Do Foreigners Know The Czech Republic?

Discussion in 'Culture' started by Zik, Oct 24, 2008.

  1. wissy

    wissy Well-Known Member


    I certainly am not offended by what you wrote and you do not need to apologize. Healthy debate is what this site is all about. :)
  2. metamorph

    metamorph Member

    As an Englishman living in the Czech Republic I hope I can comment from two perspectives. First all such generalisations ignore many exceptions. In the UK the views of people over 40 are coloured by the cold war and generally still refer to Czechoslovakia, even if they have visited Prague. Their current views are still influenced by what they knew about communist Czechoslovakia. This will have been reinforced by quite wide coverage of the aniversary of the 1968 invasion in UK media.

    The knowledge of most younger people mainly comes from a short break visit to Prague and the wide availabilityof Czech beer in the UK.
    I have lived in Brno for three years and even people I know ask how things are in Prague! However I don't think this lack of knowledge is only about the Czech Republic, the British don't have a great knowledge of many other countries. As mentioned in another post some of this is down to heavy Czech promotion of Prague to the exclusion of other attractions in the country.

    However, although Czechs have a greater interest in countries outside their borders, it can be limited. How many could name the 2nd largest UK city; The Prime minister; some popular(not traditional) foods; or give any information about Scotland (population over 5 million)- in my experience not many unless they have lived in the UK for a period.

    As to famous Czechs; I am sure the majority of Brits know the names of a few famous Czechs; they just don't know they are Czechs. Czechs do probably know more about famous Brits because of the education system; for Maturita they need to learn a lot of things about Britain that a lot of Brits don't even know!

    At least now with forums like this people who want to know a bit more can easily find out.
  3. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Good points.
  4. saillael

    saillael Well-Known Member

    There are two kinds of travelers: those who want to find a photo opportunity, experience life the same way they do at home, and get to say, "Oh, I've been there." These are the ones who should never leave their couches. The other kind is the kind who travels to meet new people, have experiences that are different from home, see places of wonder, find new traditions and customs, delve into culture, study an unfamiliar history, and have a good visit with people whom they'd never have met if they hadn't left their sphere of comfort. The former know nothing about another country's geography, culture, or history. The latter learn as much as they can before they go, while they are there, and after they have returned.

    When I came to Prague, I rented an apartment near Wenceslas Square on a street with no hotels or restaurants that were meant to trap tourists. I shopped at the market in my block and finally at the end of ten days, the clerk smiled at me when I greeted her in my friendly, bold American way. I treasured every moment I had preparing and studying for the trip and I treasured every moment that I had there. And when I got back home, I told everyone why they should go to the Czech Republic, which is in central, not eastern, Europe.

    I have been planning my return trip ever since. The culture, the architecture, the history, and most of all the people have imbedded themselves deep in my heart, and I will always have a part of myself there.

    Of course, I felt the same way about Great Britian. My husband and I spent two weeks there - one in London and one travelling around Wales and Oxfordshire. My husband had to drag me on the plane. My fondest memories aren't of the architectue, though it is magnificent. They are rather of the cultural experiences and the time spent with people from there: A cold rainy day in August in Snowdonia spent talking to an innkeeper while feasting on his wife's chicken soup (and the platonic ideal of chicken soup it was), being stopped on a street in Stratford by a lovely older woman who warned us which way to begin on our Shakespearean pilgrimage so we could avoid the bus tours, watching a brass band in St. Jame's Park while picnicing, racing another punter down the Avon.

    If we would travel in meaningful and thoughtful ways, opening dialogues and developing relationships with people, we would want to know more about other countries and we would want to be friends, not antagonists.

    Students today have to learn so much, and they learn it so shallowly (at least in America) that there is no wonder that they are unfamiliar with smaller countries. While I bet they don't even know that the Dancing Building in Prague is built on the site of the only bomb to be dropped in Prague during WWII. And that it was an American plane that accidentally dropped it! At least we provided a good architect to help replace the building.

    Good travelling graces to you all. See you in the Czech Republic!
  5. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

    Thank saillael for nice words.

    Just the information in quoted words is not precise.

    There were 3 bomb attack of allied forces during WWII in Prague. There were about 50 destroyed objects in the last, 3 minute american bomb attack in Prague on February 14th, 1945, including historical buildings in the real centre of Prague, 700 people killed and 1000 injured.
    Of course, it is nothing in comparison with all the victims of WWII.
  6. Wayne05

    Wayne05 Member

    Actually, I have found both recognition of the Czech Republic and complete ignorance of it. Also it does not seem to be dependent on the part of the world. I have encountered people in remote parts of Asia that could point right to it on a map. On the other hand, an older Dutch gentleman told me that it was somewhere south of Byelorussia. That is surprising since the Dutch tend to be more international than most countries.

    Concerning Americans…..We are generally an ignorant lot. That is cultural. Most Americans never travel outside of the US, even to Mexico or Canada. As a result, geography is a very limited subject in school. Most Americans can’t even identify most of the states in the United States and it is getting worse as schools focus instruction on other subjects. Actually, most older Americans have a better idea of the Czech Republic. People of the World War II generation remember it as the first victim of the Third Reich and remember the Czechoslovakian pilots in the RAF. In fact, most Americans with a certain knowledge of the Czech Republic probably still refer to it as Czechoslovakia. Younger Americans probably only associate Prague with Vin Diesel movies. That really worries me. In an increasingly international world, we are raising a generation that could not name the capital of Canada. Disappointing, at the very least.

    I think that much of the lack of recognition of the Czech Republic is historical and related to the many occupiers of the land. Often, people like Mendel and Kafka are “Germans” in many people’s minds because they wrote in German. Only the more recent Czechs like Emil Zatopek have a “Czech” nationality in people’s minds.

    At any rate that is my 2 Kr worth.

    Na shledanou.

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