Everybody is surprised that I moved to the Czech Republic. The Czechs are surprised that I ran away from the sea and the warm weather. They don't realize that there are other cities in Croatia, not only on the sea coast. They also don't realize that we have a similar climate as in the Czech Republic, thus we have cold winters, as well.
Croatians don't get Czechs. Various times I've heard a Croatian statement: "Everything is great in the Czech Republic besides the people." If you ask them why, they'll simply respond: "Czechs are strange." They are strange in which way? Nobody knows the answer.
I'll try to explain Czechs and my perception of them. Czechs are a Slavic nation with a German soul, this is why they seem a bit cold and reserved. When you go out, a Czech will approach you, he/she will drink and talk about everything with you. You'll practically be new best friends. You'll spend a nice night out, but don't expect that they'll call you the next day. At least I cannot count on them.
Curiosity, creativity, adventure
Czechs are curious and interested in all sort of subjects, from home decor, gardening, cooking, culture events and movies to the political subjects when they're drinking their last shots.
They like to be seen. You'll notice that especially around Christmas or Easter when people from the Prague suburbs go to have a walk around Staromák, the city center. They dress formally, sit in our café and order panáky (shots), which we don't sell often in the daily café.
One of the positive characteristics that I like the most in Czechs is their creativity. They usually have many hobbies (or, as they would say, kutilství). Every Czech knows how to repair a fence, a closet door or anything else in their home. Maybe they've also learned it because, like us, they don't want to pay a repairman to do it.
Czechs are versatile, adventurous, and they like to try new things. This is why so many of them die in our mountains or drown in our sea. :/ Czechs love to travel and they travel a lot – they go hiking, relaxing on a beach, sightseeing. I've never met a Czech who doesn't like to travel.
Czechs and water
They are crazy about water, swimming, and sunbathing by the sea, river, lake. The Czech Republic doesn't have exit to the sea, so they travel around the world mainly searching for a place with a beach for their holidays. On the first warmer day in a year (which can be at the beginning of March!), one of the most popular swimming pools in Prague, Podolí, is completely full. And yes, I mean the outdoor pool area.
My first summer in Prague I didn't go home for holidays, but instead, I stayed in the city. The temperature was rising and I went to refresh myself on one of their přehradas. Přehrada is a water reservoir created by dams, which the Czechs use as an artificial lake and swimming area.
All the teenagers that didn't have the opportunity to go to the sea coast were there. As soon as they spotted the water, they went crazy: they jumped from the tree branches, pushed people into the water, ran everywhere, ...
There was a 15-year-old boy who walked proudly along the water bank without his shirt on, with the radio playing the newest hits in one hand. He was "the king of the beach". 😀
Czech politeness and independence
Czechs are a very polite nation. Even small children know that they have to stand up in trams and metros to leave the sit for the elders. They're even polite towards their best friends, asking them how they're feeling, do they agree with their decisions, etc. It's the kind of politeness that we in the Balkans are not used to.
I admire one more Czech characteristic - independence. Young Czechs are autonomous, formation of their identities is already completed in their 20s autonomous. They've finished 3 years of college or they started working after high school. It's not rare to find a young Czech who already worked abroad. They become independent earlier than the people from the Balkans, they move to their own flat and start a family.
For example, I've met a guy who traveled the Balkans, who knows a lot about different cultures and traditions, about their politic situation, and who is kind of a Czech manager of the popular Bosnian band Dubioza kolektiv. He was only 18.
Every nation is different and special in its own way. We can maybe reproach Czechs for their reserved attitude or we can be irritated by their over-politeness, which we're not used to. They can consider us rude, loud and too passionate. I think that those differences bother our people living in the Czech Republic, but we have to accept them and learn to live among other culture and people.
However, you can live in the Czech Republic and have only a few Czech friends. The country is multi-cultural and there are also many minorities living here. The minorities have their associations, they organize different events to preserve their culture.
According to the population census from 2011, in Czech capital lived 49 085 Ukrainians, 22 576 Slovaks, 19 853 Russians, 11 212 Vietnamese, 3103 Germans, and 2102 Polish people. The numbers are not completely accurate since many Slovak students come to study in Prague, a city twice the size of Bratislava. Besides, the Vietnamese minority has a long tradition in the Czech Republic and the Vietnamese who were born here consider themselves Czechs.
The majority of my friends here are Slovaks simply because we understand each other better (they are more passionate and they don't mince their words), although I also have two great Czech friends.
P. S. A few times I found myself in a situation that a Czech asked me: "Do you eat soup in Croatia? I think you don't because it's always hot in your country." I don't have an answer to that...