Prague, a bohemian city of beauty and one of Europe’s prized capital cities and my home for four years. My expat experience began with Prague and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience to dip my toe into living abroad and everything that comes with it.
When Prague came up as as option to start afresh and deliver an exciting career path for my Hubby I was nervous about leaving my safe haven of Jersey, but at the same time widely enthusiastic about something new. The timing seemed right and like anyone given the opportunity to explore a new place, we thought why not. We had visited a few years previous in the somewhat trendy city break era and I loved it and I guess being able to picture the place in my head made the decision less scary. So this is where the Jersey Girl adventures began, it was 2010 and I had no idea whether I could live abroad.
The city is truly beautiful and even up to the time we left, we would often play tourist and walk the well known haunts of the Old Town, the Charles Bridge and hike up to the Prague Castle. We had a mass of visitors eager to see us and tick off one of their wish list destinations. We enthusiastically guided them round, delivering gems off the beaten track offering up our non tourist unique Czech experience. The foodie revolution exploded upon our arrival and we firmly made ourselves regulars at many an eatery, only to establish ourselves into life abroad and make it feel like home.
The winters were brutal, with snow and subzero temperatures, but this is when I think the city is at its most stunning. The scenery pops from the crisp white snow covered landscapes and the romance of wrapping up in all your layers to walk hand in glove covered hand round the dimly lit streets for hot wine and comforting Czech cuisine. The summers on the other had where a surprise, temperatures soaring into the 30’s and having to cope with the heat in a land locked city was far from comfortable, leaving me craving Jersey beach days. But I loved the seasonal changes of the city and the festivals that followed this calendar, Christmas markets, Easter parades, wine festivals, music festivals giving numerous options to fill your weekends.
I’m not going to lie, whilst there were so many incredible experiences, there were challenges like any expat life. The language was impossible for me to grasp, so in some circumstances I would struggle to be understood. In the city center everyone presumes you’re a tourist so on occasion service and prices would differ until you presented a local bank card, leaving you frustrated and angry. Whilst there are a lot of expats in the city there isn’t (from my experience) a massive community spirit, so I found it hard to make friends and socialise outside of the two of us.
In the end we made some great friends in Prague and ones that I know will be carried with me for a long time. It made me more confident, knowing I was a little bit brave and able to survive outside of my comfort zone. I become able to cope with my own company, able to enjoy a bit of me time, without freaking out and having to be surrounded by people. It also gave me itchy feet as I shocked myself and Hubby when I suggested we look for a new adventure! It was an amazing first expat experience and although I was ready to leave and excited for our new destination, I couldn’t help but get emotional as we boarded the plane and we took off towards our desert life.