Before I came to study in Prague, I heard that people from the Czech Republic were cold and not very friendly. Now, when I hear something like that, I always take it with a grain of salt. I don’t like when other people have preconceived notions about me just because of where I come from so I try not to have any preconceived notions about others. That stereotype was shattered when I first arrived and we got to meet some locals who would show us around. They were very warm and welcoming towards us.
The second stereotype that I heard was that Czechs are unhappy. While I have noticed that they don’t smile all the time like Americans do, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re unhappy or rude. That just means they’re more reserved and quiet. I’ve noticed that they’re definitely not as loud as Americans. They’re silent on the trams and they never raise their voices. They mostly keep to themselves, but once you talk to them one on one, they’re more open and they even smile back at you.
I also heard that they love their beer. This one is definitely true; During our orientation, one of our Czech professors gave a lecture on “The World of Beer” and said that pivo (beer) is the Czech Republic’s national treasure. The Czechs are very proud of their beer. In fact, when I politely refused to have a beer due to health problems, the man who offered it to me did not seem happy. When drinking beer, they clink their pints, look at each in the eyes (it’s considered rude or suspicious if you don’t), and say “na zdraví!” which means, “cheers!”
I constantly heard from other people that customer service in the Czech Republic is bad. I don’t believe that this one is true; I’ve eaten out plenty of times and I’ve never had a problem with this. I heard some people say that they take your order, bring you your food, and leave you alone until it’s time to pay. But every time that I’ve eaten out they would come over and ask me if everything was alright with my food. I’ve never had an issue with the customer service, even when they were busy, I never felt like I was being ignored. Even when going into shops, the shop keepers were really helpful and I was actually surprised by that.
The last stereotype that I heard was that Czechs are really punctual and organized. I have noticed this with my professor, she always arrives to class right on time and is never late. She always has her handouts and everything in order. I’ve even seen this with the other Czechs that I have met except for one. So, for the most part, this stereotype is true.
But like I said above, I don’t really like having preconceived notions about other cultures. That’s something that I like to find out when I get to meet people who are part of the culture. I can’t just assume that I know everything about another person and their culture. That would be unfair to them.