What worries foreigners and what they love in Czechia

I asked my students what are their biggest problems in the Czech Republic. Here are their answers. You can compare them to your experience.

Problems:

  • Family and friends are far away and foreigners miss close contacts.
  • Office/authority negotiations, especially at the beginning. A foreigner can’t speak and understand Czech. But he/she needs to arrange many documents and papers including translation of originals to the Czech language. There is more massive bureaucracy contrary to the USA. There are long queues (for several hours) in the Alien Police Inspectorate. And some clerks are rude.
  • Talks with landlords, especially at the beginning. They want to see many documents and prepare a contract in Czech which a foreigner doesn´t understand very much.
  • Flats in Prague are expensive. It is almost impossible to buy a flat and hire chargers are also very high.
  • At the beginning of the stay, it is complicated to arrange a credit card. A foreigner can’t speak Czech very well and doesn´t understand a clerk explaining what to do and how the card works.
  • When a foreigner starts speaking English some Czechs don´t respond well.
  • Some Czechs behave badly to Vietnamese in their shops.
  • The Czech language is tough and it takes a long time to reach a level when a foreigner is able to speak with self-confidence.

Differences:

  • Czech mentality and cultural customs are different from other nations. E.g. Japanese mind other people more than themselves – for example, Czechs are less responsible for meeting arrangements, sometimes they don´t attend the meeting without excuse. Compared to Romanians Czechs are calmer. They don´t say anything even if they are bothered with something. Czechs also need a longer time to trust new people and make friends. In comparison with Chileans Czechs are more introverted. When compared with Russians Czechs don´t solve conflicts immediately but behind somebody´s back.
  • Contrary to India Czechs often live in a pair unofficially (without wedding).
  • In Vietnam people prefer to use chop-sticks, in Czechia we use cutlery.
  • Smoking in public places. It is possible to smoke in public places except for bus/tram stops, restaurants, and official institutions. This is unpleasant for non-smokers. E.g. in Kazakhstan, there are special places intended for smokers.
  • Czechs blow their noses loudly in public.
  • Blue parking zones in Prague. Who is not a resident (and a foreigner is not at least at the beginning) he/she can´t park his/her car in a specific part of Prague or needs to search for zones intended for parking (they are often far from the address) and pay for it. Nothing like this in Ukraine.
  • Just a few restaurants accept credit cards. Services in restaurants are not good, waiters are not polite very much. This is a general complaint of all students from any country.
  • Czechs address young women in a formal conversation with the word „slečno“ without using their surname. Foreigners-women sometimes don´t understand and think it is informal.
  • Czechs say „Dobrý den“ in a lift. Americans and Russians don´t have such a custom.
  • Czechs don´t use diacritics in online communication. A foreigner doesn´t understand because he/she has to learn it himself/herself.
  • Pig-slaughter food.

What foreigners like in Czechia

  • Public transport, especially in Prague, respecting the timetable
  • Czech cuisine
  • Czechs – they can be friendly, pleasant and helping
  • Fresh air
  • Food of good quality
  • Weather
  • Czech landscape
  • Life at peace

Curiosity

  • McDonald´s is twice more expensive than in Russia 😊.
  • In Czechia, a foreigner-vegetarian can turn into a meat-eater 😊.

Have a look at a video where you can hear all student’s answers (in the video there are not all students involved in the survey). You can practice your listening skills and then try if you can say your experience in Czech.

Time for help

Here are several organizations helping foreigners. Have a look at their websites.

Centrum pro integraci cizinců – helps foreigners with the Czech language and basic situations. The website speaks 4 languages.

Integrační centrum Praha – helps foreigners with the Czech language and basic situations. The website speaks 8 languages.

Meta o.p.s. – helps foreigners with the Czech language and basic situations. The website speaks 3 languages.

InBáze – helps foreigners with the Czech language and basic situations. The website speaks 8 languages.

Cizinci.cz  – information about state offices and institutions. The website speaks 7 languages.

Nostrifikace.mkc.cz  – nostrification of foreign documents in the Czech Republic. The website speaks English and Czech.

Czech, Czech, Czech! Learn Czech! Have a look at my handouts and e-books and practise reading, listening, writing and speaking.

And finally a story of a successful foreigner in CR: Alexis Kimbembe comes from Kongo and in CR he works as a deputy mayor of Úvaly! (Source: Aktuálně.cz, 25. 2. 2020)

What problems do you need to solve in Czechia? Thanks for your comments.

Read also:

This text in Czech

17th March 2020

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