So I’ve finally arrived in Prague and I’m so happy to be here!
So far everything has been very simple and stress free. On my first day a Czech student from my faculty met me at the airport and guided me around and helped me sort out everything I needed to be done. She was really, really amazing and I have no idea what I would have done without her. She showed me the university campus on the outskirts of Prague, helped me sort out a sim card, she registered and activated all my cards, gave me a library tour and even helped me go shopping for pots and pans!
After such a long first day I was knackered. But I already started to notice some of the cultural differences and unusual customs of the Czech Republic. Here’s somethings that really stood out:
- You’re allowed to eat and drink in the university library. In fact it’s almost encouraged, there’s a whole drinks table with a wide selection of teas and coffee for you to use free of charge.
- The university canteen serves beer.
- I bought a standard pint of beer in a park for 60p today.
- Czechs don’t like Russians. (Fair enough considering their history, I guess.)
- When Czech people speak with each other they sound as if they are arguing or as though they are really having to insist something. When my Czech buddy was sorting out my accommodation and student card I thought she kept having problems and I was thinking: “Oh no, what do they need? What’s wrong? Are we in the wrong place?” but then they would hand me exactly what we’d ask for and everything was fine and sorted. I was absolutely bemused. When I told my Czech buddy how they sounded she agreed and said it was because they use the same tone of voice whether they’re arguing or speaking normally. So for foreigners, it’s very difficult to distinguish.
- But they are also very polite, friendly and say hello to anyone and everyone. They also go out of there way to help you. My Czech buddy actually said: “Thank you for everything” to me when I said goodbye, she kind of stole my line there!
- The sound the bus makes when you press “stop” sounds exactly like when you receive a message on an iPhone. For a while I thought: “Wow, literally everyone has iPhones in the Czech Republic” until I pressed “stop” myself and realised.
Finally, I thought I’d show you a bit of what my hall of residence looks like. I’m in a mainly Czech student hall, so none of the staff speak English and it’s quite hard to communicate with them. But I really like the atmosphere here, it’s like a proper student hall.
For one thing, you’re allowed to treat your bedroom walls however you want to. My room door is covered in stickers and (to my horror) my bedroom wall has a collage of pictures of David Beckham half-naked. These are all remaining from last years students. If you want to, you can even paint your bedroom walls – nobody cares here! At the end of the corridor on each floor is also an area for smokers, inside the hall with designated ash-trays! How crazy, they don’t even have to go outside to smoke!
And as much as I didn’t expect it, the Year Abroad Study Guide Book was right about everything – including the shape of the pillows! Here’s me thinking it was just supposed to be a funny anecdote….
I also thought I’d try some of the local delicacies…
Just kidding, I bought a load of junk food that looked authentically Czech!