Christoph: Weird Things in Prague
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Prague, etc.
I'm originally from Germany and moved to Prague in 2003 after some previous stays in the Czech Republic during the 90s. Previously I was working as journalist until I co-founded an NGO, Burma Center Prague, which now keeps me busy and alive.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
It started with emails and posts on social media where I shared my bewilderment about some aspects of life in Prague. One day I realized that there's enough material for a blog.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
They are like children to me – I love them all equally.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Prague differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
The most significant problem is the language. If you are not particularly skilled – what definitely is not the case with me – you need a very long time to be somewhat fluent in Czech. Also, life in Prague is quite expensive, if you compare expenses like rent and the local average income with many other places in Europe.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Prague? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
No, I think I went to Prague with a quite blurry idea about what was expecting me. I probably should have spent less time trying to become “fully integrated” into local society. People here will always define you by your origin.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I once talked in Czech about one friend and his girlfriend. Unfortunately, I was not fully aware that two superficially very similar words – 'divka' and 'devka' – mean something entirely different: the first one being 'girl', the second one, which I used, means 'bitch'.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Prague?
- Don't expect Prague to be the same as you experienced it when you came as tourist.
- Try to avoid arriving before or during winter.
- If you are a vegetarian, bring your own garden.
How is the expat community in Prague? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I never actually tried to stay only among expats. Most of my friends and colleagues here are locals. But generally it shouldn't be a problem to find other expats in Prague. On the contrary, I would rather see the risk that foreigners end up living in a kind of 'expat bubble' without any real contact with local society. This is a particular problem during weekends when Czech people leave Prague for family visits or heading to their cottage and all that's left in Prague are pensioners, tourists, and other expats.
I personally met quite many fellow expats when I joined the English speaking group of Amnesty International and when I joined local sports clubs.
How would you summarize your expat life in Prague in a single, catchy sentence?
“Prague never lets you go… this dear little mother has sharp claws.” - quoting Franz Kafka, the intellectual father of Prague's public administration.