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Are we Doing Enough?


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An examination of whether or not we are doing all we can to assimilate into Czech life.

As expats, we often indulge in a sense of pride about living outside of our own country and the comfortable, cultural norms that we’re accustomed. And yes, I do think that some of that pride is well-deserved. On a daily basis, we interact in a culture, a language, and a way of life that is probably at least a little bit different than what we grew up with, all the while most likely living far away from the friends and family that make up our support groups at home. We’re brave, we’re strong, and we’re adventurous.

But there is one question that I find myself asking on a regular basis—are we doing enough?

I don’t mean to self-hate on my own community. Like I said before, we do a lot of things that our friends in our home countries would only dream of. Yet the real issue that I’m trying to address here is whether or not we become a bit complacent in our daily lives here in the Czech Republic.

Think about it for a minute, living in Prague is fairly easy. On a daily basis, we can survive with only a handful of Czech words and phrases and we can successfully navigate the supermarkets and find ways to obtain everything we need for a generally comfortable existence. Good for us. But if you examine the social lives of many of us, our circles our filled with other, usually English-speaking expat friends and we tend to frequent English-friendly bars, pubs, and restaurants. Sure, we might have a few Czech friends here or there, but if we’re honest, these people generally speak English to us and have a cadre of other Czech friends with whom we often feel excluded. We also tend to flock back to the online forums that hold our expat community to complain about all of the hard things that we encounter in our daily life or the always-popular subject of how unfriendly native Czechs can be towards us.

I’m not saying that these complaints are unfounded, or that that Czech lady on the metro wasn’t rude to you (perhaps she was just an angry woman having a bad day), and I will be the first to admit that there are flaws to living in the Czech Republic; the bureaucracy of everything from the post office to the foreign police springs to mind. What I do want to say is that we are the ones who are choosing to live here. And yes, we should have the right to complain about our homes. But the truth of the matter is that this is limiting us from making quality and lasting relationships within the native community.

Would you choose to become friends with a foreigner who at the first meeting is complaining about your home? For most, the answer is no, even if there is truth to what the person is saying. Another reason for the perceived “coolness” of Czechs towards expats is the reluctant attitude in our community towards learning Czech. It is hard language, admittedly, but as residents of this country we should try to learn just a little. I’m not advocating for all of us to become fluent, but I think you will find that making even a small effort with learning Czech is taken as a sign of goodwill of sorts to Czech people and also opens up many more possibilities when it comes to leisure time here in the Czech Republic.

I am not saying that we all need to drastically change the way we live, but maybe, it would be better to step outside of the comfortable bubble that we occupy in our daily lives. Be adventurous—go to a pub frequented by the locals, make more Czech friends, and most of all, accept that things are maybe run differently here and that that is okay. We’ve come this far, what’s to stop us from expanding our comfort level just a little bit more—it might just be your next great adventure.

Author: Brianna TichĂ˝

Category: Expat Life Viewed: 777 times
Username: B. TichĂ˝ Listing Ref: 1463917161
Date of Listing: 23 February 2013, 15:47:31

Are we Doing Enough?


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