Bring Home Your Lessons Learned
I came to Prague because while I wanted a change, I had no interest in moving as far away as Asia. On the surface, culture shock in Europe seems less obvious; however, it is still immediate, and it can be intense. One should never assume that “similar” Europe gives less cultural experience than “foreign” Asia.
Many aspects of Czech life are different from North American life, if not in actual fact, then certainly in degree. Take something so mundane as physical exercise – Prague boasts many wonderful parks for leisurely walks and long conversations. Why debate the mysteries of the universe in a café when you can stroll amidst peaceful nature without even leaving the city? But if the weather is miserable, you’ll surely find at least one café on every block, making you wonder why we haven’t achieved the same in North American cities. Or you can spend hours at a pub, nursing your drinks without anyone pressing you to order, eat, and leave. Pub owners understand that in the fight to make a living, quality of life for all is also worthwhile. Turnover may be lower, but the economy hasn’t yet collapsed. (That’s impossible, isn’t it?)
But not everything works better, that’s certain. Sometimes you will surely be frustrated, even angry. You will ask how anyone can permit a certain situation, and you’ll be right – it is stupid, and it should be challenged. But if you analyze why it exists, you’ll learn a lot about how you can prevent the same from developing in your own country and learn even more about your own self. After all, it is individual people who create stupid situations, either from carelessness or selfishness. None of us is immune.
The best thing you can do for your own country is to live abroad and then bring home your lessons learned. Every country has a corner on something fantastic and something lousy, but if we learn from each other, we can all work toward the best.
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