ElPadawan: Around Prague
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Prague, etc.
I'm not exactly sure who I am. People keep changing as they go through life, and I'm no different. As for where I come from, I grew up in France in a small town in the middle between Paris and Normandy. I started to work in Paris, got an opportunity to move to Toronto, Canada for two years, and there I found a reason to come back to Europe, and move to Prague 5 years ago.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging "before it was cool" when I moved to Canada. A way for me to document my travels, my adventures, and for my family and friends to keep up with what was going on in there. This was in 2007 (blimey!) and with time, I kept feeling the urge to write and photograph things.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I cannot pick favorites, it would make my other blog entries jealous :). But often, people only think of Prague and forget the surroundings, and it's a damn shame. There's so much more to Czech Republic than Prague... Just look at the snow-covered forests of Kokořín during winter, for example... Or travel through villages in May and run into villagers in traditional costumes celebrating Májka.
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?
I don't hear the Czech people openly complain as much as the French do. Heck, I can't even remember a single strike ever since I arrived. That doesn't mean they are obedient sheep blindly following orders. They have their own subtle ways of showing dissent. But you won't hear them whine in the street at the first sign of a delayed train. Their relationship with food is also quite different. Price over quality, they will have no problems with anything as long as the price is low. When you see a package of ham with 45% meat, it makes you wonder what's in the remaining 55%...
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Prague? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I'm pretty adaptable, so even if I wasn't fully prepared, I knew I would manage, eventually :)
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Well, there's this one time I found a used thong at the airport. Quite a surprise at 5AM. Or that time when I learned the hard way not to put the handbrake on my car in winter... You'll have to check and follow the blog if you want more ;)
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Prague?
I would give those to anybody, regardless of their future destination:
- Be open-minded
- Be respectful
- Learn the language (kinda goes with the second tip)
I've often heard feedback from people feeling that the Czech were kinda rude with their touristy selves. They just will not open to somebody who doesn't even make the effort of learning to say Hello, Please, Thank you, Goodbye in their language. Even a couple of words to show your effort will take you a long way.
How is the expat community in Prague? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
As a remote worker, living in a small village some 40km away from the center of Prague, I can't really say that it was easy socializing. Prague is a big city full of expats, though. Through forums, a couple of social networking events (*cough* InterNations Activities and mixers *cough*) and rock climbing, I did manage to find some like-minded fellow expats though.
How would you summarize your expat life in Prague in a single, catchy sentence?
There's always something cool, or weird, or both, to be experienced in Prague, you just have to walk around and be there to see it.