Are you a foreigner living in the Czech Republic and would you like to become accustomed here quickly? Let´s get to know typical Czech behavior and customs. It helps you to find the appropriate approach to Czechs and to avoid misunderstanding.
Who is a „typical Czech“? Does he/she exist? We, Czechs, can be too subjective in describing ourselves. That´s why I asked my students of Czech to answer this question. This is no reliable research but can help us to imagine how a foreigner sees a Czech character. Let´s read how 15 foreigners see a typical Czech man/woman and how you can use their information.
# Tip 1. Give Czechs time to get to know you.
Czechs are not too friendly to foreigners, sometimes they are pretty negative. When you meet a Czech guy for the first time, he/she is exclusive, seems to be cold, not ready to believe others easily. Czechs keep a distance, communicate more formally than e.g. people in Poland or India. But they are more friendly than Russians. Czechs need their time to know other people. That´s why they are closed at some point and set a personal limit. But once they know you, they trust you, they are kind, open and helpful, especially young people.
∗ A special tip: You can learn some „opening“ phrases which can help to „melt the ice“ (that´s a Czech phrase which means to stop being closed or refusing).
# Tip 2. Start to learn the Czech language and speak Czech. Czechs appreciate it. Doesn´t matter whether you make mistakes.
Czechs probably don´t help you when they realize you don´t speak Czech. But Czechs don´t speak English much, even not members of Alien Police. Czechs are hesitant to use English even if they know little. Therefore don´t wait until Czechs learn English or other language and show them you have been learning their language. You´ll see, they appreciate it! And don´t let discourage yourself by quickly speaking Czechs. The better you speak Czech, the better you will understand.
∗ A special tip: Here you find a couple of Czech phrases useful in addressing people. They help you to make the first step.
# Rada 3. Take trips and know the Czech Republic. Tell Czechs what you have already seen and what you like.
Czechs like their country. They are peaceful and think much of Czech culture. They read a lot. They are atheists. Only 10 % of Czechs are Catholics but everybody celebrates Christmas. Czechs willingly talk to you (in Czech) about Czech attractions and traditions.
∗ A special tip: You don´t know where to go? Watch this video and the most attractive places in Czechia.
# Tip 4. Don´t irritate Alien Police but otherwise, rest.
Czechs approach many things calmly, they are pragmatic and reasonable, think conservatively. They are not active and goal-seeking much, sometimes they are pretty lazy. Official acts take a long time, nobody is in a hurry. On the other hand, some Czechs prefer their career path and stability first, want to achieve higher goals. Then they are still busy, discuss their work problems a lot.
So, if you need someone´s help and need to find a quick solution, ask a Czech guy.
# Tip 5. Would you like to get to know Czechs? Go to the mountains or have a dog.
Czechs don´t smile. They are a bit egoistic, prudent, sometimes bad, never in a good mood. However, they also have a sense of humor, like jokes, and are never serious. They often go outside, like to have fun. Czechs do sports very actively, almost every Czech can ski. They have a lot of friends. Czechs are crazy about dogs, take them everywhere, even to the restaurant. And they drive their cars very carefully.
∗ A special tip: Do you know that in winter special ski busses go to the Czech mountains every day? For example, at Ještěd you can ski in one hour!
# Tip 6. Rise above some weird customs and have a beer with Czechs.
Almost every Czech man is Pepík or Honza, he is blond and tall. He cleans his nose and breathes in a loud way, smokes and takes his shoes off on a visit. He drinks a lot of beer, eats fried food, pork knees, dumplings, and rohlíky which he buys every day. But many Czechs have a slender figure – how is it possible? However, compared to their popularity of going to restaurants, they provide bad services there.
∗ A special tip: Czechs like cooking at home, too. Try to prepare some Czech dishes. You can find a few super easy recipes in an e-book – cookbook Learn Czech in the kitchen.
Czechs in a graph
I asked my students what the typical Czech characteristics are. Look at the graph and compare their answers with your experience. Each number means a number of answers. (Click on the picture to enlarge.)
∗ A special tip: You can also find interesting information and opinions on the Expats.cz website.
The most interesting answers
Some students answered the questions… in a very witty, interesting, or quaint way:
- A Czech man from a village sold me a washing machine. He wore old trousers fallen to the middle of his buttocks. I can´t forget this situation. But another Czech man from another village sold me a washer. He was very kind, cheerful and he didn´t mind I could say just ahoj in Czech. He explained everything to me and helped me to put the washer in my car.
- I was at the airport, I didn´t have my mobile phone and I needed to call up. I asked a Czech guy and he lent me his phone!
- Czechs are more kind than Ukrainians because they have better living conditions, more money, and normal life.
- Men are more pleasant than women.
- A typical Czech doesn´t exist. There is a lot of personalities as everywhere.
So, what do you think now? Does a typical Czech exist? The answers are different, depending on individual experience. That´s why there is just one last, a general tip for you:
# Tip 7: Keep smiling, we are learning this attitude from you.
21. 2. 2017
PS: I thank all my students for their help.
PS 2: You could also like this article: Is Czechia a good place to live?