .
What is it that most attracts your attention about the Spanish?
Spain is very versatile, and aviation helps one get to know the rich culture in this country. For example, how extroverted and warm Andalusians are, the gastronomy and friendliness of the north, the similarity of people from the Canaries to Latinos… And the exquisite cuisine -we Poles find it very appealing-.
Do you know any other compatriots who work in Iberia?
There are several Colombians in Iberia; we recognize each other right away, either because of our accents or our culture. And I have also met some Poles, either in flights or by seeing the last name in some Telegram group.
What is your favourite corner of Madrid?
I love parks and the tranquillity that they exude. I love being able to sit and have a picnic with my family without having to worry about our safety. I love the centre and its shops, the neighbourhood bars and the friendliness of those who work there. And I love the neighbourhoods that have been there forever, with the neighbours who greet each other from the window.
A pending day out
I must get in my car and visit the country’s villages, to get to know the hidden Spain.
Your ideal Sunday
My ideal Sunday is outside a bar, on a small terrace with my family, with the blue sky of Madrid in the background.