I have officially been in Olomouc, Czech Republic for 6 weeks. Throughout those weeks, I have done my best to assimilate to the culture and improve my interactions with the locals. My experience here has been unlike anything I expected. Before starting the program, I heard that Czech people love beer, so I just assumed that most people here were social. Little did I know that it’s quite the opposite! As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, Czech people are way more reserved and keep to themselves in public settings. While I’ve enjoyed my time here in Olomouc, most of my social interactions involve people in my class and the other foreign students rather than Czech people.
Majority of my interactions with Czech people have been in restaurants and cafes. In our Czech language class, we are finally learning restaurant dialogue. I can already tell that the waiters and waitresses appreciate our efforts to communicate with them in their language. Occasionally they will laugh at our “American accent”, but at least we’re trying! Service in restaurants is quite different from what I am used to in the United States. Usually people in the U.S. are overly cheery when asking what you want to eat, but here it seems like most waiters could care less. This became more apparent when I visited Naples, Italy and received the best service in all of Europe. In Naples, the waiters were much more patient and willing to translate the menu for us. Returning to Olomouc after spring break was bittersweet, as I preferred the people from the other countries but also appreciated the familiarity of this little Czech town.
While my interactions with strangers haven’t been the most positive, the Czech people I have had the pleasure to meet are actually quite nice! If you have kept up with my other posts, you know how much we appreciate our “Mother Tereza.” She has been helpful in so many ways during our stay in Olomouc, especially when the majority of my class became infected with the “second Black Plague” and she took us all to see the doctor. When Tereza isn’t taking care of her cat or working on her Ph.D., she finds things for us to do on the weekends. We are grateful for her positive impact on our stay here in Olomouc. We will miss her just as much as she will miss us!
Another Czech person we have come to know is Karel. We happened to come across his bar late one night and have been frequent customers ever since! Although the bar has some other name that we can’t pronounce, we deemed it “Karel’s Bar” because of his great hospitality. We quickly learned that he’s a very successful magician who likes to bartend on the side. When he’s not serving us our favorite glass of pivo (beer) or vino (wine), he will amaze us with his multitude of magic tricks. You can always expect a good time at Karel’s Bar!
Judging from my experiences, I have concluded that despite their apparent impartiality towards strangers, Czech people are friendly once they are willing to open up. The Czech Republic isn’t a place where you’ll receive a random smile from a stranger or the “one-fingered wave” as you pass the oncoming vehicle. However, if you are in need of help to find a doctor or need a friend to have a beer with, you are almost sure to find someone here in Olomouc!
Unfortunately I don’t have any new pictures from the Czech Republic, but here are some from my weekend in Switzerland!