Zoe: Adventures in Czech Republic
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to the Czech Republic, etc.
I am a 56-year old British woman. I was fortunate to be born and grow up in the Cotswolds, a lovely area of England. In fact it is so lovely and so English that it is what most non-Brits think of as England. We bought our Czech home — a derelict farmhouse — in 2005, but it wasn't in a state to be lived in until 2007. I rather fell into living here — the house was bought as a holiday home. I then lost my job and started staying here longer. A business offering holidays in the country followed and so here I am.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started the blog — Adventures in the Czech Republic — in 2007. I wanted to blog for a number of reasons. Firstly it was a way of sharing my experiences and thoughts with people back in the UK. It was also a way of capturing my experiences for posterity, as I found myself forgetting things. The third reason was that at the time expat blogs were nearly all about life in Prague or Brno and my experience here in rural South Bohemia was very different.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
That is a hard question; there are so many entries now. I suppose my favorites are the ones from early in the blog in which I talk about my first encounter with the country and the house:
Tell us about the ways your new life in the Czech Republic differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I had been visiting for years before I made the move and so I had already got to know the place. Whilst things here are very different, in a fundamental way I feel at home. I always have. I know I will always be British, but I have an affinity with the Czechs.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in the Czech Republic? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I would have thought twice about some of the things we did to the house. At the time I thought it would be a holiday home and so was focused in ensuring it stayed dry, warm and secure when I was away.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
The day we got the keys for the house, the former owner arranged for a gang of his mates to move out the furniture. We were there early to see dawn and then watched as a lorry and several cars unloaded the guys. They worked really hard and then after an hour or so humping chunky furniture around they stopped and started looking for something. One came up to us and made a shape of a box in the air. We shook our heads blankly. Suddenly there was a shout and someone appeared carrying a crate of beer. Bottles were cracked open and they began to drink. The leader came up to my husband and offered a bottle - in broken English he said, "Beer - Czech breakfast. English breakfast - whisky and soda, yes?"
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in the Czech Republic?
- Don't think Prague is the Czech Republic. Just as London is not Britain or even England, Prague is a metropolis. Prague citizens leave Prague for their country cottages, try to do the same.
- Don't worry about the Czech Health Service. It is excellent and saved my life once. If you are an EU member carry your EHIC card and you get emergency treatment free.
- The Czechs can be a bit reserved, when it comes to becoming friends, but they are worth the effort.
How is the expat community in the Czech Republic? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I was fortunate to have a friend already living in Cesky Krumlov and there was/is a bit of an expat community around her. But I was always more interested in having Czech friends, so that now I seldom meet with fellow Brits.
How would you summarize your expat life in the Czech Republic in a single, catchy sentence?
I have found my true second home.