Expat of the month
  • Adventurings
Published on 2014-09-01 at 00:00 by team
I'm Cynthia from Seattle, WA, U.S.A. Moving to the Czech Republic happened a bit by accident. I took my teaching course in Prague at the end of 2012 and ending up sticking around Czech Republic afterwards - where I still am today!

I'm Cynthia from Seattle, WA, U.S.A.

When and how did you decide to move to Czech Republic? Is it complicated to settle down there?

Moving to the Czech Republic happened a bit by accident. I had quit my job and decided to travel around Europe as far as my money would stretch with my fiancé until we realized that teaching English would be a great way to both live in Europe (one of my long-term goals) and have a lifestyle built on travel. I took my teaching course in Prague at the end of 2012 and ending up sticking around Czech Republic afterwards - where I still am today!

For a native English speaker, settling down in the Czech Republic actually isn't too difficult, provided you get some help with your visa paperwork and immigration appointments from a Czech speaking friend! The lovely people I've met here so far have played a large part in where I am today.

Have you ever lived abroad before? How many countries have you visited?

I got a taste of living abroad in Berlin, Germany in 2007... However it was only for four months. After I reluctantly returned home, living in a historic European city has been at the forefront of my thoughts. At this point I've visited 28 countries so far (which my international upbringing as a child helped contribute to) but I'd love to make it 30 by age 30.

What do you like the most about Ceske Budejovice?

České Budějovice, two hours south of Prague in South Bohemia, is an incredibly laid-back and lovely place to live and work. The pace of life is slow, the city center is unbelievably gorgeous, and the proximity to other cities and countries is favorable, as it's tucked in a nook between upper Austria and Bavaria, Germany. It's a great place to live the good life while having plenty of free time to travel or concentrate on a hobby or craft. My commute to work is sometimes as little as six minutes (to walk to the city center) or zero minutes, when I have students over for a lesson. A bit different than my daily hour-and-a-half bus commutes in Seattle!

How is/was the cultural shock? What are the main differences with the US, your home country?

On day one in the Czech Republic, I definitely felt culture shock coming to the outskirts of Prague from Berlin, a city in a country where I can comfortably speak the language. I arrived without knowing a lick of Czech, any cultural customs, or an understanding off the Czech koruna, the local currency. Although I've adapted to the language somewhat by now, the lack of friendly faces and frequency of frowns while walking down the street still bothers me a bit. I'm a smiley kind of person and am used to living in a neighborhood where you greet one another whether you know them or not, so it's definitely been the hardest thing to cope with. Although once you get to know people, they are quite friendly.

Do you miss anything from your homeland?

Macaroni & cheese. If that was a thing that existed here, everything would be okay. I have to visit specialty stores to buy certain food products. And of course, the ocean: living in a landlocked country hasn't been the easiest transition to make. Lastly, American brunches, happy hours, and karaoke!

Any 'memories of an expat' you would like to share with us? Your best souvenir? Or maybe your worst experience?

I'm lucky to have not had too many "worst experiences", but a couple frustrating "lost in translation" ones, including the time when I realized I simply could not manage to communicate with the woman in the Prague transit office window and not one individual could or was willing to help me. 

One of my funniest might be going to visit a friend in Prague but accidentally walking into the wrong building (which happened to be an office building) on a Friday at 8:00pm without a mobile phone! I thought I was going to have to sleep there until I found an open window (fortunately not too high off the ground) and climbed down.

My best souvenir memory: dressing up and pretending to be a princess from the window of an actual castle for twenty-three children. I couldn't believe that this is what I do now!

What does your typical day as an expat in Ceske Budejovice look like?

My typical weekday in Ceske Budejovice starts with a pretty early wake-up call: I start my first lesson of the day at 8:00am, because typically students prefer to have English lessons either before or after work or school. As I previously worked the morning shift in a Seattle cafe, I am quite the morning person, so this suits me pretty well. I'll either take a short bus ride to a local firm where I give a lesson at, or an 8 minute walk to the town square. 

After this lesson ends, I return back to my flat located near the city center and enjoy a nice long lunch hour (often three hours or so), some lesson planning, and perhaps some blog writing before my next lessons, starting again at 1:30pm and continuing through the afternoon. I could be going to the local university to give a conversation class for some faculty members, or off to the house of two eight year old girls to give a childrens' English lesson. I usually return back home anywhere between 5:00-7:00pm and start cooking a meal for myself and my fiancé: I love having the time to create healthy delicious meals; it's such a luxury. Evenings are great for reading blogs or watching TV shows. This might not sound exotic, but expat life is real life... however I love doing a lot of my work (lesson planning) from home with a big mug of tea, something I've never been able to do previously.

Other days I might have a German lesson, go on a day trip, cook/bake something new, relax at one of the many outdoor cafes, or have a game night with friends.

When did you start your blog? For what reasons?

I started Adventurings first and foremost because I love the medium of creating written word and photos on a website, and I figured this big adventure of mine was the perfect reason to start! It began as a very small venture to keep in touch with family and friends until I found a great community of other expat bloggers. It's been amazing to have this network of people who are doing the same thing as you! I love surrounding myself with this positive sort of energy instead of reading about what's happening back home and getting homesick. I might be a traveler, but I'm also a nostalgic traveler-- a tough combination.

Did you make new friends with your blog?

Although I've only been connecting with the expat blogging community for less than a year, I have met a few great people (in real life) through the expat blog world-- I love when our travels intersect! Having someone to show you around their hometown or just to hang out with makes visiting a new place so much more fun and meaningful.

Why did you register on and what do you think of the website?

I initially registered with because I had just moved out of busy Prague to smaller České Budějovice and I was hoping to connect with other expat bloggers there, but now I use it to find favorite new blogs in places I find interesting. It's a great resource and I am looking forward to seeing it grow even further.

Which advice would you give to the other Expat blog members who would like to settle in Ceske Budejovice (or Czech Republic)?

Living in Czech Republic is wonderful because there is a great need for my line of work and people, at least outside of Prague, are so happy to help you get set up! In Prague, you have a beautiful, historic city with lots happening which is great, but you'll find that outside of the capital there's a different, more positive feeling with helping native English speakers acclimate to the country and be successful...  albeit with much less English speakers and English speaking activities. You'll have to explore it for yourself and find your niche. Many individuals have come and gone from this city because it can be hard to meet people and it's a different style of life than what they had previously. Coming with a friend or partner helped that adjustment tremendously, as well as giving this city a proper chance.