On February 8th, my husband and I have officially lived in the United States for nine months. In that time, a lot has happened for both of us. New jobs, a car, and a house, mean life here has really started. All these changes have made our experience in the Czech Republic seem far away, and yet when we talk about our life there, it all seems to come right back. As we adjust and experience life in the United States, we often find ourselves talking about the similarities and differences between the two countries. So, I have decided to write a little about what we have noticed. For the first entry, I decided to write about socializing. These are only observations and are purely based on my own personal experience, so they may not be true for everyone.
I must preface this by saying my husband and I aren’t huge socialites in the U.S., but the socializing we have done has always occurred in either our house or in a friends’ house. We enjoy going out to eat or going to a movie, but most get-togethers we’ve attended have occurred in a person’s house. In the Czech Republic, it was almost the opposite. Most people socialize in the city and rarely invite you over to their flat or house.
Why? My best guess is that it is easier to get around in European cities. Public transportation is easily accessible and gets you everywhere, or people are close enough to the city center that they end up just walking. It was not uncommon for someone to invite me to meet them in the city for a drink, dinner, or an event after a day of teaching. With a short ten minute walk from where I worked, I was in the center, sitting in an outdoor cafe, and having an inexpensive beer amongst a group of friends in no time. It was not uncommon to see groups of people, of all ages, gathering on a weekday for a quick bite or a drink. It’s hard to say if this difference is merely because we lived in a bigger city before, or if that’s a cultural difference between America and the Czech Republic. My opinion is that it’s a bit of both.
Another reason for the difference might be that in Czech cities, most people have smaller houses. It was not unusual for my students to live with their families in apartments half the size of the normal family house in Iowa. Housing in the Czech Republic is quite expensive, and living in a big city means renting or owning a home is much more expensive than what we’ve found in Iowa. It seemed that most people there preferred to meet in the city because they just didn’t have the space at home to invite over the amount of people they were meeting up with.
In the end, I do miss how easy it was to get into the city center and how spontaneously people got together; but, at the same time, I realize that I have traded that simplicity in for another dream, owning a house. The biggest realization I’ve had from my experiences living in multiple cities/states/countries, is that no place is perfect; it’s simply about deciding which allows you to have the lifestyle you desire. I loved living in Brno, I loved living in a city, and now, I love living in Cedar Rapids.
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