From Prague to Michigan

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Dannae, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    Dear all,

    So, finally, after a long time from registering on this site, I got the need to introduce myself.

    Well, I registered a couple of years ago but than I got fed up with English all around me, so I preferred the forums in Czech. But now it seems to me I do not care that much, I am getting used to everyday English (even though my household is bi-lingual).

    Just briefly: my name is Dana, I live in Michigan on St. Clair river (close to the St. Clair Lake) and I got here because I felt in love with one wonderful American. Well, originally I went to US for training - however the life is unpredictable - so I ended up in here.

    Now I have a great husband, nice family (2 boys; one is 13 years old - mine only - and one is 2,5 - this one is ours) and we have a great life together.

    But still, even I immigrated US for family reasons and I have a great support of my husband, the life in the USA is not a piece of cake for me; well maybe it was not during the very first years. Nevertheless until now I miss European lifestyle, European culture, standards and much more. Since I was not 20 when I got in the US, there are many things I am shocked with here and there and because I lived in Europe for the most of my previous life (except for I grew up in South America) I think I am very sensitive and I spot differences right away.

    Please, do not take me wrong. I love this country and I am trying to get used to the local way of life. I mean I got used to something or I just ignore something else (for instance, in the beginning, the US way of eating - with switching fork to the right hand all the time - was driving me absolutely nuts; now I ignore it. Or their units of measurement - I got better in math so I am able to convert US units to standard very quickly; the date I read from the middle etc. ... I just want to make you laugh here a bit :wink:). The main point is that the USA is a great country; not perfect, but it is a great country. So if you want to live here, you have to adapt yourself to a certain point. But on the other hand nobody will burn you at the stake because you are different. Or at least I did not experience this attitude so far.

    I hope that I will be able to contribute a bit in our mutual discussion here on this forum and I hope we will have a nice time together.

    All the best to you all, Dana
  2. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Welcome... Again! :)
  3. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Very nice introduction, Dannae.
    Yes, every new place takes some getting used to. And every place has pros and cons. And there's always the missing the way things were.
    I'm glad you've become settled and are happy.
  4. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Welcome :) I see you are on the east side of the state. I'm way to the west, close to Chicago. Have you encountered many other Czechs in your area?
  5. jen

    jen Well-Known Member

    I think this post is a very valuable "lesson" to expats who come to this country and then proceed to whine and moan about how different things are from back home :) I find it interesting to see "my" country through a foreigner's eyes....
  6. meluzina

    meluzina Well-Known Member

    i most definitely agree - was just going to mention some other sites where the reverse is presented - and not always as eloquently and fairly as dana has put it

    there is no problem with finding things different - after over thirty years in the states, my mother still had problems with potatoes and finding hruba mouka :D

    and the knife and fork bit - my mother had to go through rehab in a hospital in the state - she of course ate the "european" way - not switching kniofe and fork - one of the nurses thought this was a "defect" resulting from me mum's "sort of stroke" and attempted to "reeducate" her on how to eat properly
  7. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    I do not understand it somehow. Do you eat different way in the US than in europe? :shock:
  8. jen

    jen Well-Known Member

    Oh yes - in America, the fork is always held in the right hand, unless you are cutting something. You put the fork in your left hand, knife in the right, cut, put the knife down, switch the fork to the right hand, eat, repeat. It's considered rude (or child-like) to cut up all your meat first, then eat the pieces. So it's this constant ballet of silverware switching.
  9. meluzina

    meluzina Well-Known Member

    double post - sorry
  10. meluzina

    meluzina Well-Known Member


    now the european way varies as well - don't know on what basis though?? my mother always held her for with the prongs up (except when cutting) - father prongs down - any input???

    even though i grew up in the u.s., i never learnt the trick of switching though
  11. gementricxs

    gementricxs Well-Known Member

    Wow, that's hilarious.
    Don't get me wrong, Mel, I feel sorry for your mum, but I'm sure you are also finding it hilarious.
  12. gementricxs

    gementricxs Well-Known Member

    Almost every American I've seen in Prague cutting his knedliky with fork and brambory as well. In the beginning when I did not know that everyone does that I found it extremely rude, you know we're educated in the way that you have to always vidlicka in your left hand and nuz in your right hand. I know that the people I was with just can't eat properly. :oops:
    I don't know how is it now, but back when I was in materska skola (roughly 15 yrs ago), kindergarten school teachers would check if we are holding the silverware correctly. If I would take vidlicka to my right hand, even for just a moment, the teacher would go up to me and force me to switch it to left hand.

    That's why I have found Mel's post about the hospital so hilarious. So similar.
  13. meluzina

    meluzina Well-Known Member

    no problem geo - i think it's funny as well - although it wasn't at the time (this was in 1996) - i also had a few other issues with this particular nurse though

    the thing is though, that this was in san francisco - which is fairly international city as far as inhabitants go (you actually rarely hear english spoken on the buses and trams) - so i found it amazing that this particular woman had never encountered this amazing phenomenon before - it also took me about 15 minutes to convince her that it would be impossible to "unteach" habits of over 70 years - i ended up demonstrating to her that i eat the same way
  14. gementricxs

    gementricxs Well-Known Member

    Sometimes living in a different country makes it very difficult, or should I rather say challenging?
  15. meluzina

    meluzina Well-Known Member

    you are so young ;)

    as you get older, you'll start finding out life anywhere is a challenge :D
  16. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    Meluzina, I had to laugh when I read this :lol: ! Because I experienced exactly the opposite and I think also funny.

    We got married in CR so my husband also met my relatives and friends. Not that they were dummies but once we went out to eat and after awhile I saw peepy looks here and there; they were starring at him. We dated for quite a long time but - honestly - I never cared how he ate before and therefore I did not know there was anything like the US way of table manners. To make a long story short I had to ask him directly and after that calm down my (manly relatives) that I am not going to marry some sort of "caveman" who does not know how to eat properly :lol:.

    Just bwt (as a curiosity): these little differences can be also dangerous. My neighbour (who fought in 1945 in Europe) told me, that many American soldiers with German roots got caught (and many of them executed) because of the way how they ate. Even with perfect language they could pretend they were Germans with no documents - till the moment they started their dinner.
  17. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    Just one suplement to this: in US there is only one exception - if Sb. is left handed. Than he/she will hold the fork in the left hand - but at the same time the knife in left hand too - which makes it (from my European point of view - again, no offense) a bit funny because this person switches both utensils in the left hand.

    To Meluzina: I think the direction of holding the prongs does not make that much of a difference. The only perception I've got is that some might think that holding the prongs down is a bit more proper, but personally I do not think so.

    P.S. do you think it would be interesting if we start a little "comparison" - thing done differently in e.g. UK, US, Australia etc. compared to the Czech republic? I mean in the proper section of the forum. I believe I have quite a few funny stories to share myself.

    As I already wrote, I had a hard time adapting here. I knew that there would be difference right from the beginning but many differences I had to learn the hard way (and now I laugh about it). Also I found out that when you visit a foreign country you are not bothered by those things as much; till the moment you move to that country permanently (also depends on age). Good example is my husband and his "right - fork - table manners". When I was dating him, I did not even notice. When I married him in Czech republic, I did not think it would bother me. When I moved to US permanently, it drove me nuts (now I am OK). Another good example are measurement units: I knew that US have a different system till the moment I had to square with it somehow - I mean permanently.

    If you think that those issues (comparing cultural and social differences towards life in CR) might be interesting and, maybe, helpful to somebody, let me know. I believe we can have fun and I we can learn something new too. I can only compare US-CR but somebody else might have experience from different countries.
  18. stepan

    stepan Well-Known Member

    Growing up in a Czech home, I was taught, when one needs to use a knife to cut food (usually meat), one holds the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left, cutting the food, stabbbing it, and eating without switching hands. When I see people eating as I do, I know they are of European. For me, eating that was is the most natural.

    Regarding the fork tines - I was taught that the tines are curved down when eating unless one is in a tight table with a person sitting close to you, one holds the tines curve up and the knife is held from the underside as to keep teh elpows close to the body and not infringe on the neighbors' space. This could pose a problem with the knife because it is difficult with certain cuts of meat to get andy leverage on the cutting. But with Czech food that is NEVER a problem because it is ALWAYS tender and the knife cuts through it like butter :lol: . And Oh yes - when eating peas - one holds the tines up and guides the peas onto the fork with the knife.

    When I first dated and after getting married, my wife commented often about my use of the fork and the knife since she was taught the American way - cut, switch, eat; cut, switch, eat; cut, switch, eat. However, after 30 years, she hardly notices. I have become comfortable with both Czech and American styles of eating and depending on my mood, I interchange, although when in a restaurant, I use the "Czech Way".

    I say "Czech Way" - is that really the "European Way"?
  19. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    :lol: :lol: :lol: Great! I am getting the feeling that the ones who make comments are mostly women!
    Poor husband of mine, I am so sorry for him :lol: :oops: :lol: . Not only that he had to learn Celsius etc. because of me but also because I "Europeazed" him a little bit (but, honestly, just a little bit).
  20. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    I think yes, this way of eating is the European way - Sb. correct me, if I am mistaken. I already posted the story about the Germans and their identifying Americans by the way of eating. My French friends always ate like that too. Argentinians (as far as I remember) eat like that too. Well, Argentinians are the most "European" nation on the American continent as far as I am concerned. On the other hand Indian people eat with their hands and Chinese with chop sticks :roll:.
    I also searched table manners posting over the internet quite extensively before. There are many theories why Americans eat the way they do. For instance I like this one: "During the settlement of the Wild West men had to have the left hand free so they could hold the rifle due to a possible assault. So they were forced to eat with one hand only ...". I think this theory is a quite cute one :p .

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