When he arrived in Czech Republic from Canada, where his girlfriend lives, Kevan didn't know that the country will be his new home. Living there since 2004, now in Brno, the second largest city, the canadian gives us his vision of this country of Central Europe.
I'm a Canadian fellow who's been calling the Czech Republic his second home since 2004. I came for relationship reasons as well as a career change and quite enjoy sharing this country with others through my blog. Definitely don't limit your visit ...
Hi Kevan, can you introduce yourself briefly and tell us about your projects in Prague?
My name is Kevan and I'm a Canadian expat living in Brno, the Czech Republic's second largest city. I work as an English teacher and write my blog beyondprague.wordpress in my free time. I've been living in the Czech Republic since 2004.
Why did you choose to live in Czech Republic?
I had pre existing connections to it through a penfriend who eventually became my girlfriend after I arrived here. Even if that had not been the case, this is an area of Europe I had been interested in for a long time for a variety of reasons.
How were your first steps in the country ? Was it easy to find accomodations and to integrate czech society?
I was lucky in the housing matter due the aforementioned romantic connection. Integrating into Czech society had the expected ups and downs, but I think being a Canadian and having been raised in a well established multicultural environment conditioned me to be flexible when dealing with other cultures and not expect everything my own way.
How can you describe czech culture compared to canadian culture?
That's a difficult question given how vast Canada is geographically and culturally. I'm from the prairie region of Canada, which is an area traditionally associated with more conservative values and stereotypes; other regions are much more associated with liberalism. One thing I remember from when I left Canada was that notions of political correctness were becoming quite pervasive in everyday life and there seemed no shortage of people willing to give you an unsolicited opinion of what they thought of how you lived your life or to ask you what you thought of how someone else lived theirs. I haven't encountered a lot of that in Czech society. In my experience, Czechs are a fairly relaxed. "Live and let live" group in the main that don't care too much how you live your life as long as you don't stick it in their faces or stick your nose into their lives. They don't preach and they don't like being preached to. They tend to place a high value on humility.
How is traditional food in Czech Republic?
Traditional Czech food is typical central European fare. Fairly heavy cuisine that leaves you not wanting to be very active after a full meal. Over the last few years, however, I have noticed the meat and potato ratio of the average Czech main course has become much more balanced to the vegetable content. When I first arrived here, you'd get a big plate full of meat and potatoes with a bit of unidentifiable vegetable mix on the side. These days you actually see what kinds of vegetables are on your plate and get a decent amount of them.
What does your everyday life look like in Brno? I suppose that the czech rhythm is different?
I live in Brno rather than Prague. Even between the two cities, there is a perceptible difference in pace of life. I don't get out to Prague very often, but I always feel how much faster things seem to be going there and there's an extra level of stress that seems to hang over the capital. Brno is a dynamic city with a lot going on, but the pace is slower and I always feel relieved when I return to it from Prague. In the main though, Czechs do tend to balance their work and private lives fairly well.
Do you have a good knowledge about the local job market? What are the most dynamic economic sectors?
In Brno, I would say the IT sector is one of the strongest, there's a lot of companies in that and related sectors with offices in Brno. People with programing and coding skills are in high demand here.
Except Prague, Czech Republic is not very visited by tourists. What do you recommand to do once outside of the capital city?
The Czech Republic has a lot to offer outside of the capital, which is part of why I started my blog. For the geographic size of it, the country offers a respectable range of geography to explore for the outdoors types as well as an immense amount of history to delve into. If you ever got tired of all the historical environs of Prague, you could just get on a train to Brno to spend a couple of days here. Brno has lots of history, but we also have a distinctly more contemporary feel in many quarters than the capital does.
Any advices for a soon-to-be expatriate in Czech Republic?
My top piece of advice would be to not presume all Czechs like beer and other alcohol. The country's history of beer, wine and other spirits is known worldwide, but that does not equate to every Czech being proud of it. I've met a good number of Czechs who are very selective and measure in their alcohol intake and others who don't drink at all. Don't presume every Czech you meet is eager to raise a glass and down a pint at the slightest of reasons.