For Greeks that are already in the Czech Republic since the borders are closed now… or for Greeks that think of visiting the country in the future, hopefully, it will be soon. And for all of you interested in what a typical Greek person looks like!
Let me start today’s narrative by describing briefly what it’s like being an average Greek for a day. This description is going to be highly stereotypical, but since I am a Greek expat, I am allowed to do that (fingers crossed nobody gets offended).
Living abroad is not an easy choice
The “NORMAL” Greek
So finally you managed to wake up in the morning, after hitting the snooze button for the tenth time today. You open your still sleepy eyes, you begin to yawn while stretching your limbs under the blanket and then you get your mobile in your hands and start scrolling down your timeline for at least half an hour.
The next thing you’re going to need is COFFEE and trust me, this is a vital part for your well-being and for the well-being of the people that surround you!!! Everyone knows that they are not supposed to talk to you unless you’ve already had your morning coffee and the caffeine started operating the rusty machine, you call your body.
If someone even has the nerve to think that they can open a conversation before this step, they’ll just probably get a slipper on their heads. This is an important lesson if you ask me because afterward, they’ll never repeat the same mistake again.
Strolling around at Brno paths
Now, let’s go back to the routine. Your coffee is ready (obviously needs to be black to get your daily dose even faster) and you decide to sit on the couch with a lighted cigarette on your right hand to watch some TV. That pretty much sums up your “breakfast”, because if you’re a normal Greek you don’t need to eat in the morning.
Full of energy that you are, you are more than ready to start your productive day, whether that is going to work (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or just continue laying on the couch till it’s time to go for yet another coffee with your friend, that has, also, nothing to do. That doesn’t mean that if you’re working you are not going for a coffee. You can always do that after.
Going to coffee places is extremely important for the Greek culture, otherwise, we cannot function properly!!! And of course, we don’t do it like the Italians. No, no, no, for us is more than just drinking coffee. It’s a ritual!!! We have to go to the place and start analyzing our whole existence. Like how was our day, our week, the highlights of the month, the weather, who broke up with who, what’s new in the city, what to wear tomorrow night when we’ll go clubbing, what to eat next because we’re constantly thinking about food and we’re always hungry! And after that, we need some more time to chill and relax, because we had a long, tiring day and we need to get it out of our system. And let’s say you have stuff to do, like chores at home. So what? You can always postpone them for later! Relaxing should be your priority! We need to keep our motto “Relax, chill man, take it easy” alive!
Αfter you have been rejuvenated with your coffee and relaxation it is time to go back home and eat your mama’s food, because you obviously still live with your parents, no matter how old you are (sometimes even when you get married and you have your own family). It’s not like Greek mums spoil their kids. No, that’s not the case! They just love them and care too much for their well-being, so they tend to nourish them a little too much, sometimes even when they hit their 40s.
Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, Brno
I forgot to mention here, the obvious assumption that I’m sure you’ve already made, that after your coffee break you are getting back home by car because if you are a normal Greek you stop using your feet to go anywhere after getting your driving license. What about public transport, you might ask. Whaaat, are you crazy? Pff, nooo way I’m going to squeeze in the bus when I can have the comfort of my own car. Who cares about traffic or the planet? I wonder how you come up with such weird questions!
So, now that you’ve eaten and you’re full, you need to get dressed to go for a drink. Just one though, because you need to wake up early tomorrow. Getting dressed if you’re a Greek means dressing as if you are going to your own wedding! That’s why your preparation takes some time (like an hour). But after that, you are ready to hit the road once again!
Do you remember a while ago you said you’re only going for a drink? Well, we both know that you were fooling yourself. Who are you kidding? You never quit that easy. The night is always young for the Greek people and we have to live it to the fullest. So after several drinks (that is, when you are almost completely wasted) and a lot of dancing in the rhythms of Greek music, we call them “dog songs” (probably because they sound like a barking dog), it’s time to go home and pass out on your bed.
That’s a typical day in the shoes of a Greek.
Leave your comfort zone behind, the magic happens in the unknown
So let’s just act like such a person has to leave all his/her comfort zone to go live abroad. What do you possibly think would happen next? The only answer to this question is CHAOS! You can’t just expect from a Greek to leave home and find his/her way into the unknown all alone. The adjustment for him/her to the new reality would take a lot of time, but that’s why I am here! To help with a more harmonical adaptation to the new environment. I’ll guide you through the whole process. From the moment you step your foot into Czech ground.
Just go for a walk (and preferably alone)
The Survival Guide
- First and foremost, you need to understand that people abroad live in shared apartments because most of the time it’s the cheapest option. In Greece, rents are more affordable and most people tend to rent an apartment on their own. Greeks, in general, prefer having their own space, unless they still live with their mum.
Well, in this case, my friend, you’ll need to compromise, because – especially in big cities – rents are high. But you don’t have to be negative from the start. At least you’ll never be alone and you’ll always have someone to talk to (if you’re an introvert, just stick to good morning and good night).
- Next one on the list is food, of course. As I mentioned above for us food is like a religion! We live to eat and not the other way around! Well, foodwise I don’t really think you’ll have any issues in the Czech Republic. Czechs are also extreme meat-eaters, so there’s always going to be a variety of meals for you to choose from. As for those of you who turned vegetarian or vegan, you can also taste some unique dishes here, since vegetarian/vegan food is becoming a trend and people tend to enjoy it a lot!
And in case there’s anyone that actually cooks, (Greeks don’t really know how to do that, you know the mama issue I analyzed above), you have to know that in many supermarkets they use vending machines, so you would have to do the process on your one (yeah yeah I know that you don’t like that, but please don’t whine about it, it’s not like the end of the world). There is an English option on the machine, so I think you can manage.
The only problem you might have is eating hours. Czechs normally have a lunch break around 12 p.m., while Greeks decide to eat around 3 p.m. Dinner is also another story because we tend to eat really late (8-9 p.m., sometimes even later), while Czechs eat around 6-7 pm.
- Another thing you’ll need to get used to is the weather. Don’t expect it to be anything like back home. The northern you go the colder it’s going to be. You’ll have to deal with that! Just pack some winter clothing, hot coats, and jackets. At least the summer here is more bearable than Greece. You can go outside during the day without sweating like a dog with every breath you take.
Sluňákov – Center for Ecological Activities of Olomouc
- Greeks are also smoking fanatics and they don’t do well with the smoking ban in closed areas. Supposedly we had established law about that many years ago, but only recently it started being applied, so for Greeks not being able to smoke while eating, or drinking in a pub is like torture. Well, sorry guys, it is just something inevitable!
- Drinking also consumes a huge part of our lives, so we find it extremely important to have places to go to. In this case, we’re lucky because Czechia is well-known for its beer. Czechs love gathering around and drinking whether that is outdoors or at pubs. The only issue is that most of them close around 11 p.m. during the week and for us, it’s difficult to get used to the new standards (In Greece there’s no such thing as closing hours if there are enough people in a place, the bar has to remain open, that’s the rule).
Cathedral in Brno
- What about partying, you might ask because, at the end of the day, every Greek that’s proud of him/herself is a party animal. Don’t worry!!! You are in the right place! Czechs do know how to have fun (but mostly during Fridays and the weekend, which is still better than nothing)! Probably you won’t have the chance to listen to your usual “dog songs”, but you can always try to ask the DJ for a specific song you like.
- I almost forgot the coffee, which would be a huge absence of this article. As I mentioned before, for Greeks coffee is EVERYTHING. They can’t function properly without their daily dose of caffeine, but it turned out that Czechs are the same in this field. You can easily find a coffee place that you’ll like since their number is infinite and their coffee is almost as good as the Greek one.
- Let’s talk about the work field now. Generally, there are many working opportunities in the Czech Republic, so it’s kind of easy to find a job here. Moreover, the working system is more ethical and people do work for 8 hours, 5 days a week (in Greece there’s still black labor and people tend to work more hours for less money, without even health insurance, in many cases). The fees are also decent.
- You should also keep in mind that even though the Czech Republic belongs to the European Union, they have a different currency, which is the Czech Koruna (1 CZK is 0,038 €). It takes some time to get used to that, but you can still pay with your credit card to make your life easier.
Olomouc at its finest
- We have to mention here public transport. The country provides a variety of transport means, but you just have to pay attention to the stops, because they announce everything only in Czech and you could miss your stop pretty easily.
- I want to end this list by reminding you that you are in a foreign country, so you can talk to your Greek friends on the phone loudly (because we are loud people and cannot help it) about everything, not having to worry about people’s reaction. That’s the best fact about moving abroad, trust me!!!
Now I am positive that you can visit the Czech Republic, minimizing the issues you will be facing.
So that’s all for now, I’ll go back to listening to “The Swing of Justice” from Gramatik and you can go check our latest movie article to pass your time while on a quarantine.
Photo source: @daikoumaria
2 thoughts on “A Greek’s Survival Guide Abroad: Czech Edition”
smile on face this morning in Prague while consuming my kafedaki, and although I don’t smoke or drink or do most of the other rituals that you mention (except yell passionately ; )) you described my husband and son spot on.
I’m so happy to hear that 🙂 “Kafedaki” time will always be the most important part of the day!!!