My goal in coming to Europe to study abroad was to become one with the locals. Ironically, the Czech people have sometimes been stereotyped unfriendly to anyone who is not Czech, especially to Americans. Maybe it is all because Americans just have it wrong. Maybe our stereotypical excessive lifestyles or noise levels are offensive to the rest of the world, and they do not like us because of that. Or perhaps, it is just a cultural difference in how we open up to those around us, compared to the Czech locals.
The biggest difference that stands out to me between us American study abroad students and the local Czechs is how we view necessities. It has been interesting to notice our tendency to apply an excess mindset to everything we approach. For instance, I have had to throw out a lot of food from my fridge in these past three weeks because I have over-purchased at the grocery store. I think this comes from a feeling of need for a safety net. I need that extra food to make sure I can make it through the week. Czech people, however, seem to be more content with trusting that necessities will be accessible, at least when absolutely imperative.
In the grocery shopping example, the Czech people buy small amounts and go to grocery stores frequently because they are accessible and easy to get to from basically anywhere in Prague. Maybe it is reaching to say that this act of trust in easily attainable groceries displays the Czech people’s greater connection with their inner needs and the world’s abilities to provide those needs. However, the Czech’s acceptance of silence also points me towards this question of greater connection with themselves and their settings. To give you perspective into the natural silence of the Czech people, understand that one of the first things that our orientation upon arrival mentioned was that Czechs don’t chit-chat as Americans do. They are more reserved with how much they say and they are also audibly quieter when they speak. If we are discontent with ourselves and our American, natural tendencies than the Czech people seem to have more worth in their words and less quantity of the words they actually say. However, if we step back and consider that this and the grocery store example are cultural differences shaped by something like the accessibility of certain stores or forms of transportation, then maybe we can see that no one is right or wrong. We are simply different. The Czech people appear to be content with their natural tendencies. We ought to be content with our natural tendencies as well. Leaving room only for improvement, but not self-judgment.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.