"We liked what we learned about the city" - Brno Business interview
Nick and Janine are a young American couple living in Brno. Although they have lived here for just a short time, they have a lot of experiences. What brought them to Brno? What are the most challenging things? What do they like about living in Brno? They made time in their busy new life for our questions."
What brought you to Brno in the first place?
Nick: I had been wanting to move from the US to Europe for a long time, so after I got laid off at my last job I applied to several companies throughout Europe. After receiving a few offers I ended up accepting a job here in Brno.
Janine: My husband was interviewing with Vatra games so we started researching Brno. When they offered him the job, it was an easy decision since he liked the company and we liked what we learned about the city.
What were the most difficult things you had to deal with in those first few weeks in Brno?
Nick: When I arrived here I didn't know a word of Czech, so the language barrier was difficult for me. Luckily many people here speak some degree of English so I was able to get by. Trying to find an apartment was also difficult, but fortunately my company helped with that. It would have been near impossible for me to do on my own.
Janine: The most difficult things were figuring out the proper steps/paperwork needed to obtain short term residency, finding a flat to rent, and the language barrier. If we didn't have Radmila (a native Czech speaker) to help us translate, it would have been a lot harder figuring out residency, housing, and insurance.
What do you feel are the most challenging aspects of life in Brno for a foreigner?
Nick: As stated earlier, the language barrier and finding housing are both challenging for foreigners. Deciding which tram ticket to buy might also prove challengine for some foreigners. Not to mention figuring out which tram to take - I have yet to find a Brno tram map that is easy to read.
Janine: The language barrier is proably the most challenging. Even going to the grocery store isn't as easy as it once was. I have to google translate items before I go to make sure I buy the right ingredients.
What is the funniest or strangest thing that has happened to you since arriving in the Czech Republic?
Nick: Going to a restaurant and wondering why the only beer they serve is Budweiser. Ordering one anyway, and being pleasantly surprised that it isn't the terrible American beer I was expecting. Turns out that the Czechs have their own brand of beer called Budweiser, and American Budweiser is just called "Bud" here.
Janine: The funniest thing was probably getting told by the kebab employees to „just speak english" because we were pronouncing our order all wrong. It was a little embarassing at the same time. But at least we're trying.
What do you do here for fun?
Nick: Drink, hang out with coworkers, hang out with other expats.
Janine: I joined the Women's Expats group and have been meeting with them on a weekly basis. We meet for coffee or dinner and are starting a knitting club. I like cooking and try to find new recipes often. My husband and I also enjoy going to new restaurants to try new food and beer.
Any tips for other expats? Places to go, things to do/not to do etc.?
Nick: The soups here are delicious - especially garlic soup. Beer is cheaper than water in most of the restaurants, so go ahead and order a beer with your meal. And Czech beer is fantastic, so go ahead and order a few more beers with that meal. Google maps is unreliable when it comes to public transport in Brno, mapy.cz is better in that regard. If you're into catacombs, there are some beneath Špilberk Castle and more beneath Zelný trh (Cabbage Square).
Janine: Make the time to meet with other Expats. It makes the adjustment a lot easier having people to relate to. If you need to get somewhere, the schedles are all found at jrbrno.cz and the times are very accurate. Definitely go to Středověká krčma. It's a medieval themed pub and has really good food (generous portions) and cheap beer. U Richarda was also a great restaurant/pub. We haven't eaten at Avia yet, but they have pool tables and good beer on tap also.
Can you speak Czech? If so, what would you say to those who are trying to learn?
Nick: My Czech is terrible, so I'm not in any position to give advice on the language itself. My only advice would be to start learning the language before actually arriving in the Czech Republic.
Janine: I don't speak Czech and butcher most of the words I do know, but I'm hoping to get into a class as soon as possible. I would recommend a foreigner to enroll in classes if they plan on being here for awhile. It is really frustrating not being able to communicate even for the simplest task.