My life in Prague after a year: What have I discovered?

Time really flies. It’s hard to imagine that more than a year has passed since our escape from war-torn Ukraine to the Czech Republic. There were many fears, thoughts, and expectations. Now, hundreds of days later, the picture in my head is much clearer. And what is on my mind? That it’s not the place that makes a home; it’s the people.

I was truly surprised by how friendly and welcoming the Czech people were. Of course, the language barrier is one of the biggest challenges you have to face when moving to a new country, and I’m not going to lie, not being able to understand anyone at first was hard. Being fiercely independent, I was fortunate to find my first (and thankfully only) job just two weeks after moving to Prague. My boyfriend was lucky to have a stable job while switching countries.

Shortly after we’ve settled, the first fears started to arise. What if I can’t understand my colleagues properly? What if I do my job poorly because of it? I didn’t want to constantly ask them to switch to English until I adjusted. That’s when I realized just how amazing the people here are. Not only were they incredibly friendly and helpful, but they also tried to use English more often until I learned enough Czech to understand them. To my surprise, that happened fairly quickly, and after a year, I can understand everything. Still, I really enjoy our international environment!

Refugees should stick together, right?

It was not just my colleagues that surprised me with their openness and willingness to help, but all Czechs, at least those around me. I mean, my job position didn’t even exist in C3 before I came in! What surprised me even more was the energy I felt from my fellow Ukrainians who moved away and started their new lives here.

Community has always been important to me, so I was happy to try to connect with my own people. I hoped it would make me feel a bit less homesick. We refugees should always stick together, I thought. Well, I was soon faced with quite a reality check. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the pressure and stress of leaving your home and starting a new life in an alien environment. Still, I encountered a surprising amount of sadness, jealousy, and sometimes even aggression – particularly between Ukrainians who have been living here for a long time and those who just moved here. Nevertheless, I’ve made some new friends among the Ukrainians as well as the Czechs.

The land of possibilities

There’s a lot to love about Prague. Cozy cafes, charming streets, a buzzing startup community, rich history, and cultural background. Living in the heart of Europe opens many business opportunities and it is much easier to find your way around. If you’re interested in the IT world, marketing, or media, Prague has a lot to offer.

However, the Czech Republic is not only different from Ukraine, but also from other European countries. Digitalization is slowly coming to Prague, but many of the things that make life easier just don’t exist here yet. For example, the electronic document management system I am used to at home. It’s not the end of the world, but it can get tedious.

Calm environment as the ultimate prize

For me, the most important thing has always been having a choice. Being able to decide freely what I want for myself. Each place has something to enjoy, something to fight for, or something to complain about. The more I think about my time in Prague, the more I realize how calm life is here. You can choose what you want to do, focus on it, and if you truly try, you may achieve your goals. It’s not perfect, but you don’t have to constantly worry about whether you’ll wake up in the morning. And you can’t put a price on peace of mind.


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