Irish Expat Living in Czech Republic Interview with James

Published: 22 Oct at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Czech Republic
James is a 29 year old Irish man currently living in the Czech town of Pardubice. Before moving to the Czech Republic he worked in retail in Dublin. He has a degree in Journalism from Dublin City University and is a passionate photographer. He started his blog soon after moving to Pardubice in order to document life as an expat in the Czech Republic. He came over with the intention of teaching English but as a result of his blog, he was offered a job with an English company based in Pardubice who he now works for as a Marketing Associate. James's expat blog is called Czeching Out (see listing here)

Out for a skate along the river
Out for a skate along the river

Here's the interview with James...

Where are you originally from?
I am originally from Dublin in Ireland and lived there my whole life.

In which country and city are you living now?
I am now living in Pardubice in the Czech Republic.

How long have you lived in Czech Republic and how long are you planning to stay?
I have lived here since January 2013 and will be here until March 2015.

Why did you move to Czech Republic and what do you do?
I moved here with my girlfriend who was taking up a post-doctoral research position in the University of Pardubice. I did an online TEFL course to teach English before we left as I thought that would be my only option but there was little paid work in schools. I started writing my blog about our experience and the director of an English company with an office in Pardubice read it, liked what he saw and offered me temporary work writing some content for them. That gradually evolved into what I do now which is managing their marketing and advertising function.

My girlfriend and I at the Moto GP race in Brno this year
My girlfriend and I at the Moto GP race in Brno this year
Did you bring family with you?
I came over with my girlfriend.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Of course at first it was difficult and the frustration of not finding work was probably the hardest thing. As far as transitioning into life in the Czech Republic it was surprisingly easy, the people are very nice and friendly and you can get by once you have a little bit of Czech.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We initially went out with my girlfriend's colleagues who invited us out for dinner and drinks. Once I started my job I became friends with my colleagues there who are a mix of local Czechs and other expats from mainly the UK but also all over Europe. We also have a Scottish friend who contacted me through my blog and who is teaching English for a company here in Pardubice.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
There's always something going on in Pardubice, whether it's a wine festival or a sporting event. I personally like nothing more than going for a cruise on my longboard down by the river Labe and then stopping for a relaxing drink along the way. The old square is a beautiful sight, particularly in the Winter and the castle nearby is a great day out with a number of interesting museum exhibits inside. Further out but easily reachable on foot or bike is Kunetice Hora, a castle on top of a nearby hill that has great views out over the surrounding area, and a dragon! There's also the Arnost boat which cruises lazily down the Labe and on a sunny day is just perfect.

What do you enjoy most about living in Czech Republic?
The pace of life, Czech people are very laid back and relaxed. As I said earlier there's always something to do or somewhere to go and with a central European location it's easy to get to other countries within a few hours.

How does the cost of living in Czech Republic compare to home?
It's interesting, food and drink are much cheaper, probably less than half the cost if you buy similar products. Clothes and electronics however are a similar price to home and so given the lower wages here I would consider them to be very expensive. Of course you can shop around and find cheaper products.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Czech Republic?
For me, not being able to speak Czech is a big negative but that's my fault for not learning it and nothing against the Czech Republic. To be honest there's very few if any negatives to living here, it's a really great place.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Czech Republic, what would it be?
Learn Czech of course! :) I think getting involved with the local community is a definite plus, befriend Czech people, find out about the cool and interesting things that are happening and attend local festivals and events and explore the surrounding area.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The first few weeks were hard before I found work as I was thinking I'd have to go home or struggle to get by with minimum income.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
That's the tricky question as I'm not sure when we'll be returning home long term. There's other options on the table for after the Czech Republic but one thing is for sure, it's going to be hard leaving this beautiful country and it's an experience that's really been a big part of my life.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Try to learn the language of the country you're in if it's not your native one. You don't need to be fluent but at least know some key phrases to show respect for your host country and its citizens.
  2. Get out and explore your new home, go for a walk around the neighbourhood and then keep going, you never know what you might find.
  3. Try the local cuisine and don't be afraid to try new things.
  4. Get involved in the community, attend local events and festivities.
  5. Invite your friends and family to come visit you and share your experiences with them first hand, it makes it easier for them to understand your situation and to help you if you're feeling homesick.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog features stories about places and events I visit either by myself or with my girlfriend. I'm always looking for new things to add to the blog and in recent weeks have changed focus back to Pardubice after a number of posts from either other towns and cities or other countries we've visited. I usually write a little bit about the particular experience and then share some photographs.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
You can contact me through any of the social media accounts linked to my blog.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingJames is an Irish expat living in Czech Republic. Blog description: A blog about the trials, tribulations and adventures of my girlfriend and I as we spend two years living in the Czech town of Pardubice. There'll also be additional posts from adventures outside the Czech Republic (by Czeching Out)
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