When your expat honeymoon ends, you really get to learn what this city is all about.
There are three unavoidable and undeniable stages all expatriates will feel when moving to Prague.
The first phase is the honeymoon stage, one characterized by rose-coloured glasses and an endlessly positive tourist-on-a-long-vacation attitude. During this time, the Charles Bridge will feel like home and the smell of trdelniks will lull you to sleep at night.
The second phase is the reality that this is not a vacation, but is now your everyday life. Bills, responsibilities, and work are all still very much so real things to you that must be accomplished. Tweaked resumes will be sent and you’ll probably have to start seriously grocery shopping again instead of enjoying all of the different culinary experiences the city has to offer.
After real life hits, the critical stage begins. At this point, you’ve experienced enough of the local Czech culture to know just exactly what you do and do not like about it. But just to give you a cheat sheet, here are some things we, as fellow expats in this stage, LOVE and hate about this place we call home.
The City is Gorgeous and Accessible
Prague will probably have the best transportation system of any city you’ll ever live in. Think we’re lying? It was recently ranked the sixth fastest in the world, beating out both London and New York City. But, accessibility means nothing if there’s nothing to see or do in a city.
Prague’s Trams. Lucky for all expats living here, Prague is gorgeous. With over 200 public parks, including one that sports free-roaming peacocks and intense cherry blossom trees as its largest selling point (we’re looking at you Waldstein garden), there’s never a shortage of places to set up shop and watch the sunset on the Vltava river.
But… There’s A Lot of Poop
Prague’s also pretty accessible by foot, but you might want to stick to the tram and metro, as there’s apparently an age-old Czech tradition of pet owners choosing to leave their animals’feces right on the sidewalk where it landed, instead of picking it up and swiftly placing it in a nearby bin.
The Food Scene is Everything
Meat and potatoes no longer reign supreme on Prague’s restaurants’ menus. You won’t have to venture too far from your flat to experience the tastes of your home, with experimental food markets, some set in shipping containers like Manifesto Market, and adventurous restaurants conquering every country’s dishes, right here in Prague. You’ll be able to eat Hawaiian Poke, American barbecue, and Indian tandoori all while plotting your next food run.
Showering with their Christmas Dinner is a Thing
Yes, a confusing statement, but one that’s entirely true. Most of the culture shock you’ll experience in Prague exists around holiday traditions. Like a few other cultures, Czech’s prepare fish for their Christmas meal. Unlike most other cultures, it’s tradition to buy the fish, which should be a carp, days before Christmas, and house it in your tub.
Prague’s Location Makes Travel Fast and Affordable
Wanderlust is what leads us expats to Prague in the first place, but we know that moving to a new country doesn’t mean your travel bug will forever be satisfied. The Czech Republic’s advantageous location in Central Europe means that whether you board a bus at Florence station, a plane at Vaclav Havel, or a train at Hlavni Nadrazi, you can end up in a handful of countries within a mere few hours. The best part? Prague’s location also means that ticket prices aren’t too expensive.
Easter Contains A Lot More Whipping Here
Once again, we’re circling back to the holiday tradition motif. Sure, Czech’s make easter eggs, but that’s not their only Easter tradition you’ll experience. On the holiday, boys and men gather willow branches. They then braid them together to form an elaborate stick and decorate them with ribbons. So far cool, right? Sure.
What’s not cool? They then use this branch to whip women on their bottoms for luck and fertility.
After a few months in Prague, you’ll be able to form your own love and hate cheat sheet about the spire-filled city and its culture, but for now, please, take ours into serious consideration. If you are interested in teaching and living in Prague, make sure to check out The Language House TEFL for your teacher training.