It is difficult to know where to start! First of all I am working as an intern and not a student, so it’s more difficult to meet lot of people like you could do it during University integration. I am lucky to have met some French people from the beginning who help me navigate the Czech capital. Here for you some tips from a French expat living in Prague for two months…
Some cultural differences with France
Reading the book “le guide du routard” (French Lonely Planet), I learned that Czech people were the largest beer consumers in the world, even before the Irish and Germans! When I saw the price of this tasty beverage, I understood quickly that the beer culture is so strong in Czech Republic and that it is impossible to resist! Moreover, the country produces a large variety of beers.
About tobacco, it is allowed to smoke in public places. After arriving in Prague, it was quite shocking because I wasn’t informed it was legal because the no-smoking regulations have passed all over Europe. When I was in a restaurant on my first day in Czech Republic, I was astonished to see people smoking inside. Now I am use to living with smoking indoors and I love to see my friends reactions when they come visit.
For cigarettes, the price is around 2,5 times less than in France. So it is difficult to stop smoking here! But I noted that to smoke wasn’t thought well. Furthermore, it is forbidden to smoke at tram stations. These are paradoxical facts for a country which allows smoking in public places.
Another shocks for me was about shops which are open during weekend and bank holidays, and so late in the evening! I saw people shopping in some stores at 10 p.m., on Prague streets. Maybe some people wait until everybody is home before heading to to buy underwear or jewels. That’s not completely absurd, but at the beginning it is surprising. There is also the Tesco supermarket, with 2 floors, in Andel, open from 7a.m. to midnight!
To go to a restaurant could even be cheaper than if you buy your food in a supermarket. If you find good restaurants, which are not too touristic, you could eat for 100 CZK (less than 4€). However, sometimes the tip is included in the Czech culture. A normal tip is around 10% of the bill, but you often give what you want. At the beginning, I often gave tips but people told me that it disappears gradually…
The tram runs 24h/7days: good news for somebody who likes to party. Admittedly, it pass each half an hour during the night, but if you are far from your home for a night walk, don’t worry, you will find one (or two) which bring you back.
Prague is not a very big city like we could think about capitals. People sometimes call it village-capital, because most dynamic and famous places are quickly accessible by walking.
If you want to know more about prices or how create the public transport card of Prague, read this blog post.
The public transport prices to travel across the country are cheaper than in France! If you want to cross over the country area, it is around 30€ maximum by train.
Museum visits, cinema, or shows (theatre, concerts, and sportive events) are cheap too, comparing to France. That’s permits us to discover the Czech heritage thoroughly. Knowing that I’m living in Prague, in the capital, so I think it is cheaper elsewhere.
A difficult language: I wanted to learn Czech language during my trip. But when I had known about declensions, I gave up the idea because I have a bad reminder of Latin when I was young.
I kept an objective to learn 1 word per week. It is not very much but I choose principal expressions. Anyway, I can show you my list:
- Good morning/Hi : Dobry den/Ahoj
- Goodbye : Nashledanou
- Thank you: Dekuji
- Please: Prosim
- Cheers: Na zdravi
- Beer: Pivo
- 1,2,3: Jedna, Dva, Tri
- Metro/tramway station: stanice/zaztavka
- Square: Namesti
- I don’t understand : Nerozumim
A fun thing that I have noted was in the Prague metro, when I saw a poster about the last book of J.K Rowling (Harry Potter). Her name was J.K Rowlingova. Even with a British name, it is changed in Slav. I have seen also « Rychle a Zbesile » for « Fast and Furious » the n°6 which released this week.
One of my main interests is sport. I couldn’t resist to go watch an Ice-Hockey game then a football game.
It was the second time I saw an ice-hockey game, the first one was in Slovakia some years ago. This game brought together Slavia Prague and Pilsen for the Playoffs semi-final of Czech Extraliga. Unfortunately for me and a big majority of people who were at O2 Arena, Pilsen Won 5-4. But the atmosphere was awesome. I recommend it to you; you have to see it once in your trip at least. You can find a fuller summary about the game on my blog post.
Coincidence or not, last week there were the world championship of hockey! And everybody follow the progress of the competition. By the way, France won against Russia, the world number one, it was incredible! :)
The football game brought together the other famous club of Prague, Sparta, against Mlada Boleslav. It was a championship game, and a victory for Sparta could bring it closer of the 1st rank, took over by … Pilsen! But Sparta won clearly 4-0. We saw goals, a good atmosphere too, because the fan club was very dynamic. But the Generali Arena was half full so I was a little bit disappointed about it. But I had a nice seat, for less than 10€ so it was a good satisfaction.
Of course, I can make a list of every nice place to visit in Prague, but it will be long and it is easy to discover it by yourself, or reading the blog.
Just one thing that I recommend you because the sun is back: to go to a Beer Garden during a free afternoon. Sit down on the grass, drinking a beer, enjoy the beautiful view, take a nap, etc… 2 very nice place with panoramic view: Letna Beer Garden and Riegerovy Sady’s one.
Except the price in catering, there aren’t a lot of different things for me. Of course it is another culture, with other traditions, but it’s not difficult to get used to it. To be a French expat in Prague is not challenging if you are at least a little bit sociable, because there is a big French speaking community. And if you don’t speak Czech or if English is difficult for you, it is always possible to understand or to make yourself understood. I’m here for two months and have another 4 months ahead of me, and so far I love this country! :)