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Culture Corner

Czech Culture

Personal Space
Czechs like to keep their personal space, especially when they meet someone new. Unlike many other European nations, Czechs do not usually give hugs or kisses upon meeting new people. This is not necessarily the same with friends, where less personal space between one another is acceptable—the closer the friend, the smaller the distance.

Foreign Language
Czechs regularly attend language courses and enjoy watching their improvement. Many Czechs also speak German, French or Spanish. While Czechs often speak a foreign language, they are sometimes too shy to use it in everyday situations.

Most senior citizens can speak Russian as it was required of everyone during the communist era. After the Velvet Revolution, Russian language lessons disappeared from schools and were replaced by English.

Czechs appreciate when foreigners learn their language. They are happy to hear you try and will encourage you to learn more.

Time and Reliability
Czechs greatly value reliability and respect those who try to be on time. It is customary to notify someone in advance if you will be late. Additionally, if you commit to an event or meeting time, you are expected to keep to it. If you do not show, the person waiting will likely continue to call you. It is considered highly impolite not to keep commitments and promises.

Manners
The Czechs are a polite people and niceties are commonplace. For example, it is customary to let others leave a room, shop or restaurant before you enter. This also goes for public transport. Additionally for public transport, it is expected that someone young and able will get up and offer his or her seat to an elderly person.

Czechs always close the door behind them and routinely put their chair back under the table when they get up.

Clothing
Czechs like casual clothes and if their job allows this, they do not tend to dress up, especially Czech men. However, sometimes company rules are strict about dress codes and Czechs have to wear suits. In school, casual dress is acceptable as well, however, not so casual as sweat pants.

Monuments & Must-Sees

Charles Bridge
Walk along Charles bridge that connects the banks of the Vltava River that bisect Prague. Centuries-old statues, artists and musicians line this historical bridge that dates back to the 14th century.

Mala Strana
From the Old Town, cross the Charles Bridge and find yourself in Mala Strana, also known as the "Little Quarter." Mala Strana is located at the bottom of the hill, just below the Prague Castle. This quaint quarter is quieter at night but lively during the day with park activities, cafes and restaurants, and passers-by enjoying the ancient winding streets and array of architecture the neighborhood boasts.

Prague Castle & St. Vitus Cathedral
The Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral are two of the most well-known "must-sees" in Prague. Prague is the historical throne of the Czech land, and became the capital during the Holy Roman Empire, under King Charles IV's rule. Much of the castle's visible architecture today is from renovation during the Renaissance. Today, the Prague Castle houses the President of the Czech Republic.

From across the river, in Old Town and New Town, you will immediately see the Gothic spires of St. Vitus Cathedral when looking at the Prague Castle. It took centuries for the Cathedral to be completed, but has long since been a landmark. It is in St. Vitus's Royal Crypt where King Charles IV is buried, among other great Bohemian kings.

Old Towne Square & the Astronomical Clock
The Old Towne Square is one of the liveliest spots in Prague. Like most other squares in Prague, it is lined with cafés, shops and restaurants. This is a great area for people watching both tourists and locals alike. The Old Towne Square is also home to the famous Astronomical Clock, on the facade of the Old Town Hall. This intricate and ornate clock not onl tells time, but has a solar clock, a lunar cloc, and many other religious and zodiac references.

Cultural Activities

Prague has endless activities for international visitors to enjoy. Listed below are some different cultural activities to do while in Prague. You can do many of these activities on your own, with friends, or they may be sponsored by ISA. Upon arrival to Prague, different sponsored cultural activities will be announced throughout your program abroad.

Concert Halls and Street Art Exploration
Prague offers many chances to explore the arts. The prestigious Rudolfinum Concert Hall and the State Opera House of Prague offer the chance to attend different musical events. Also, as you wander the streets you will notice the well preserved and diverse architectural features and designs that adorn the building facades, including the Lennon Wall.

Cinema
Prague, and the Czech Republic in general, have had quite a history in film making. Go to a movie, explore past movie street scenes, attend a local film fesitival, and tour the century-old Barrandov film studio, still in operation today. Watching movies in Czech can be a great way for you to work on your language skills, meet locals and also learn about Czech culture through the movies.

Guided Walking Tours & Site Seeing Promenades
On a guided tour, explore the sights, sounds, and tastes of different neighborhoods in Prague. Each zone has a unique personality and you are sure to discover your favorite.

Markets and shopping
Over the past two decades, Prague has become a fashion hot-spot in Eastern Europe. Take advantage of the great exchange rate and plethora of shops that line the streets of the old city center. Some open markets can be found in different areas of Prague, including vendors and artists along Charles Bridge. You can also look for blown glass--a region speciality!

Boat Tour on the Vltava River
Enjoy the beautiful views of the city from the Vltava River that bisects the capital city. From the river, you will see such sights as the Charles Bridge, the castle, and a centuries-worth of different architecture.

Cultural Immersion

Language Exchanges
Students will be given the opportunity to meet local and international students wishing to share their knowledge of Czech and learn English in exchange. This activity, based on student interest, is a great way to get to know other students of Prague, and share your culture and language with others while learning more about your surroundings and Czech student counterparts!

ISA Student Blog

Stay connected while you're abroad and share your experience with your peers back home! Each summer and semester the ISA Student Blog features ISA students as bloggers and video correspondents who document their time abroad to share with their friends, family, prospective students and more. If sharing your study abroad experience through blog posts, videos, photos and other media while receiving professional guidance and feedback appeals to you, consider applying to be an ISA Featured Blogger or an ISA Video Correspondent. The Site Specialist for your program will email all accepted students to notify you when ISA is accepting applications for bloggers and video correspondents.

Cultural Blogs

We also suggest you check out the plethora of other cultural blogs available on the web to learn more about others' experiences in Prague, cultural happenings, and expat lives.

Language Resources

Helpful Phrases
Dobrý den Good day (commonly used as "Hello")
Dobrou noc Good night
Ahoj/Cau/Nazdar Hello / Bye (both mean Hello and Bye, informal)
Prosím Please
Dekuji Thank you
Vítejte Welcome
Jak se máš? How are you? (familiar/singular)
Jak se máte? How are you? (formal/plural)
Mám se dobre. I'm fine.
Mluvíte anglicky? Do you speak English?

On-line Dictionary Resource
www.wordreference.com

Verb conjugation
We suggest you look up some helpful websites dedicated to verb conjugations in Czech.

Listening & Speaking
Check out some different Czech podcasts available to practice your verbal and listening skills.

Beware of translation websites...much can be LOST in translation!