Seven things that might surprise you in Czechia
If you’re considering coming to Czechia, you probably looked up some basic information about us already. You might know that our national drink is beer, our favourite sport is ice hockey, we’re one of the safest countries in the world and that Prague is a gem when it comes to medieval cities. But what are all those smaller cultural things a simple internet search usually won’t tell you and are peculiar about us?
Almost everybody uses public transport
Public transport in Czechia isn’t something only the poor use, but a safe, fast and comfortable method of getting around. Especially in big cities like Prague and Brno, which suffer from frequent traffic jams during rush hours, public transport is a lifesaver. Metro, trams and buses are almost always exactly on time, run frequently and are clean. If you’re staying for a whole semester, always buy a monthly commuter’s pass to save money and experience the convenience of unlimited travel.
Czech people are known to be generally friendly and helpful, but also rather timid and shy around foreigners, especially if they don’t feel confident about their English. We’re almost always on time when it comes to meetings, but, at the same time, we’re not a workaholic culture. Czechs are usually more to the chill side while still delivering good work results.
Don’t expect servitude in shops. Czech shop assistants used to have a very bad reputation for their rude behaviour towards customers, but 1) that’s not true anymore 2) it was never really that horrible in the first place. It seems shop assistants shocked a few foreigners in 90s because of their lack of perfect customer service and then it somehow sticked with them. The truth? Czech shop assistants are generally friendly and helpful, but don’t expect them to become your personal servants and smile all the time just because you came to buy something.
Strict no shoes policy at home
In some cultures, it’s not a problem to wear shoes indoors when visiting people’s homes. However, Czechia is definitely NOT one of those countries. Shoes have to be always taken off immediately upon arrival and left at the entrance on a shoe rack. But don’t worry, it’s customary to offer visitors some slippers so you won’t get cold. Also, Czech households often have carpets.
Language barrier in smaller cities
Yes, English is a lingua franca of this age, but still be prepared to encounter some difficulties when visiting Czechia, especially in smaller cities. While Prague is heavily focused on tourism, so everybody in shops and facilities speaks English, it’s not automatic in smaller cities. English is a compulsory language at Czech schools, but, sadly, it’s rarely taught effectively and students who don’t plan to go to university or work in tourism usually give up studying it further and never learn to speak fluently.
Distinctive forms of inland tourism
Obviously, the Czech Republic doesn’t have access to the sea, but Czech people still love sunbathing and swimming, so we’re making use of our lakes. Many famous lakes have camps and facilities nearby, so it’s common for Czech people to spend their summer weekends there. When hot weather strikes, their shores look very similar to beaches.
Other very distinctive feature about Czech people is their fondness of cottages in the mountains. You don’t have to be particularly rich to buy such a simple residence and, for many people, it’s a way how to escape bustling cities for a relaxing weekend away. Many Czech people also like hiking.
Apart from hiking, almost nobody says no to a stroll in a forest. Moreover, we’re a nation literally hooked on mushrooming. If you’re American, you probably feel horrified by our strange hobby, but we’re highly proficient when it comes to distinguishing edible mushrooms from poisonous ones, almost as if it’s in our blood.
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