Thursday, May 26, 2016

Three Things: What I Miss About the Czech Republic

At my new job my supervisor is often appalled that I don't pick up on a lot of pop-culture references. I tried to explain that I had spent the majority of my young adulthood in Europe. Unfortunately, he continues to be completely aghast when I do not recognise the names of bands and hit songs. But it all got me to thinking about how I have become so enveloped in the American culture around me that when little cultural clashes pop up, they really surprise me. Today I will talk about a few things that I have been noticing lately. They are mostly things that I miss about the Czech Republic, which I still consider to be my home. 

1. Walking
People walk. They walk for fun and for transportation. Getting around by foot is normal and everybody does it. Here in suburban US I only see people walking in the evening wiht their dogs aorund the block or along designated "walking trails". At 7:30 in th emroning in my town in the Czech Republic you will see dozens of people walking to work, walking to the store or the train. When I recently walked to the college campus from my summer residence one morning I was shocked to be the only person out. I miss that culture of walking. That is why I am glad that living a few miles from the gym, my campus mailbox and my job means that I have to walk more. I have missed that time of reflection. I often pray during my walks and the steady pace of stepping over and over helps me to keep focused on my conversation with God.

2. Greetings
In the Czech Republic greetings are very important. Saying "Dobrý den" or "Good day" to anyone you meet on the sidewalk is considered polite. It is also imperitive to say this whenever you enter a building or room. If I were to walk into a doctor's office I would open the door and announce "Dobrý den" to the whole waiting room. When I left the office I would say "Nashledanou" or "Goodbye" to everyone. I would do the same thing in the grocery store or the mall. I miss that here in the US because it makes transactions easier when there is such a clear-cut formula. At the smoothie bar, where I work, I am often slightly taken aback when customers approach me to make an order and do not offer any greeting.

3. Beer
For those of you who don't know, I like beer. I am not a crazy beer drinker, by any means, but I enjoy a cold glass of beer on a hot day. One thing I miss about the Czech Republic is the amazing beer. It is inexpensive and so good. You can go for a hike and stop at the tiny pub at the top of your climb for a chilly beer. Here in the States there are a lot of options for good beer. Craft brewing is a big fad, but the culture around drinking is different. With young people my age drinking is more about the thrill of having alcohol than relaxing and spending time together. I miss that freedom to enjoy beer with friends without there being an aura of rebellion surrounding it.


  1. I'm not Czech but I feel you about walking; I walk a lot even in the States, but when I'm walking in the States I often feel as if I'm in some sort of ghost town. At home there are /always/ people out on the street.

  2. These are really interesting observations! Your town sounds lovely. I'm sorry your supervisor is bothering you about pop-culture references; that sounds quite annoying.

  3. Ah. Home. I agree with the first two wholeheartedly, though I will say that the smell of beer still makes me think of Czech! I love these snapshots, and feel that tension between two worlds with you. :)