10 things I wish someone told me before I moved to Prague

Moving to a new country can certainly be a very strong life experience. No matter how much I was travelling before, and all the knowledge and experience I had accumulated on intercultural learning, culture shock and stuff like that, the fact of actually moving to Prague, Czech Republic in 2015 still hit me like a truckload of bricks.

Granted, Prague is a wonderful place to live in (and one of the main tourist destinations in Europe) and I don’t regret at all my decision. Still, at times it may be hard. That’s why I decided to write this post which will be a bit more silly than the rest of the stories I publish on this blog.

Hope is, this may help others not to make the same mistake and never leave home to adapt more easily when moving to a different country. Or maybe not, but it feels very liberating to be able to put these thoughts in plain text. And anyway, learning about a different culture is also the best way to learn about our own culture, and ourselves.

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Don’t make my same mistakes. A new culture can embrace you a bit too tight, sometimes.

A bit of a disclaimer here: I certainly don’t want to offend anybody. The post intends to be humourous and has to be read with a bit of a satirical tone in mind. Plus, if you think that my observations are not complete and comprehensive, it’s because they aren’t. They are just that: observations.

If in the post there is something that offsets you – hey, peace. We can breathe the same air and have different opinions on stuff. Hard to believe, but it’s possible. Maybe you don’t like the music, but please don’t shoot the pianist. 

Edit (after 3 days and about 5,000 visits):

A BIT MORE DISCLAIMING. As I feared, the first wasn’t enough. The post got an unexpected visibility (great!) and with visibility, come people who read quickly and are willing to get offended even more quickly (not so great!). To hopefully end the arguments, the meaning of the word “satire” can be found here.  

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Anyway, ready for the list? Here we go!

1) For Czech Republic, Prague is “The Capitol” from The Hunger Games.

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In Italy, Rome is the political capital, but there are many main cities with their own distinct identity, and sometimes something interesting happens there too (except in Viterbo, because nothing ever happens there). It’s like the country has more than one centre of gravity, and it’s fine.

But here in the Czech Republic, Prague is really THE city. Everything happens there, and all the power seems to be concentrated in one place. Politics, culture, media, jobs, opportunities. People just live different lives than in the rest of the country, can do strange things like being vegan or have an Asian brunch, they wear fancy clothes and have blue or purple hair.

Prague natives are also somewhat proud of their local accent (which to me sounds funnier, slower, with longer vowels, and seems to be really hated by everybody else in the country).

Salaries are way higher than anywhere else, but so is rent (like two, three times more), eating out and basically everything else.

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See what I mean?

But if you travel just outside of the city, you will enter a different country. Small-town Czech Republic will present different challenges of course (be prepared to attract puzzled looks as a foreigner, and almost nobody will understanding a word of English, for example), but it will also provide with unique rewards and many hidden gems.

Like having a full meal or a round of beers for an incredible price. Or meeting people who love to live a simpler, slower life and will be genuinely interested in hearing about you. I had experiences especially in the area around Brno and Ostrava. New companies, farms, NGOs and the local university are very active to create an alternative to the “Capitol City” lifestyle.

If you love art and history, the country has the highest concentration of perfectly preserved castles in Europe, apparently. And the nature is also really diverse, peaceful and beautiful.

Seriously, plan a trip to explore Czech Republic outside Prague, when you have a chance. You will be rewarded.

2) A lot of people seem to be in a bad mood. Always.

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The grumpiest of all is probably the president, Milos Zeman.

Aaah, there is something true in every stereotype, isn’t there?

The average Czech you meet in the street will most likely be in a great hurry to be somewhere else than in your presence (see point #7, below), and will look like they just had a very bad day. Even if it’s early in the morning – maybe even worse. This grumpiness extends to driving (= no patience at all for the slightest hesitation or mistake) and public transport (= if you stand in the wrong line or place, someone will correct that. Probably by pushing, elbowing or stomping on your feet).  At least, in Prague. Having to rely on a random act of kindness by a stranger can be an experience that requires patience. For your own good, try never to be confused by the bureaucracy in a public office, and never, ever get stuck with your car on the side of the road.

In a way, it’s a very encouraging learning environment. In the sense that you are encouraged to learn fast. Or die.

3) Language is hard. I mean: real hard

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No, seriously. Sources disagree, but I read that it’s one of the hardest in Europe, and possibly in the world. It’s estimated that a person needs about 4 years of study to reach fluency (and I am not studying).

First of all, there are some factors that don’t encourage you to learn it at all. You can live in a social bubble that doesn’t speak Czech, for example. Or, you can just panic and stop going out altogether. I would know, I tried it.

But if you try to learn the beautiful language, at the beginning you feel like everything is against you. Accents and digraphs make for a stunning 42 characters in the alphabet (nice, uh?). Some sounds are also very specific to learn, with the terrible Ř that will give me troubles until the end of my life. It sounds like a drrj, by the way

And then, grammar starts.

7 cases (for the first time in my life I am happy I studied all that Latin at school) and 4 genders (!): masculine, feminine, neutrum and masculine inanimated. The latter still doesn’t make any sense at all to me – as well to anybody else I asked, including native speakers. It’s for objects that are not objects enough to get the neutrum, maybe. I don’t know. The word for car (auto) is neutrum, while the train (vlak) is masculine. Go figure.

There are also (a few) good news. At least there are no articles, thanks to the cases. Which explains why many Czechs don’t know what to do with articles in languages like English or French. And the verbs and prepositions are not such a horrible mess as in Italian.

Not only Czech is a slavic language, but it’s considered the model for many other languages of the group. Which means, more “pure” and with less foreign interferences. Arranging an appointment or a date is a challenge, since you have to learn even the names of the week days and the months from scratch. Your only hope for help is if you speak Polish or Slovak, and that’s not exactly helping my case here.

The longest sentence without a vowel seems to be: Strč prst skrz krk (“stick your finger through your throat”). Try that next time, as a tonguetwister!

Edit: as Petr E commented, the longest sentence without a vowel seems to be different. “Blb vlk pln žbrnd zdrhl hrd z mlh Brd skrz vrch Smrk v čtvrť srn Krč.” (A dumb wolf full of bad drinks proudly excaped from the mist of Brdy forest through Smrk hill into the deers’ district Krč).

“Full of bad drinks” surely indicates that the wolf is not Czech. Polish, probably.

4) Eating & Drinking habits can be equally intense. 

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Czech Republic is famous for its beer, and rightly so. Czechs are well aware of it. They seem to be the biggest beer drinkers in the whole world (followed by the Seychelles. Which makes sense. What else are you supposed to do, if you live on a paradise island? Drink until you explode, obviously).

A Czech drinks an average of 142 litres of beer in a year, which makes for almost a pint a day, each day, for every man, woman or child living in the country. Not bad at all.

This helps to put a lot of things in context, for example the first time I met my father-in-law, and we all ended up totally drunk, before having dinner. But no worries, Czechs also love drinking wine, as well as everything else with alcohol. All in the name of health (na zdraví) of course. Of course.

When you are at it, try Kofola. It’s the national alternative to Coca Cola. I find it more refreshing!

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Same for the food. Czech traditional cuisine is like other parts of the culture: rich, solid, intimidating. It’s a paradise for high protein, meat eaters. Bara, my wife, has approximately half my body mass. And yet she never ceases to surprise me when she digs into her Svíčková (roasted beef with onion, double boiled in cream and served with dumplings) like it’s a piece of cake. But then, she would never eat fruit after a meal, because “it’s bad for digestion”. Makes sense. 

5) People like to be naked and to go around just like that. 

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Now, nothing could prepare me for this. Czechs have a very casual approach to nudity (which somehow extends to sexuality at least in part, but that’s another story). Be warned when you accept an invitation to go to sauna, for example. In most places it’s actually forbidden to enter with your swimming suit on! 

A visit to a “Beer Spa” however (picture above) is one of the things you have to do, before you die. Yes, you are actually bathing in beer. No, the girls are not always there.

But not only. My friends here have absolutely no problem at all getting naked for a quick swim in the local river or lake, even with people having their picnics all around. It’s just a thing they do.

If I can imagine a scale going from total prudishness to absolute love for nudity, it would probably look like this:

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And I was thinking to be more or less in a comfortable middle position.

But actually, I still feel terribly embarassed about that one time I had to take a swim in my underwear…

Being in the Czech Republic and engaging in social activities here, challenged me on how prude I really am.

6) Xenophobia is on the rise. Except, maybe not really. 

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Now that’s worrying, when talking about Central Europe. Don’t take me wrong, it could be much worse (think Hungary, or Poland). Things here are still much softer, and Czechs don’t like to take an extreme point of view on racism – just as on many other topics. It’s not a culture of strong, radical opinions.

The country, and Prague in particular, has a very strong international vocation and is right in the middle between Eastern and Western Europe, which is why it has always been a natural crossroads of cultures.

But here is the thing, the whole place is a paradox.  The international presence in the country is strong (about 4.5%), and in Prague, almost 10% of residents are non-Czech. And yet, politicians and opinion leaders manage to pull out incredibly racist or aggressive stunts, like President Zeman who manages to insult someone with every other speech, or like that time when a group of “activists” held an event in the Old Town Square involving a jeep, a camel and firing shots in the air with a fake kalashnikov – creating general panic to “warn against the danger of a Muslim invasion”. Crazy.

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Yes, this thing really happened.

Also, to add to the general confusion, two of the most visible political leaders in the somewhat-nationalist-area are Tomio Okamura (Czech, of Japanese origins) and Andrej Babiš (Slovak), media tycoon, Finance Minister and possible next Prime Minister. One would think that the country must be really welcoming towards foreigners, except… they try to convince everybody that it isn’t so.

To make a comparison: imagine a Canadian citizen who moves to USA, manages to join the Republican Party and becomes a member of the US Government; then, on top of that, he makes a coalition with the Democratic President, and together they work to warn people against the danger of a “Mexican invasion”.

It’s not a perfect example (and Zeman certainly is not Obama), but it more or less gives an idea of how intricate things look.

Look. I don’t want to sound too strict or ungenerous. The truth is that the vast majority of the people I have met here have a big heart, a strong sense of hospitality, and are generous beyond words. And every time I try to remind them that I, too, am an immigrant indeed, the comment I receive is “naa, you are fine“.

And after all, I guess that’s the bottom line about racism. People from a different background look and feel scary at first, but after you meet them in person, you realise that naa, they are just fine. And this is valid everywhere.

(The fact that one of them may end up marrying your daughter has probably also a role in how fast you accept that fact, I guess).

So my final opinion on this is: maybe because of the media pressure or the general international situation, Czechs would like to portray themselves as intolerant and unwelcoming. Just to feel like everybody else.

But they fail, because… they aren’t!

7) Time keeping and planning stuff is not a habit. It’s a national obsession. 

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Now this came from the words of Sabrina, a German (I said, German) volunteer who was in Prague for a period. “Czechs are totally obsessed with time!“, she cried. As I found out, it’s completely true.

Czechs are almost always in a hurry getting someplace or another, and they just love to keep their agendas as packed as possible, and then some. From the (early) morning till sunset, they just need to be busy. Work, leisure, culture and social time, everything is organised and planned and the more details, the better. When you are 5 minutes late, you are late (and people will be grumpy, see #2).

This is also reflected as they travel. When abroad, if things are not super organised, clearly described and planned to the tiniest detail, they will feel slightly lost and without direction. Which will result in more grumpiness and some (always polite) passive-aggressive complaining.

One of the first sentences I learned is “máte plán na vikend?”, which means “what’s your plan for the weekend?

I came to fear the sound of these words, since when I am not somewhere working I love to keep my weekends as empty as possible, like desolate desert islands where only dead projects and ideas lay, shipwrecked. A space for reflection, inspiration and pure and simple lazyness. 

But Czechs always have a plan for their weekends. Sports (the harder, the better: see point 8 below), trips, family meetings, events. When they really have nothing else to do, they move to their little country houses, where they spend saturday and sunday “relaxing”: that is, working their ass off to repair the roof, fix an old bicycle or weed out the garden. And then, have barbecue.  

8) EVERYBODY is sporty and outdoorsy.

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This is to show that, look, I also engage in outdoor sports! Once a year.

Aaaand – I am not.

Please take a second to appreciate how hard this must feel, sometimes. Really, every Czech is a natural born sportsperson and they all – I haven’t found an exception yet – love physical activity. Whether it be cycling, skating, running, swimming, parachute, indoor gym, martial arts – it doesn’t matter, as long as it involves moving, and sweating. And they do it with enthusiasm and total commitment.

This also applies to outdoors activities. Czechs love and respect their nature, and try to spend time in it as often as they can.

A hike that lasts less than 6 hours is not even considered being outside. They all seem to be mushroom and berries experts. In summer (and I suspect, in winter too) the rivers are packed with canoe and kayak enthusiasts. Entire families, babies included.

And a certain disregard for anything even remotely related to safety and prevention of risks contributes to making it a very exciting picture.

Czechs love their outdoor equipment and keep it in perfect efficiency. It’s a second skin for them, and in fact they consider it normal to walk in the city streets dressed as they would be in a forest: boots, backpack, packed lunch, 2 different sport bottles, and all the rest. Which for me is, like, the opposite of “sexy”, but certainly must have some advantages too.

Really, if a zombie apocalypse or if nuclear war breaks out, I would feel really relieved to be surrounded by Czechs. These people are natural survivors. And they can always spare a sandwich.

9) Public transport takes you everywhere, but people still take their cars.

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This must be one of the few really good things that Socialism has left in the country. The public transport is excellent: rides are frequent, the system is organised and efficient. I take my car maybe once, twice in a month (how does it feel compared to Italy, I leave to your imagination).

In Prague metro and tram tickets are still a bit of a funny business, relying (incredibly) on the little obsolete, yellow machines which are out of order 50% of times, and only accept coins. Weird. But since I have my yearly pass, I feel I can get anywhere, simply and reliably. This includes extra-urban transport, and every little town seems to be connected to the network in somewhat of a satisfying way. Again, the comparison with Italy is brutal – there, if you live in a small town, you simply need a car to get anywhere; and if you live in a big city, better forget the public transport and take your car anyway.

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So why do Czechs still own – and drive – cars? Finding a parking place in Prague is as hard a job as in Napoli, and that simply doesn’t make sense to me. Probably the answer has something to do with #7 of this list, the time obsession. I hear people saying: “Sure, I can go to work by tram, but if I take the car it will save me 12 minutes“.

I still can’t help but smile, every time. In Rome, if you can save 12 minutes by taking a car, it still means you will probably be 48 minutes late for your appointment.

Edit: in the comment section, Vladimir helped me to get a more complete view on this topic. He writes:

“Perhaps if there really is a special Czech affinity for cars, it’s not because of obsession with time, but rather status. This is a common thing for whole central and eastern Europe. We had to (and most still have to) live in relative poverty, therefore we want at least not to FEEL poor. Average Czech would drive to work even if it takes twice as much time as with public transport, because, you know, public transport is for losers. Very common derogatory nickname for public transport is “socka”, as in “social case”. Go figure”.

It’s also true however that, Czechs being the nature lovers that they are, the environmental awareness is growing really fast all over the country. I have seen in person a lot of brave and progressive projects to reduce CO2 emissions and switch to renewable energies, or to reduce the environmental footprint of life in general.

So, let’s not lose hope, becase Times, they are a-changing!

10) Czech Republic is a place where Etiquette still matters. A lot.  

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This was a big surprise for me, and it can be very important in a relationship, so listen up, don’t repeat my mistake and don’t underestimate this aspect.

The Czech culture is based on a certain level of conformism. Traditions are important and nobody is expected to cause any trouble. There is no such thing as “speaking in a loud voice” (a common discussion between two Italians on what to have for dinner would appear like an incredibly aggressive brawl, here) and I have never heard people shouting – except when drinking too much, of course.

In CZ, people really care for things to be – and look – proper. You go to theatre, you dress up. There is no limit “up”. But you just don’t walk in a theatre (or God forbid! Opera) in your jeans, unless you want to attract a lot of attention of the wrong type.

As well, men are supposed – no, expected! – to perform little actions such as opening a door, holding the chair, helping ladies with their luggage or taking on and off their coats.  Apparently in the local understanding, there is no “gender inequality” value attached to it. So don’t try to judge it with your metrics: it’s just the way things work. If you want to blend in, you just adapt to it.

All boys and girls take ballroom dancing lessons as part of their education, and many companies and organisations hold balls in the festive season, which are attended with enthusiasm. Also, in a country that is surprisingly not attached to any religion, people still follow traditional festivities, go to church on Christmas eve, visit the cemetery to pay their respects.

All this, combined with what I said in #2, can be dangerous to the unsuspecting foreigner. In a tram, failing to leave your seat to an elder will attract so many bad looks, you will wish to disappear. Equally bad is when you mess up with the tipping in a café or a restaurant.

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And that was my decalogue this time. Thank you for reading!

Edit: an article with my reflections and comments on the insane success of this post can be found here.

Again, my point was not to offend anybody with this post. This is not a scientific study and has not been validated by a panel of experts (although if you made it reading so far, you probably got that).

I will be happy to react and edit any information that might be incomplete or wrong. Writing was mainly my way to celebrate my almost 1 year and a half in Prague. I love the city and the life here, and I continue to discover more and more parts of its rich and fascinating culture.

And how is it for you? Did you have a similar experience when moving to a new country? I would love to have a little discussion in the comments section. All stories are the welcome!

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558 thoughts on “10 things I wish someone told me before I moved to Prague

  1. nice article…:) finally I can see also something positive about us Czech people.
    I’m curently living in Japan (one year already) and I have a hard time to get use to there mostly because I am a Czech :D

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I spent about 4 months in Japan when I was studying there. It was all nice the first month when I was all enthused about everything but then winter came and all the cold and loneliness and friendlessness made me happily return to Czech and just think of Japan as a nice vacation spot.

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  2. I’m Czech living in smaller city close to Prague and visit Prague often. First of all its not true that Prague is like The Capitol. Second, where the hell did you get that everyone is sporty? I am not and most of people I know are not. Seriously stop saying shits.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I´m Czech who moved to Prague from a small Czech town few years back. And from my point of view I can say the author is right about Prague as The Capitol. Personally I feel very strongly that Prague is a state within a state, with different rules, different atmosphere and different people than the rest of Czech republic. Perhaps you live in a satellite town that is too close to Prague that it does not make any difference. I´d recommend you to spend some time in a small town near the borders. It´s a completely different reality, IMHO.

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    2. I am Czech too and it’s true that majority of Czech people I know are lazy as hell, sport is an f-word for us. But I do agree with the Capitol thing, During my life I live in a small village in a forest, small town ten minutes from Prague and a big town further from Prague, Capitol is exactly how I see Prague.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The thing is that in Prague people are actually sporty. Gyms are completely full, during summer the parks are crowded etc. So if he is living just in Prague and he just visits countryside for 1 day he can assume that people are sporty. But that also might be, that Prague has above 1M inhabitants, so you will see a lot of people doing sports even though it could be just 20% overall. Not sure if I explained what I really meant.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was describing my observations – which of course depend on the place I live in, the time I spend here, and the people I meet :)
        Even when arriving in Prague’s airport there is a sign that proudly announces how sporty people are (with a percentage, which now I don’t remember).
        I am glad to see that there is a reaction by proud lazy people. It means I am not alone :)

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    3. Milá Adélo, samozrejme ze Praha je “the Capitol”. Uz z vyznamu toho slova. Pochop, ze cely clanek je psany s notnou davkou nadsazky. Navic to, ze ty a par tvych znamych nejste sportovni, nemuze poprit ceskou sportovni naturu, ktera je dolozitelna i historicky. Od Sokola, pres Junaky potazmo Skauty, tramping, vodaky až napriklad po spartakiady nebo dnesni oblibu fotbalu a hokeje, ale i jinych mene typickych sportu. Jsme napriklad dlouhodobe velmi dobri v judu. O tom kolik ma nase mala zemicka, pocetem obyvatel srovnatelna s leckterou stredne velikou metropoli, svetove vyznamnych a uznavanych sportovcu, snad netreba ani mluvit.

      to CARMINERODI: I find your article pretty accurate and thank you for it. It is always fun to look at yourself from a different point of view.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really recognize myself in that time-planing-psycho thing. I am one of that controling people, that freak out and have a shitty day when I am late (like 5 minutes, I cant even imagine being late an hour, I would die).
    And the thing with 4 genders is quite simple :) I would compare it to german where you have that “der, die, das” prepositions. DER is masculine, DIE is feminine, DAS is neutrum. In czech we have them too, but we say them just when we are like talking about specific thing. We just dont really use it. But it is TEN, TA, TO (masculine, feminine, neutrum). TEN man, TA woman, TO child. You just need to learn them and memorize them like I am in german. And the funny thing with TEN. You would say TEN man (muž) and TEN rock (kámen). The rock is NEŽIVOTNÝ because it’s not walking around, it doesn’t breathe, feel, eat and so on. And strom (tree) is also NEŽIVOTNÝ even if it’s living because it’s not moving, it doesn’t have emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I live in a Czech Country side and on one hand it`s good to live there, but on the other one you don’t get so many opportunities, so you have to travel to bigger cities too. At first I was kinda mad (not sure why) but than I realized almost all of this is truth and I would probably see it the same way if I wasn’t Czech. But one thing that I don’t agree with is, that Prague is like Hunger Games’ Capitol – a lot of things are happening outside of Prague too. In Czech R. we have something like 3 main centers/cities – Prague, Brno and Ostrava.

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  5. Hi there! Very very funny and accurate! I am czech and from Prague (well now living in Germany) and yes we are grumpy😁 and we love our beer and nudity😂 but until now I have never realized that we are obsessed with time, but yes, yes we are. Thx for the great article!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Marki, it started as a naïve collection of observations, but it seems I really touched some sensitive spots somewhere. I am still amazed by so much feedback. Thank you !

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  6. Hey, nice article. Im not Czech, bu ti have been living here for most of my life and am fluent in czech, went to school here etc. but still have some objectivness to all this so I think I mostly agree with you. The sportsiness, yeah I mean sure, there are a lot of lazy or non sportsy people everywhere but here it really is more frequent, I think it is a lot due to socialist PE programme, that used to be a big thing here and it still left the sportsy spirit in people, which I think its a good thing. Yes czech are soooo fckin grumpy and I must say I became grumpy too, and yes its largely related to Prague, I feel whenever I go out of Prague I feel this weight is lifed off of me, I guess its the lifestylle of constant hurry and pressure – and yes the drive car anywhere stuff is really more of a social status thing and trying not to feel poor, thats maybe why people tend to work hard often – and not get payed that well, while stuff being reatively expensive – I think a lot of grumpiness comes from that, as well as weather not being anything special most of the year. But a point I certainly wish to address is point no. 6) I think that a) comparing mentality of czech with mr. presidents is not good, since at least half of czech are very unhappy and ashamed of him, as well “not being welcoming to foreigners ans having all the ministers etc half foreigners” that is certainly not because they are welcome, but because they just maaged to get where they are and again a lot of people are quite unhappy about it, I think the finance minister is quite dispised person. It;s like saying an average American is like Trump or something, you know, I think politics suck in a lot of countries these days and there is not much to choose from when deciding presidential candidates, as well as Prague being quite specific and what works in Prague doesnt work for some small village in Moravia so thats where a lot of problems in politics also come from. Also some poeple are racis some aren’t but its mostly due to fear, nobody wants to be the target of some terrorist groups that would sneak into his country and i think its mostly 50:50or something like that, if you are talking about refugees and stuff, if you are talking about the general lack of enthusiasm with tourists its duz people are fed up with them in Prague, its all tourist everywhere, after some time it really gets on your nerves when you just want to get somewhere in you hometown but you can even pass due to endless streams of silly tourist that walk super slow, pause in inconvenient places and have all the time in the world while you only have a short lunch break and need to go buy a sandwich or whatever – there you go, always in a hurry. Plus Czech rep. being in the crossroad of nations has put the country in difficult situation, everybody always tried to conquere it here or enforce their rules upon Czechs so naturally they arent very trusting people.
    As to that incident with those idiots that roleplayed a terrorist attack, I think at least 90 percent of people would totally disagree with it and find it entirelly riddiculous, inappropriate and just full on wrong and embarrasing. So no offense, but I think you know way too little to make really any statements when it comes to politics and how people see things here in this area, it’s more complicated and it goes back a long way, you cant just look at the surface or just last few years back. So you see, I think you need to know much more about the history to be able to say something about this topic. Cheers, hope you’re well.

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    1. Hello, and thank you for your comments! I appreciate all the background that people have been bringing to this topic.
      Of course my knowledge is only superficial, I don’t claim to be an expert of history and culture (and there are actually a few places in the article where I say it’s all about my observations as a foreigner). So yes, thanks for the insights, and I am glad to hear you are doing well too :)

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  7. Hehehe, great article, signore :) You forgot to mention one thing, but it’s for czechs general – give me people and I will do it :) Looking forward to reading another article :)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The most known habit :) “Dejte mi lidi a já to udělám.”, which can be translated as “Give me people and I will do it”. That’s the one of the things that drives me crazy:) It’s pity I can’t underline or highlight “I will” :)

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  8. Nice article … The funny thing is, I never did realize the time thing as mentioned in the post. Some time ago I’d lived with some Norwegians and (as I recall now) I’d often ask “So do you have any special plans for the weekend?”, or “Got any plans for/after/… …?” and I attached little attention to it, but it really is so true! It’s the little things I guess …

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  9. Nice article. One thing I can tell you tho, as an Italian citizen son of Asians, is that you being Italian are living it “easy mode” in CZ :p
    The reputation is changing, but Italians are still seen with a higher regards and are well treated, it’s like they skip many trustability-checks that other people seen as “peers” or even “lesser” (yes) have to pass

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I am absolutely aware of it. Many times I hear a comment about foreigners followed soon by a – “no, but you are fine”. The worst that happens to Italians living abroad is to receive the occasional joke about mafia, being late and drinking coffee. But in general I really see that Czechs love Italy. Thank you for reading :)

      Like

      1. Wow, interesting, I never realized that but you are right! Italy isn’t far, it has warm climate, mountains (which we respect), great cuisine, Sergio Leone and Sophia Loren, Bud Spencer and Terence Hill (we love comedies), “Italian guy” automatically means “well dressed” here (“an Italian guy would never wear socks in sandals”), and in history lessons at school, we are told over and over how Italy and France shaped European culture in the 13th-18th centuries. Opera is in Italian, music terms like “piano”, “allegro” are in Italian, etc. Which means it’s the language of culture. And people who don’t like Italy like Sardinia :-) We film a lot of fairy tales every year and Italian Renaissance is one of the most frequently used styles for costumes – even for fairy tales that imply they take place in the Czech country. Btw, did you notice how popular Emanuele Ridi is here? :-)

        Liked by 1 person

    1. ahahah thank you very much. Well, there is something about CZ that could just as well be in “The Lord of the Rings”. Including some architecture. And I believe that the metro was made by orcs.

      Like

  10. WOW! I have been living in the Czech republic for ten years now, moved here with my parents when I was 10. Almost everything you wrote here is so true, I couldnt agree more with your observations! It was great to read about something I see the same. It was great! Thanks a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You will absolutely love the city and its lifestyle. Spring is coming and it’s the most beautiful time of the year to be here. Recommendations, besides the full post here: dedicate some time to learn the social rules and follow them, don’t get frustrated easily and give yourself some time to adapt, create a circle of friends and hang out with them – it’s important when you are an outsider, not to feel lonely.
      But make sure to make a few local friends too. They will introduce you to the local culture, show you the best places and help you to make (a little) sense of the contradictions of the local culture.
      Good luck, and have a good time. I hear the university is really good.

      Like

    2. Depends on what we should recommend. Areas to live? Rules to behave to? Pubs? Sights? Part time jobs? If you are curious, I can try to answer.

      Best,

      M.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this article! I am a 22 years old Czech and I really do agree with everything you said about us! I could correct you just on one thing: not everyone is sportsy. BUT mostly everyone is, and that makes it even worse on the ones that aren’t.

    For instance, in every school, in every class, you would find that one poor guy (or girl, when it’s me), that just can’t play football like Nedvěd. Or Hockey like Jágr. But most of the children do, so the one poor thing who can’t is always the target of insults or snickering from everyone else (inlcuding the PE teachers). They just don’t understand that not everyone is a sport-star. And really, I know many people who had to go through similiar PE-torture as I did, it’s not just me.

    On the other hand, while I wholeheartedly hate sports, I still love going for a walk in a forest and such, so you’re pretty right about the fact that we’re all either sportsy, or outside lovers. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be both.

    Like

    1. Eheheh thanks! And I do understand your story (and pain).
      The fact is that in my opinion the Czech culture really gives importance to – I don’t use it as a negative term – conformity: it’s important to be like everybody else.

      As opposed to other cultures, for sure like in Italy where I grew up, people are encouraged to be individuals, even it means to be “strange”, disobey rules or create chaos. On the other hand, this also brings creativity.

      Like

  12. I am a Czech native living in Germany, so I kind of watch the country from a distance. Especially Prague, where my family comes from. I think you drew a pretty precise picture of my country! Though I disagree on a few (sub)points…

    1. Ostrava and Brno are open towards people from other countries because they hate to be nr2 and nr3 on the list. They have learned that if they want to compare with Prague, they have to be inviting to people from other countries as well. Sth the skiing resorts in the north and east have learned quite quickly, as well.

    2. Czechs are NOT always in a bad mood. If you get their humor, you will understand that everything they say comes down to “well, we cant do anything about it, anyway”. You can call it an “I dont give a F**k” mood. This comes from the fact that czech people were opressed by others for as long as they exist. Austria, Germany, Russia… even today most czechs are sceptical about the EU because again they see it as an outside force telling them what to do.

    4. Czech drinking habits are different from the rest of Europe. We do drink A LOT, of course. We invented beer, after all. But the czechs I know dont get drunk to the point where they puke on the carpet and fall asleep in it. Once we start drinking, we have our first beer at noon, have one or two heavy meals in between and keep our level of drunkness until we go to bed.

    6. We have always been a country of bigotry. We are very christian! but we also have a flourishing porn industry (especially gay porn) and are Europe’s Chrystal Meth and Extasy kitchen numero uno.

    9. To add sth to what you and Vladimir said: Especially many people in Prague own a “Chata” a hut in the country side that they go to over the weekend for recreation. (you could add point 11: czechs are obsessed with fishing!) These huts/cottages are usually very far away from any public transport, so you need a car to even get there.

    10. That is the one where you really “nailed” it! I work in a theater here in Germany, it is my “office”. So I dont care that much about what I wear, when I go to see a play. But when i go to Prague, I always wear a suit and a tie. Even if its the dumbest comedy or musical. Because there is this unwritten rule that you dress up nicely, when you go to see art. But I really like that. I like the idea of “paying respect to art” by wearing nice clothes.

    Hope, this gives you a new angle on your views about us! Have a good time and…

    vše nejlepší!

    M.

    Like

  13. Hi, that’s very nice article!

    I think the most is true and as native Czech who live and work abroad for six years I can imagine how difficult must be for foreigner to understand us. But let me tell you something about point no. 6 and 7. In my opinion the most of reaction on social medias about imigration and xenophobia topic are extremly polarized but Czech majority is neutral (that is why the most of people you met said: “naa, you are fine”. Please be patient and try to understand that lot of people lived their lifes in socialism where no personal opinion was tolerated and lot of people don’t belive that elections can change anything (because it couldn’t in the past) so they just don’t vote. And that is the begining of the story how someone so hateful like Zeman can become a President or Bureš finance minister.

    And about the time obsession. Maybe it’s strange but to be honest – I love it! When you have date or whatever eight o’clock means eight – how simple! :)
    Few weeks ago I’ve got new colleague from Kongo who must share a car with me (we work in Africa’s contryside) and I was waiting for him every morning at least ten or fifteen minutes (yes, FIFTEEN minutes). Very first week I tried to be patient, but every day it was getting worse and worse so I tried “passive agressive” joke method and instead of saying “good morning” I’ve started to say “good afternoon” but it missed the target absolutely. My next step was to explain him that it makes me angry because it ruins my daily rutines (less time for caffe and less time for preparation for morning meeting) and waisting of other people time can be considered as a kind of insult. Still without any positive response. I was thinking about it whole night and then I’ve decided to leave our meeting point just on time and let him go to work by walk for once (yes, I know it was active agressive) and gues what – it happend just once, now his timing is perfect. I felt bad because normally I’m really “easy going” man who doesn’t act like a asshole for the most of time, but I just couldn’t help myself…

    I hope that Czech Republic will surprise you in the good way many times! Try to visit also the south of CZ specialy České Budějovice and Český Krumlov – it’s beautiful part of our country where a lot of kindly people lives and the only place where you can taste famous Budweiser beer called “kroužek”.

    Měj se u nás krásně! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, and thank you for your comment :)
      I am learning more and more about the history and the culture of Czech republic, and in no small part also thanks to the comments I am receiving here.
      About the timing: I am well aware, I am used to cultural differences and for me the most important aspect is to remember that no rule is absolutely right or wrong, but it all depends a lot on the context. Italy in this sense is more like Kongo, but of course being in a different culture it makes sense to adopt the local style. “Do as the Romans do”, right?

      Like

    2. how nice, my sister (Czech) is now for a year in Zambia and she has tons of stories of the type you have with your Kongo friend. Even though she was considered a chronic latecomer in Czechia, she suffers a lot there because of this (!) To arrive an hour late for a scheduled meeting is not unusual…

      Like

    3. Dear Tomáš, I hight appreciate your commentary about timings and yes, definitely Czechs are in the matter like Germans ;-)

      Like

      1. Dear Enrico, yes we are, especially when we work for german companies! :) BTW, I really didn’t mean it as insult, he is very nice guy, but the clock is ticking..!

        Like

  14. I think this post is very true :-) You’re right when you say you can learn about your own culture by living abroad – I am Czech but since moving to the UK I’ve totally had a different perspective and I can see better what makes the Czech culture unique. When I go back for holidays I definitely notice all the things you described. Well spotted!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Love your story. I always travelled a lot and now I live in New Zealand. First thing my kiwi partner noticed that everyone is always angry and in a rush. Also our love for meat and bread :) Definitely right about Prague as The Capital. Last time got beep at even when crossing on green.
    And I always uses to complain about our public transport that waiting 15 minutes for a tram outside peak hours is too much. Here in NZ is 1 bus every half an hour if lucky and getting to country side ia possible only by car. Good luck with your life in Czech. Hope you will always like it there.

    Like

  16. Honestly I have no idea what are you talking about when you mentioned that 4th gender in czech grammar and I made some searching and I think you are wrong :D We have animated and inanimated objects, but they are just subgroups of masculine. But other than that, great job, I had a lot of laughs! :)

    Cheers,

    Lukáš

    Like

    1. It is no mystery that the beautiful Czech language still confuses me, so it’s okay :)
      What I meant is, they have different declinations, so as far as I am concerned, it’s the equivalent of a different gender.

      Like

    2. I am a linguist and I can tell you that the writer is not wrong (even though his way around it is a bit clumsy). (In)animacy is a subcategory of masculine gender which in effect leads to having four different genders in Czech: feminine, neuter, masculine animate, masculine inanimate. This is reflected in the existence of four different declension patterns. Anybody who wants to get this, will get it ;)

      Like

      1. It’s like saying, there are different type of vehicles: Trains, Trams, Planes, Cars and Porches :)

        Like

      2. Not quite, it’s like saying there are different types of vehicles: trams, cars, passenger trains and cargo trains ;) Which is not that odd…

        Like

      3. I agree that the correct way would be “There are 4 different genders in czech grammar: Feminine, Neuter, masculine animate, masculine inanimate” :)

        Like

  17. What a great view on our capital city and its “habits”. I ended up laughing out loud multiple times reading this because many parts are SO true! However, some of theese are only true in Prague and its surroundings. Lots of it works a lot different in Moravia. Anyway, I love this article and I really DO agree with most of it – in case of Prague, of course.
    When it comes to czech language – it certainly is difficult, no doubts. I would love to have the opportunity to explain some of its “weird” rules as I see them but I could easily end up with whole article (really long one) and probably would not be able to explain it properly… It often confuses native speakers too.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hey, this article perfectly sums it up. The more I travel, or live in different countries, the more I realise all of this about us Czechs. I don’t consider myself as a typical Czech stereotype but I know I would find every aspect of your article in me. But hey, you forgot to mention one crucial thing as well – we also love to make fun of ourselves!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Carminerody, I think I can write you why your article is so popular:)
    With 40 years of socialism we got used to love a sarcasm and “reading between the lines”. The essential, subliminal information hidden in the text which tries to look easy and flat (without next levels) is very attractive for us;)
    And your sarcasm is still very “gently” and everybody who read your confession closely finds there a genuine admiration for czech people and their style:) There is a lot of an affection we can feel from your writing.. and a humour, a little bit of teasing and a big part of acuity! That is why;)
    Nice article btw:D Thanks;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. definitely, Ondra, we all love Czech Republic and Czech people… some among us also got a Czech wife: what to wish more??? ;-)

      Like

  20. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your site?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect
    with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

    Like

  21. I’ll try to keep it short, but I’d just like to explain a bit about the masculine animate/inanimate genders: Originally (like, over a thousand years ago, there wasn’t even a Czach language yet really, just late Proto-Slavic), there was only one masculine gender that slowly stared to branch into two – actually, one stayed the same (nowadays the inanimate) and the new one (animate) was created by a few changes in the paradigm. The main, original change was in the accusative case, which looked (and still looks in inanimate masculine words) the same as nominative. That created confusion due to our fairly free word order: “muž vidí pes” could mean both “a man sees a dog” and “a dog sees a man”. And so the genitive form started to be used in the accusative case for masculine words that were regularly used as both subject or object. And those words were mainly appellations of people and animals. (Things just don’t play the role of a subject often.) Some other changes happened too, but this is the main (and first) one, as far as I know. Oh and feminine and neutrum don’t have these problems because feminine gender has different forms for nominative and accusative and neutrum… well, it has the same forms, but there are not many people appellations with this gender. Some animals have neutrum but… we make do.
    So nowaydays, “a man sees a dog” = “muž vidí psa”/”psa vidí muž” and “a dog sees a man” = “pes vidí muže”/”muže vidí pes”. (As well as any other word order of the three words, the order usually means what is emphasized.)
    Okay, sorry, this wasn’t short. And there are still so many things I’d like to say, I simplified it so much. But hopefully I explained it clearly enough. Anyway, now you know why we have the animate and inanimate masculine gender. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, no problem! sorry for the late reply, but the comment got stuck in the “pending” section somehow.
      I would appreciate it if you could put links to my original article. Other than that, I am cool :)

      Like

  22. I love your article! :D

    It is written in a really funny way and many things are really true. It was a nice reading based on your own experience and it is great to hear an opinion of foreigners about Czech people.

    Of course, there are exceptions and differecies but I can see myself in many points of this article :D good job

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Hello,

    This is one of the best articles about Czech (our) culture and a way of life, I have ever read. As it was already mentioned here in commnets, this especially applies to Prague where the “hard core” ironmen bunch reside:-) It is all true to the tiniest detail. You have a great talent for observation and sense for catching things the way they really are. Thank you for this, I was laughing a lot.

    For all foreigners who read the article, you can trust me (as a Czech citizen), this is exactly how it is and it accuratelly describes who we (Czechs) are. You can 100% rely on this information if you dont know what to expect if you plan to move here at least for a while.

    I wish you and your wife all the best.

    Adam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Adam, thank you very much! I think you are too flattering – these are partial observations and part of it is really just intended as jokes.
      But — thank you very much nonetheless :))

      Like

  24. Hello. This is very good description of Czech nationality and thank you for writing that. After reading this, I am more proud to be Czech. (And Praguer too, but do not say it anyone! Other Czechs really do not like us at all. ;-)) You are right in all fields except the sport and outdoor thing (and mabye the nudity thing but that is obviously only my problem). Many people around me prefer more relaxing activities (and so do I) but it is true that we have always something to do. Doing nothing seems to be just laziness and it is very criticized by the society. (We also often laugh Italians and other South European nations for their inactivity and “all the time siesta-time”.)

    In addition, do not worry about our grumpy face. It is just a mask. We use it to make a distance when we are among the foreigners. (Especially in Prague, that is very anonymous city. And people who live there usually love this anonymity.) But when we start to talk with somebody, we usually try to be as much polite and friendly as we can at the moment (of course that you can´t disturb people when they hurry to the work or to their country house). :-D I hope that the behaviour of people around you approve my words.

    Thank you for this article. It was very funny. :-) Good luck with learning Czech language and have a nice time in the Czech Republic (and especially in Prague!). :-)

    Jitka

    P.S. I apologize for my poor English. Sometimes I just don´t know what to do with articles. ;-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahahah thank you very much for your comments. I have learned much more about Czechia and its culture after I posted the article, thanks to all the feedback.

      Like

  25. With havin so much written ccontent ddo you ever run into any
    probleems of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My site has a loot of unique content I’ve either written myself or outsourded but iit looks like a lot of it is popping it
    up all over the iternet without mmy permission. Do
    you know any ethods to help stop content from being stolen? I’d
    trulpy appreciate it.

    Like

  26. Hi, perfect article! I laughed myself off :D Personally Im prager and I believe we have lots of prejudice, pride (for no reason) and we are not really able to take any criticism, even in a good way. You mention in your post so many times that it shouldn’t be taken offensively, despite that so many people are shouting at you here. And for what, for the truth! Its embarrassing.
    I find your observations very fitting, even though you cant apply it to anyone, which wasn’t your point at all. From my point of view, you made and incredible observation of Czech culture for such a short time. I hope you will find nice people to surround yourself and will give us a chance. If you can be let under the Czech skin, you’ll see that we are nice after all. You just need to give us a time :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahah thanks Anna, I give Czechs more than a chance, I married one :))
      No worries, I love the culture and I have many friends from the Czech rep. At the end, my skin will be a but thicker, but I have a lot of fun making observations, and i am very happy to learn a new lifestyle :)

      Like

  27. Having read this I believed it was rather enlightening.
    I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this informative
    article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too
    much time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    Like

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