Ever been asked this question? Of course you have. It pretty much lends itself to the expat life. Whether you’re travelling through Kuala Lumpur or getting settled in Budapest, at some point people are going to want to know. Unfortunately, it’s not always the easiest question to answer. Some people plan everything to the letter and others prefer to simply drift and see where the tides take them. So which are you?
I drifted here.
I’m from the Boston area of Massachusetts, thankfully sans accent, and have relocated to beautiful Prague as of November. I’ve never done the expat thing in Europe before but, up until August of 2014, I had been living in southern Japan for a couple years. I mainly bartended and did some event promotion out there while getting my degree. In what you might ask? Asia Pacific Studies… something I, unsurprisingly, found there to be a lack of demand for on the East Coast…
But we’re in Prague, right?
I’ve been here a couple times – just about every summer I ever had growing up. Both parents escaped the communist occupation in 1986 and, after about a year’s worth of Austrian refugee camp life, made their way to Boston. Once things died down after the Velvet Revolution, families reconnected and we started coming here… a lot.
I’ll be honest though, I haven’t been back in quite a while. Luckily, some things never change – like that endearing Czech customer service. You know, the one that leaves you feeling like they just kicked your dog. This is quickly forgotten though, as Prague’s little charming streets and thousands of spires make it seem like you’re in a Ghibli movie set in Europe. And let’s face it; it’s hard for the country with the most castles per square mile and most beer consumed per capita to really get you down. Perhaps I’m still in that honeymoon phase of being back but, I’ve never found Prague to be lacking in atmosphere.
Of course, atmosphere doesn’t make up for a lack of friends. *cue sad violin*
Now I’m not saying it’s hard to go out and strike up a conversation with someone. There are PLENTY of places for that. And a handful of recently made friends have remained in Prague after our TEFL course. But for the first time, I find myself puzzled by the absence of a core group and the method by which to acquire it. Even when I initially got to Japan, the framework of university life facilitated this process very quickly. I realize it’s most likely just a question of time but, I’d be curious to hear from some of you as to what worked when you got here. What environments were most conducive to building those lasting friendships?