When I first came to the Unites States as an exchange student during high school, for a long time, it seemed to me as though the biggest difference between the Czech Republic and the US is that you guys have peanut-butter and burritos and we don’t.
But of course this is a shallow view and if it was true, the entire idea of cross-cultural exchanges would be pointless. I believe that learning in and from a different culture brings tremendous benefits and there are many great differences. But when you look at it from above, it appears similar at first – we all drive cars, use internet, cell phones, listen to the same kind of music and wear similar clothes.
Given the increasing globalization, I think that the concept of a culture shock has become somewhat less shocking. Especially if we talk about the differences between western cultures. But the beauty of culture differences is still present and I think it rests upon those little differences – like peanut butter and burritos.
I compiled a few cultural differences that stuck in my mind as one of the most shocking ones, as I have made transitions between the Czech, French and US cultures.
Czech dinner is served around 5pm
French cuisine – wine, cheese, dessert… it’s still all there, even in dining of college students
The average Czech goes to a movie theater probably a couple of times a year
Gender-neutral restrooms in France
French parties start around 11pm and end around 5am
No high school sports in Europe – it’s all separate clubs
Lunch is the biggest meal of the day in Czech
Professional cyclists are heroes in France in the same way basketball and football players are in the US
The folk traditions – music, dances, crafts etc. are still preserved and quite popular in Czech
Much fewer people visit church in France or the Czech Rep.
French youth, including men, are very fashionable (spiked hair and white Lacoste shoes is a must)