First Impressions: Prague and it’s People
by Corey Palermo, Rice University - CIEE FAMU Film Studies Production track
August 31, 2015
Arriving in Prague, I could not help but feel a bit overwhelmed by the age of this city. Everything in America is pretty young, and even the oldest buildings are only about 200 years old. Many of Prague’s medieval buildings are over 600 years old, including the Charles Bridge, which was started in 1357. As time has past, the architecture has developed to reflect both old and new tastes, making Prague a cosmopolitan metropolis as well as a sort of “crown jewel” for the old Europe.
Prague has seen much in the past century. Occupied by both the Nazis and the Soviets, the Czech people have learned to be skeptical, and as a people they are generally more withdrawn than Americans. Czechs are often quite reserved and rarely initiate conversation with strangers. They also tend to avoid direct confrontation. If, for example, they go to a restaurant and receive bad service, they will quietly complain amongst themselves but it is extremely rare for them to complain to the waiter or manager. However, when choosing between honesty and “saving face,” Czechs will choose honesty. This means that if you ask a Czech how he or she is, that person will respond honestly and directly. This is radically different from America, where we are expected to remain “pleasant” or “nice.”
As time goes on in the next few months, I look forward to hanging out with more Czechs and getting out of the American “bubble.” I will share my most interesting experiences on this blog, and I’m thankful to all who would choose to read it.
Until next time!