Cultural Peculiarities in the Czech Republic

So close and yet so far: the Czech Republic is Germany’s direct neighbor and the two countries share a very long and varied history. Czech and German cultures have always influenced each other – and not just in culinary terms. For this reason, you will surely notice a lot of cultural similarities during your studies abroad in the Czech Republic.

Nonetheless, you will also encounter cultural differences that you did not necessarily expect and that you will find difficult to correctly interpret and understand. This can easily lead to frustrating misunderstandings and possibly even a culture shock. With a certain cultural preparation you can get around a lot of faux pas. Who important cultural peculiarities in the Czech Republicknows, is certainly immune from some surprises and has an easier time asserting oneself in everyday student life. But one thing is certain: whether in Prague, Brno or Olomouc – student life in the Czech Republic has a lot to offer. After all, Czechs are world-famous for their sociability and for their pub and beer culture.

Features of Czech culture

One thing in advance: Of course, there is no such thing as “the Czechs themselves”. Every nation consists of individual individuals, whom you should definitely not lump together. But how can cultural peculiarities be described at all? Several cultural scholars have thought about it and worked out various cultural characteristics and cultural standards. In this way, cultures can be compared and distinguished from one another. This is very helpful, especially for an initial orientation. Because despite all the similarities between Germany and the Czech Republic, there are small but subtle cultural differences. Understanding these and dealing with them appropriately is what ultimately defines your intercultural competence.

The great art of improvisation

According to topschoolsintheusa, Czechs are considered masters of improvisation – that’s how they like to see themselves and they are proud of it. The ability to react to the demands of life with wit and ingenuity is probably what many understand by the much-cited “Švejk mentality”. Due to history, the Czechs were constantly confronted with repressive structures in which they had to fight for little leeway. Well-organized plans and fixed deadlines – what is particularly important in Germany is perceived in the Czech Republic as patronizing and restriction. While in Germany improvisation is only possible in an emergency and improvisation is usually rated negatively as an expression of disorganization, improvisation in the Czech Republic is a great art.Those who act strictly according to plan are considered inflexible and meticulous in the Czech Republic. The desire for improvisation also fits that many people in the Czech Republic tend to work more simultaneously and do several things at the same time. For most Germans, who are used to following a certain work sequence, this may seem a bit chaotic.

Everyone in their own place: preference for clear hierarchies

In the Czech Republic, the hierarchies are much stronger than in Germany. With a view to the love of improvisation and the rejection of higher-level, above all state structures, this may seem contradictory. But if you take a look at Czech history, this cultural peculiarity in the Czech Republic makes perfect sense. Both in the Habsburg monarchy and during socialism there was a great power distance, shaped by authoritarian leadership and well-defined hierarchies in which everyone had a permanent place. Titles and job titlesplay an extremely important role in everyday life and, above all, in the academic environment. International students should therefore pay attention to the correct manners when dealing with their professors and lecturers in order not to attract negative attention.

In general, the power distance in the Czech Republic is narrowing slowly and gradually. A mixture of authoritarian and decentralized leadership styles can increasingly be seen in both companies and universities.

Cultural Peculiarities in the Czech Republic

Personal relationships and sympathies take precedence

Here, too, there are a few pitfalls for German students in the Czech Republic: Germany is generally regarded as a factual culture, whereas in the Czech Republic people are more in the foreground. Interpersonal relationships are very important and when interacting it is important to first create a pleasant and personal atmosphere. While factual behavior, completely free of emotions, is valued as professional in German culture, in the Czech Republic one interacts less rationally. Because the Czech culture is person-oriented, there is not as strict separation between professional and private life as is usual in Germany.

Between the lines: Indirect communication style

Another important cultural difference between the Czech Republic and Germany is the style of communication. Germans are known for communicating very directly, non-verbal communication plays a subordinate role and ambiguities are best avoided. The majority of Czechs, on the other hand, have an indirect style of communication, where context and subtext play an important role.

German students who are studying human medicine or dentistry in the Czech Republic, for example, should “train” their sensitivity and learn to read between the lines. Not everything that is said is meant in the same way. Due to the different communication styles, misunderstandings quickly arise and the Czech conversation partner could quickly feel degraded by being too direct.