Prague: The Good and The Bad

Yesterday I found myself thinking about what I like and don’t like about Prague and my life in Prague. As I thought I realized that many of the little things that I like and don’t like are opposite sides of the same coin. I like that there are four distinct seasons in Prague. I like that the city feels like a completely different place with each season. In the summer the atmosphere is crowded and animated as the city comes alive with festivals as well as tourists. In the fall the leaves change colors, there’s a crispness in the air, and the city seems itself to speak of bygone days and ancient stories. In the winter the snow on the rooftops, the charm of the Christmas markets and the lights that shine through the dreaded darkness give the city a magical ambiance. And in the spring everything aches with new life and the new birth that even the very buildings seem to have longed for throughout the cold winter. …But, having four distinct seasons means there is a bitter cold winter that lasts far longer than I would like. I really hate being cold and I often feel like I’m always cold here.

I like living in an expat community. I like that when I meet other Americans we have an instant connection, and a whole set of shared experiences right from the start. There is something instantly bonding just because we are from the same country and culture. And there is something bonding about the fact that we have both experienced what it is like to move overseas and live in foreign Prague. I like that most (if not all) of the expats I’ve met seem to be always on the lookout for friends and “family” here in Prague. Expats usually aren’t in closed circles, they aren’t ingrained in the same circles of friends that they’ve had for years upon years. Instead they are constantly looking for friends and open to meeting people. We have all uprooted from our friends and family and we know that the only way to survive here is to establish strong bonds and friendships. I like that. I like that people are really open to one another and looking for friends. It all makes getting to know people a lot easier in a way. …But, I also really dislike living in an expat community because it means that you live in a constantly transient community. Most expats don’t stay long in Prague. They come for all different reasons – to teach, to preach, to work. Some come just for the experience and the adventure of it. But, no matter what their reason is most don’t stay longer than a few years. Bryan and I are still fairly new to Prague (we’ve only been here for 3 years) but we have been here long enough to say good bye to good friends and those who could have been good friends. It’s hard to live and build community when you never know how long someone will be around, or even how long you will be around.

I love not having a car. I love that I don’t have to pay for gas or car insurance or deal with fixing it when it brakes. I love that I get more exercise without even trying here just from all the walking. I love that my transportation doesn’t use up as many resources and I’m not having as negative of an effect on the world around me. …But, I don’t really like actually using public transportation. I don’t like that it takes me twice as long to get across the city as it would with a car. I don’t like that if I miss the tram I have to stand out in the cold sometimes for 10 or 15 minutes. I don’t like squeezing onto a crowded tram or metro, worrying about pick-pockets, or the smell. And I don’t like that my husband doesn’t like to talk on public transportation so we rarely are able to have conversations on the way to and from places.

I love the friends we have here and I love living life with them. We do know some really amazing people here. We have friends here who really care about us as individuals and as a couple and who already really love Thaddeus. We have friends here who by their very lives and generosity have poured out blessing after blessing upon us and we are so grateful to know them and be in community with them. …But, living life with these friends means not living daily life with other friends and family in the states, who also care about us deeply. I don’t like that.

Well, Thaddeus just woke up from his nap so… that’s all for now, folks!

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman