It’s been one month since my husband and I returned to Czechia from the United States, where we had been for a year. When we first arrived there, we were open to all possibilities. And in particular, the possibility that we might stay for several years. However, after the first two months, we already missed the Czech Republic.
Although we had both traveled abroad many times and had experience living in foreign countries, the call of our native land felt much stronger this time. It wasn’t a homesick feeling necessarily, but in short, I’m happy to be back in in the Czech Republic.
These are the 5 biggest things I learned to appreciate during our year living in America.
1. I learned that we are the creators of our lives, and we always have choices.
From the beginning, it seemed that we simply had to stay in America, and nothing else was possible. This was partly because of the projects we were working on, and the decision we made to go there in the first place.
I cannot describe exactly how the power of thoughts really works. But I truly believe that we have great power to change things in our lives through deep thought, meditation, and positive thinking—even in situations that seemingly depend on the actions of others. The power of my thoughts on the Czech Republic definitely helped us make the choice to return.
2. People in Czechia make time to relax—especially in the sauna.
I love going to the sauna, so of course we looked for a sauna in the US right away. We eventually found a fitness club with a sauna attached (hooray!).
Unfortunately, we were shocked about how people acted there. The sauna was open to everyone, so we always went in our swimsuits. This was understandable for us, but when we saw how Americans walked in with their shoes, sportswear, phones, and headphones blaring music. It was too much for me.
I learned quickly to be very grateful for all Czech people who do not go to the sauna with their phones, and use it as a sacred place of relaxation.
3. Express what I need, and the rest will follow.
I have realized throughout the last year how easy it is to find excuses for things I don’t want to do. For example, I often told myself I couldn’t enjoy a face mask because we lived in a van. I told myself I didn’t want to use a mask in front of my husband. I told myself I didn’t have the time.
In reality, what I really needed was to communicate my needs with my husband. All I had to do was express that I wanted to be alone for a while whenever I needed some “me” time. After that, it was easy to agree on when I would get this sacred time.
After living in a van for a year, with limited space, and even more limited personal space, I learned that expressing my wants and needs cultivates solutions, not excuses.
4. Parental leave is a luxury.
This can often be a heated topic for conversation, I know. However, I want to point out that a break from work before delivery (six weeks) and after delivery (up to three years) is a luxury that does not exist in America.
In America, you will be given six weeks’ leave after giving a birth from your employer (if you are lucky) before hurrying back to work. You often won’t be caring for your child during the day at all after that, and good daycare is expensive and hard to find. Czech parents are extremely fortunate to have good parental leave.
5. Czech nature has no borders.
Walking freely through the forest is something I really missed about the Czech Republic, as most of the forests are state-owned and not surrounded by fences. Being in the wild is free, National Parks are free, and nature is endless.
Unfortunately, going a for walk in the USA is not that easy. It’s only possible in parks where the routes are clearly marked for the public, as all other territories are privately owned. We once parked our van in the woods, in a place with absolutely stunning views and beautiful stillness. We were very quickly told to leave because we parked our car on someone’s private property.
This freedom in nature is something Czech people probably take for granted.
At the end…
There are many more interesting differences between our cultures and customs, of course. These are just a few of the biggest things I learned to appreciate about my own culture. If you are going to the Czech Republic and you have questions, do not hesitate to ask.
Greetings from my native country,
Translation with the help of Ellie Farrier