March 22 2007
-Where were you born?
I was born in Washington, D.C., although I grew up in Maryland and California.
-In which country and city are you living now?
I’m living in Brno, Czech Republic.
-Are you living alone or with your family?
I live with my husband and son.
-How long have you been living in the Czech Republic?
I’ve been here since 1994.
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in the Czech Republic?
I thought about moving here in 1989, but went to Japan instead because a job (teaching English) was certain there, and I needed money. I came here after Japan, because I wanted to teach and Eastern Europe still seemed like a good adventure.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?
It was not hard to get a visa because I had a job lined up before I came. It is a more difficult process for U.S. citizens now than it was then. On the other hand, it’s considerably easier for EU citizens.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
Medical insurance is provided here for employed foreigners.
-How do you make your living in the Czech Republic? Do you have any type of income generated?
I got a job teaching English through an organization that matched teachers in the US to schools here (that organization has since closed). I wouldn’t suggest that to others now, because I think it’s better to see what you’re getting into before you sign up for it. I was lucky, but it’s not always that way. I think it is not that difficult to find a teaching job for anyone with a degree; people with teaching experience, I believe, find it very easy.
I have a small job here now working as an editor for a publishing company and I also (mainly) work for a U.S.-based website, again as an editor.
-Do you speak Czech and do you think it's important to speak the local language?
I do speak Czech and I think while it’s not NECESSARY, it’s certainly much easier to get along with people when you speak the same language, and not everybody speaks English. I don’t understand the point of treating a place where you have chosen to live disrespectfully, and I think it’s disrespectful to not at least be aware of the customs.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
We visit my family in the States every year. I miss it sometimes, the variety of American food in general and then of course I miss specific people terribly, but I don’t miss living there at all.
We’re homebodies, we like to stay home and read and play games, which is not really uniquely Czech. I like the pubs and pub culture a lot, which is also not uniquely Czech but certainly isn’t American.
-Do you have other plans for the future?
I’m settled here; this is our life. I think my future plans are to continue much as we are. Well, and we have a cottage, and I’d like to get that livable this summer.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
We own an apartment near downtown, which is where we live. The prices for rent vary widely depending on what contacts you have. You might find a studio apartment that rents for $2000/month; you might also find a house that rents for $300.
-What is the cost of living in the Czech Republic?
I think the average wage is about $1000/month and that’s probably about the cost of living outside of Prague. Prague rents run higher.
-What do you think about the Czechs? How do they treat foreigners?
It’s my impression that foreigners are generally treated on a case-by-case basis, rather than as a whole. People who are idiots are considered to be idiots, rather than X-countrymen.
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in the Czech Republic?
Public transportation is great, health care is fairly user-friendly, the humor is accessible (if you like black humor, which I do), and beer is cheap. The food can be a little boring (although it’s getting better) and some people find the pessimism to be off-putting.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in the Czech Republic?
I’d suggest learning something about the art, especially the literature, films, and music first. If those appeal to you, then you’ll probably like the country. If they don’t, then you’ll probably never be really comfortable.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about the Czech Republic?
My site is Tuckova, although I don’t really write much about Czech things.
NvB: Bored in Brno? is out of the country now, but he’s got great archives and I like his perspective on things.
Lost in Transit is not specifically Czech, but is a group weblog of transplanted people, and addresses a lot of the issues facing those living abroad.