If you have decided to move to the Czech Republic, perhaps you are asking yourself whether you’ll be accepted in your new home. There are many reasons to be concerned about moving to a country whose citizens you have possibly never met. In case you think you may struggle with being accepted, let me try to soothe your soul at least a bit and present you Czechs the way they are.
About Tolerance in General
It’ll probably be no surprise if I tell you that not all people are the same as everyone has different experiences and was affected by different things throughout their lives. On the whole, you can say – and this doesn’t apply only to Czech people – that:
- Older people tend to be a bit less tolerant than younger ones;
- Inhabitants of cities tend to be more tolerant than inhabitants of towns;
- Inhabitants of towns tend to be more tolerant than inhabitants of villages;
- Educated people tend to be more tolerant than the less educated.
It would be obviously wrong to expect, for example, every educated person to be tolerant and so on but this general rule still applies in most cases.
Czechs and Different Nationalities
Many people’s main concern is whether they’ll be accepted depending on their nationality. When it comes to this, Czechs actively manifest their patriotism quite rarely: The exceptions are sports competitions, particularly ice hockey, which is quite a thing here. One might feel proud to be Czech when something gets invented by a Czech scientist (Czech scientific tradition is quite rich for such a small country).
That doesn’t mean that they are not attached to their country. This is mostly because of the Czech Republic’s past: For a long time, the country was fighting for independence. In 1938, only 20 years after Czechoslovakia became an independent country, it was invaded by the Nazis. Then, in 1939, it was completely annexed and it took six long years for Czechoslovakia to be liberated again. The war caused many casualties among Czechoslovaks and resulted in the expulsion of Sudeten Germans from the country in 1945. In 1948 the country fell into another sphere of totalitarian influence – the Soviet Union. It was the Soviet Union leading the Warsaw Pact that invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 and ended the 60’s promise of freedom and the so-called “Prague Spring”.
The tumultuous 20th century made Czechs reserved and slightly distrustful of others. “Can we trust them? What if they hurt us?” At the same time, Czechs are too passive to actually confront anyone about their nationality. It is more likely that they’ll be curious about your reasons for coming into the Czech Republic. Especially older people may display some curiosity since the country was locked behind the Iron Curtain for four decades, and meeting someone from a non-communist country was therefore a highly unusual thing.
There are, of course, certain nationalities that Czechs are fond of more than others, and it should come as no surprise that their relationship with Slovaks is the strongest. According to a STEM’s poll (STEM = Centre for Empirical Research), the second place goes to Austrians – Czech Republic’s southern neighbor. Austria is followed by Croatia, the Netherlands, Italy, Canada, and northern European countries (Sweden, Norway, and Denmark). It should be noted that the STEM’s list only consists of 23 countries in total.
- Learn some Czech – if you’re not going to stay here for the rest of your life, it may seem pointless to learn the language, however, the truth is that not only will it help you understand Czech culture and mentality better, but Czechs will also appreciate your effort and will thus like you more.
- Be careful when discussing the Czech history and politics – discussing political situations is not a taboo by itself, but it is advised you don’t start the discussion yourself as you may get into a difficult situation. After all, how could an “outsider” possibly have enough insight to understand?
As for different ethnicities and races, Czechs’ approach is similar to their approach to nationalities – it is more likely that they’ll be curious about you and your country of origin. You might be asked some inappropriate questions, but the chances are that the people asking you just don’t realize they’re doing something that may be offensive.
On the Topic of Religions
The Czech Republic is one of the most non-religious countries in the world. According to a 2018 poll by STEM, only 25% of Czechs claim they believe in god. Explaining why it is that way is quite complicated since the situation was caused by many different factors. Czechs perceive religions as complex ideologies rather than simply believing in God and having quite problematic experience with ideologies, some of them approach religion with a bit of distrust.
The religions that the vast majority of Czechs accept are Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and they also don’t usually have any problems with Hinduism either. The only religion that some Czechs might be concerned about is Islam, which is likely caused by two things:
- It is perceived as a sort of religious ideology which is too strict and therefore completely contradicts the rather individualistic and perhaps even hedonic nature of Czechs;
- Most Czechs don’t have much experience with this religion and so it is completely foreign to them. Some of them hear about it only on TV, in newspapers, magazines, and tabloids which often isn’t very helpful.
Considering that the distrust may be, in many cases, caused purely by the lack of experience and knowledge, it will possibly get better gradually. Besides that, the vast majority of Czechs prefer to mind their own business and usually avoid starting conflicts, as mentioned before.
- Avoid talking about religion. You may run into someone curious and open-minded, but as in any other country, it’s better not to risk talking about topics that might be viewed as controversial.
How Czechs Perceive Members of the LGBT+ Community
Though the Iron Curtain still affects the Czech Republic in this way, it is still one of the more tolerant countries in Europe when it comes to LGBT+. Homosexual marriages still haven’t been legalized and so the only available option is to be in a registered partnership. At the same time, ⅔ of Czechs approve of homosexual marriages to be legalized according to a poll from 2019. Even many of the people who are not in favour of homosexual marriages hold no grudges against homosexuals in general. As you can see, different sexual orientation and gender is not a problem for most Czechs. Live and let live!
Vegetarians and Vegans
Even though the Czech Republic is mostly a land of carnivores as the local cuisine is largely meat-based, vegetarianism, veganism and other dietary trends have reached this country as well. It still isn’t very common (especially in smaller towns and villages), but this is slowly changing. In fact, there are apparently 13.7 vegetarian restaurants per 1 million inhabitants in the Czech Republic.
Obviously, if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you may raise some eyebrows regarding your eating habits or you may be teased about it, but that is about the extent of “persecution” one may receive in the absolute worst-case scenario – nobody is going to force that beef goulash down your throat :-). Take it from me – I only eat fish and poultry and I’ve never really had any problems with people because of it.
- Trying to change other people’s eating habits is a taboo here in the Czech Republic. Sure, there are certainly good intentions behind that, but it’s still better not to bring this topic up and let the other people decide for themselves.
Long story short, there are a few things that apply to the Czech Republic and its inhabitants. Their general mentality can be described as “live and let live” and it’s unusual for Czechs to try to confront anyone about anything since they mostly prefer to avoid conflicts. In case you experience any form of racism or overall discrimination, don’t hesitate to take action, though! It’s important you feel good here and don’t let their ignorance spoil your experience.
The country is still haunted by its past but this has been slowly changing as the country keeps opening to new ideas and people of different cultures. You may be worried about starting a new journey in a foreign country, but you can even help us become better people in the process.
If you’d like to meet some Czechs in person and see what they are really like, you can visit our next MeetUp in Brno or Prague. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram not to miss any upcoming events. Do you want to prepare yourself for meeting the locals by learning more about them? Then check out our article about the Czech mentality.
Source of the main photo: Pexels.com