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Home > Podcast
Podcast

What Expats Need To Know Before Moving To The Czech Republic


Carmine Rodi
Carmine Rodi

If you could start your life abroad all over again, what would you do differently? What would you prepare better for, and what mistakes would you avoid making? Trainer and Stand-up comedian Carmine Rodi moved from a small town in southern Italy to Prague in the Czech Republic four years ago, for love. And about one year in to his expat life, he published a blog post that went viral, entitled ‘10 things I wish someone told me before I moved to Prague.’

Carmine joins me on the show to talk through his very popular - and slightly controversial - list, which he hopes has helped others to more easily navigate the cultural nuances in the country he calls home.



Carlie: Hey there. It’s Carlie with another episode of the Expat Focus podcast.

If you could start your life abroad all over again, what would you do differently? What would you better prepare for and what mistakes would you avoid making? Trainer and stand-up comedian Carmine Rodi moved from a small town in southern Italy to Prague in the Czech Republic four years ago, for love. And about one year into his expat life, he published a blog post that went viral, entitled ‘Ten Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Moved to Prague’. Carmine joins me on the show to talk through his very popular and slightly controversial list, which he hopes has helped others to more easily navigate the cultural nuances in the country he calls home.

You say in your blog post, ‘Ten Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Moved to Prague’, that when you moved to Prague four years ago, it hit you like a truckload of bricks. And today we’re going to get into the specifics of what about Prague and the Czech Republic was such a shock for you, I guess. But can you tell me broadly, to start with, why do you think you experienced such an initial culture shock?

Carmine: This is interesting, because the geographical difference is not so big – I was coming from southern Italy, which is just two borders away. But the cultural difference is big, because this is a Central European country with a very result-oriented mentality, and even social relations are somehow, in my view of course – everything is my point of view – even social relations are somehow a function of the activities and then the results you want to have.

And I’m not saying this in a judgmental way whatsoever. People have friends, and they spend time with their friends. But it’s around something. While, especially where I come from, people hang out because they do hang out, [02:03] because they’re people. So, this would be maybe one of the first things.

Another thing is it’s a very cosmopolitan city, it’s a metropolis with a vibrant international community. And I was missing that a little bit where I used to live. I used to live in a small city in the center of Italy, so pretty much monoculture.

And another aspect I want to mention is that the economy is booming. And this is something I’ve never experienced before in my life – to see that everybody can have the job that they want, and even after they find the job, they move on to a better job. They take periods of leave, just because they can. And in general, this is a [02:43] society with optimism and “Yes, we can do it” attitude, which is really something different from what I experienced before. I was born in southern Italy, unemployment there is always high, people have a very different attitude towards life, I would say.

Carlie: Your blog post on this topic struck a bit of a nerve when you first published it, in 2016. And you even say at the start that you did intend to be funny. But why do you think it really got under people’s skin?

Carmine: I am still trying to figure out, like three years after. I even wrote another article trying to analyze, because that’s a bit what I do, I analyze media and I study media.

I think it was a perfect storm. First of all, I published it on a Friday evening, after putting some cat pictures on my Facebook profile. Totally unrelated, but accidentally, there was a picture of my cat. And then, like two hours later, this came. It may have been a factor.

Carlie: It was totally the cat. [laughs]

Carmine: Maybe. [laughs] It went really, really viral. I’ve been blogging for five years now, but that was the time when I was locally famous, in the sense that I got 120,000 views, which was a thousand times more than I was used to. And people in the tram and in the offices were talking about my article just next to me, like they didn’t know I was the author. And that was really interesting.

Carlie: Well, I’m excited to talk through the ten points of your article with you today. And as you said, you do make some funny points. And the first point is a little bit funny – number one, what you should know before moving to the Czech Republic, things you wish you knew before moving to the Czech Republic. Prague is like the capital from The Hunger Games. [laughs] Please explain.

Carmine: This, I totally … I still stand by that two or three years later. Czech Republic is a smaller country, so about 10 million people, of which around one and a half live in the capital city. And the capital is international, metropolitan, busy, vibrant. But as soon as you go out, like even half an hour, by car or train, outside of the capital, the lifestyle changes completely.

And then you have a much more relaxed vibe, you enter a restaurant and there are only four items on the menu, and they are typical, and there is no variation – never mind vegetarian, no variation, that’s what you have. Prices are half those that you would have in Prague, and it happened to me that people would look at me with surprise just because I was a foreigner. People would say, “No! Are you from Italy?” Like, look, Italy is just [behind the corner] here. It’s not a big thing. They were like, “No, I thought Italians were darker.” And I don’t even know if they mean the skin or the hair or the sense of humor – just, they were surprised to see me.

While in Prague, it’s completely different. You have all the fashion trends, you have all the food you can imagine, and no one cares about you, no matter what, even if your hair is blue and your skin is pink.

Carlie: I would say it’s typical of a lot of capital cities around the world, where it seems like the center of the action. But does it mean that you should write off living or venturing out into the rest of the country in the Czech Republic?

Carmine: Not at all. I actually recommend people … everybody comes to Prague, it’s a big tourist city. But I actually recommend, after two or three days, to go out and experience the rest of the culture. Because there are many, many hidden gems, the nature is fantastic, there are a lot of castles, and also, the other, smaller cities offer a lot in terms of lifestyle, and as I said, the tempo is more relaxed, people are more friendly, they have time to talk to you.

Carlie: Are there many expats living outside of Prague?

Carmine: There is an expat community in Brno, which is the second city, and a smaller one in Ostrava, which is the third city of the country. And they are mostly there for jobs, there is an IT sector that’s developing, and other, smaller communities around, maybe a cultural [06:54] or the universities. In Prague, around one-third or one-quarter of the population is international, with a lot of presence by Ukrainians, Slovaks of course, Ukrainians, Russians, and then Americans, British. There is a community of Australians and so on. But really, you can meet people from all over the world.

Carlie: Are there many other Italians?

Carmine: Not so many. There is a community. And there are a couple of Facebook groups, for example, that I am a member of. But – and again, I don’t mean it in a judgmental way or a negative way – I just don’t feel attracted to hang out and talk about football and stuff. Sometimes, people tell me, “Oh, there is an Italian guy, you should meet him!”

Carlie: You must know him! [laughs]

Carmine: Look, I left a country with 60 million of them. I don’t miss a particular one.

Carlie: Carmine, number two on your list of things you wish someone told you before you moved to Prague – this kind of makes me understand why people may have got their back up about your piece. Because you say a lot of people seem to be in a bad mood always.

Carmine: [laughs] Yeah. This may actually have a grain of truth, but this also applies in general to Central Europe, I would say. There is a certain respectability, and especially when people are in public places and especially when people are in public transport, you have to behave. And behaving includes having a neutral face, which can be seen as grumpy.

So, this is funny, and this is part of my [comedy] observations. And when you have people from another place visiting in public transport in Prague, you hear them talk. But most of the time, Czechs are not, and they may be reading a book – I see a lot of people reading, which is a nice thing – but most of the time, they’re just staring at the window with a blank expression on their face.

There is a general grumpiness when people are working as employees, and I really think this is a generational divide, because the younger generations, they do the job that they want, they have chosen their profession, many of them are self-employed or entrepreneurs, so they are happy. But many people are not. They’re just in an office job that they don’t like, or they work as employees, but their mind is elsewhere. And you can tell. And they will tell you. [chuckles]

Carlie: Number three on your list is the Czech language, and you say it’s really hard. Coming from Australia, only growing up with the one language, I find all languages hard, and I feel like anyone that can speak more than one language, such as yourself, must have it easy to learn more. But that’s not necessarily the case with Czech.

Carmine: No. I mean, it’s been a humbling experience. I speak English quite fluently, my native language is Italian, we have a lot of regional languages in Italy, plus I speak in French and Spanish. So, I was optimistic. I was like, I’ll move there, if people learn Czech, then I will also learn Czech. And now it’s been humbling, and after four years, I’m still [09:59] struggling with it, I understand more and more, but I cannot define myself [for a] speaker.

The grammar is really, really hard. And also, the sounds are hard, intimidatingly hard, almost without any comparison, even in Europe. Like, even Slovak, which is in a way a sister language, has easier sounds, fewer harsh sounds. For me, it’s like Czech was made hard on purpose, so that people wouldn’t understand them, wouldn’t stick their nose into their business. [laughs]

It’s a mix of all the hard things you know from any other language. So, there are cases like in Latin and German, only more. There are genders, like masculine and feminine, only there are more, because then you have a specific case for masculine terms that are objects, and then you have [neutral], which is a different thing. So, for example, a car and train, they don’t work in the same way, grammar-wise. And then you have the verb, and then it’s extremely specific, extremely specific. Like, you would have a different word for going, or for going by car, or for going on foot, or for going by plane. And then, you have a different word for fat, as in “I am a fat guy,” or “I’m eating fat.”

Very, very specific. I think it’s a language for engineers, made by engineers. This may explain why people are so technically oriented. Like, half of the population, in my view, works as an IT or as an engineer. But as a foreigner, oh, wow, get ready for being entertained.

Carlie: Is language learning really accessible in the Czech Republic? Are there are lot of resources that you can access, and groups, and lessons to choose from?

Carmine: There are very good schools, there are a lot of volunteers, there are a lot of people, even local people, who would be happy to meet you and [do tandem] and learn a little bit about your language, and in general, people understand how hard and intimidating it is – I’m speaking about the younger generations. And they will make a genuine effort. So, the resources are there, but one has to put the time and the energy into it.

Carlie: I think definitely the best way to approach language learning is to not take it too seriously or you’re always going to agonize about what you don’t know.

Carmine: Yeah. And also, to be honest, I have it easy, because my wife is Czech, so half of my family is Czech. And I spend some time with her family, pretending to be stupid, which really helps. Because Christmas conversations are shorter, [laughs] and no one bothering you with so many details.

Carlie: Point four on your list is that the Czechs have intense eating and drinking habits. What exactly do you mean by ‘intense’?

Carmine: [laughs] Food, the traditional food is very tasty, but very strong, and don’t expect a lot of subtleties. Although the scene is growing and it’s changing fast, but in terms of typical food, it’s going to be meat and potatoes in as many variations as you can imagine. And when I say meat, I mean any meat, any living organism. You can find deer, venison, ducks, birds, of course pork and beef in any variety. A little bit of fish – fish is not big, it’s a landlocked country, so fish is not big here.

And when it comes to drinking, they pride themselves, because in Czechia they drink pretty much everything. So, it’s a crossroads between wine-drinking, beer-drinking, and hard liquor-drinking. They love wine, they love beer, they love their vodka, and more. They have this traditional drink, which is called Fernet, which is a very bitter herbal liquor, and they use it for shots. That’s a difficult experience.

And I have this story – I remember when I first met my future father-in-law. You know, as a young man, you’re meeting your father-in-law, it’s a little bit of [alpha male testing] there, and he wouldn’t stop offering me drinks – in a very, very friendly and welcoming way, because people can be incredibly generous as hosts. But the man wouldn’t stop offering me drinks. And I was a really quiet drunk. And between the shots, he would offer me a beer, just to keep it going. And in the meantime, my girlfriend of the time, which is my wife, she got really drunk, to the point that she had to go to bed. So, later in the evening, I was left alone with my future father-in-law, [laughs] exchanging shots, and I was like, “No, [14:27], please no more. No more.” And he was like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, you’ll really get there one day.”

Carlie: It’s so dangerous though, to leave you alone with your father-in-law!

Carmine: Yeah, it wasn’t her choice, she passed out!

Carlie: Were you able to communicate or was the communication through the booze?

Carmine: Yeah, pretty much alcohol was the bonding factor. But also, my father-in-law loves rock music, classic rock, so we would exchange lyrics – words and vocabulary coming from AC/DC or Black Sabbath and so on.

Carlie: Is there any food that you really miss that you can’t get in the Czech Republic?

Carmine: If I really had to pick one, that would be fresh mozzarella from southern Italy. But only because it’s very hard to find it fresh. It has to be made the day before. I know that there is somewhere in Prague, but maybe I’m too lazy. Or it’s very expensive. So, I don’t tend to buy it. Everything else I can find.

And as I mentioned, the economy is growing very fast, and so is the food scene. So, you can really find all sorts of ethnic eating and also with very good quality – I’ve been told.

Carlie: Carmine, your fifth point has given me an interesting visual. People in the Czech –

Carmine: [laughs] Yeah, the visual is [the word].

Carlie: [laughs] People like to be naked and to go around just like that. How literal are you being here?

Carmine: [laughs] Well, no, not in the street, so no worries there. But there is a much more casual approach to nudity and body in general – which, I find it healthy. I think it’s healthy because a body is a body – this would be a motto. While coming from a traditional culture, in my case, Italy is also very religious, or it used to be, there is a lot more [crudeness] involved in nudity.

And moving to Central Europe – because this is the thing about Central Europe also – it can be shocking at first. Especially when you go to places like gym or swimming pool or sauna, and then you really have people being casual about their nudity, and you shouldn’t stare, because of course that’s considered rude.

Sauna especially is naked. And you have the signs on the door that really tell you, even with drawings, that you shouldn’t wear trunks or a swimming suit. Just a towel, in case you really have to. And especially the first two or three or let’s say five times, it is shocking, but after you break that ice, I found it even liberating. I mean, people wouldn’t really stare, they don’t mind, everybody is there minding their own business. You’re just there for the experience.

Carlie: It would really test your confidence, and body confidence I think, walking into a sauna where you just have to be naked and deal with it. I wouldn’t be so worried about other people; I would be more worried about putting my own body on display.

Carmine: And it doesn’t help that the local population is, generally speaking, very fit, and they love all sports. And so, in fact, you find yourself surrounded by a bunch of beautiful people, male and female, and me myself, I cannot help but start comparing. It’s cultural, but it’s also [… you know, judging, we are used to that a lot], and self [17:49]. After a while, you realize, the other people probably really don’t care about you, so why should you?

Carlie: I can relate, being the daughter of Maltese-Australians – I’ve just inherited all the bad genes. There’s no way I’m ever going to look like a Czech, fit-and-fantastic person. [laughs]

Carmine: Yeah, well, me too. I love eating and I come from southern Italy, so I have a Mediterranean look and shape. [laughs] And it’s fine. People find it even attractive in a way.

Carlie: Number six – we’re getting a bit serious here. You point out, in your opinion, that xenophobia in the Czech Republic is on the rise, but maybe it’s not really. What do you mean by this?

Carmine: This is probably not going to be the funniest one. Although, in the last two or three years, things are changing fast – and by that, I mean when people are doing well economically, they tend to be less afraid about the future and less afraid about other people. So, my observation is that right now, in the last two years – so, since I wrote that article – things are improving. And the general attitude is: You can come, as long as you behave by the rules, you learn our ways… they don’t mind the language, because they know it’s impossible. But you learn the rules, you play by the rules, you don’t speak loudly, you’re welcome.

With the exception of – and I’m sorry to say it, even on a radio show, but that’s the reality here – with the exception of Muslim immigrants. Muslim especially, because there is the spread of Islamophobia around the country, mostly done by the mainstream media. Which, whenever they depict a Muslim person, they usually use somebody with a Kalashnikov shouting and shooting. And this really helped build a stereotype in the mind of some people, that that’s what you expect from Islam. And this is really going to extreme – like last year, not so long ago, last year, a guy tried to derail a train, to push a train out of the rails, in the name of Islam. And then, it turned out it was a local guy, a Czech guy who did it to raise awareness towards the dangers of Islamization. So, I know this sounds crazy, but you guys can google it. It’s a real thing, it happened – a Czech guy was almost derailing a train to raise awareness on the dangers of Islam. This is the level of absurdity.

Carlie: Sadly, it’s not unique to the Czech Republic. We’ve just seen, at the time of recording this, in the past week, that horrific massacre at the mosque in New Zealand, by a shooter who’s Australian. I think it’s a really damaging time, this rise of right-wing populism, and I think the media and our politicians all around the world have such a responsibility to make sure that they’re not spreading hate.

Carmine: Yeah, but sadly, sometimes, they do spread hate, and that’s their agenda. The agenda is just to divide people and make people afraid, so we don’t leave our home and we vote for the strong guy.

What I’m trying to say is reality is complex. I don’t even come from a religious standpoint myself, but mass religions like Islam, there is a big … one billion Islam followers, Muslim followers in the world. How can we generalize? How can we just pretend we know such a huge, global culture because of what one guy looks like or behaves like. So, this is the thing.

Also, the leader of the anti-immigrant party in the Czech Republic is half-Japanese. And this is something people need to usually be repeated once or twice, because yes, the leader of the anti-immigrant party in Czech Republic is Tomio Okamura, and he is half-Japanese. He even looks Asian, you cannot mistake him. And this is the [21:53] of this society, and I think it really illustrates well that people are not racist. People will not discriminate you on the basis of how you look or even the color of your skin. But they do discriminate cultures when they perceive a threat to their lifestyle.

Carlie: On that basis, Carmine, do you think that the Czech Republic is a safe place or an ideal place for Muslim expats?

Carmine: That’s a tough… in general, I would say it’s a very safe place, and it’s an ideal place to raise your children, no matter what. It’s very, very safe, the crime rate is very low, there is almost no violent crime, and this is even in Prague, even in the capital city. No violent crime, no gun violence, which is unbelievable.

Now, for a Muslim immigrant, maybe they have to be ready for some remarks or a little bit of skepticism outside of maybe their work environment or outside of the most cosmopolitan culture places in the big cities. So yes – I had remarks towards me, and I’m from Italy, and my skin is, generally speaking, white. I had remarks towards me. So I can only imagine people would attract even more attention if they stand out. But I don’t think it’s dangerous. Although it happened to me just once in four years, it happened to me once to witness a sort of aggression by a drunk guy in a tram who was really, really pissed off because a woman was wearing the hijab. And this guy started to be verbally abusive, and then, the lady had to get off at the nearest stop.

Carlie: Lightening the mood a little bit – your seventh point.

Carmine: Yes!

Carlie: Time-keeping and planning stuff is not a habit in the Czech Republic; it’s a national obsession. Carmine, what you wrote for this point makes me think that Czechs are not really big on Netflix-and-chill.

Carmine: [laughs] No, no! Again, this is my observation. Some people made me point out, after reading the blog, “Hey, but I’m not like that, I love just chill, take it easy,” or as you say, play videogames or Netflix. But it wouldn’t be the mainstream part of society. In my observation, people are really, really active. They plan their things two weeks in advance, three weeks in advance. In fact, the majority of my friends in Prague that I meet regularly are not Czech. Also, timekeeping – and this is interesting, coming from a southern culture, where you know five minutes – okay, five minutes is late. In the way that people can get really, really offended and would consider it rude.

But what I find is more extreme is the necessity to plan everything and to know very well in advance what’s the plan for everything, in the smallest details. This is [particularly interesting] when people are travelling abroad. Czech travelers or tourists, generally speaking, again, I should say, they really love to have micro-plans and see where things are going all the time.

Carlie: So, the Czechs are a bit German in that sense.

Carmine: More than German! As a German told me when I first arrived – a German friend met me for a drink, and she told me, “You will find out, Czechs are more German than the Germans.”

Carlie: And you also point out that everybody is sporty and outdoorsy, which goes out to those sauna inhibitions.

Carmine: [laughs] Yeah. Again, there may be historical reasons – because during the socialist years, physical fitness and sport was really emphasized by the government. Another reason is that the nature around is beautiful and easy. Nothing is really dangerous here. They don’t have oceans, they don’t have very high mountains that can kill you. So, people consider the outdoors something fun. And in fact, even in Slovakia, they have these running jokes that every weekend, there would be some Czech going to the mountains unprepared, and dying. [chuckles] Because people don’t have this level of danger in their home country, and so they think it applies everywhere.

But generally speaking, yeah, people love sports, and all sports – so they learn cycling, they learn skiing when they are three years old or even two years old, which feels very humiliating when you go for the first time. And I went skiing last year for the first time, and I don’t love, and I will not love it. All around me I was just surrounded by these incredibly fast people, from three to 90 years old, and everybody was looking down at me, like “Ah, you poor guy, at your age, you still don’t how to do it.”

So, yeah, it feels a little bit intimidating when everybody picks up their bike or their keys and they go out, and they are naturals. They are naturals because they don’t know how dangerous these activities are, because they learn when they’re very, very young. [chuckles] But when you’re 40 and for the first time they put you on skis, I’m like, “Why should I want to do that? This is just unnatural. My body isn’t made for that.”

Carlie: I can relate to the skiing. I tried it here for only the second time of my life, here in France, and as you say, my boyfriend was basically born on skis, skiing since he was a toddler. So, he’s like teaching me with no poles in his hands, skiing backwards down a mountain, and I’m like, “How are you even doing this?”

Carmine: Yeah, I know! My wife pushed me and she said, “You will see, it’s just like walking.” And I’m like, “Except I cannot stop!” [laughs] So, yeah, it was a bit of a drama.

Carlie: Point nine on your list – public transport in the Czech Republic takes you everywhere, but people still take their cars. Is this because the public transport is shit in the Czech Republic?

Carmine: No, I think it’s very good. I mean, if you want to see shit public transport, try Italy. The quality is really good, and it’s really efficient, and it’s around the clock. However, of course, if you need to [be at a meeting] really fast, sometimes the car is the only option. And that’s why, especially in Prague, when people need to be really, really fast, then they will prefer the car.

There is also a little, I think, social explanation for that, because public transport is associated to working class, and so a lot of people prefer to be in their own, private transportation, because in this way they stand out, in this way they feel they’re not part of the mass. This may have something to do with the recent communist regime. And it’s my observation, anyway.

Carlie: So, driving a car in the Czech Republic is more of a status symbol, and an important one, rather than thinking about efficiency, saving money, or environmental issues.

Carmine: I think it’s a bit of both. And also, if we combine it with how generally people are grumpy and angry, driving is … I find it stressful, very, very stressful here. People can lose their temper. And again, I come from Southern Italy, so I know what a temper is. But when you do something wrong in Italy, people kind of expect it. And everybody is like, “Yeah, we are in the same disaster, so okay.”

But here, when you break a rule, of course unintentionally, but you break a rule, people lose it completely. I’ve had people walking out of their car, knocking on my window, just to tell me that I did something wrong. And I was like, “Yeah, okay, [laughs] can we now go please? What do you want from me?” Not to attack me – but just to lecture me. Because people could be [atheistic] – and indeed, this is one of the countries, maybe the one with the highest [atheism] in the world – so people may be [atheistic], but they love to lecture you and moralize you.

Carlie: So, I guess there’s a lot of unwritten social rules in the Czech Republic. And this brings us to your tenth point – the country is a place where etiquette still matters a lot. I kind of like this about the country! Say what you will about gender roles, but I think it’s lovely that they actually really place a lot of importance on basic courtesies.

Carmine: Yes, yes. I got a lot of comments on this one, and generally, it’s “Oh, that’s nice.” Although there are shades that are harder to understand for a foreigner. In particular, what you mentioned – the gender roles. Because coming from a militant or a feminist point of view, some things need work. People don’t really mean it as a form of discrimination or projection of privilege, but you still would have a little bit the roles … for example, in the family or in the house or even opening a door at the restaurant.

I don’t know if this is actually discriminating, because actually, I think, in society, women have a very good place, better than Italy in many cases. For example, the maternity leave is very generous. I would even say that the society is matriarchal, much more than in many other places in Europe that I know of. It’s growing, but there is a good percentage of women who are doing very well in business education and politics, although not enough, but it’s growing.

And then, etiquette in general – when you go to theatre, people dress up, and I mean there is no limit to “up”. And sometimes I went with my casual approach in jeans, and everybody was frowning, and they were saying, “No, no, no, you need to change, you cannot go to theatre dressed in your jeans and shirt.”

Carlie: But I think that’s really lovely. I remember going to the theatre as a kid, and putting on a pretty dress, and being so disappointed to see people wearing jeans.

Carmine: [31:21] maybe depending on where you come from, but for me, this has to do with the Austro-Hungarian empire, and how people were mindful of etiquette in general, but I find it [cute].

Carlie: Have you ever made some mistakes, Carmine, in your etiquette in the Czech Republic? Have you been pulled up, other than for your jeans at the theatre?

Carmine: Oh, so much. I wouldn’t know where to start. Another thing is in the tram or in public transport, you really want to leave the place to elders, when they are there. If you don’t, everybody else will look bad at you, and [31:57]. And in general, I think, whenever you are attracting too much attention, [that will not] make you look good. One of the first sentences I learned here from my family was “Do you think this is normal?” Which in Czech is “[Myslíte si, že je to normální]?” And when they “Do you think this is normal?” what they really mean is “This is not normal at all. It’s wrong and you are wrong, and you’d better change your ways.” [laughs]

And coming from a culture where actually being original is even emphasized, because Italians are people of … individualists … for me, it was like, “Yeah, no, I don’t care if it’s normal or not. This is just my way.” And this can be going to sleep or getting up late or eating something different, eating at a different time, or singing … singing or humming in the streets, people would really look at you like there is something wrong.

Carlie: So, in saying all this, the Czech Republic has its quirks, but you’re quite happy there?

Carmine: I am very happy. It was my choice – it’s not like I was deported or something. It was my choice to move. I fell in love, and I’m still very much in love with a local girl, and I met a lot of friends, as I mentioned, they can be incredibly generous, great hosts, they love fun, they love partying, they love eating and drinking. And culture is respected in the country – culture and art. So, concerts are always full, the cinema and theatres are always full. I started being a professional stand-up comedian since I moved here, and it’s great to see how the scene is growing and people are coming to the evenings even during a weekday. It is also nice to see how culture and art is being respected by an entire country. It seems to me that everybody can play a musical instrument at least. And in general, I’m very happy. The nature is nice, the country is beautiful, and it’s very, very safe.

Carlie: What’s your best piece of advice to foreigners looking to move to the Czech Republic?

Carmine: Right. And this is regardless of where one moves: Just know that the culture shock is normal, and it’s part of the process. You will feel angry, you will feel happy, you will feel even scared of being out. I happened to me, it all happened to me – at some point, I didn’t want to go out shopping, grocery shopping. I was afraid of the interactions. But it’s all part of the process. And at some point, you break. You go through it. And you start adopting your new life, it becomes part of your identity, who you are, the things you like.

It’s unbelievable how flexible we are, also in terms of what we find comfortable. I think moving and living in another culture is one of the best things that we could do as people. Because it really brings flexibility, open-mindedness, and let me say also humility. Travelling and learning is just a never-ending process, and I think in general it makes us better people.

Carlie: That’s it for this episode. If you have any questions for Carmine or want to share your own experience of life in the Czech Republic, head over to expatfocus.com and follow the links to our Czech Republic forum or Facebook group. Remember to check out our other episodes covering all aspects of expat life. You can find them on Apple Podcasts or however you’re listening to the show. If you like what we do, please leave us a review. And I’ll catch you next time.

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