Culture shock

Discussion in 'Culture' started by mistrpavel, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. mistrpavel

    mistrpavel New Member


    I am supposed to write a 1-2 pages long paper on what should foreign visitor be aware of in order to adjust more easily and avoid intercultural conflicts and misunderstandings.

    e.g. If you are invited to someones house don't be surprise when they told you to take your shoes off.

    So could you please tell me what you find "shocking" about ČR?

    Thx in advance ;-)
  2. Petronela

    Petronela Well-Known Member

    Actually most will NOT tell you to take your shoes off, they will expect you to know that already and will be very offended if you don’t take them off but most likely never tell you.

    Btw there is a very good book out there called “Culture shock, Czech Republic” or “Czech Republic, culture shock” or something like that. Very light a fast reading with tons of info.

    Good luck with your paper :)
  3. mistrpavel

    mistrpavel New Member

    Yes, I've seen the book on but I'm supposed to hand in this paper on Tuesday so unfortunatelly I don't have enough time to get hold of it. I've tried to google a PDF version of this book or at least list of its chapters but no such luck.
  4. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Well determining if something is a cultural shock would depend on where you are from. I'm from the States. My first visit there was in 2000 and here's the things I remember being shocked about.

    1. Paying to use the bathroom

    2. drinking alcoholic beverages in the street

    3. drinking alcoholic beverages as a passenger in the car.

    4. nudity on tv commercials in the middle of the day

    5. girly magazines where the candy bars should be at the gas station.

    6. brick roads

    7. your husbands friends, meeting you for the first time and kissing you on the lips

    8. Your husband's mother's friends (Older ladies) meeting you for the first time and kissing you on the lips

    9. every household you visit brings you food and tea and insist you have some no matter how hard you try to explain that you aren't hungry.

    10. If you are cold, everyone insists you drink hard liquor in your hot beverage and pour it in there even when you are shaking your head and motioning "no".

    11. 3 FULL meals a day - home cooked

    12. frugalness with money

    13. every store you walk into, the cashier says hello and goodbye to you as you walk in and leave rather than waiting till you purchase something.

    14. The lack of obese people.

    15. The amount of walking one must do to get anywhere.

    Its a great country and although I could do without the nudity or girly mags thrown into your face while watching TV or going into a gas station, I love everything else! :)

    There's a blog called Girl in the Czech Lands - She is from England living in CR right now and she is very good at writing short articles about the cultural shock she endures regularly.

    Best wishes on your paper.
  5. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    Dzurisova, you probably forgot that you can buy a beer at McDonalds ;-). My husband was very surprised with that one :p

    ... actually you can get alcoholic beverages in any restaurant - that bothers me e.g. in a family restaurant here in the US ... that I cannot have a glass of wine with my dinner everywhere I go :(
  6. Petronela

    Petronela Well-Known Member

    Lol yeah, my husband is still bragging about drinking beer in McDonalds.

    But Ms. Dzurisova has a very good point, it really does depend on where you are from. I also think where exactly in Czech Rep. you would be going is important too. Large cities tailor more to tourists so are les of a culture shock then small towns a villages.

    Not really a culture shock worthy but different from states.

    - When giving flowers make sure they are odd number. There are few situations when even number is ok, but better safe then sorry so go with odd.

    - Midday meal is traditionally the main meal of the day. Starting with soup, then main course usually consisting of some starch, protein and either vegetables or sauce, ending with desert. I did say traditionally because of course in the households where both parents work it may be difficult and each household deals with it in their own way.

    - Table manners: Czechs, same as most of Europe, use their silverware the “Continental Style” as oppose the “Colonial Style” which is predominant in the states. Even very small children are expected to know how to use silverware.

    - Not sure if this is still true (been almost 5 years since my last trip home) but it is/was considered rude to put tip on your credit card.

    That all I can think of atm
  7. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    As I am going to NYC next month and hopefuly spend my holiday next year traveling around west half of the US, I guess what you wrote applies (in the oposite way) for europeans (not only czechs) going to States.

    Just to add one czech specific - beer in most restaurants is cheaper then soft bvgs or oven then bottled water.
  8. GlennInFlorida

    GlennInFlorida Well-Known Member

    a couple of other things come to mind...

    be prepared to get little or no ice with your softdrink or cocktail

    most apartments have a toilet located right by the entry door

    you may notice "fill to" lines on beer mugs and other service glasses

    napkins can be few in number and most people don't keep them in their laps

    trams and metro use an "honor" system for longer duration passes (you don't have to swipe or show them every time you ride but may get stopped by transit police to show that you have one)

    escalators are much faster than those in the states

    people in public don't walk around with grins on their faces and no stranger would ever dare to tell you to "smile!"
  9. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    Guys, I will try to add few more things here too; since I am already a bit "americanized", some things fade from my mind but I will try to remember as much as I can:

    For an American going to CZ (visit/live):

    . you have to pay for water even if poured into the glass in a restaurant (with a very few exceptions like water served together with coffee in traditional old fashioned coffee shops = e.g. not Starbucks)

    . nobody will have a clue what inches, pounds, yards or Fahrenheit is; this system is used only in the US (and in Canada but Canadians know both). Be prepared for 100% standard measurement.

    . although at home you can probably go shopping in pyjamas :wink:, this is almost a sin in Europe - dress code is way more strict.

    . As Petronella said: table manners are different too. If you eat & will swing the fork from one hand to the other, regular people (not places where are used to tourists) will look at you as at the caveman :cry:

    . As Glenn said - the bathroom is usually close to the entrance to the apartment (venue) ... well, I wish I had this in States! My husbands' friends come over to our porch, go to the bathroom through the whole house (some 'forget' to take their shoes off) and than I have to clean the carpet! Dammit :twisted:

    . The kitchen sink does not have to be under the window :lol: at all costs. As a matter of fact, I had mine moved to the corner because the sink blocked the most beautiful (canal) view in my kitchen. I personally think sink under the window is an exception in CR (in many cases it is a space saving reason and in my mind simple logic because I need more workspace than the sink).

    . do not expect plastic cups/paper tablecloths in restaurants.

    . be prepared to cross the streets at the pedestrian crossings only! If somebody hits you outside the crossing, it is 100% your fault. Well, I know that even in the US we have crossings but (except for e.g. Chicago or New York) many drivers slow down for a pedestrian anywhere (simply because there are not that many). EU is a different story.

    . obese people are less frequent in EU. Alexx, wait till you get to the US and be prepared for a BIG shock :cry:

    . yes, nudity is much more shown in CR

    . shops and other places: attendants are way less friendly compared to the US. In CR the waiter will not come to your table every 5 minutes asking if everything is o.k. Well, personally I still cannot get used to that and I still feel it rather rude to bug me while I am eating. In other words in CR you should to call the waiter when needed (because they expect you to do so).

    . tips: you do not have to give 15-20% as a tip in the restaurant. We mostly round the price up.

    . I cannot speak for the others, but as a Czech person I cannot get used to pancakes or bacon&eggs for breakfast. Nor cereal. I think that massive commercials lately somewhat introduced cereals to CR households but I honestly think that the majority still eat traditional breakfast (this can vary: e.g. bread/houska with butter&jelly, pate etc.)

    . CR kitchen uses potatoes much more than US

    . when you go to the store to buy e.g. groceries, do not expect the cashier to put all your groceries in bags - you have to do it yourself.

    . when you buy e.g. a digital camera and it does not work, you cannot simply go back to the store for an exchange/refund as here in the US. Not sure how the process works now (I haven't been home for 5 years) but from what I heard, there is not much of an improvement.

    . most doctors do not require appointments and you (if you have insurance - and by law CR citizen/resident MUST have one) pay measly 30CZK per visit.

    . In CR you cannot refill your prescription by calling the doctor's office - you have to go there in person.

    . I case you want to live in CR, be prepared that everything is 200% more difficult paperwork-vise (e.g. you buy a house and you want to put utilities on your name. Well, a simple call will not do it.)

    . School (kindergarden, elementary school) will bug you with everything they cannot handle (like read this and that, do the homework with your kid etc.) instead of doing their job = completely neglecting the fact you work too :roll:.

    . and also: if you are used to the US, the biggest shock will probably be the place itself. Every time I went back home from the US, I felt like a sardine in a can :shock:. Everything is smaller - cars, streets, everything.
  10. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    Oh and one more thing - I hope it helps for the paper :lol:: circumcision is not a custom in CR :lol: :lol: :lol:
  11. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh so it's normal? Lips? Really? ha ha that explains a lot.

    Personally I like all the nudity on tv. Because it's not of a sexual nature usually. I don't think people should be afraid of the human body, or have any reaction to it whatsoever, we should be indifferent to it. But yeah the magazines are sexual so they should be hidden away!
  12. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    I think I was asked to pay for water in Brno once... Otherwise you can just ask for tap water like anywhere else.
    You must be from a city!

    We use inches, stone, yards, and Celsius in Ireland.


    Just don't worry about your carpet!

    hee hee must be an american thing, I thought they only had them in kids restaurants.
    . be prepared to cross the streets at the pedestrian crossings only! If 0somebody hits you outside the crossing, it is 100% your fault. Well, I know that even in the US we have crossings but (except for e.g. Chicago or New York) many drivers slow down for a pedestrian anywhere (simply because there are not that many). EU is a different story.
    Don't say EU here there are completely different rules in Ireland. we can cross anywhere we like, common sense, the motorists have to be careful of pedestrians, but if they follow the rules and don't drive too fast through cities no one gets hurt. It's always some idiot driving 50 miles an hour that kills someone.
    I think it's just population density, if you see 4000 people in a day walking down the street, you'll remember the fat one, if you see 10,000, you'll remember the 4 fat ones.

    It makes me sad sometimes that strangers don't smile at me.
    I like this. No math!
    I can't eat anything but cereal for breakfast hee hee.

    Czechs and Americans don't know the meaning of the word potato!Go to Ireland!
    They do this for you in America? Really? That's mad.
    I bought a computer game from HyperAlbert a few weeks ago that didn't work and they exchanged it for me without any fuss.
    It also means taking an entire day off work and waiting around for 1 to 6 hours.
    Same in Ireland, unless you have known the doctor for years and have been on the same medication for a long time.
    Well I moved from a small town in Ireland to a big down in the Czech Republic so everything here is much bigger and more modern and everything is much easier to get hold of and there's a much bigger variety of.. everything. I think I'd suffer far more Culture shock in America than here!
  13. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    Ctyri koruny ... I should have probably said that the whole civilized world uses standard :lol: :lol: :lol: and not the old English measurements - right? Just teasing you here.
  14. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    OK I guess most people will know at least 1 inch is like 2,5 cm, pound is like 0,5 kg, yard is almost 1 meter, and mile is 1600 m.

    What really will be a mystery for 99% of europeans is MPG :-D
  15. kibicz

    kibicz Well-Known Member

    Nothing match the situation when foreign student realizes his teacher carries firearm to school:-D
  16. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    Alexx, I live in the US for 5 years now and - honestly - the people I met who knew something about metrics I could count on my finger nails. And for CR - maybe some educated people but I am an university graduate myself (with a very good score) and I never got even near English units. So when I went to the US for the first time (in March 2004) and they told me it was 50 degrees, I honestly thought I needed my summer T-shirt :cry:.

    P.S. MPG is the only thing I like better compared to l/100km (I mean if I compare English units versus standard). But no wonder that for EU it is hard to imagine MPG because we have neither (maybe except for those crazy old English territories :wink:). Let's say my car gets 25MPG, which means it makes 40km for 3.78l. The real equivalent to MPG would be 10.58km/l. In other words I can say that 10.58km costs me 29CZK or how much is the gas now right of the bet or that for a trip of 250km I need about 25l of gas.
  17. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    Where were you in class? Kansas?

    Most people where? Get used to disappointment.

    Nope, we're fat. There's a whole bunch of factors that contribute to it, but we really are a nation of fat-@sses. I've been told by (European) friends of friends that their whole concept of "fat" changed after spending some time in the US.

    Dude, that's service! They do it in Spain too, sometimes.

    Gas station restrooms are free but haven't been cleaned since the Bush administration...the first one. Restaurants tend to be "customer only". I don't remember many, er, outlets in parks. They could very well be free or pay.

    More. We are lazy-@sses, after all. There are some neighborhoods, built after mid-20th century, where there aren't even sidewalks, since there's nowhere to walk to.
  18. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    Since I moved to the US, I keep fighting with my weight. Partially because of the food, but mostly because there are a few opportunities to walk. In Prague, where I was born and raised, I walked quite a bit every day. Morning walk to the bus station, walk to get from the bus to the subway, than to the school/work and the opposite in the afternoon. On top of that I loved to make just a little stroll on Venceslav square, The Prague Castle etc. here and there. But in total it was quite a bit. Or just a walk to a local grocery store near my house etc.

    Over here in the US I walk too here and there but opportunities are scarce. Simply because the nearest small grocery store is 6km away and the nearest supermarket is 36km away (like going from center of Prague to Cesky Brod). Plus Ceit is right about the sidewalks - there are not many. And the mass transport is - well, I am not a kamikadze (the bus goes by my house once a day plus people using it ... no comment).

    When I walked, It happened to me quite a few times that people were stopping their cars and asking me if I am ok and possibly need help (they most likely thought my car broke down) - they simply could not imagine that somebody could just walk :roll:
  19. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    Before I went to the US for the first time, I did not believe the stories that general US population is mostly fat. And I had a big shock - as I promised to Alexx he might have one too. Especially with Afro-American women. Some of those can be really HUGE. Somebody you consider "fat" in Europe might be considered "just fine" in the US and I am not kidding.
  20. kibicz

    kibicz Well-Known Member

    No, Prague
    It just feels much safer with guns around than in "gun-free zones" where all the assaults take place.

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