Top 5 Things I've Learned Living in Czech Republic
Top 5 Things I've Learned Living in Czech Republic
1. Czechia (Czech Republic) is located in Central Europe; not Eastern Europe. Just look at a map and it's clear that it's located right in the middle of the continent. Eastern Europe has negative connotations. Most of the former communist countries want to be found in Central Europe. Even Belarus claims to be in the center of Europe. I guess that's true if you consider Europe running from Iceland to the far eastern bit of Russia. Regardless, Czechland is perfectly centered for travel which is why in less than five years I've been lucky enough to visit 43 countries.
2. Patience really is a virtue. Anyone who has spent time in a former communist country knows all about the mindless bureaucracy required in order to get even the smallest thing done. However, what can be even more draining is just everyday life with a foreign language. Simple, mundane things such as going grocery shopping, visiting a pharmacy or mailing a package at the post office can require an awful lot of energy. It's important to never give up. OK, sometimes you buy sour cream instead of coffee creamer but as long as you don't make the same mistake twice then you at least get a humerous anecdote out of it.
3. You never know where life will take you. I grew up during the Cold War. When I joined the U.S. military, we still taught German, Czech and Polish. Times change. Who would have thought that 20 years later I would work for IBM in Czech Republic? Much less regularly visit East Berlin, have a Bulgarian boyfriend or be Godfather to the prettiest little German-Hungarian princess.
4. Carefully choose your words. Just because two people speak English doesn't mean that they speak the same language. In school, most Europeans learn British English. Therefore it's often better for me to adjust my vocabulary in order to better communicate. Elevator becomes lift, apartment becomes flat, and pants become trousers while underwear becomes pants. It can be a bit confusing at times. For example, I once called a Romanian girl "chica" which means 'girl' in Spanish and is commonly used in the USA. Imagine my surprise when I received a lecture about how she didn't appreciate being called "a chicken".
My most recent English-language blunder was referring to the loo (restroom, WC, toilet) as the "little boys' room". The next five minutes trying to explain how the little boys' (or little girls') room has nothing to do with pedophilia wasn't exactly fun.
Once I was in a hurry and said that "I was off like a prom dress." Big mistake. Huge! For the next 40 minutes I had to explain what an American high school prom was and why a dress would come off. Forty minutes of my life that I will never get back. Lesson learned...save the colloquial expressions for other native speakers.
5. It has never been easier to be an expat. I don't think that I could have been an expat 20 years ago. Aside from e-mail and Skype to keep me connected to family and friends, there are a whole slew of social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. The Internet provides an incredible amount of information to help people get started. My blog started out simply as a personal journal so that my family could keep up with my adventures. I would never have guessed that I would receive +125 new visitors per day from all over the world. With all of the expat blogs available there really is no reason not to get started.
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Contest Comments » There are 18 comments
Yes, good overview, Chris. I recently wrote an article about being a successful expat. I said it is 90% attitude and the other 10% is not important. Cheers,
this is a very interesting article and I am glad to hear about the experience of other foreigners living here. I wish you good luck and enjoy your stay in Europe.
Really enjoyed reading this. I liked your comment about "the little boys' room".
Getting better every year :-) Looking forward to your next adventures and hope you continue to share them with this community!
I have been following Chris blog since he started and we went through lots of adventures here in CZ! Thus I am only originally just a few hundred km living away from CZ it is amazing how different cultures and attitudes are just due to history and different ways of having been raised. However, I love the blog as it shows me in so many moments how beautiful CZ is and that we just need to open our eyes to have it right in front of us! Chris continue with all the great stories and topics! Cheers Claudia
Nice post, especially point #5. Don't completely agree with #4 though. I mean , you need to be careful with your words but it's nice to share expressions like "I was off like a prom dress." and explanation about them with curious people.
We have been following Chris' blog since he left the USA to become an expat in The Czech Republic. We have learned so much from his postings and they have made us realize that we just have to visit where he lives and experience some of the places he has written about. This article gives us "food for thought" for some ways that we can make our upcoming trip even more enjoyable! Looking forward to future posts!
I just started to read Chris' blog and I really enjoy what he has to say about my country. It is very interesting to see it through his eyes. Keep the great work! ... and thank you
I am reading your blog with interest and I like the way you describe your trips and experience
I've been following Chris' blog shortly after he had arrived in the Czech Republic. Chris certainly finds the adventure and goes to investigate. Best of all, he takes his time to share it on his blog, which we can all appreciate in a variety of ways. When I had met him four years ago, I was on my own expat adventure in Slovakia. Who would have known, that four years later, I would be using his blog to make my way to the Czech Republic :) If it wasn't for his recorded, past experiences, I'm not sure I would be here. Besides this, Chris' blogs are pleasant and easy to read. No wonder why he was voted as the best blogger in past years. It's time to give it another go.
Interesting blog post and generally you have the rare ability of making fun even of the most messed up situations ... Also valuable article in the fact that the next time you ask me for something to be delivered ASAP .. I will remind you that a wise man once wrote in his article that patience is a virtue :). Thanks
You made me smile, especially "chica" part. I like your blog because it's worth to read it.
Keep it up Chris, such a great resource for expats in CZ AND for visitors to all the other incredible places that you manage to somehow visit. And of course it's not just a "resource", it's entertaining too! Legend. Cheers for keeping us informed, entertained and inspired...
I look forward to each post of Christopher's Expat Adventure. I feel as if I am on his adventure with him. The way that Chris can weave the cultures of Europe into a constantly evolving and interesting story as seen through an American's eyes is quite a gift. It is nice to see the cultural differences and similarities of the people and places Chris visits as well as the daily adventures of an expat. The history, geography, humor, and photos Chris shares are just an added bonus. I can't wait to read about Chris' future adventures.
Chris takes us where we will probably never get to go. We have visited many countries "with" him as our guide. One could not ask for better detailed descriptions of each places he visits, and to top it off, his pictures are absolutely beautiful! Super well done Chris!
I love reading your writing! Having lived abroad myself I can totally appreciate the "be careful what you say in English". I once read a book called "Let's Make Salsa" while teaching English in Korea and after the kids finally stopped dying of laughter, one of them told me that "salsa" sounds similar to the Korean word for diarrhea... oops! Maybe I won't order salsa verde for a while... Every day is a new adventure, and your stories capture that! Keep up the good work!
Travelling while sitting on a couch? Possible with this blog :) highly recommended!
One of the best blogs I ever followed - interesting & entertaining, and sooo real, because live abroad is a never-ending adventure. I like the mix of facts and storytelling which captures you and makes you smile quite often. Please Chris, keep writing and continue to share your adventures !