Why I like living in the Czech Republic or my Prague-ivesary

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Back in Britain, 2012 is full of big events and anniversaries: the Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

This month is special for me because it marks my third year in Czechland. Let’s call it my Prague-iversary.

I didn’t come here with particularly high hopes. I just hoped that I would find life here tolerable. I didn’t expect to like it here more than being back home. But I do.

Now this is something which surprises most Czechs. And their surprise surprises me  – if that isn’t too many surprises to handle in two consecutive sentences. Why is it exactly that Czech people find it so hard to believe that an English lady like me could manage to be happy living in their country?

I’m not the only expat who experiences this reaction from Czechs on a regular basis. Can it still be that people believe life in the shiny West must be superior? Or is it simply a lack of first hand experience of the reality of living  in a hyper urban city like London? Yes, there are endless possibilities in terms of culture and nightlife but there are downsides too. Like the fact that it takes you an hour on public transport to get anyway out of the immediate vicinity of your neighbourhood. Like the expense – even bearing in mind the higher salaries.

I don’t want this to turn into a London bashing post because I did enjoy my time there. So I’ll move on.

Moving abroad for love is a risky business. I have been fortunate to find friends, a job and to have a supportive partner – who is a native – to help me jump through any nasty administrative hoops. And of course, then there are my new Czech family. There are lots of things to like here. At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll mention a few of them.

I appreciate the fact that Czechs don’t sugarcoat things for you – even if it does take some getting used to. I think both the English and the Czechs have a dark sense of humour and relish irony. I like the fact that Prague feels like it is built on a human scale. I like staring out of the window during my tramride to work in the morning and noticing all the little sculptures on the front of a building or an unintentionally retro shop front or the view across the river to Prague Castle and then feeling smug about the fact I’m not commuting to work on the Tube. I like the nice cafes. I like belonging somewhere.

It isn’t just the older generation who find it hard to believe I could enjoy life here. Most of Czechman’s friends are shocked too. So what exactly is the problem? Readers, I want to hear your explanations.

Three years ago, this blog began with a post on meat and the tempting aroma of rohlik v parku wafting across Namesti Miru. I found myself there again during the recent sunny spell admiring this statue.

She looks how I feel. Hopeful. Full of vitality. Chasing possibilities.

Hurray for Spring! Viva Czechland!

69 Comments

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69 Responses to Why I like living in the Czech Republic or my Prague-ivesary

  1. Sophy

    Oh,a nicely written one again.I love Prague too!What to not love about this city?!Im so glad you feel like home here.

  2. Jana

    Yep, I’d say it is hard for many Czechs to imagine living here must be way worse than shiny West (yes, that exact phrasing popped in my mind too).
    Then again…these days I feel more patriotic than usual. True enough, my only on-my-own experience of London was trying to get through the Tube (corridors third the size of Czech ones, yet three times the number of people trying to get through. Twice the temperature and four times the price…). After two minutes of desperate attempts not to get stuck in between people with my tiny suitcase, I wanted to bite someone, really.
    Anyways, yes, Prague is beautiful and awesome and there’s nothing like spring at Petřín with šeříky in full blossom (here I’d add some advertisement to poetry of Jaroslav Seifert). I am really scared of leaving this place for four years at least – New Haven, Connecticut. The school will be awesome, no doubt, but it’s no Prague…

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Jana,

      I’m not surprised that negotiating the Tube in London made you want to bite someone! When Czechs complain about how busy it is at the entrance to I.P Pavlova or Wenceslaus Square I laugh inside…

      Good luck with your U.S adventure. If nothing else, living in another country will at least give you a fresh perspective on what it means to be Czech 🙂 – and perhaps you could start a “Czech Girl in Uncle Sam Land” blog…

      GIC

    • Congratulations on the school in New Haven! Though I must say, that city will leave you with the impression that the West is not very “shiny.”

      One thing I was unprepared for when I got here was the positive image of America among Czechs; one even asked me, “so, does it feel like you’ve moved from civilization to non-civilization?” (Not really, when you compare the sqeaky-clean and punctual Eurorail I took to Bratislava with your typical Amtrak that breaks down in the middle of New Jersey).

      I recently ran into some negative comments online about an education project I volunteer for—arguing that letting Czech students like you go to the States will cause a brain drain. But maybe it’s the best way for them to see that it’s not necessarily better. In your experience, do a lot of young, educated people want to leave, or just study/travel abroad and eventually come back? My friends mostly seem to want to stay…

  3. Jana

    Ugh, and by that first sentence, I meant the exact opposite, of course -.-
    “it is hard for many Czechs to imagine living here could be better than shiny West”
    Or, alternatively, “many Czechs would imagine living here must be way worse than in the shiny West”

  4. Hi GIC,
    Firstly – congratulations on your third Prague-ivesary!

    Secondly – thank you for the very nice backlink to my blog 🙂

    Why are Czech people so surprised that you & I enjoy living here? In most cases the surprise comes from those who either have never travelled to the UK &/or the USA or, if they have, it was only for a week or two of holiday. I find those who have done an exchange year at an American High School or have worked in the UK for some time, understand far better the appeal that Czechland has to you & me.

    You have rightly identified the help and support you have had from Czechman & his family in helping you jump through various administrative hoops. My wife & I likewise have benefited from the help of several English/Czech bilingual friends in dealing with the delights of Czech bureaucracy. But I think what has helped both you & I settle so happily in Czechland is that we have chosen to accept and embrace most of the attitudes & culture that we find here, rather than constantly complaining about them.

    Even those things that you do find odd or peculiar, you tend to have the wonderful ability to write about humorously in your inimitable style here on your blog. I’m sure that this is therapeutic and, as you will know from some of the comments you receive, you also enable some Czech people to laugh at themselves.

    Long may you remain hopeful, full of vitality & chasing possibilities just like the young lady featured in your photograph. Viva Czechland! Viva ‘Girl in Czechland’!

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Ricky,

      I put a link to your own post because I wholeheartedly agree with all the reasons you give for enjoying living here in the Czech Republic. Things like “good/cheap public transport” may seem minor but the fact that it only takes me twenty minutes to travel into the centre on one tram rather than at least an hour on a bus and the tube means I’m far more likely to socialise after work and that I feel I can be more spontaneous. I really do think the fact that London is so spread out can make it less possible to have a group of friends you see regularly unless they live in your neighbourhood.

      Anyway, I digress, as I have a tendency to do! I’m glad that I’m managing to keep you entertained and the writing is indeed therapeutic. I’m not sure how long my new found optimism will last (I’m not sure it’s my default setting) but I suppose you can all be the judge of that in future posts!

      GIC

  5. Yon Pulkrabek

    I know what you mean. When I tell people I grew up in the states, many of them look at me like a just grew a horn and ask “What the hell are you doing here?” I grew up in a small town in upstate New York that looked more like West Virginia than New York City. Is it really that surprising that I would like a beautiful medium-sized European city with tons of culture, history, and pretty (read: not obese) girls better than my hometown?

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Yon,

      Glad you too have managed to escape small town life and delight in the joys of living in the capital of Bohemia. I believe Miss Czech Republic is being screened on Prima one night soon if you happen to be home and want to eye up Slavic goddesses from the comfort of your armchair once you’ve exhausted yourself checking out all that culture 😉

      GIC

  6. Mike in Bohemia

    Hi GIC,

    I have also come across Czechs who ask me why I live here when I could live in the UK. I think they just think “the grass is greener on the other side” and they only have superficial unrealistic movies about the US and UK to go by, so they think its all perfect there. Also most Czechs’ first encounter with the West was West Germany, where things are mostly in order, on the surface anyway, so they think the whole West is like Germany.
    It’s a bit like UK people asking Australians why they live in London, when the weather is so much better in Oz, which really annoys Australians.

    I’m glad you and the Rev. Chaplain are happy in Prague.

    Mike in Bohemia

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Mike,

      I think the Aussies in London analogy is a good one! I personally could never get used to barbecuing my Christmas dinner on the beach – although having said that the carp and potato salad is also an acquired taste.

      GIC

  7. mireczech

    I’d agree that it is mostly lack of first hand experience of living abroad or just elsewhere. I mean, beyond annual vacation in Croatia and hiking in Tatras. I was born in Prague and I ever liked the place (and CZ in general), but I really started to apreciate it only when I moved abroad. When visiting home during my 5 years stay in Moscow, I always felt like I returned to a countryside (I am speaking about Prague here :-]), and I learned to look around with strangers’ perspective. So I can imagine why you and others enjoy living there (I say „there” since I am still an expat myself, although bit more to the west now).
    When the time comes, going back „home“ (although it is not much of a home for my wife) to Czech Republic is still my preferred move. However the region around Geneva lake is a tough competition to my homeland, I must say.
    BTW it is párek v rohlíku, not the other way around. :-]

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Mireczech

      “Parek v rohliku”! Of course! Thanks for the correction. And to think that I was toying with the idea of making this blog bilingual…

      GIC

  8. I’m not surprised at all. Living in the Czech republic has its flaws but nothing you couldn’t get used to.
    I wouldn’t want to live in a country which extradites its citizens to U.S.A. without having committed a crime according to British law.
    I wouldn’t want to live in a city where you can run a pub but you mustn’t allow your customers to smoke in it.
    Last but not least, the street cameras/citizens ratio is not that high here in Czechland.

    • No Nup

      > I wouldn’t want to live in a city where you can run a pub
      > but you mustn’t allow your customers to smoke in it.

      Enjoy your lung cancer.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Vitsoft,

      Czechman would wholeheartedly agree with your street cameras/citizens ration point. It’s thanks to him that I have to cough up the extra 400kc a time to have the anonymous Opencard as if you examine the small print of the usual one, it seems the powers that be can hang onto your personal data for five years. Not good.

      And Czechman’s concern to protect his anonymity is the reason I have to refer to him as Czechman rather than Rumpelstiltskin.

      (laughs at her own lame joke)

      GIC

  9. #13

    Some Czech people hold the absurd believe that Czechs are the worst nation in the world — corrupt, snarling, lazy, fat, smelly, stupid etc. And hence their fanatical support for the EU: because people (even politicians) in the West are virtuous angels compared to those bloody Czechs, aren’t they? I hate this prejudice very much.

    So, maybe some of the surprised people are prejudiced like this?

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Mmister,

      I think you’re right: there are some Czechs I’ve encountered who do seem to think their nation is amongst the worst in the world. I’ve also noticed that there seems to be a widespread belief that Czech culture (and I’m not talking about the obvious linguistic barrier) is inpenetrable for any outsider. For example, I watched and enjoyed the first Homoloka film some time ago. One of Czechman’s friends felt that I couldn’t have really understood it, subtitles or no subtitles, because it was simply “too Czech”. Now forgive me, but surely the antics of a comically dysfunctional family can have a universal appeal, whatever the cultural setting? Just look at the Simpsons.

      Here’s a link to the film anyway for those who haven’t seen it: you can pick it up cheaply at a metro station or a tabak

      http://www.csfd.cz/film/7101-ecce-homo-homolka/

      GIC

      • #13

        Yes, I think that the Homolka series can be pretty international. Unlike Cimrman where it is full of Czech puns and allusions to Czech politics and culture.

        I love the Homolkas! Did you like it? Have you seen the other parts? 🙂

        BTW: Yes, Minister (my favorite British TV show!) is pretty international and accurate, too. It should be televised at schools. 🙂

      • girlinczechland

        Hello again,

        I love the Homolkas too! The third one is a bit disappointing but the first two are great. And we in the Czechmanovi household are the proud owners of the Yes Minister DVD box set which we are gradually working our way through. It still seems so fresh – nothing much changes in the world of politics it seems.

        GIC

  10. Bethany

    First of all, I always read these sort of posts from expats because I’m always hoping I’ll find something beyond “Hey, great ‘pivo’, man,” and “Czech ladies are so sexy.” So bravo for going a bit beyond that (though, to be 100% honest, I was hoping for a little more). But since no one else is doing it, I’ll post a devil’s advocate response. However, far be it from me to assume that I know what is on a Czech person’s mind. Living here nearly five years with my very own Czech man has taught me that I shouldn’t assume that much. So I’ll pose it as some questions:
    Could the general Czech public perhaps have a different perspective than your average Prague expat? Could a background of communism perhaps lay the ground for a generation of young people who care more about opportunities than beautiful architecture and a laid-back lifestyle? Could the plight of politics in this country play a role in peoples’ attitudes? Could the dismal income to cost-of-living ratio have anything to do with it (I know beer and eating out is cheaper – but nothing else is)? Could the fact that if you want to get anywhere financially, you have to work in a foreign company and speak English all day anyway have anything to do with it?
    Prague is my home, and I’m glad I’m here. There are many things that I love about this place and, as the writer feels, about my “Czech family”. But I don’t really feel that seeing it through rose-colored glasses would help me understand or appreciate it more. And I also don’t think cheap ‘pivo’ and skinny girls in knee-high dominatrix boots is what it’s all about.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Bethany,

      Thanks a lot for leaving such a detailed comment which really made me think.

      I know that being happy in life and in a particular place is less about than pretty architecture and more about a particular consellation of circumstances coming together at the right time in the right location. I’m fortunate that (for the moment, touching wood, fingers crossed) that’s happened for me. I agree with some of the points you make – for example, the depressing state of politics here – but I’m not entirely sure about the income to cost-of-living ratio. I know that while my salary is certainly lower than in the UK, I feel that I have a better standard of living here. That may be partly though because I’ve made Czech-influenced lifestyle changes: I’m certainly less materialistic and would never absentmindedly find myself wandering into a shopping centre to buy a new top/dress/handbag because I’d had a bad hair day. I exaggerate, but you get the point. I don’t even eat out all that often these days and if I do, it’s a lunchtime daily menu around the 100kc mark.

      I think you’re right, that I could have gone deeper in the post, but I think I was shy to as my last attempt to broach this topic didn’t go desperately well. (Here’s a link to that post in case you haven’t read it before http://girlinczechland.com/2011/02/18/do-czechs-have-an-inferiority-complex/) I hope that the blog does go beyond the “hurrah for pivo” and “here’s some more of picture postcard perfect Prague” although the process of getting under the skin of Czech culture is neverending. As part of that mission, I’d like to make more Czech connections of my own rather than through his Lord Czechmanness. With that aim in mind, if there are any Czechs out there who’d like to hear me decline my cases poorly over a real coffee, get in touch.

      GIC

    • john smith

      Whats pivo?
      Please enlighten. Thanks.

      • girlinczechland

        It’s the Czech word for ‘beer’ and the only piece of vocab some expats ever bother to learn 😉
        GIC

      • john smith

        Beer !
        Thanks – I thought it was perhaps something more sinister that I should know.

  11. Sarka

    I like it here 🙂 I like our countryside, the hills, woods, meadows, fields, waved land, Czech sense of humour, our kindness and straightforwardness, changing of seasons, the way parents teach and bring up children. I like our culture, beer culture, hockey fans in the streets after a big or small match, colourful Czech language with its “ř”, metaphors, our many fairytales, which are watched and listened by grown ups too, our calm films, that we are quite sporty and that most of the kids go to summer camps (and that they are affordable for their parents). I like the state of Czech school canteens and the strict rules applied to meals served there. I appreciate that we have so low infant mortality. I like our kind cartoons where is no violence, our so penetrated atheism, Czech fondness of gardening, women who still think cooking is normal and an everyday activity. I like that we are not so obsessed by looks.

    So, I’m not surprised you like it here too 🙂

    • Sarka

      and of course Moravian white wines 🙂

    • Bethany

      Wow, Sarka, that pretty much sums it up! Your post was exactly what I would like to hear more expats discover – beyond “pretty buildings” and “good beer”. I agree with everything you said – except perhaps the bit about school canteens… when was the last time you ate in one? I’ve worked at three different “Zakladni Skola”s and I’m afraid it wasn’t exactly my favorite part of the Czech republic (though very cheap!).

      • Sarka

        and I would also add: the way our banknotes look (I hope we won’t switch to Euro soon)

        Bethany – quite recently, I still study, at university. Even though, it’s not usually very tasty it’s still a normal meal better than hamburgers or other horrible stuff served for example in the US school canteens. (my source: http://whatsforschoollunch.blogspot.com/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/fedupwithlunch/6049697076)

        I’m not an expat, I live in the CR my whole life (except for six months when I was six years old and spent this time with my Czech parents and brother in Canada – exchange university program for my parents). Members of my family travel a lot. When I was a kid I used to go abroad with them, but now I’m not much into it.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Sarka,

      Very nicely put. Let me say it again: Viva Czechland and all who live happily here within her borders!

      GIC

    • Sofia

      Well among all the things I love here in CR certainly the “ř” is not among it. I just simply CANNOT pronounce it. Have been trying for 8 years now !! How on earth do you do it ?!
      But also there is certainly not the school canteen. I am sorry everyday, when I see what my son has to eat, and I try to compensate at home. Don’t compare with USA. Have you seen what children eat at school in Italy ?
      But you know, I don’t really care about all this. Yes the countryside is beautiful, but elsewhere as well. Kindness is really not so current here.
      And yet, where else in Europe can you live without being suffocated by blind consumism ??
      No one of my friends and/or family here in CR rushed for an I-Phone5. No, we all laughed about it. God, the rush in Paris for it!
      And this is just an exemple.
      What I love the most here in CR is that my son is brought up without the urge to own, buy and consume. He is tought to repair things, not to throw them away and buy a new. We still glue toys. They are laughing at me in Italy.
      He learns that a child without an X-Box is not a nerd. On the contrary.
      His school teaches him to recognise trees and birds, out in the woods. Not only on books. And so many other things.
      I love that I can still see Trabants on the streets or very old skoda. I loved my old skoda felicia. Made me feel in touch with the environment I was driving in. The new fiat I have, does not.
      Kindness is not Czech’s best atout, but here I don’t feel like a “value” or an “asset”, I feel like a person.

  12. Great post GICL!

    I also have a Czechdude and am a bit tired of defending my choice to live here rather than in the UK. These are the 3 things I love the most: 1. Sporty, outdoor lifestyle. Skiing, canoeing, cycling…I’m now a huge fan but never had the opportunity in the UK due to expense and the simple fact that where I lived, the majority of the population prefer to stay in and watch tv or save their pennies for a Fri night of binge drinking, puking and fighting . 2. Fantastic transport system that arrives when it says it will. Don’t get me started on the UK system! 3. I was able to set up a business in 1 month with minute costs. In the UK the paper work and red tape involved would have sent me running.

    Miluju Praha! Keep up the good work GICL!

    • girlinczechland

      Ahoj Sarah,

      Jak taky Prahu miluju! Your comment about binge-drinking Brits who can’t be arsed to get off the sofa made me chuckle. Czechs are more active but that doesn’t stop them indulging in a beverage or two – I spotted a guy in full Lycra cycling around Letna while drinking a pint in a plastic glass! Those Czechs – so resourceful!

      GIC

  13. Jirka

    Hey GIC,

    Pretty nice post, glad you (and others ofc) like it here 🙂 But I wonder about one thing… how hard was it to get used to live here with regards to language barrier? I know it’s been better recently but still I have a bad feeling it still gotta be hard for foreigners to visit/live in Czech as still not enough people do speak English actually. When I travel abroad I usually have no problem that others would not understand or speak English. I have no illusions that’s the case of Czech.

    With regards to Czech being so great… well, as you said, the grass ain’t always greener on the other side. But that applies here as well. Prague especially is really lovely city, but the living in Czech in general is not bad but not great either. There are things that should be changed asap, there are things which should not even be possible (yeah, as was said political situation for starters, bribery and corruption etc), but there are also things that are worthy to ignore everything else for and just enjoy the life! 🙂 And everyone who thinks otherwise lies to him/herself in my opinion.

    Cheers
    Jirka

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Jirka,
      I don’t think I’ve had too many difficulties finding people who speak English in most everyday situations (shops, restaurants etc) although I can’t comment on the rest of the Czech Republic. What I find more annoying is that when I attempt to speak Czech, waiters and waitresses keen to show off their language skills often reply in English – even if I continue speaking Czech. I suppose it’s because they are told by their managers that they must speak English with foreigners or like I said, perhaps they’re just keen to show off their language skills.

      And yes, I agree, there’s pluses and negatives to life everywhere but it’s sad that Czechs can’t see many of the positives in their own country.

      GIC

  14. Zita

    Hi GIC!

    I really like reading your blog. It’s very refreshing…:-)
    When I lived in Prague I was also always very surprised, when I heard that there are some foreigners, who enjoy living in the CR. (doesn’t matter if they were from UK or Algeria:-D) Since I’ve moved to Denmark I understand them better (although I still think that moving to Prague would have been some kind of punishment for my boyfriend… Yes, I’m very czech;-)
    I think, that if the Czechs were a person, it would have been neurotic perfectionist, who LOVES fairy tales.
    I give you an example. In Copenhagen is the best restaurant in the world called Noma and Danes are proud of it. Let’s imagine, that Noma was in Prague. First complain would come, that the chef who is running the restaurant is not czech (his parents are from Albania i think). Than there would come arguments like it’s not really czech food (he makes nordic food in the way nobody eats at home…), it’s expensive and only snobs go there. Result – not worth to like it.
    Czechs would be happy only if there came Michelin judges to a cheap czech restaurant, where the chef makes svíčková like grandma used to make (“30 years ago it tasted much better, I don’t know why”) and would have said: “Yes, this is THE food!”
    Do you read czech mainstream newspapers? (useless if you want to get information, valuable if you want to find out what Czechs think about their country) It’s full of stories what works the best in other countries (but they usually say A and forget to say B) and what doesn’t work in the CR. They are also very much oriented on economical standards. We know, that in Germany they have cheaper and better food in supermarkets, while they earn three times more and they never write about poor people in the USA. Money have become to be the major value, we don’t care about culture, education or social things as much as we care about our own prosperity.(After the 1989 people changed their “religion” from communism to economic liberalism without any rational thoughts. If you think, that state should take care of handicapped, old and weak people and that it is a good idea to pay taxes, you would probably face accusation of being Lenin’s fan…)
    As long as the CR will not be as powerfull as the USA, as democratic as Switzerland, as less corrupted as Denmark, as precise as Germany, as cultural as France and as beautiful as Iceland we will not understand, why are there people, who voluntarily choose to live there:-D

    But I must say, that I live in the country, where most of the people think, that this is the best place to live and if it was possible, the rest of the world would like to move there… That’s honestly annoying for everyone who is not ethnical Dane:-D

    So, I hope, that your fourth year in CR will be even better than the three before…
    Zita

  15. Matik

    Ahoj 🙂
    Dnes jsem tento blog objevila a strávila tu téměř celý den:) Pročetla jsem se až někam k roku 2010 a hodně mě pobavil, články o “czechenglish” hezky poučili a určitě se budu ráda vracet! 🙂

    Téměř nikdo si neváží toho co má:) Myslím, že hodně lidí nadávajících na to, jak je to u nás strašné, by se po pár měsících prožitých na “dokonalém západě” ještě rádo vrátilo:)

    A to jsem jedna z těch, co mají život v UK hodně zidealizovaný. Ale jen v představách, vím, že realita je jinde a proto bych se nestěhovala – abych si své představy nezkazila:)

    (Sorry for writing in czech, but I am shy with my english 🙂

  16. nice post, as usual!
    As italian, living in Brno for 3 years too, i found the main reasons for czech wondering are that they mostly immagine the west being better than this wonderful country, just as a pure fact and also they (but who doesnt?) think with stereothypes.
    ‘What is an italian doing here? You have the sea (doesnt matter i lived in milano, an ugly city without sea!), the sun (immagine to spend 3 months in the summer time in an unbearable and unpleasent hot city)…
    Yes, but in italy we also have mafia, stupid politicians, economical crisis, no jobs opportunities…

  17. Lukáš Obdržálek

    When a foreigner tells me he/she likes living there, more than surprised, I am just curious. I always want to find out how foreigners look at our city, country. 🙂 Nothing more.
    Thats my personal view but maybe it’s the case of many younger Czechs… at least I hope so.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Lukas,

      I’m glad that you’re curious about foreign folk’s inpressions of Czechland. However, it saddens me to say that the surprised reaction when I say I am happy here comes from all generations of Czechs. I guess the grass is always greener as the cliche goes but I still find it puzzling…

      GIC

  18. I also get the shock and disbelief response, sometimes downright pitying looks. I live in a small village not too far from Brno and it is lovely. During the winter I did spot a lot of peeps sporting the ‘Rambo’ look.

  19. If you have a baby here you will spot some funny quirks. Babies and children in woollen hats in thirty degree weather during the summer… Boy babies and children in tights… Girl babies with pierced ears…

  20. Czechman’s niece has had pierced ears since she was a baby which I’ve always found very strange. And the boys in tights – an American friend told me that strangers yelled at her if her boy toddlers weren’t wearing them even in Spring! Can’t wait to reproduce in this land…

  21. Most baby girls here have it done at about three months. I think it is almost traditional. people kept asking why my daughter didn’t. I am not sure how to explain what a chav is in Czech, but it is quite chav I reckon. Plus there are risks of infection, pain etc…

  22. People do have the tendency to tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing. However, I did notice that in the UK too, not so much the yelling, but once you become pregnant people do tend to think they have free reign to dictate to you.

  23. Yeah. It’s beautiful here. Prague is beautiful city and in the whole country there are many and many beautiful cities and the countryside is also so beautiful. Not everywhere and not every city is worth visiting. I love the typical Czech cuisine though it’s not really healthy to eat like that all the time. And I like the Czech language cause you can do anything in it, you can add something to the word, change its form three time – still we know what you meant. Who else can say kulaťoulinké jablíčko? :))

    What ruin it all are people. I’m not saying that all of us steal and that all of us are rude and that we all don’t like to work but we all like to earn money for nothing and that we all trying to do something illegally… but the people who don’t are not visible or I don’t know but Czech people are so fucking… aaarrrgh, I don’t know how to express how much I don’t like it. Maybe I’m naive and it’s no different anywhere else. Since I haven’t live anywhere else I shouldn’t judge. But that doesn’t change that I don’t, simply don’t like it here and I cannot imagine how it could be nice to live here. I’m just not able to.
    And maybe that’s it. Aren’t we all so pessimistic that we’re constantly in bad mood and then we don’t like it even more? After all – everyone’s starring at you like you’re insane when you’re walking on the street and just smiling for no reason. Just because you feel good. Then… you’re mad and you should “go to Bohnice”.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Cantharus,

      I see you’re struggling to articulate just what it is that irritates you about your fellow countrymen. Do you think you could do GIC and her readers a huge favour and try once again to explain that what it is that frustrates you about other Czechs? Yes, I know you can be a bit gruff and grumpy but whatever it is that’s bothering you seems to run deeper than that.

      Waiting eagerly for your response,

      GIC

  24. Vašek

    Hi, first thing I have to say, is that I love your blog. I guess it is because I am fascinated by British history and culture just as you are fascinated by ours. I am more that kind of silent reader that doesn´t make lots of comments but I felt I should make one here. To your question why are so many czechs surprised that a british lady wants to live here? Answer to your question isn´t easy. And of course it differs from man to man. For me, it is that national pride your nation has. Both our countryes held in sertand period of time moderate power in Europe. But while your people managed to retain it, we didn´t. And it woukldn´t be that bad, but we lost out position and pride mostly because of treason, not from abroad, but from our own ranks. Your people fought nobly in the Great war, we were forced to fight for Austria, then came a bright new chance in the way of First republic. We had our leader, we had out self-confidence, we had our state. It ended with Hitler, and after so many years of preparation to fight for our freedom, we were betrayed again. I think that broke our spine. After that our trust in the west was hurst, and so we payed the price again. For decades we were part of a communist empire. And when we finally gained our independence again, we were devastated. Not only economically but more importantly mentally. When we look to the west, specifically to the UK, we don´t see only that power, wealth we see pride, proud history, confidence in each other, that we lack. And without that corruption, thievery and despair are weeding our country.

    • lorne

      i love a lot of the things you,ve mentioned about my country of great britain, but of all the countries i,ve been too,czech republic is the only place i could live in, i love visiting zizkov every year, i find the czech people reserved [not loud like certain other east euro countries] and i like that, your country side is lovely and too us brits ,we feel over crowded in britain and when in the czech republic it feels so lovely to be in a less crowded enviroment..i must admit i like a pint or two and there,s no better place in the world for hobbie…cheers lorne

  25. Honzik

    Hi Gic ,

    Great Blog BTW 🙂 .
    I really admire the positive attitude you have on living in the CR .
    I know for a fact you need to have this kind of Attitude or you will not survive there.
    I have lived in the CR for over 2 years .I was born and bred in Holland with a Czech father and British mother .
    My dad tought me to speak Czech right from the beginning ,so when I came to live in the CR I had ofcourse no problem with the language .
    I love the country ,the buildings ,the nature ,everything ..the only thing that I couldn’t get used to, were the people ..
    I find it so frustrating that a lot of Czechs complain about expats because they don’t learn the language ,well I spreak it fairly good ,but i sometimes make mistakes in the grammar and I clearly have an accent.I can’t tell you how many times I had to deal with impatience and rudeness from people like for instance waiters , people that work in shops or banks… It’s like as soon as they hear something foreign in your czech they get uncomfortable
    and rude .I have ofcourse also encountered people that are super appreciative of the fact that I speak their language so “well” ,but unfortunately this doesn’t apply to the majority..
    I lived in Pardubice and I always enjoyed Prague much more ,not only because the city is one of the most beautiful cities in the world,but because of all the different nationalities that either live and work there,or are just tourists.It gives the city a very cosmopolitan vibe..
    I just think if the czechs would just stop seeing the expats as some kind of invaders ‘who think they are superrior to the czechs ” (this is often not even true,they just like to think that) and be happy they are creating jobs and bring a different kind of attitude that in some ways, if they would allow it to rub off on them ,they would become more proud and positive people , and than in my opinion it would be one of the best places in the world to live.

    Keep up the good work 🙂

  26. kelvin

    Indeed Czech is a great place to visit and am
    back there in January. i stayed with my friend and the family. they are great people once they trust you. i played with the children and they found me funny bcos my Czech wasnt great. They are great to chat to and they like to know more. the beer is good too

  27. Veronika

    Hi, I have discovered your blog today and even though this is an older post I would like to comment on it. Having lived for 4 years in the USA and 1 year in the UK, I get a different response “Why did you come back? Why didn’t you stay in the US/UK?” The disbelief that one actually preferred to come back here is incredible. So why have I come back?
    I love Czech republic. It is home. I love the fact that here people still live in communities, friends and family matter and if you make a friend it is for life. I have never felt so lonely as in the US. I love the fact that here I feel safe. I have never felt safe in Liverpool (I cannot say in UK, because that would be stereotyping, but Liverpool was not safe). And I also love the fact that I can use my foreign experiences and help my country (in a small way) to improve in the field of my specialisation, although it is sometimes difficult and problematic. And that is the last thing I love about living here. Sometimes it is a challenge. 🙂

    • MikeInBohemia

      Hi Veronika,
      Yes, I agree, in most cases, friendship with the average Czech is much more genuine and real than with the average English person. Czechs are more willing to say what’s in their heart, for better or worse. I like that. My English friends are not typical Brits.
      I cant comment on the USA, no experience of that.
      Mike, an Englishman in Liberec 🙂

    • John Smith

      Liverpool is recognised as one of the poorest areas of the UK. Some of the people are not very honest (understatement). I have no idea why anybody would stop for a whole year. You must like to suffer.

      For that matter why does anybody from Eastern Europe come to the North of England – its a cold wet scruffy dump full of fat drunken idiots and dirty pavements. You could turn left and end up in the South of France instead.

      Nb I am a native of N England so know what I am talking about.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Veronika,

      Sorry I’ve been a bit slow to respond to your comment but I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit for the past few days (honestly!) I think it’s true that society (big word) seems more closely knit here in Czechland than say in the UK and that’s one reason life appeals to me more here too.

      It interests me too that people are as surprised that a Czech person would want to return here after a significant spell abroad as that a (Western) foreigner would want to make their life here. Is Czechland really so terrible? I think not (as the blog itself repeatly asserts).

      GIC

  28. Rasťa

    Zdravím všechny,
    A little study of my country how i percieve it.
    I am lately thinkng of leaving Czech republic and I am interested in opinions on living in different countries. I also wanted to see some different point of view on living in this country. I very appreciate this blog, because lately i got a very negative vibe about this place and after reading this i acctualy remembered the stuff i like about this country. Let me tell you what i like and dislike about this country and why.
    Bad news first:
    Warning, this doesnt apply to every person, but more likely to the general public. (I praise and very much love my Czech friends.)
    I stumbled upon people here comlaining about the Czechs…well they indeed are sou fucking…. Since i have lived my whole life in CR and also have been able to visit different countries i see the benefits and also the bad side. Important is also to know the historical backround, cuz without it it is harder to grasp. Czech people are not straight forward and they certainly dont sugarcode things for you…they will rather pull you through a f****** cactus field. They are cynical, envious, overcritical, negative, pseudointelectual, selfcentered wankers. The problem lies in the communist era. People until now just didnt learn how to cope with the new situation and still bare the upbringing from that cursed time. You couldnt express your opinions aloud. So the only thing left was kind of a hidden humor. That is what a lot of people nowadays have. It is this kind of weird poisonous contempt hidden benath a smile. Czech people tend to be nice to the bare eyes but do not tend to be very honest, as it seems. I unfortunately stumbled upon a lot of people like this. Sadly, mostly they dont even realize that they are doing it. We dont really have solid values, because of the historrical supression over the last 60 years. And also dont really keep much pride in the first republic, and our later freedom in 89. You will always hear an argument how our first president T.G. Masaryk, who made the Czech republic (than Czechoslovakia) independent and the 4th wealthiest country in Europe/World (not really sure about this fact), having his hands dirty, or beeing an asshole. I mean please. And the president who was elected after the communist supression, on of the liberators, Vaclav Havel being a pussy, and than post mortem praising him to heavens. That is almost a Jekyll – Hyde attitude.(and not even talking about the forgotten heroes of those times) How the fuck do you know than, what te people really think? The other negative is the politics. And unfortunetely, the elections say a lot. People here are stuck with fosilised ideas about society and life, so there fore we are raped by foregin companies, and by our own leaders, just watching it and electing them again and again in a fucking neverending loop of right vs left. What the hell? Why arent we more open to the new blood ideas, unaffected by the old sad bitter times. Isnt it time to pucker up? Stop making fun of things? Starting taking things seriously for instance? These are questions with no answers. Than there is the young generation. West oriented. Not beeing proud or nationalistic in that healthy sense of word. Not giving a shit washing themselves in thrills(imagine whatever) not giving a crap about anything, giving you that…life is short so we better enjoy it shit…fuck, drink, smoke(whatever)….I dont want to get too patronizing, cuz i also participate in these actions, but at least i dont overeact and i actually give shit about this country(but sadly loosing interest)…i do have values in my life besides sheer enjoyement. This is a part of what is pissing me of about this land. No values, no nationality, criticizing all the time, but when it gets down, shitting into our pants hiding under mamas skirt. Next the benefits…

  29. Rasťa

    Benefits…from my own point of view, i guess simplicity is beauty. This country has such a rich heritage in history, culture or nature, that it is hard to resist. That is one of the things that is in contradiction to my previous comment. The country is stunning. And you to some extent fall in love with it. The cities, the countryside, Moravian fields and wineyards. It is like a birthdaypresent you have allways wanted. It is a mixture of nostalgic memory and the state when you are drunk smiling into the sun, having a balst. I mean, the fact that you can go outside, meet random people and sit and talk, and have a bier(which we do drink a lot), or wine (which we also drink alot.) sitting on a 600 years old bridge? Its a prototype for a romantic novel for f**** sake. The village life, where you return stolen glasses from previous night and get invited to join a random birthdayparty as guests in return, get drinks for free, just sharing a good time with people? (mostly in mountains or in countryside, cities/big especialy/ do not posses such hospitality mostly). The life here doesnt relly suck to the extent where you start giving a shit about your life and the conditions that you have to live it properly. Of course it is easy for foreigners that are not so fortunate in their countries to live here, but for a person who considers himself a patriot, or doesnt want to witness some kind of fading of czech heritage, it is quite hard to consider living here not complaining and thinking about leaving. I would agree with a person here that said that we are a bit similar to the British in mentality, but there is a major difference. The British have strong feeling of being British. We dont posses that, and just praising such quality wont make us different if we dont change. Fuck how i wish for us to wake up and be a bit more openhearted. Again this is much of a general description mixed with some experience. Haters hate, lovers love. I recommend for everyone to make his own opinion by spending some time in here, cuz there is no regret. Its just difficult to comment on something you have been living in for so long without some judgement.

  30. Ondřej

    It’s about that impression you get from the movies and travel tv shows. I visited many european cities, London just seemed to be too spread out for me and also less architecturally coherent if it makes sense. People were politely fake, mostly, and the family I lived in had extremely messy house and played primitive board games while drinking awful beer.(Bexley) I was surprised London wasn’t cleaner than Prague, again, movies I guess. Still, I enjoyed the tourist sites a lot. Some places like Stratford Upon Avon almost had this Prague vibe. The cities that rival Prague in my opinion are Paris and especially Florence, although I never spent longer time there. Brussels dissapointed me a lot. From smaller towns, Brugges are beautiful, as is Siena. Milano is pretty boring, Vienna is fine as well, although too formal sometimes. Prague is my number one and I am not even patriotic. I just love you get all the opportunities, honest, cool people who hate modern propaganda of feminism/communism/whatever, great food, architecture, beautiful feminine women who know how to cook and dress and all that in medium sized city. Hard to beat, really.

  31. Lucie

    Hi everyone, I have read a few of yr comments. I am from Czech republic but for the past 7 n a half years I have been living in the UK in Manchester with my UK man n our daughter who was born there in 2011. Recently I was offered a job, teaching English in a Czech school, unfortunately it is only a 3/4 of a full time job. I always visit my family with my little daughter in summer as I am doing right now. We live in Nový Jičín near Ostrava.In the UK we r both unemployed n I always wanted to go back here to czech. However I always feel strange…when I am in the UK I miss everyone n everything in Czech n when I am in Czech i miss Manchester, the house we live in the fact we have everything in there n all the help from the government like housing benefits, child benefits n a free medical n childcare. Here in Czech I have nothing but family n friends. No money, no savings. To start I wud have to live in a flat with my parents n my brother n his girlfriend, with my daughter sleeping on the couch. It will take several months to save up for a flat’s deposit at least. My partner is into IT but doesn’t speak a word of czech apart from PIVO, AHOJ. So he doesn’t really want to go here but he says he doesn’t want to b without us. I believe part of it is because it is so very quick, all our stuff is in the Uk, if I start working we gonna loose everything n he is going to b homeless coz he won’t b able to afford the house n bills unless there is a miracle n he gets a job next month. For me it is also very quick, I hate making quick decisions but i also don’t want to miss a great opportunity of working in my home town, no need to travel n therefore more time with my daughter. I hope my 3/4 of a full time work will become full time next school year n there is also possibility of extra teaching in language schools or some private lessons but not sure with this. I know it is quick n we have no money n we need to move or sell some of our stuff in the UK but am I doing a right decision to bring my love ones to Czech n to put us all through the hell n major ups n downs? Is my UK man gonna get used to the life here, I think he isn’t much proactive, he prefers an easy life but I still think our daughter is better of here with her cousins n many friends, she can walk n run around more freely, woods all around, no need of a car to go somewhere, it is all close by. Or shall I wait n hope there will b any other opportunity to teach when I have send over 50 emails n received only two offers, the one I am getting ready for n another starting next year? But its not guaranteed that I am gonna get it n it involves travelling so extra money for the bus. Out of that 50 odd emails about a half didn’t bother to reply. What would u tell to my UK man, what do u suggest, any help or advice from u British people living in Czech n non british people as well? Has he got chance to find a work here if he can’t speak Czech? So far it has always been me n my family doing all the sacrifices. At the same time I am not sure if I get used to life back here. Út seems like everyone is stressing, rushing somewhere, employees in shops aren’t very friendly, helpful it annoyes me. But perhaps út is me trying to find the way out of my hard situation coz it is easy just to come back to UK according the plan on 4th July. I hope u will all understand how I mean everything n thank u for any comments. Have a nice day Lx

  32. nina marvin

    Hallo dear Girlinczechland

    Firstly, your blog is really great and your observations about Czechs and Czech Republic are very funny and beautiful in same time.
    I would like to react to your question—Why Czechs dont like Czech Republic, why they think that elsewhere life is better, people in other countries are happier, richer, carefree..
    I am also ,,village person,, from South Bohemia..I moved in Prague in my 19…Lived there for 6 yaers, moved to New Zealand, traveled litlle bit around South Pacific…I am back very freshly after 2,5 years..
    Family, friends, people—- hairdreser, receptionist, sellers, waiters…all of them..WHY DID YOU COME BACK? HERE IS NOTHING, NO JOB, NO MANY, NO OPPORTUNITIES, NO FUN, NOBODY GIVE YOU CHANCE….Czech people love complaning. They think they are less interesting without complaining, they dont want to find out the beautiful trivia of every day life, the experiencies and the amazing, exceptionall freedom what they have…
    Reason why?Mayby?Parents and parents of their parents… showed them, teached them how to be unhappy, how to hate this fantastic country…and now they are afraid of change of their thinging, chance to do something diferent, travel, know, lern..It is easier to be dissatisfied than be happy and make change. Czech people are also very shy..When they go to the holliday they will usually chose place, where they can stay in the hotel even better if they dont have to go out and speake with local people, they are also very polite, when they traveling…If I compare with the other nationalities for example Germans, Rusians, Polish, even young British boys come over to Prague and drinking, drinking..
    I love Czech Republic. Czechs have opportunities, they just have to start believe in it…They have to make change.They can be proud of their country and culture and hisotry.

  33. Terry

    Hello there,
    I have found this post just by an accident but I want to share my thoughts about this: Why are Czechs surprised that foreigners living in Czech loves to living here so much?
    Well, first of all we don´t believe that living in other countries is luxurious and much more… well better. It is just that in most cases (and I would dare to say “every foreigner”) people from “outside” don´t fully understand the life in Czech. The politics is very very wicked, people have practically no voice here even though the government says we have. Nowadays, every 10th person is without job and it is almost impossible for students to get a part time job since everything is deal with a job company that is hiring only people from abroad because they are “cheap workers”. The pills, hospitals and everything in this area is pretty cheap here but the quality is not so good not to mention the horrible personal in every health institution (unless you go to a private clinic but yeah you pay loads of money so they should be nice to you). The monthly pay people get here is low and after paying for accommodation people are usually left with around 2.000CZK to live the month off – that is even before paying for bills excluding accommodation so yeah… The education is for free BUT the teachers won´t teach you something in most schools. It is very very laxy in this way. I can see how this dropped from the times I was in high school. When I was applying for high school I had to pass an entrance exam that was that hard I had to take a course that would prepare me for that exam. After graduation I have found out that they are no longer taking students via entrance exams but just anyone who apply (even when that person had Fs in his/her previous elementary school). This just shows how bad the education system gets… I could continue but I am looking for something and this is the first that came to my mind. To make a summary: Czechs find living here very hard so they can not believe someone is enjoying it.

  34. Andrea

    I was searching for expats in Czech and your blog popped up. I’m an American who is considering (in the next year or so) once again moving abroad for my husbands career. His top choice is the Prague office (he traveled there many times when we lived in Germany) and mine is Luxembourg. Mostly because I speak some French and at least can get by in German in the shops if needed. And we’ve also been there before and I loved the city.
    The Czech language scares me, badly. I found the hardest thing about our first expat trip abroad was the difficulty of picking up German (my then 6 yr old spoke it better than I did). But the Czech Republic looks so beautiful, and my husband keeps telling me if the chance arises to go (which if he wants it to, they will ask him to go work there), we should do it. I’m trying to find as much information as I can about groceries, safety, driving, housing, schools for our kids, as I can. So, excuse me while I read your entire blog this morning 🙂

  35. Newxpat

    I too noticed that when I want to be happy and smile at someone, I’m viewed with suspicion. I do feel that Czechs are generally honest (they’ll tell you how they feel, service workers never intentionally short Change you). I miss having spending cash and buying what I want or feel that I need. I do hope that I’ll overcome this mentality soon. However, it sure would be nice if I could afford to go on vacation or buy an airline ticket back to USA for visit my family. I was a teacher in USA for 15 years and hope to find work here teaching English language (unless a tolerable and more profitable line of work appears). Treatment of workers is generally more humane in Cz. Medical care is cheaper (but I’m hoping that quality is there).

    This is my second month here of a 3 year experience.

  36. Luigi

    Hi. I have been offered a job in Prague paying 36000 crowns gross. I keep reading that this salary is not enough and if I accept it I won’t be able to afford to go to the UK to visit family, buy clothes or even enjoy myself. Is this true? I am not into clubbing but I do enjoy a beer and food.

  37. Jane Nye

    Hello,

    My name’s Jane Nye, I’m 26, from Leamington Spa UK.
    I have just recently moved to the Czech Republic and I’m thinking to stay here for about a year.

    I would like to study Czech language as well as the culture and its customs. I would wonder if you could be so kind and perhaps let me know, if there are some British expats in the Czech, so I could meet them and make some new friends? How to contact them?

    Also, if you would know which are the best Czech language schools, courses for English speakers?

    Please, are there any free courses in the Czech Rep. sponsored by our government or, the government of the Czech Rep.? Such as we have plenty of free courses and much more of other support, for the Czechs and other foreigners living in the UK?

    Thank you.

    Kind regards

    Jane Jye

  38. Luke

    I have lived for a year in Los Angeles, very cool experience. What I like about it is the schools our kids go to, respect, honestly and politeness in general. People simply respect the rules. They are also very positive and you can see they have been raised in positive encouraging mode so they just do what they have been taught to do. Very smooth life however there are lots of things we Czechs and other Europeans take for granted – costs of healthcare for example. You never know how much you will need to pay through various co payments etc. Still lifestyle is great, make friends is challenging as everything tends to be more shallow than in Europe overall. Cult of beach bodies is simply here. My conclusion is – travel the world, change places, meet new people and become a global citizen! With that I mean there are great and less great aspects of life no matter where you live, just focus on the positives, work hard and hope good things will happen in your life.

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