How is it to be Czech expat in the world

I believe that this is something that more people can relate to, especially those coming from smaller countries with tangled history and periods of belonging to someone else’s imperium. I was actually surprised when the first information which popped out on Google while typing the name of my country was: “The Czech Republic is a highly developed country with an advanced, high income economy and high living standards. “ Let’s leave the possible misuse of the word high to further discussion and focus on the facts instead. Czech Republic is a lovely, smaller country in the heart of Europe with Prague as its magnificent capital. I do not usually expect anyone to know anything more, yet some opinions leave me speechless with mouth open.

Some of them are quite ridiculous, some of them are worth a smile, while some leave me rather sad. Here is the list of most frequently asked questions I usually encounter when crossing the borders of my beloved homeland:

 

So you speak Russian?

Sure. Because Russia is so close to the Czech Republic and because both countries have such a similar culture (sarcastic tone) that I simply can’t wrap my head around it. The answer is no. Even the alphabet is completely different and in fact, we sometimes tend to dislike each other for some reason.

 

So you speak German?

Let’s just pretend that the World War II has never happened. The fact, that Germany is our beloved neighbour has probably an influence to a certain extend for people to think we share the same language, I understand it. But only because they are taking a huge part of the map doesn’t necessarily mean, that we have no right to have our own language. Moreover, like most European countries do.

 

Prague is so beautiful, how come you left?

I believe that life is not meant to be lived at one place and though Prague will always be ranked on the top of my favourite places in this world (200% recommendations for a visit!), sometimes it is time to pack our bag and move on. Please do not try to make me feel bad about it. I can’t make myself a living out of observing the Charles Bridge every day, though it truly is spectacular.

 

It’s the paradise on Earth, the beer is so cheap!

Sadly, this is one of the little things everyone truly remembers about my homeland. What’s actually even more disturbing is, that they are right. With the beer prices, not the paradise though. I am positive with confirming that beer in a restaurant costs less than a mineral water.

 

Everything is so cheap!

I was told by my Swedish friend that when he was in Prague, he felt like having “monopoly” money, and that he actually didn’t even know how to spend his budget. Therefore he ended up paying ridiculous city centre prices and still had the feeling like the currency has no worth. The point is that cheap prices are usually highly connected to a low average income, that’s where the fairy-tale ends.

 

Oh yeah, I’ve once been to Warsaw.

Messing up with single European cities is understandable and acceptable. Messing up with important capitals is something to think about. Eventually, when it comes from a mouth of a person being born and raised in Europe, it is a crime.

 

Prague? Yes, we did it all there, ate the chocolate, had waffles..

I could not believe my ears when a Swedish person told me that. Same case like with Warsaw. You better remain silent than trying to impress me with your deep geographical and cultural knowledge.

 

Where?

I used to say that I come from Czech, the Czech Republic. How surprised I was though that some people reacted with confused face and open mouth signalizing a big question mark. I understand when this happens overseas, because even I am not for instance familiar with all American states, but sadly, this has happened to me in Europe. Several times. I do realise that we are not the biggest country by size and might not be contributing to the global economy as much as Germany or France, but still. Basic geography never hurt anyone folks. From purely practical reasons, I started to say that I come from Prague instead of the country itself as people usually respond more positively.

 

I always had interest in Eastern Europe.

Whether they mean it as a joke or they are deadly serious, this is not something to talk about in front of a Czech person. Though the geographical line between east and west has never been precisely drawn, Prague is far from being Eastern European city. It is cosmopolitan, developed and modern. Besides, for example Vienna is located much more east and no one has ever claimed it Eastern Europe.

 

Oh, you speak good English to be Czech.

Half flattered, half torn. Truth is that the educational system in the Czech Republic is not one of the top ranked ones and the second language can someties be a wall too high to climb. On the other hand, the young generation is determined and driven, thus the English proficiency is rising sharply. The accent still remains terrible though.

 

I always wanted to have a friend from Czechoslovakia!

It hurts. Unless you had been sleeping for over last 20 year, you have no excuse to say this word. Two countries, two languages, two different currencies. When they say it in Australia, I completely understand. When my fellow European stated this, I had tears in my eyes. God bless the ignorance.

 

That is wonderful, I have a friend from Czech – she is not from Prague but it doesn’t matter, maybe you know each other. Look..

Indeed. That is highly possible in a country with 10 million people that we know each other. Czech Republic is not a giant but it is surprisingly not as small as people might think.

 

Oh I love goulash and Schnitzel!

Hungary and Austria, I am deeply sorry for stealing your national dishes. Sometimes even we are told by our parents that both have their roots in our homeland which supports the general confusion.

 

How can you offer travelling being from communist country?

There is a difference between a third world country and a European lower average one. It is still liveable. We can rent houses and buy cars, usually we even have TVs and smart phones. And the communism.. I will just pretend that I didn’t hear it. It hurts.

 

Jagr, Cech and Kvitova.

Sport is great and I am proud to hear those names wherever I go. Well done guys, you are representing us in the best possible way!

 

 

Have you ever asked or been asked one of these or is there some more you have heard?

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Eastern Europe…now everybody around me knows that tge Czech Republic is in the central Europe. They mostly look surprised – Oh I didn’t know there was a central Europe. But they respect it. Yes!
    But everybody I’ve met here knew CZ (not Czechoslovakia).
    And here in Holland everybody knows..Martina Sáblíková. Some call her Big Martina. Sweet 🙂
    Last thing, the vast majority f**ks up my name: Krystyna, Krystina or even Krýstina (nice try) 😀

    Really cool blog! 🙂

  2. I TOTALLY FEEL YOU!! Once in Scotland somebody told me..hmmm..Greece, yes i know this country i ve been to Nice:) Another one in uk… many bulgarian destinations that uk citizens went think its Greece! It was the only country that I ve met so many arrogant and uneducated people(although i wouldnt generalize it, ofcourse u meet people with a Phd)It was hilarious, and as we say back home better eat than speak….:)
    You made me laugh to tears…….:)))))))

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