This week, as some of the other students in other programs celebrated a goodbye dinner, I was forced to confront the harsh reality that I am in fact coming home soon. As my European adventure comes to a close, I find myself trying to fit as many things as possible into my day. I have gotten to the point where if I am not doing something every day, I feel as though it is a day wasted. Although this can be exhausting, it has been fun trying to cram in as much activity as possible and experience new things. As I go out and meet Czech people in different environments, it is interesting to see how I am treated as a foreigner in different contexts.
On Monday a few friends and I discovered that there is actually quite a large Latin music scene in the Czech Republic. Though I have never been salsa dancing it was fun to meet Czech people who offered to teach me. Though about 3 people gave up on me and decided to leave due to my less than stellar dancing skills, I eventually found a partner who was willing to teach me and we had a great time. I feel as though that since this was a much more multi-cultural environment the people here were all much more open to foreigners. The people here were so open, a nice break from some of the less hospitable attitude I have witnessed during my time here (not to say I haven’t met amazingly friendly Czech people). Tuesday, after a long day at work sourcing and interviewing candidates, it was nice to enjoy dinner by the river with some music at Naplavka. The next day we had a huge dinner at a Czech restaurant called Lokal, which is frequented by many locals. Although it was nice to enjoy everyone’s company, the wait staff were not quite as friendly. From what I have experienced, and I may have a limited perspective, customer service does not seem to be as strongly emphasized in the Czech Republic. Service is often slow, waiters are often unwilling to split checks, and some will even role their eyes at you or yell at you straight to your face. I experienced this poor customer service again on Friday when I had to go to Vodafone, my Czech phone provider, to pay for my next month’s bill. I have found that they really try to rip off foreigners. For the second time, Vodafone charged me for the ability to make phone calls even though I did not ask for or use this service, and they did not allow me to use the data I had already paid for until I paid for this service. When I complained that I wanted this service removed, they simply refused and told me it was already charged and that I would have to pay for the remainder of my data credit or not receive any at all. With no other option, I had to do this and pay additional money for the data I had used in the past two days as they had cut off the data plan I had paid for. I also noticed that they would name prices that are incorrect to rip off people. I overheard another customer service representative charging an extra 200 korunas to an Indian couple for the same exact plan that I used. While I may not miss annoying Vodafone representatives or unfriendly wait staff, I will still miss some of the people I have met here and I am not quite ready to accept that the program will be over in 2 weeks. As the program comes to a close, though I may not want to, I think I am nearing that time where I have to call out “Czech, Please!”