Another hot and stuffy weekend has came and passed in Prague. Each week seems to be hotter then the one prior and the lack of AC really makes you miss the comfort of the United States. This was one of the first weeks I have really felt like a regular though. I have picked up some words in Czech and can travel to places I want to go without any problem. Although it took 4 weeks, I am proud that I have managed to learned the ways of the people in my community. I know popular food places, hidden spots in parks, and great places to go without tourists. I can not wait until my parents come to visit, because I feel like I will be the best tour guide possible for the things they want to see.
By far the hardest part of the culture to assimilate to is their lack of air conditioning. You really don’t appreciate how important it is to you until it is gone. Lucky enough for me, Europe is also seeing record high temperatures over the past month. This combination has made many things really hard. For example going to bed has been very difficult. Nights have still stayed in the 80s and my blankets have been rendered obsolete. The travel to work is also very hard. Each tram you hop onto is like a sauna full of people. Although the locals don’t seem to be affected, I slowly melt away each day. It is crazy that although there is an alternative to battle the heat they chose not to. It is a real testament to their want to save energy.
Another difficult thing to try to assimilate to is the food service. Here in Czech service is not a high priority, other then seeing your waiter when you order, you may not see them again. It is such a contrast to the US where sometimes waiters come to the table far too often. I also learned it is impolite to waive a server down to get their attention, in many cases it is considered rude. I have really had to test my patience and my hunger when I go out to eat.
Another big culture difference I have found it hard to adapt to is the decrease of sociability. Me and the other Americans in my program all have awkward stories about times we were too friendly or loud for a Czech persons liking. For example me and others in my program went to a park to just relax and enjoy the weather. Some were playing a game and being somewhat loud and I could visibly see the disdain in some of the locals face. Although we were being slightly louder then others, we were not being too loud to upset people. Or so I thought. You also can not really get a feel for people here. I have had many conversations with people where they seem to be very uninterested in the conversation but still continue it. It is a very odd experience. I attribute this to their lack of showing emotion. Although they may be enjoying talking, they rarely let it show.
The last thing I have found it hard to adjust to is the cuisine. Czech cuisine is very heavy and full of meat and potatoes. Although that is exactly what I like, I find that I have quickly missed the vast options Pitt has to offer. Today marks the third day in a row I have eaten some kind of pork dish with potatoes on the side. Each time I have ordered something different but it always ends up being the same combination of those two foods. When you combine the food with the always present beer, it is very easy to fill up and fill up fast. Some days I find myself just wanting a Subway Sand which or some Chipotle but those foods will have to wait.
Although I have ran into many things that have made my time more difficult then expected, I still would not change this experience for the world. Each day I run into a challenge but each day I learn more and more about myself. I know there will be many more bumps in the road ahead but I’m honestly excited and ready for them. Many of these challenges have so far been outside the workplace, but now that I am gaining more and more responsibility I feel that soon I will have to adapt within the workplace as well.