Studying abroad in a new and foreign country means you are leaving behind all that you are familiar with. This can be very difficult for some people but it in the end is is fascinating to realize just how unique each country is. I asked a few of my fellow study abroad classmates what some of the main differences were between the United States and Prague and this is what we came up with!
- The light switches and outlets. Something so small but something so foreign to us Americans. The outlets are one of the that you wouldn’t think to be that important, but in reality it would be hard to live without. My camera, computer, hair straightener, and even toothbrush all have to be charged and in order for me to that I need to plug them into an adapter. You also have to be very careful because the wattage is different in every country you visit, which means you always need to be prepared with your electrical adapters.
- The next difference that is a sore subject between my friends and I: the fact that there is no dryers for your clothes. Have you ever seen a movie where they hang their clothes up on wires outside? Well that is a reality here in Prague; hanging up your clothes to dry is the only option unless you want to lug them to a drycleaner and pay, which is not always fun. I never realized just how much I could miss an object like a dryer until I moved here and had to wait sometimes 2 days for my clothes to dry (especially jeans those seem like they take forever!)
- Another difference is the lack of elevators throughout this country. In the end may it not be that bad for us students, but this is a major problem for people unable to climb the stairs. Since the buildings are very old a majority of them have never had an elevator. Back in the states elevators can often be found in every building with multiple floors.
- Here’s something I am sure some of you love: cars! It is more common for a person to not own a car here, unlike back in the states where almost everyone has one. This is because cars are often very expensive, there is very little parking in the city, and it is often quicker just to take public transportation.
- One aspect that is especially difficult for us Americans to get accustomed to is that fact that many Czechs and Europeans do their grocery shopping on a day-to-day basis. Back home I usually do grocery shopping about once a week and stock up on everything I need, so coming here and having to go from shopping once a week to once a day is huge. Grocery stores can be found on almost every street corner making them very accessible. Also since there are usually no elevators in apartment buildings it is easier for people to carry up just a days worth of groceries. Do you think you would be able to do grocery-shopping everyday?
- Finally one thing that is different is here it is culturally unacceptable to wear your shoes inside your house or work place. Each person usually has outside and inside shoes that both need to be worn at appropriate times. This is something so foreign for me that I asked my program advisor Jan Stodola, who is always there for any questions we students have. He told me that when you visit a person’s home there are always extra pairs of inside shoes that you can wear before entering the house. He mentioned that this is the same even within the workplace and school and that he grew up with this custom his entire life. So imagine getting to class and before entering the room you would have to take off your outside shoes and put on your inside ones, which are usually either Crocs or sandals. Is this something you think you would like? Or something that you think is just strange?
These are just a few of the many things that are different between the Czech Republic and the United States. It’s amazing how accustomed you are to things growing up with them your entire life, especially with something as small as a light switch. Have you ever heard of anything that is different in other countries than in the US? Such as the use of chopsticks rather than forks and knives in certain Asian restaurants? Let me know in the comment section!
I hope you all have a great week!