One of the most unique aspects of studying abroad in the Czech Republic is the Eastern European atmosphere that surrounds you. You feel it on every tram ride, every day in the supermarket and with every puzzled look you get when wearing socks and sandals.
Here are some tips to understanding the culture a little deeper:
- Cold and Reserved is not the same thing as mean. The first tram ride I took I picked up on the quiet and conservative atmosphere. When speaking you talk in almost a whisper, and only if you need to. Initially it made me uncomfortable because it is easy to stand out in a situation like that. However, I have grown to appreciate the aura of Czech people because I realized of their mutual respect for all persons surrounding them.
- Customer service is an ideal that is very different in each country. In the Czech Republic and many countries in Eastern Europe, there were many years spent under the Soviet Influence. This time has strongly influenced the manner that shopkeepers treat any given customer. Some places are catching on, but it is important not to expect more than a simple “Dobry Den!” when walking into any establishment in Prague.
- The home is a private place. Coming from a background where strangers are welcomed in for supper, it is very important to understand this. Apartments, or as they call them, “flats” are very different in Europe than in the US. Smaller accommodations create a more intimate space which makes it more difficult to entertain guests. Homes are made to fulfill everyday needs and not to receive guests. Cafes and bistros are more common places to socialize with a small group of close friends!
Now when you walk along the timeless streets of Prague, you will understand the manner in which you are greeted. I hope you can even come to love and respect it as much as I do!
The world awaits…discover it.