There are a lot of things here in Prague that are strange. Well, I suppose I should clarify that. They’re strange to me, as an American who has never been to Europe before and who has only lived in Texas and Illinois.
The first thing – people here are SO unfriendly. Granted, I’m probably an overly friendly person. I smile a lot. I like to smile. I don’t like people who walk around looking pissed off. Maybe this is from spending four years in a sorority (I can hear the rush chairs/myself now – “SMILE! PRETTY GIRLS WHO DON’T SMILE LOOK LIKE BITCHES!!! PEOPLE THINK YOU HATE THEM WHEN YOU DON’T SMILE!!!”). Here, if you walk around and make eye contact with someone, they just glare at you. If you smile at them, the glare is even worse!!! How awkward to make eye contact with someone and not smile or make some sort of facial expression!
One of my teachers here (who is a lawyer formerly from California who has now lived in Prague for about 10 years or so) said that this is because a lot of Czech people hate Americans. Basically, they wonder where America was when they were being oppressed under Communist rule 20 years ago. Valid point, I suppose, but they don’t even smile at each other. And it’s not just that they don’t smile and greet foreigners, they also don’t smile or greet each other. And they just look ANGRY all the time! Not to mention Czech is a totally abrasive-sounding language, and they could be telling each other how much they love each other but to me it sounds like they’re yelling and hate each other. Yuck!
Back to the title of this post – I’ve been here in Prague for about a week and a half now. I’ve gone out running twice since I’ve been here (keep in mind I use the term “run” VERY loosely), and the first time I didn’t really notice it, but yesterday it was brutally obvious how terrible people were looking at me.
At first I thought it was because of the outfit I was wearing – I was wearing running capris and tennis shoes with an Arkansas Razorback t-shirt (My little brother is going to be a senior at Arkansas this year, Go Hogs!). I get weird looks even wearing this shirt in Chicago though, so I am kind of used to it. It’s just a white t-shirt with the red razorback on it, no words or anything. People who don’t know anything about UofA are often confused as to what the shirt is (most people in Chicago don’t even know what a Razorback is!).
So at first I was thinking that they were giving me weird looks because they were trying to figure out my shirt/ thought I was a communist (red pig? I don’t know, I was just trying to figure out why they could possibly hate me that much!). Then when I got home, I was g-chatting a couple of my friends from school who are in the program, and they said that other people had gone jogging and said the same thing.
Then I thought about it and realized that in the 10 days I’ve been here, I have not seen a SINGLE person out running, other than myself. What is up with that?! I’ve also only seen 1 gym, so it’s not like they’re just on the treadmill for exercise. And yesterday I ran outside of the tourist area into the neighborhoods, and all I saw people doing was walking their dogs and riding bikes. Why no running? I think that’s SO bizarre. I see people running ALL the time EVERYWHERE in Chicago, even when the weather is terrible. Why don’t people run here? And why do they hate me for doing it?!
In happier news – I booked a plane ticket to go to Amsterdam this weekend! Yay! Anyone been there? Anyone been there? Recommendations for must-see places? I’m so excited!
Not A Commie,
A Fabulous American in Prague
p.s. – wow, I use a lot of parentheses in this post. Whoopsies.