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Getting along with your Czech Family

So you married a Czech Girl. If this blog post if of any interest to you, then you’ve most likely decided to settle in the Czech Republic. If you are a responsible person you’ve also likely bought a house and got to know the family of your wife.

Here is my story, 4 years in.

Rule number 1: Expect no empathy on what you’re going through

If you think life is hard, try moving to a foreign country where most people don’t speak English. But to add salt to the injury, in the Czech Republic it is fairly common for foreigners to live in Prague. Any other city such as Brno or Ostrava it is less common. However move to a village, and you’re in for a whole shit load of pain. You might think that’s ok you have your wife and her family for support and friendship – think again! They may be nice on the surface. What I’ve learnt the hard way after 4 years of being here is that blood Czech blood definitely is thicker than water. It would not be an exaggeration to say that as a foreigner in law you are worth less than that of a local Czech friend.

2. Expect to be brought down to their level (eventually)

What I have learnt is that in the eyes of my wife, I am shark shit unless I am basically doing exactly what she wants. So I learnt over the first 2 years not to look for her for support.

When I first arrived here I was earning good money, and was relatively carefree. I would enjoy dining out at restaurants, buying quality goods and eating well. Enter the Czech Republic and queue the “Mamma” and 4 years later things are completely the opposite. Eating out was very quickly put to an end because it was considered “Extremely expensive” – I kid you not! This attitude quickly crept into what might be considered luxury purchases – personal treats if you like, I ended up having to hide the true price of many an item I bought, because it would be considered just too expensive to buy. When for example I went to the dentist in Austria to have my teeth bleached – did the rural Czech flood gates only open. Boy every family member was actually genuinely angry with me for being so “irresponsible” for doing this.  Let’s just remember it was my money. Over the years, I’ve realized that no matter what I buy it’s wrong or too expensive unless its the absolute cheapest shit that was bought when the sun and moon aligned to produce a big giant turd called a special.

Mostly the same applies to the food we buy now too. Feel like some meat? Forget beef, pork only, and then only when it’s on special. When I first got here we eat well and varied, now it’s cheap specials and DIY stuff. Feel like a pizza – fuck you too expensive – we’ll make our own from home. Nagging for a McDonalds – We’ll swing past that drive thru, bitch all the way. Pay, bitch some more. Eat and bitch, then complain how badly the food tasted, how expensive it was, and how it definately wasn’t worth it, and how that was the absolute last time we ever get McDonalds again. Having not actually had any McDonalds now for about a year, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t kidding, and because she’s ruin the experience it just isn’t worth it going through all that torture and bitching for a hamburger.

Lastly clothing, expect to eventually dress like a peasant. When I came here I was wearing designer clothes. I still have some of these remnants left, but as you can imagine they’re scrappy being 4 years old now! In the meantime I’ve managed to rack up a collection of “cheap” clothes bought from cheap shops. I don’t mean to sound spoilt, but clothing is important, dress well feel well. Maybe that is why I always feel so shit. Then the brother comes around and brags about the clothes he bought from a 2nd hand clothing store, and what exceptional value for money it was. Fucking crazy!

3. Expect to be considered useless

Are you a handy guy? Can you build a house on your own? Dig a swimming pool? Install radiators? Fix the roof? If you can’t – then good luck earning the respect of a Czech woman. In their eyes you’re just FUCKING USELESS. I’m an IT geek exceptionally adept behind the keyboard, but if the truth be told, I have the misfortune of being terrible with DIY projects, not out of lack of interest, just because people have their strengths and weaknesses, no 1 person is good at everything – Queue the Czech man – Master of talk, master of cheap fuck ass work. But now expect your wife to praise their fuck ass attempts at DIY, and criticize your inability to do anything. Now you may be thinking – hold on for a minute there dude, you’re a programmer – employ experts to do the job for you! You’re forgetting rule number 1 – This would be too expensive! And your wife wouldn’t fucking have it. Yes you can fight it, lay down the law and insist, but then expect to take shit, and more shit, and 10 years later still being reminded how expensive it was. Queue the Czech family who will do it for you for free while demonstrating their “Shikovni” nature. What this basically means is in your wifes eyes you’ve just become a side show, and at the same time paid with your own money to fix your house, and end up with a job at the end of the day you would really now like to call in professionals to fix.

So what is the golden rule. Don’t fucking give an inch. Don’t let the situation decay to the point where I let it, it happens slowly, but it does happen (eventually). Don’t fucking even think about moving to a village close to her family, so you can live around her family. Keep your fucking manhood, and live in an area where you can more easily find work, and have the money to pay for the stuff you otherwise can not do on your own. Never get into the situation where you come off looking  inadequate. While her family comes off looking like fucking heroes, but the reality is they gave you a nice big finger because they have your money, and they’ve done a sloppy job with whatever they’ve assisted you with. Maybe you’re not that bad with DIY, maybe you just realize somethings are best left to professionals.

You’re a foreigner so learn to live with it.

If you hate feeling like this:

Then as an English speaker maybe you shouldn’t live in the Czech Republic. It doesn’t matter what you do, until you’ve gained some mastery of the Czech language they’ll always view you as:

You can stand on your head, you can try and fight for your rights, you can try actively participate in conversations, but eventually you realize you’re fighting a loosing battle. You’re just a foreigner, nothing more and nothing less.

Czechs do not like foreigners. They treat foreigners a bit like a kid treats a new toy. At first it is all shiny and new and they’ll give you lots of attention, but after they have a general idea of what you’re about, and you can’t speak their language, unless they can speak English there interest in you will drop faster than a floating shit might travel down the flooded Nile.

There is just no way around this, no matter how nice a person you might be, you’re a foreigner who can’t communicate in their language and are hence perceived as being stupid.

The solution you might be thinking is to learn Czech, yet Czech is more closely related to a security algorithm rather than a spoken language. Yes it’s extremely difficult to crack. If you’re not naturally gifted in learning new languages, then either fuck off or get used to “forever alone”.

There is a reason why you don’t see many foreigners living here. Sure you might find loads of backpackers looking for adventure, or a fair amount of English teachers, but the true native English speaker who’s moved here and integrated is a rare discovery, and outside of Prague about as rare as hens teeth.

Yours truly – the foreigner!

 

Let’s rope you in on the budget.

I’m what you might call a highly paid slave, but since moving to the Czech Republic, I guess I’m just a slave.

I work; Moday to Friday and sometimes on weekends and I get what is an average (basic) salary. It does keep the house paid and food on the table, so I shouldn’t complain.

It is just that in any other country where I’ve work as a slave, I’ve had little input into the company budget. I’ve worked for smaller, medium and large sized firms as a programmer in 5 different countries, and mostly my managers expect me to do the job, and I expect them to pay me every month.

How well or how bad the products I develop have very little consequence for me. If I develop a great product and it sells to 100 customers, I don’t get any residual income. If I develop something and it runs at a loss, it literally is not my problem.

This is because developers (like me) usually get called into the picture after the vision phase, and we’re expected to develop software based on the vision of someone else, typically the guy who pays the bills.

This is why I was mostly surprised to see this in Czech Republic:

Alright, I pulled the image from Google images, but why would a developer be interested in the extreme and vast details of a company budget?

If someone is working for you and gets a fixed static income every month, why would you think they are interested if you make 100k profit every month, or 2 million? It simply does not matter to the people lower down in the ranks.

Yet, I’ve found in Czech Republic every member of the organization is expected to take an interest in the “company budget”, I’m not talking high level overview either. Mostly employees have access to a great deal of information that is typically hidden to them in fully western companies. Typically because in the west it is none of your business! Very literally too.

I’m all for knowing if the situation is bad, so bad that staff are getting retrenched, and the internet is getting cut, you know this type of thing! Don’t worry this happens too! Infact it seems no matter how well a company might be doing there is definitely enough ways to explain the company budget as to dump some guilt on the small guy. As they say keep them lean and mean, and hungry.

I have a Polish friend, and this type of thing is nothing new in Eastern Europe, but boy does it suck. Note to self, work for a prosperous company in future.

Email Communication in the Czech Republic

One thing you’ll love about living is 2010 is that most companies have an email address in the Czech Republic. This shouldn’t really shock you, because most of us expect this. What will shock you, is that although a great deal of companies have email, Czechs are not up to speed on email protocol, and because of this, communicating with a Czech small business via email can be incredibly frustrating.

Here are some golden rules when dealing with a Czech company via email:

  1. If possible – Phone the company instead, because you’re likely to get a more acceptable turnaround time. If phoning the company is still not possible, I suggest a visit in person. As a final resort use email, and then continue phoning the company to maximize your change to be responded to.
  2. Just because you’ve sent an email, don’t expect a response. Even if you’ve taken the time to format the email in the Czech language, this means very little. Czech small businesses typically do not monitor their email addresses. If you get frustrated refer to step 1.
  3. If you get a late reply do not get angry, mostly Czechs don’t see email as official communication, and because of this don’t feel the need to monitor it on a daily / hourly basis.
  4. When your reply does not answer your question, or is “short”, again don’t get too upset. Czech culture is often a bit rough around the edges, and Czechs don’t like to spend energy on formulating clear and polite lengthy replies. They don’t mean harm, its just their acceptable protocol.
  5. Don’t expect Czech companies to understand English. It’s nice when they do, but not a given.

Are you an Expatriate?

Prague is full of foreigners, but I wonder how many of these foreigners are there on holiday or are there in an attempt to relocate to the Czech Republic.

Has the word “Tourist” become derogatory? I wonder, I guess being an “Ex-pat” sounds so much better. If you call someone a tourist, you might as well be calling them stupid.

Here is the offical definition of an expat.

An expatriate is different than an immigrant in that most expatriates do not plan on residing in their new country permanently, and if they do, they plan on retaining their native citizenship for practical purposes. Immigrants, by contrast, usually plan on residing permanently in a new country and acquiring permanent citizenship there. The word expatriate comes from the Latin ex meaning “out of”, and patria meaning “country”.

So in my understanding an expat is someone who will one day return to their country. I guess I am not an expat, I am an Immigrant.

Everything you want to know about Czech Beer

The main beers you’re likely to drink in Czech Republic are:

1. Radegast

2. Ostrava

3. Pilzen

All these beers are good quality and cheap, they all also cost around the same. If you prefer your beer on tap (draught) then you are in luck, almost all Czech pubs offer on tap beer. Depending on the pub, you should get offerred at least 1 of the above.

When asking for a beer it is important to know that beer usually comes in 2 varieties – 10 or 12. Pronounced (10: Des sit ku) or (12: Dva nast ku) . 12 degree beer is stronger so drink this if you want to get sloshed quickly. 10 degree beer is light in alcohol, so you want to drink this, if you’re out with a woman and you don’t want to end up stumbling around on the dance floor.

Another thing is – if you want a small beer, don’t ask for a pivicku – this is just a term of endearment for a beer, instead ask for a malo pivo (small beer) or pul pivo (1/2 beer).

Tips while out drinking

1.Don’t stir and avoid getting into fights, you’re likely to get thrown in the “drunk station” overnight, and it will cost you around 2000 crowns to get yourself released.

2.If you’re english, be careful if you get too much attention from the locals, especially youngsters, you might think they’re being nice because they’re interested in you, but it could be they’re just after a free beer.

3. Never drink and drive in the Czech Republic, the penalty is severe.

Thinking of moving to czech to find a hot wife?

Think again, trust me the scene aint all that rosy. You, if you’re a westerner might have this silly notion that all Czech girls want is love, and even a modestly well off sucker would appear rich in Czech, boosting your chances of scoring a potentially hot and sexy wife, well still living within your means? You would be dead wrong.

You might end up coming over with your hard earned pounds or dollars and attact a girl like this:

Problem is even if you do bag here you’re going to find her very difficult to please and keep. Because if you didn’t know this Czech girls are very family orientated, so unless you enjoy spending lots of time chatting to her mother:

You might even be thinking its worth it, putting up with the bi-weekly visits for that sweet bit of punda, but even if you manage to get that right, except some other suprises.

1. You’ll earn a fraction of what you’re used to earning, and soon you’ll be driving some beaten up old car

2. You’ll get ragged on and on about how bad it is to drink

3. You’ll be completely at her mercy, because you can’t speak the local language, so all the manly things you could do for her in the west, throw those things aside

4. She’ll end up dispising you because the communication will eventually get in the way

5. Don’t forget one day she will look like her mother 🙂

Unless you’re dog sure about what you’re doing, trust me mate – rather the devil you know.