I get asked all the time, what it is like for an expat in Prague. Friends tell friends who are moving here to contact me and ask questions. People read this blog and have questions about what it is like living in Europe and what Prague is like…and I try to be honest. No use in sugar coating it. It’s rough at first, but its a great place to live. The expat scene in Prague can be very easily broken down into 4 or 5 groups of people. Of course there are those who fit outside of my sarcastic little groups, but most fit in like a bug in a rug. And before you ask, I am a 2 working towards becoming a 3. I hope to never roll my eyes when asked “How long have you been in Prague”, but I can’t promise anything.
1. “The Study Abroad Kids” – They don’t count. These boys and girls are taking a semester off to “study” in a foreign country. They are on Mommy an Daddy’s dime and drunk constantly. They are obnoxious, here for less than a year and taking some time away from the very taxing American College system to get drunk a little cheaper before returning to America and remembering this time as “the best in my life!” They can be found in the Beer Garden, Chapeau Rouge, Red Room, any place with a foose ball table or throwing up on a night tram.
2. TEFL Grads/Teachers – This is the most populous group of expats in Prague. I used to joke that you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a teacher in Prague, and I think I am still correct. Most teachers stay about a year before leaving the City of Spires and returning to the states…usually resulting in Grad School or some other way of not really working. Teachers here are found on the Metro going to and from classes, coffee shops and bars outside of the center – like Bukowski’s.
3. “Lifers” – These are people who probably started out in group 2 and something happened and they stayed. Some folks meet and marry a Czech whom they have fallen in love with. Some, like me just like the lifestyle here better. The lifers usually “were” teachers, but have moved on to something else. These are the most annoying group of expats in Prague – since they have been in Prage so long, they constantly feel the need to tell you about the “best” place to get something, or what it used to be like. They roll their eyes a lot and you can smell the superiority on them from a mile away. The lifer can be found in a secluded place that they “discovered”, at home, at work, or in the one bar they can still stomach going to because there are “so many AMericans everywhere!”
4. And then there is the “pretentiously mysterious expat.” This is an increasing group here in Prague. This is a group (usually made up of people in their 20’s) who make a big deal out of what they do, usually resulting in said job sounding much more important than it is. For example: I met a girl who teaches English here in Prague (like everyone else) and, who in her personal time plays guitar and sings (like everyone else). When asked at a bar by a group of traveling Hostel dwellers what she did in Prague she replied, “I’m a singer.” Another girl works at a Gallery answering phones and basically just sitting there wasting space waiting for someone to wander in, but she is “interning”. You get the point. It’s like me saying I am a singer/writer because I host karaoke and I write. Nope – I am a pre-school teacher. Honestly, everyone here has an extra talent such as singing or writing, but very few can boast this as their profession – how they make their living.
Prague’s expat community is well informed and easy to find much due to websites like Expats.cz and Prague.tv. These are informative websites that cover clubs, bars, eateries, coffee shops, real estate, Visa and basically anything you need to know. Expats.cz is the Bible for English speakers in Prague. Sure, there is an English newspaper – The Prague Post – but that is mainly for travelers. Not many native speakers living and working in Prague can afford the paper, and since the other sites are free – not many people bother. I have also noticed a few fledgling FaceBook groups devoted to expats. One is called “Secret Prague” devoted to finding cool places that no one knows about. I’ll save you the trouble: There aren’t any. Prague is small and if you stay longer than a year, you know where to go and where not to go. You know who broke up with who and who is dating who. It really is a tiny little world here. On the up side Prague works kind of like a revolving door – people are always coming and going. I am never stuck for meeting new people or finding people to talk to. And sooner or later you will realize that everyone here knows everyone else here…and thats okay.
Hi. My name is Alicia…
and I am an expat.