I'm sure you'll agree with me that living in a foreign country for a longer time is very different from visiting it for a weekend or a week. What seemed as funny quirk might turn into a nightmare. Trying to express yourself in a foreign language with people not understanding (or not even making an attempt at understanding) is frustrating even though you want to learn.
Anyway, the purpose of this article isn't to scare you off, on the contrary! We want you to be better prepared. ;-)
So, what is culture shock anyway?
First of all, we have to say that it's not a medical condition. Simply put it's the (mostly negative) feelings we have when we move abroad. You might feel blue, nervous, scared, anxious, stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed. And you might want to go home. Don't give up though. It is completely normal to feel that way and you need time to adjust. Even though the differences might seem only slight, there will be differences and you will need to be prepared to accept them.
And what do foreigners find expecially "shocking" about the Czech culture?
1) Not many people speak English.
Even if you go to the foreign police office you might want to bring a friend who would translate for you. Especially in smaller cities it's better to stop and ask younger people in case you need to ask for a way or something.
Some people also tend to speak louder (but not slower) if they see you don't understand. Don't yell back at them, they don't mean any harm.
2) People don't smile.
And they tend to be more pessimistic than you would expect. It doesn't mean they're unfriendly though. It just takes them a while to get to know you!
Also don't expect waitresses and cashiers to smile. Don't worry, they don't hate you. It's their "normal" face. :-)
3) Relationships are a bit more formal.
At least so it might seem. In general, Czechs tend to be a bit more private and although they are polite, give it some time if you want to make friends with them. On the other hand, the space between two people speaking are a bit shorter than in most cultures.
4) People drink a bit more than you might expect.
Or a bit less, in case you come from Scandinavia (not trying to spread culture clichés here, but it is true). According to Wikipedia, we are the first if you order countries by annual per capita consumption of beer (as of 2010). No matter how improbable this might sound, beer in restaurants and pubs migth actually be cheaper than water.
5) Black humor is our thing.
Yes, we joke about anything. Using dark humor and sarcasm is a very common way of making jokes and helping us overcome bad things. Don't feel offended, please. It is and it has been our way of dealing with problems.
What did you find the most shocking? Let us know on Facebook!