Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Prague, etc.
I’m an American Midwesterner who lived and taught in Prague years ago and am back again with an incredibly flexible husband and a spritely little dog in tow. I teach high school students English and Drama, and they teach me much more. Kafka was right when he called Prague a “dear little mother with claws”; she’s got a grip on me!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Czechesotans came to fruition a couple of months before we arrived; we chronicled our batty moving experience and posted info about the Czech Republic to help family and friends get acquainted with our new home. I blog because writing and taking photos brings me peace and sanity.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Czech friends commented to me the most about the one which addresses the come-hither nature of Czech advertising. I personally like reflecting on all of the inane "foreigner" things my husband and I do here, like in this post. How else are we going to learn?
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?
We are car-free here, which is something we wanted to be in the U.S. but could never quite accomplish. I still can’t fathom all the time we spent commuting back home. Other differences include more affordable travel opportunities, less affordable out-of-season produce, stiff clothes (no dryer), and much better yogurt. The full-fat yogurt here blows American stuff out of the water. We didn’t think we were experiencing culture shock, but after a solid week of being cranky at each other, we looked up a culture shock chart online and, sure enough, we were at the point (5 to 6 months) where it’s usually the worst.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Prague? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
We spent a lot of time researching products not available in Prague and came with a suitcase full of proper Ziplocs, Chapstick, taco seasoning, etc. In reality, you can buy pretty much anything in Prague now (unlike a decade ago), but you’ll pay a lot for it. We utilized a water freight shipping company for moving some things over and I wish we hadn’t sent a big, expensive inflatable bed – meant for guests – because the Czech customs people slashed it when they opened the box it was in.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
These happen weekly, if not daily. I bought my husband a Valentine’s card written in Czech and asked a teenage Vietnamese/Czech student to translate it for me. She went bright red, started belly-laughing and told me it was something like, “I burn hotter for you than 1,000 chili peppers, lover.” Oops.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Prague?
- Spend time online on expats.cz (great forums!), prague.tv, radioprague.cz and local bloggers’ sites
- Download Czech language apps and learn as many words/phrases as you can
- Pack minimally. Living spaces are small and you’re constantly out exploring and meeting people, anyway
How is the expat community in Prague? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Well, the beauty of working at an international school is instant friends. And it’s pretty easy to strike up conversation with other expats in exhibits/pubs/church/etc.; travelers tend to be so open. There are definitely “lifers” here, but you do say goodbye to a lot of expat buddies who move on to the next exotic international destination - or Ohio.
How would you summarize your expat life in Prague in a single, catchy sentence?
Stumbling on cobblestones yet smiling.