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Excerpts from the Group Discussions 1.


Czech Culture (Česká kultura) | More on Czechs (Více o Češích) | What is Czech (Co je české)


Slavíková, J.: WHAT IS CZECH? A research paper, Joint Masters of Arts - Migration and Intercultural Relations (JMMIR), Jihočeská univerzita v Českých Budějovicích, 2010.

What follows are excerpts from the group discussions that I tried to group based on the main topic of the excerpts. Sometimes, topics were intertwined and it was difficult to sort them. In this and the following sections, I labelled the replies with the country of origin, because the focus of this paper is the difference between nationalities, i.e. perceptions of the Czech nationality, reflected and compared with one’s own nationality.

1.        Prague

What surprised you when you came or when you met your Czech partner?

"Ostrava is a very small town. I come from a big city, I come from Mumbai. When I moved to Ostrava, I thought everyone was on holiday in the town. It took me almost 3 months to open up because I was too shy with the foreigners. I couldn’t understand anything, nothing about the Czech Republic and no language. It was tough, especially in Ostrava. In Prague it’s still easy, people speak English.” (India)

"I was surprised about my health. I was ill when I arrived. I was very stressed, nervous, because I didn’t know anything about my future. My husband decided we had to live in Prague. He found a job here. When I came here, I was in shock, in panic, all my body became red with points – it’s from stress. I was scared. I was scared about the language, about communication, about everything. ... When I started working in the company, I discovered that in Prague live 50% of Czechs and 50% of foreigners, I think. Everybody is a foreigner in my company, and in the company where my husband is working it’s the same thing. I felt relaxed when I discovered I can communicate in English. My English always was bad, but I can relate in English, and in my work... Everything disappeared, so my illness disappeared, and I feel good, until now.” (Peru)

What from the Czech Republic do you miss when you’re abroad and what from abroad do you miss when you’re here?

"What I miss is the melting pot, actually, the mix of cultures. Because in France, there’s a lot more foreigners in Paris, but actually because it’s a bigger city and because there are more of them, they don’t melt so much. When here, you always meet people from abroad or foreigners. In France, you always have to go to specific places or try to do it, here you just go to a bar and there’s people from 10 different countries. So that’s what I miss about Czech when I’m in Paris. And for the things that I miss when I’m here, about France... Maybe it’s more possibilities in Paris, because it’s bigger, everything is available, but again here it’s very dynamic, so I couldn’t say what is better.” (France)

"In Prague, because it’s smaller people will stay not far away from where they’re during the day, e.g. in the evening. Even if they live in Černý Most (a periphery of Prague) and they work or study in the centre, it’s not so far away – let’s say 15 or 20 minutes. But in Paris, a lot of people work an hour and a half from where they live. After school or after work when you go home, you stay home. Or you just go somewhere with some friends when you’re home. When you have foreigners here in Prague, they live in Prague 1, Prague 2, Prague 3 – Prague 4 is already like wooooow... So it’s just logical: they stay together because they are together. The locals, they have their live, their street... There is no will to ostracize anybody or anything.” (France)

"First thing I noticed is that Czech people are very closed and reserved. My ex-landlord, she was open to me, she used to speak English, but still, in spite of me giving hints that I am here for Christmas, or I was trying to get myself invited, but that didn’t happen. And I felt this maybe from the Moravians... But I’ve noticed the Czech people who are from Prague have a different mindset than Czech people from Moravia, because I have many friends from Moravia, and they are not friendly as I meet the Prague Czech people. Prague Czech people will ask you out ‘Let’s go for drinks... Let’s do this...’” (India)

2.        Approach to Strangers vs. Friends

"My husband said: maybe you feel bad in Prague, in Czech Republic, because people is closed, people is reserved, they don’t like to have friendship immediately, they need more time, maybe you feel bad, so give opportunity to Czech people. But after that... my husband family, they’re really nice people. In my English class, I had an English course a month when I came here, at the beginning, I found some Czech people. They were nice, normal people. I like Czech people because I feel if they like you, they are not hypocritical. I lived in Italy for five years, and Italian people are really really nice (gesticulates, showing open arms) all the time, but behind you it’s not so nice (showing gossip with her hands). But Czech people no, if they don’t like, so they don’t like. Finished. You don’t have to try to have a relationship, no no no. They’re really... straightforward (suggested by another participant, she agrees). You don’t have to put a face for Czech people, they are really open... They are honest. They don’t like you, don’t like. And it’s really good. When you find a Czech friend, he’s really your friend.” (Peru)

"It’s very tough to find friends here, because people are not as open as they tend to be in the US, for example. But when you actually find someone, when they finally open up to you, that’s like friend for life, you know that for sure. That’s something which can scare people coming from western countries, they’re like: everyone is so angry... But it’s just to get them talking, definitely helps.  That’s another thing that for me it’s tough to make friends because I feel Czech people like to speak Czech and if you speak English to them, sometimes that’s kind of a barrier. Even if they speak English, they prefer not to; if they don’t have to, they prefer to speak Czech. But there are exceptions, I have a couple of Czech friends... Mostly it’s the ones who have travelled somewhere, because they become more open to other cultures or something...” (Kazakhstan)

 "I think that Czechs are more black-and-white, compared to people in Latin America. There’s a great deal of formality here. When they don’t know you, they don’t know you, and they do nothing for you. But they’re strictly demanded by good education. But when they know you, they are more trustworthy. Because we have the easy love in Brazil: the fake smile, the interest friendship... Here I don’t see that, I feel more sincerity than in my country. So it’s more extreme, Czechs are more committed to what they think. It’s more delimitated. I feel like the edges between friendship and total strangeness are very well defined.” (Brazil)

 "The Czechs are a bit closed, but when you start to know them, they’re far more interesting or more loyal than French, who can be very open at the beginning, but then they don’t let you go any further. But it’s good if you want to have some superficial relationships with people... And with the Czechs, it’s kind of the contrary. That’s why they may seem rude, or I don’t know what, at the beginning. But then when you know them really, you’re automatically quickly invited to their home, or to meet their families, to events... And that’s very nice.” (France) "I agree with that.” (Denmark)

3.        Family Ties

"I think there are these two sides of Czech: one side is when you don’t know the person, and [one side is] when you know the person very well: when you conquer the trust of the Czech. My side with the family is the absolute opposite: they spoil me, they give me whatever I want, they don’t let me do anything... It’s like in a hotel when I visit the in-laws: I sit on the sofa and they bring me food, and that’s it. And they ask me if I want anything else and if I’m well... They’re always concerned about my welfare...” (Brazil)

"Pretty much the same... They are nice people.” ("Warm? Welcoming?” I asked.) "Warm? Doubt it. Welcoming? Yes. They try to make you feel welcome, but I think at the end you will always be a foreigner to them, it doesn’t matter. [...] All the grandparents, oh my god... It’s impossible to communicate with them, you will always be foreigner, they will always be saying ‘You should go for a Czech guy.’ [...] I think it’s with the older people, older than fifties... That’s their mentality, so you can just accept it.” (Italy)

"In Italy, you are thirty and you’re still living with your family. It’s totally different over there. Here it’s more like ‘OK, you are seventeen, get out! Do whatever you want to do, get yourself a job, and we’re speaking about twenty years...  This is how I feel. Not in all cases, but in general – strong family values? No. Not compared to my country, at least.” (Italy)

"For me, it was a big shock when I had an experience with a Czech boyfriend. The first time when I came to visit his parents... They knew I come from India and they know that in India it’s a big difference – in relationships, everything... But when I go there in the night, I do expect at least his mum to come and tell me ‘OK, Mini, where do you want to sleep?’ – show me the guestroom... There was nothing like this... And I asked my ex-boyfriend: ‘OK, where am I supposed to sleep?’ ‘I don’t know. You want to sleep there? You want to sleep in my room...?’ And I was like ‘I wouldn’t sleep in your room. If my family comes to know something like that, it’s a big chaos.’ So I was shocked that time, I felt bad. I felt that maybe if they would have at least tried to understand that this is a person from a different culture, that they have different thinking of certain things and try to adjust... We are adjusting as foreigners here, but it’s more nice if we see people adjusting as well here: at least know that ‘OK, you are coming from here and maybe there is it accepted or not, is this accepted or not...’ And I feel, personally, this is something I cannot change, so it’s better for me to change, and maybe move out, or see how I’m able to adjust. This is with the culture... Even with the religion... With my ex-boyfriend on Christmas Eve, I didn’t go to his family – there was something, so I didn’t visit his family, I was here with my friends. And I called him up on 24 December: ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Are you going to the church?’ He’s like ‘No, I’m walking 2 kilometres to another village, there’s some pub there, so I’m going there with my brother.’ And I was like ‘Do you know something? I’m going to the church here, for the midnight.’ So that was another thing which was quite shocking. And maybe that were few reasons why I still cannot adjust here...” (India)

"For me, I think I’ve been so absolutely fortunate with my boyfriend’s parents. I wasn’t in the best frame of mind when I arrived and when I met his parents, but immediately, right from the first second I saw them, it was like ‘Oh, I’m home, I have my family.’ And almost that quickly I really have felt like I’ve become sort of a part of their family.” (New Zealand) "Do they speak English?” (India) "Yes.” (New Zealand) "Oh, that helps...” (Kazakhstan) "My ex-boyfriend’s parents didn’t speak English, so...” (India)

"I would like to counter with my example... I was dating my husband actually for a year before he introduced me to his family, because he was very embarrassed that he had a girlfriend. But when I finally met them, from the very first moments... They hugged me and kissed me on both cheeks, you know ‘Ahoj’ – because I was – I’m so used to saying ‘Dobrý den’ to everybody... ‘Ahoj’ and ‘Čau’... And they have been absolutely fabulous with everything. When we moved into the new flat, we had no furniture, no nothing... Because everything I had from my apartment in the US was still in the US. And they helped... I don’t know... Just absolutely everything. They would buy us groceries... My mother-in-law basically helped me do the whole wedding. She and my sister-in-law helped me choose the wedding dress and the flowers...” (USA) "And you spoke Czech with them?” (India) "My sister-in-law does speak English, like pre-intermediate, I would say. My mother-in-law does not. And even though she doesn’t speak much English and I don’t speak much Czech, when she found out we were engaged, she was like ‘Now you’re my daughter.’ And it feels just like that. It’s been absolutely amazing, and I have to say I think it’s made staying here so easy for me. If I hadn’t have had them and this family welcoming me and taking care of me, I don’t know that I could have stayed. It makes a huge difference.” (USA)

"I think it’s the same thing with me. My parents-in-law don’t speak English, I don’t speak Czech, but I think you can feel it. I think they love me and I love them. Because you feel it, you don’t need a language to express this kind of things. You can express a in many things. When I moved to our new apartment, it was the same thing, they helped all the time, they helped us to pay the apartment. They are fantastic and they love me. They are so nice. And I don’t speak Czech and they don’t speak English, but you feel it.” (Peru)

"You hear on the news that the US is like the most charitable nation, as far as individuals donating money and stuff. But what I found in my personal life is that while my parents are happy to give money to the church and stuff, when I need money, they’re like ‘You need to work for it.’ Whereas my husband’s family... I kind of feel they don’t donate so much money to outside resources but whenever we need anything, they are the first to come and help. And I feel like maybe the relationships here are tighter, not only in families, but also with friends. Because in the US, basically when you’re eighteen, you can move away to college, and everyone moves away, and you go home and you don’t see any friends there. It’s like you lose people. But here you have people who still go meet their elementary school friends or something. It feels like the relationships are a lot stronger to me.” (USA)

"Sorry... This is an example of what you’re saying: One of my boyfriend’s friends was offering, six months ago, to lend us a fairly big amount of money, just because my boyfriend had mentioned that...” (New Zealand)

"My husband’s parents did that as well. And my family I think probably would have financially been able to – to help my with some credit card debts, and they didn’t. My husband’s family probably has less ability to, and they didn’t hesitate.” (USA)

"I would say the same. But I can’t say based on Czechs, because I think my boyfriend still in this particular area has US mentality, and he’s like ‘No, I’m independent, I don’t need any charity from my parents, I’ll have like thousand of debts...’ While in Russia, for example, your parents’ responsibilities... normally... To organize wedding, to pay for your wedding, to get you an apartment, to get you a car... And when you’re like twenty-five, maybe, you get a job and you start...  Which is not good, I agree, maybe it’s too much. But still, there is this tendency, the further east, the more parents take care of you. So maybe in the Czech Republic, there’s something like that, too. And yeah, I definitely support the idea that Czechs tend to be really friendly in very close... to people they know, to people they let into their world, and more cold to foreigners and to people they don’t know well, so they wouldn’t to be as willing to help and as open.” (Kazakhstan)

4.        Private vs. Business Relations

"The mentality for services is in a way rude. But when you are going to private and you are in relations, that is a completely different picture. And I think the Czechs are very very strong oriented to the private life... Chata... Friday afternoon – chata day: everyone is going to their chata, to meet other friends...” (Germany)

"I think everybody knows that: When you find a Czech person in a restaurant or wherever you go where they have to give you services... But outside these places they are nice people.” (And continues to describe how Czechs have been helpful when he could not find his way when travelling by car in Prague, and a Czech person stopped and offered help, and then offered to take him where he needed.) "There’s a difference inside a restaurant, in a market or in a bar... In there, they are hateable. After two years, I found out this is not just against foreigners, it’s against everybody.” (Italy)

 "I would say: Very strong oriented – Czechs really care about their families. They are, on the other hand, very professional: the country improved very fast. They are clever people. They definitely look for their own personal benefits. To trust is very difficult... Here, there was a paradise for the cheaters: tourists were just coming in, mass, ‘Here, you want my money?’...  So they took it. Somehow, it’s changing nowadays. So I don’t want to excuse them, but this explains a part of the story... In business, within the last twenty years, there has been a strong development to very normal business relations. [...] Black-and-white, I think, explains it quite nice.” (Germany)

"If Czech people have the chance to help, they don’t just say ‘OK, screw you, get lost’; no, they help, which is nice. Spanish people, they seem nice and everything... Over here, they’re straight. They are not trying to be fake, they are not trying to joke you around. They are there – if they can, they are there. They are not gonna say yes or no if they don’t mean it.” (Italy)

"What, the Czechs? Wow, I have a completely different opinion. A yes is never a yes by a Czech...” (Germany) "You should come to Italy.” (Italy) "Well, maybe that’s the same in Italy, but in Germany there’s a yes a yes and a no a no, and this was my big surprise when I came here, and today it is I think some learning lesson. My experience is that, businesswise, you can never... When someone’s telling you ‘YES, we do this.’ or ‘We call you.’ or whatever, you can wait for ages, or they will just... Because they are not willing to say no, so they prefer to say yes, and mean a no. So you have to understand it. The Czechs by each other, they know the difference. When someone is saying ‘Ye-es.’, then they know already ‘OK, that might be not a yes.’ and they’ll respect that, or they deal with this in a different way. But I can’t agree to this that they are very straight and forward.” (Germany)

"I’ve heard exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve heard a lot of times how there are these times where you’re starting up a business and you’re trying to work with them, you’re not really sure what’s gonna happen, and whether they say yes, they’re gonna do it, or maybe they’re not, maybe they’ll go behind your back... I don’t know. But in my own personal experience I find that if the people are nice, they’re really sincere about it.” (USA)

"I agree to that. I think there’s a big difference because they have... let’s say... these two faces: the business one and the private one. Privatewise, you can have fantastic relations and people are nice and treat you well and you can trust them. Businesswise can be completely different. And this is also reflected in this what you’re saying: from the restaurant business where you are treated so bad or from the policemen... The Czech Republic has unfortunately one of the highest rates of bribing, it’s in the rating one of the worst country in the world. Politicians here are known... That’s very obvious. There’s always scandals. But they’re not scandals and these people are still in positions because the people are used to it. Some young ones are now trying to change that, so there is a change... So businesswise, I would say, very very difficult to deal, privatewise, can be different.” (Germany) "For me, being here... What you say here that you cannot trust... It’s totally different in Italy. When I hear that, for me it’s like ‘Wow’. Here it is like a holiday...” (Italy)

5.        Horrible Services

 "I think it’s part of tradition. It feels like it’s not a service oriented nation. They’re very private, inward people. Maybe it’s from the communist era... They don’t INTEND to be rude, they just... honestly... piss people off, but they don’t really KNOW or maybe they just don’t CARE to give good business. It surprises me, because there are plenty of times when they’ll pass good opportunities.” (USA)

"Basically, they don’t care. It’s not their business, they don’t care. It’s not money in my pocket, I don’t care.” (Italy)

"I think this is really Czech, this is really Czech. There are exceptions, but generally you’re well treated in restaurant or companies that are branches of big chains, where people are trained, or it’s part of the job description for you to be nice. I was also thinking about the influence of the communist era... And I don’t think it’s because of this – since I went to Budapest and I was extremely well treated.” (Brazil) "That’s true, we were there, that’s true.” (USA) "So I think it’s a Czech feature.” (Brazil)

"Here it doesn’t seem like you could approach a manager, the owner, and say ‘Look, your waitress is terrible, she’s not being respectful at all, she doesn’t smile at all... ("I’m not paid to smile.” Brazil - mocking) On the other hand, I kind of understand, if I’m making already a crappy salary and I’m going to get 5 crowns from a 200-crown meal... Where’s the motivation behind that?” (USA)

(In the US, it can be a little overboard: people get very low wages, they completely rely on tips, so try to be overly friendly.) "There are three types of friendliness: there is American, which is fake; there is Malaysian which is very sincere; and you have the Czech friendliness, which doesn’t exist... Unless you know the people! If you know the people, it’s great. I have a lot of Czech friends who are very awesome. I always keep in touch with them. When you first meet them, it’s very hard. But once you try to break the ice, then it’s wonderful. ” (USA)

"When you go out here, you have to be all the time looking at the damn receipt... I hate it. You always have to look at the receipt, sometimes they charge you incredible amount of things that you never took! They always try to steal money from you, no matter what!” (Italy) "But is it because they try to steal or because their system of writing and adding...?” (USA) "I don’t care, those are my money. You don’t do it! Of course, they want more money, otherwise they wouldn’t be stealing. So why don’t you be nice to the people, and then they will give you the money! I mean: we used to tip... I don’t tip anymore, I hate it! Why should I tip? It’s like when I’m bending over for them and then I say: Yeah, come over and I’m gonna give you money! It’s not the way.” (Italy)

(US is the most service oriented country in the world, they are tip oriented: they have to make living. If someone is only remotely treating us poorly, you just ask to talk to the manager, and even get someone fired. Brazil: Brazilians are generally very nice, especially when it comes to receiving foreigners; and it is a capitalist country, so you have a very good service in the end. If I am not well treated, I call the institution that controls the consumers’ rights and they come to the place and get a fine.)

"Here, they get a lot of training... They can carry like five plates and calculate stuff in their mind without using a calculator... That’s really impressive. But the thing they’re missing is that they have to be nice to people to make them want come again.” (Kazakhstan) (It’s not typical to pay separately in the US – and everything is computerized.) "I can’t complain about the customer service, I’m happy.” (India) "In comparison with Russia it’s the same – people don’t smile so much in the restaurants... You don’t get anything special. They’ll bring you food, or whatever you ask for, but they wouldn’t be extra polite. While in Kazakhstan, it’s a little bit different culture, they tend to be more hospitable, they tend to pay more attention and provide more service you need.” (Kazakhstan)

(It takes so long before they come back with the bill in the restaurants...)

(One waiter in the whole restaurant by himself – they cannot manage... That’s why they don’t have time to ask what you want.)

"What I hate here, when I’m finishing eating and I’m still chewing my last bit and already my plate is gone... Like he’s just sitting there and waiting for me to put the last thing in my mouth and when I put down the fork, it’s gone! This is crazy.” (France)

"I was thinking, here I don’t like asking for anything in a shop... If I can’t find something, I prefer not to ask, because... OK, sometimes you get helpful people and sometimes you can tell if someone’s gonna be helpful or friendly... But a lot of the time, it’s as if you’re asking them to move the world or something, it’s always... I always feel like I’m putting a massive burden on them if I’m just asking where are the chips or something... But this summer, actually, I’ve had much better experiences than in previous times... But still, I don’t ask for help in shops or restaurants unless I have to... In the street, yes, but not in...” (Denmark)

"Why they don’t smile or are bothered when you ask for anything? That’s hard to say... Maybe they do jobs that they don’t really like so much, or not well-paid... Or I don’t know... Maybe for these types of jobs that are not easy or not super-interesting, where customer service is a differentiator, they [people in the same positions in France, Scotland or Denmark] follow this rule, because they can lose their job, for example. And here, they don’t care because it’s not a differentiator, and until now, they could lose their jobs, they would find another one pretty quickly – maybe that’s the reason.” (France)

"I would also like to add that I think the younger generation is a lot better than the older one. It’s usually the older women, especially, who tend to be the ones I wouldn’t want to bother. But the younger one tends to be much better, in my experience...” (Denmark)

6.        No Interfering, No Confrontations, No Problem-solving, Unhelpful Police

"When I first came here, and I came straight from Tennessee, and I would be sitting on the tram and see someone reading something that looked like what I had been studying, I would start talking to them: Hey! What are you reading? Oh, I took that class last semester! Isn’t it great? And just like... all the time talking to random people... And I quickly learn that you don’t do that here... And I was really surprised... For example, if you see tourists on the trams with their maps... When I first came, I would have gone up and said: Can I help you? Where are you trying to go? But now, I wait for them to ask me for directions, because that seems to be the protocol: You don’t bother someone unless they ask for your help.” (USA)

"Being on the other end of that, being someone needing help, and not quite know how to ask... can sometimes be quite difficult. I’m used to... if you need help, someone will say: Do you need help? But one thing I find here is that even people I know, in shops... If you ask something, they will answer it, but they will not give you any more information... For example... Say I’m buying postage stamps. I ask how much is a stamp to this place, and he will say: 17 crowns. And that’s sort of the end of the conversation. Until you kind of continue it. Whereas I would be used to saying: 17 crowns. How much would you like? Or something like that. It’s kind of: I will answer the question you ask, but I don’t know what else you want, so I won’t answer any other questions. And I found it slightly confusing – well not confusing, but surprising...” (New Zealand)

"For me, sometimes, it comes to the point of the level of decency. In Hindu, we’re told that you have to respect elders, and I always keep that... (Describes an experience when she met two guys who seemed to be harassing a girl who had been drunk or drugged.) I was feeling bad, I was feeling sad for the girl, and I felt ‘OK, I should go and tell them... or just ask the girl ‘Are you OK or not?’ But then, what stopped me was that I’m not in my country, and I know that if I will go and talk to them, they will say ‘This is not your life and leave us alone.’ kind of thing. But back in Asia, people are more concerned about neighbours or friends or something, so if there’s something going wrong, they’ll try to help you ‘Are you OK or not?’ Because then what happens here, especially for me being a single girl, if I need help... In India I can at least ask someone ‘Can you please help me out? This man is doing something to me.’ But here if I try to do that, this man will say ‘It’s your life, you do what you want to do.’” (India)

 "I don’t want this to be taken the wrong way, but I feel like a lot of the Czechs I’ve met kind of don’t want to interfere in what other people do. And I think that kind of involves seeing something on tram or wherever on the street and they don’t want to go interfere in that, because it’s up to the other person what they do. I think that seems to be quite common. Most people I know here... Even my boyfriend sometimes doesn’t want to interfere in what choices I make about a job or whatever, which drives me insane sometimes... But to be general, they [=Czechs] kind of are more insulated... They have a smaller circle of people that they are willing to take in and help and deal with them and things like that – than maybe what I’m used to.” (New Zealand)

"One thing is, for example... My husband lived in the centre of Prague for all his life, for thirty years, and he never... So he only say ‘Hello’ to their neighbours and he didn’t know the names of his neighbours. Thirty years... Usually in my country, you know the life of everybody... all the town... But he didn’t know it and for me it’s fine. At the beginning, I was surprised with this, but now I like it. Because everybody do their life... So the most important thing is no pass the limit, so don’t affect other people, but you can live your life, and it’s fantastic that you don’t... know the life of... Because it’s not your problems. So I think it’s a good point in the character of the Czech people – because they live their life, but if you need help, they help you until you allow them. They don’t... they aren’t invasive people... Not like Italian people, for example, or Latin American people – they’re ‘How are you?! How do you feel?! ... (making a sound of a motor) Tell me about your family!’ (the speech loud, in a high voice, fast) Many, many, many questions, sometimes invasive, or really personal questions, and you don’t know if you affect or not the feeling of this person at this moment. But Czech people – no: ‘How are you? How’s the weather?’ (speaking with a normal, slower, lower voice) And they prefer to speak about themself to ask about your life, because maybe they... they feel... they do some question that feel you bad. This is good. My husband is really Czech, because he’s like this. He prefer to speak about himself... but no embarrassing the other person with personal question... I like this characteristic. And I like to don’t know who live near my flat: I don’t know, I don’t have idea, because I love the idea that I don’t know anything about my neighbours. So I prefer to live like that, and this is good. So you can live, and the other live, and the most important thing is respect the other people, the private life. And I like it.” (Peru)

"Even the Czechs don’t like the way service is provided, but they do not complain, because they’re used to that. They’re just used to be badly treated.” (Brazil) "That’s why it never changes.” (USA) "When you complain, when you get angry, when you shout louder, then... Uuu... (Showing a taken aback, a bit scared expression, with head pulled between raised shoulders) OK, OK, then they do what you want.... Like puffy (showing an insulted, angry face), but they do what you want.” (Brazil) "I see a lot of times, they’ll yell at the Czech people, and then they’ll just walk away. It’s disappointing. If you guys stuck up for yourself and argued back, or at least go up to somebody who’s higher up above them, the system might change.” (USA)

What bothers you in the Czech Republic?

"What is a bit bothering is that among expats, what they think is that there are two sentences here that they here all the time here: it’s zdarma and the second is To není možný. So, Czechs complicate things a lot, in a sense that in the first place, they kind of put obstacles, even for themselves. If you try to look a bit into the matter, you can sort it out... pretty easily. And zdarma, because you have akce everywhere, and in the sense that there is more and more marketing. Czechs like when something is given. We have sales also in France, of course, but not so many things are free, are given for free or additionally...” (France)

"One more thing to comment... I don’t know whether it’s in Prague, but I think that people are also not so helpful with strangers because... This was last Saturday. We were going to the I.P.Pavlova metro station and there was an old man who was walking down the steps. And one thief, he came in, he removed the money from his front pocket and he ran away... And after two seconds, my friend – she shouted, we both started running behind this man to catch him and we are shouting on I.P.Pavlova, which is very busy at around four o’clock in the evening, saying: Someone please stop him! Someone please stop him! People are seeing him running, no one stopped him, and he crossed the street when it was still red – it was not allowed to cross, so I also crossed, there was no car, so even I crossed... And I was able to run faster... So by the time I would catch him, he ran away, and he even crossed a pub. When I turned back, one Czech man, he caught my friend, he actually pulled her hair and then he caught her hand, and he was taking her inside the pub. So obviously, I thought that maybe he thinks it’s my friend. And she’s wearing sandals, and a skirt. How would a thief wear sandals and skirt? And then when we went in, this man started saying in Czech: Passport, passport! So I told him in English: You’re not a policeman, you cannot ask for passport. And then there were two Czech policemen who were sitting there drinking beer, in plain clothes. And they were like: We are police. (Gesticulates, as if showing a badge.) And they were speaking English. So we told him: Didn’t you see a man running here? And he said: Yeaaaa... And I was like: So you don’t want to go and catch him? And this Czech man is catching my friend when she’s wearing heels and skirt, and he thinks she’s trying to steal the money... So they were like... (Shrugging her here shoulders, palms up, bottom lip up...) They didn’t say yes, they didn’t say no, they didn’t say anything... They were just drinking beer. Then this man understood that it’s not my friend. He didn’t say sorry to my friend. He just said "Ty vole” and he just walked off. And my friend, she’s very stubborn at times. I told her: OK, let’s just go to the old man and tell him: Your money is gone... And she is like: No. If this is what I get in return... The only thing what happened there was... In this restaurant, only one man came up, who was, I think, Czech, or maybe a foreigner... And came and said to the police: yes, these girls are fine, it was someone else. None of the other people came.
So, I was scared because I live alone... This area is fine, but at times are there are many... the Gipsy people, especially next to the tram stop... And you can’t trust them. Sometimes they try to follow you and things like that... This is one thing when I feel I need to learn some skills... Maybe if I was Czech, people might come to help me, or maybe if I had blond hair and I had whiter skin, but because I have darker skin, people are afraid to help me or something. (And your friend was...?) She’s from Singapore, and she looks a mixture of Singaporean and Chinese, so obviously, we look foreigners, maybe that’s why people didn’t come to help us.” (India)

"I don’t think so. People here just like try to stay away from the problems. It is the same as in Russia. Even if a person would lie on the ground, people would just pass by him. They wouldn’t even stop, they would think he is just drunk or something. With the police, I feel the same, I don’t feel safe here. Some of them are just really not helpful at all. They prefer... I remember a story when we were in the Muzeum metro station. We were at a stand there, they sell beer there. We bought a beer, we opened the can and policemen came to us: You can’t open a beer here, you have to pay a fine. We were like: Really?! There are drug addicts right next to us... Are you sure you wouldn’t want to do something about that? They try to do something where they can get money. They would stop people with speeding tickets and ignore more serious problems... I can’t judge them, they probably just don’t get enough salary, that’s the system that makes them like that. I don’t think they get enough training here... When you get stopped by the police in the US, then you’re in trouble, because they do their job well... And if you come to the police, they will take you seriously and they will really make sure they do what you told them to. But here it’s not so secure.” (Kazakhstan)

 "Police. With the police. I really try not to hate them...” (Italy) "The police here is wonderful! Always you can deal with the police! You can never deal with a policeman in Germany or in Austria, but here you can always deal with a policeman.” (Germany) "Do you have a Czech number plate? Try to go around with a foreign number plate!” (Italy) "Yeah, that might be the reason...” (Germany) "Your car gets picked up... The first month that I was here in the Czech Republic with my car I spent 17 000 crowns in police. They stop you and they tell you to go ahead, so that they can follow you if you do something wrong, and at that moment, they will tell you 500 crowns.” (Italy) "Of course.” (Germany) "Of course?!” (Italy) "They’re always trying to make money out of you...” (Germany) "It’s not possible. The police shouldn’t be like that.” (Italy)

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