Itzi´s life in Prague 20:00, Thursday, October 2016. A Czech flight is landing in Prague. But with a special cabin this time. Unusually, is not full of Czech people, but Spanish people. All of them are coming to spend few days in the amazing Prague. Some of them will be 4 days partying hard with friends, just drinking and hanging around. Some of them are coming with full family, to spend few days in a calm place, far away from Spanish stressful life, wanting to visit middle Europe’s city. But at the end of the corridor, hidden in the shadows there is somebody whose stomach is turning from one side to another. She is not coming for a few days, she is coming to life in Prague. She doesn’t know what she will be working in, how she will be adapted in the country, where she will be living just after the first days in a shared house. But she is coming with a little black and hairy, living being. The small puppy is finally moving her head up, yawning at the same time as she searches her friend’s eyes. The girl smiles to the puppy, “Why are we coming to Prague honey? I’m starting to be confused, as we left all behind… Family, friends, work, our current flat… But do you know what? We won’t be alone, as we have one another”.
Now is already one year after this, the puppy is not a puppy anymore, and I am not the same girl anymore either. I’ve been living through plenty of adventures in Prague, which made me different. I don´t mean worse, just different.
It is pretty easy to get a job in Czech Republic, with an unemployment rate of 2.9 % is not difficult at all. So I got a job just few days after my arrival. I was so happy from it, so excited and energetic. Until I realized that it wasn’t fitting to me. In my position, it wasn’t necessary to think, everything was quite automatic, just by following the rules, you could achieve your goals. But my style is different, so I felt I needed to use my mind. I tried to search new job and 2 days later I had new opportunity. I was surprised, as in Spain, if you are willing to change your current job, it’s possible that you will be forced to be 1 year unemployed waiting for some new opportunity. But here, just 2 days! That was awesome feeling. So I started the new job, focused for foreigners too, as the first job I had . My Spanish was necessary there, but unfortunately that was all. Again, no mind needed. I started to ask myself, why I have been studying Engineering before? Just to be useful by my Spanish language? No. That job didn’t fit to me either. But this time I tried to be more intelligent. I started to search technical opportunities around Prague, as the city is full of offices, but no workshops. So I opened the research radius, and I went to an interview in Dobříš. Small town 20 mins from Prague, 8.600 inhabitants. As soon as I entered the company’s gate my first sentence was “I cannot speak CZ, but I can learn fast.” And of course I wasn´t right about the fast meaning. To learn Czech and fast is not a possible combination. But they hired me. Their reasons were probably my will, my technical knowledge and my strong personality. I’m currently in the same job, enjoying creation and technical world. My world.
So to get a job in CZ is quite easy, but be careful! In your research, you should be focused in what do you want to achieve, to avoid switching jobs as often as I did.
“Dobrý den paní, co si dáte? Chcete kuřecí maso nebo vepřové? Budete pít pivo nebo džus?”. I really needed to learn Czech. To enter a pub and receive all this information and have no clue what the waiter is telling to you… That´s a bad feeling. I was trying to speak in English, but in some pubs they weren´t able to speak and in some other pubs they were able, but somehow they just didn´t want to help me. I was just 2000 km far from home, but it looked I was in the other side of the world.
So as mentioned, I started to learn Czech. Firstly with friends, in pubs, with my Czech boyfriend (yes Czech boyfriend, that story will come later). I started to learn few and easy words. My first sentence was ¨Mam hlad¨, I´m hungry. Quite important one. And of course, ¨Pivo¨ which means beer. I cannot say ¨I’m hungry¨ and then don´t ask a beer.
Later on, I did few intensive courses in the heart of Prague. 3 hours per day is quite intense if you have no Slavic languages background. But atmosphere was really nice there. People from everywhere around the world. Portugal, Cyprus, USA, Colombia, Finland, Denmark, Rusia, Ukrania, Italy, England, Africa… That´s the first nationalities I found. Everybody with different story, with different reasons to be in Prague, but all of us with the same goal. Learn Czech to feel like at home. It is said that you will never feel like at home until you will have a job you enjoy, a house you are comfortable at and the language of the country you live in. That´s basically true. After few lessons, with my lame Czech, I was able to communicate and then I wasn´t lost anymore. Wherever I was I stopped feeling uncomfortable because whatever situation which would happen, I was sure I would be able to go through.
I will tell you something about me. I´m extremely smiley person. Extrovert, speaky, energetic and a bit stressful sometimes. So as you can imagine, Czechs are afraid of me when they meet me for the first time. Czechs in general, are calm people, independent, and a bit fearful. They are sporty and active, but with calm personalities, which means patient and kind. I live in Prague over one year now, and I´ve never seen fights between Czech citizens. When I was the witness of some fight or uncomfortable situation, foreigners were the reason. If you are in the capital of Spain for few hours you might see more than 5 disgusting situations, and they will be caused by locals. I was long time trying to find the reason of that acts, and I realized that when you are extremely expressive person, as I am, you might be expressive in both directions, positive and negative. So when people are not showing emotions so much, negative situations will be avoided, but sometimes they will be lack of positives too.
In my live in Prague, I´m missing hugs, kisses, love between friends or even unknown people, why not? The first few months it took me time to adapt to the social life here. I was checking how should I behave. Then I tried to actively perform my character, but I realized I was performing a theatre play. This wasn´t me. So just few months ago, I forgot this idea of being integrated by copying personalities. I´ve been integrated by respect and joy of the culture here, but I decided that my personality must stay as it is. So I started to be me again, hugging people, kissing friends, smiling to strangers. I would like to encourage all the foreigners to do the same, you will be really surprised from the reaction of the receivers. And now, I fell integrated.
And why Czechs look a bit more introvert than we are? May it be historical reason? The history of Czech Republic is really touchy. Just if you learn a bit about it, you will be overwhelmed by stories. Lot of conquerors were here in the past, but not really with the willing of help. Czech Republic was under different mandates. But one thing is clear, something honourable, even all governors wanted to impose their language and their culture, Czechs were very strong. Not by army, not by weapons, but by mind. After all what happened, still Czech culture survived and become stronger than ever.
One clear example is Christmas. Prague is more beautiful than ever. Light everywhere, music and people on the streets. Last day we were around -5°C but even tough we took our hot wine in Staroměstské náměstí and walked through Karlův most to enjoy the beauty of Prague’s night. Then we walked up to the castle, to appreciate the greatness of the city. Then we went to enjoy the place where last summer in a 4 days visit my sister and her boyfriend got engaged. Leteňské Sady. With a view to Prague’s bridges. Fascinated with those breathtaking views, small tear slipped on my face and I was just able to think “This beauty is my home now”.
Honza, Jan, Jon, Juan, Gontzal, he is my best support. He is my “Chico checo”, my Czech boy. He has been my guide in this adventure. He showed me Czech culture, Czech manners, Czech hidden beauties in the Republic. Despite our big cultural differences, which made the relationship more difficult, we have been able to get to know both cultures and the best thing, we have been able to combine them. Few months ago we started our own business. We opened small agency, focused for Spanish speaking tourists in Prague. We provide tours, taxis, bicycles and direct support to everybody who is coming to the city. We combined our power of being Czech and foreigner. We help people like me, those who are coming to Prague with no Czech language, feeling lost.
20:00, Saturday, 23th of December 2017. A Czech flight is taking off from Prague in the direction of Spain. Lot of Spanish people who are living in the heart of Europe are coming back for Christmas. Their families are waiting for them in the airport wondering how many years are they going to be in this situation, if their kids will come home one day, with no return ticket. At the end of the corridor, hidden in the shadows there is somebody whose stomach is turning from one side to another. No doggie this time. Just Honza and Itzi, going back home for Christmas. But this time, still, they have return ticket.
Text vznikl v rámci projektu „Podívat se pod pokličku“ financovaném Magistrátem hlavního města Prahy.
Author: Itziar Diaz Tena