Caroline Novák-Jolly is French who has been living in the Czech Republic for 3 years.
She started her Bohemian adventure in the cold and hilly city of Liberec and for several months has been working for the University of Pardubice. She speaks French, Spanish, English and Czech and knows how it feels to be a newcomer in the Czech Republic. Like you, she had to go through similar “epic adventures” to settle down in Czech. If you have time she will be happy to share some of them with you, besides assisting you in the new chapter of your life in Pardubice.
What is your position at the university?
I have been working at the Department of Internal Affairs as coordinator. Part of my job is to assist foreign PhD. Students, postdoctoral researchers and employees to smoothly get past their first steps at the University of Pardubice (UPa), to settle in the city, and to become more familiar with life in the Czech Republic. You are probably wondering why? The first reason is because UPa cares about its students and employees and the second one is that UPa is one of the 7 EURAXESS contact points in the Czech Republic. https://www.euraxess.cz/
Can you explain what EURAXESS is?
EURAXESS - Researchers in Motion is a unique pan-European initiative delivering information and support services to professional researchers, research organisations/universities and businesses. Backed by the European Union and its Member States, it supports researcher mobility and career development, while enhancing scientific collaboration between Europe and the world.
EURAXESS Czech Republic provides information and assistance to researchers who are coming to work in the Czech Republic, or who are moving to work in another European country. The organisation helps researchers and their families to plan and organize their move to a foreign country, providing assistance in all matters related to mobility.
You can get more info on that portal: https://www.euraxess.cz/
Can you describe the most common situations you deal with and maybe some unique ones that you came across?
I mostly assist people in dealing with their Visa, Permit applications and in every task connected to it (First Application to get to the CR, extension, changes…)
I advise them concerning professional and daily life: Tax returns, doctors, Czech language classes, accommodation, how not to not be isolated and meet new people, sometimes I organize intercultural event (Boat trip…) or I inform them about the cultural events in Pardubice. The next intercultural event I would like to organize will be about research in France. It will be in cooperation with The Alliance Francaise of Pardubice.
Where can people see you assisting the foreigners outside of the university?
They can find me:
- At OAMP (Department for Asylum and Migration Policy), usually called Immigration Office, to arrange the extension of Long-term residence permits, registrations…
- At the Foreign Police (i.e. to help European citizens to be registered or to assist third country nationals to get official letter of invitation in case they would like to invite family members to the Czech Republic)
- HR Department if you have to sign a contract, tax return documents…
- At the bank to help you to open a bank account
- Sometimes at the doctors in case of emergency, to be registered…
- In any kind of state office (Town hall, post office…)
Who are typically the people you provide the assistance to?
They are foreign PhD. students, postdoctoral researchers, employees or academics.
They are mostly from non-European countries such as India, Malaysia, Egypt, Brazil, etc.
Nowadays, I provide assistance to people of approximately 24 nationalities.
What is the right time to approach you for help?
You can contact me once you get a firm confirmation that you will work or study at the University of Pardubice.
If you are already in Pardubice, you can contact me anytime during the week by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone (+420 466 036 133), and if you want to meet me in person, it is better to set up an appointment a bit in advance.
To help you, I have designed a guidebook of which I can send you a PDF version if you wish and soon you will be able to download it directly from Internet/Intranet.
A short description: (Who are you? Where are you from? How long have you been in the Czech Republic and at the University of Pardubice...)
I am Rochelle Lawrence from the sunshine island of Jamaica and I have been living in the Czech Republic for the past two years.
What is your position at the University of Pardubice? Could you describe it ()
I am an English Lecturer in the department of English and American Studies, where I teach grammar, conversational English and academic writing.
How is the communication at the University of Pardubice, with your colleagues, are they supportive?
My transition while working at the university has been smooth as my colleagues have been extremely supportive and caring.
How are the Czech students?
Czech students interact well with me, they tend to be curious about my Jamaican culture and so this helps break the ice.
Is it your first professional experience abroad? Why did you decide to live and work in the Czech Republic, in Pardubice?
No, I have work and lived in other European countries. I previously lived in France and Sweden, and with regards to moving here, I was seeking a new experience and that is why I chose to live in Czech Republic.
Do you remember what your first thoughts were when you discovered that you were going to the Czech Republic?
My first thought was that I didn‘t know much about the Czech culture and history, so I would have to do some research.
Was it complicated to move to Pardubice? Did you get any assistance?
It was fairly easy, as I received assistance from EURAXESS. Whenever I had queries, they guided me through the different processes such as visa application, insurance etc.
At what point did you find out about the EURAXESS contact point at the University of Pardubice? Did you already know it before you came?
My department placed me in contact with EURAXESS from the start of my job.
Could you tell us how the EURAXESS contact point at the University assisted you?
They assisted me with my long-term residence card and health insurance. They also provided me with information regarding doctors, dentists etc.
How is life in Pardubice? Is it hard to live here?
I love living in Pardubice, you can basically walk everywhere in the city and travelling to larger cities such as Prague is easy.
How do you find the Czech culture? The food, the way the people are, their sense of humour?
The Czech culture has an interesting history and the people are always willing to help me. Czech food is a bit different from my culture but I like it, my favourite meal is svíčková
Do you know any words in czech language? If so, how did you learn them? which one is the most complicated or funniest to pronounce?
Pronouncing the Czech r is really difficult. I have been studying Czech for a while at MOST PRO ( which is a foreign service in my city), so I am at B1 level.
Do you have a favourite place in Pardubice, or a place where you go to get away?
I don’t really have a favourite place but I like going to the cafes and restaurants in the area.
What do you think is the best thing about the Czech Republic and Pardubice?
The best thing about living here is meeting new people and experiencing a new culture.
If someone was coming from Jamaica to the Czech Republic, to Pardubice, what advice would you give them?
I would inform my fellow Jamaican that Europe has 4 seasons so prepare for the winter season where it is cold and sometimes no sunshine. Also, I think that it is important to learn a little of the language as not everyone speaks English.
A short description: (Who are you? Where are you from? How long have you been in the Czech Republic and at the University of Pardubice...)
I am Tess from Mumbai, India. This is my fifth year in the Czech Republic.
1/ Tell me a bit more about your studies?
My field is Comparative Science of Cultures and I am enrolled in the Department of Religious Studies. My field is all about understanding cultural differences and understanding how people from different cultures interact. I’m in a good place to be studying this, won’t you say? J
2/ How is the communication at the University of Pardubice, with your colleagues, are they supportive?
My colleagues have been very supportive since the time I moved to the country in 2013. They have helped me with every aspect of living here.
3/ Is it your first study experience abroad? Why did you decide to study in the Czech Republic, in Pardubice?
Yes, it is. I met my PhD supervisor in India a few years ago and I was interested in studying under his tutelage. So, when the opportunity presented itself I came to Pardubice where he heads the department that I am enrolled in.
4/ Do you remember what your first thoughts were when you discovered that you were going to the Czech Republic?
I realised that I barely knew anything about the country except seeing Prague in a Bollywood movie which I would say brought Prague to the attention of India. I spent quite some time reading up about it and the more I read, the happier I got about the decision of applying here.
5/ Was it complicated to move to Pardubice? Did you get any assistance?
It was not an easy process but it was not that complicated either. Besides, having people from the International affairs office in the University help me at every step made it smooth.
6/ At what point did you find out about the EURAXESS contact point at the University of Pardubice? Did you already know it before you came?
I was not aware that Pardubice had a EURAXESS contact point until last year.
7/ Could you tell us how the EURAXESS contact point at the University assisted you? How often do you use their services?
I need help from them every year when it is time for me to renew my visa. Jolly Caroline, the EURAXESS representative helps me out with the process. Besides that, they also inform us of events they organise which I find very useful for meeting other foreign nationals in the country.
8/ Besides your studies, what do you do in the Czech Republic ( hobbies, job, projects…)?
I teach English to children in schools here. I find that to be a good break from academics. I recently also started doing a part time job where I am a consultant for EURAXESS. I like to do a bit of traveling within the country whenever I can. Oh, and I love going to the theatre for films and plays!
9/ Have you been able to make some friends and contacts here?
Yes! To be honest, the transition from a big city like Mumbai to a small town like Pardubice was difficult. I am very much a city person and I like crowds and noise. After five years of living in Pardubice I can safely say that this has begun to feel like home and it has only been made possible because of the friends I made here who have become family to me now.
10/ How do you find the Czech culture? The food, the way the people are, their sense of humour?
What is the main difference between Czech culture and Indian one.
A few lines would not be enough to describe the difference in the cultures between both countries. I keep thinking that there is so much to say on the matter that one day I want to write a book on it! J Because of my specialisation in the study of culture, I have tried to keenly observe the people here, their mannerisms and nature. While like any country, Czech has its own set of people who have strange ideas about the world, overall my experience here has been nothing short of wonderful and life-changing. I have only one word to describe most of the Czech people I have interacted with- “warm”. While Czech people are very shy, once they come out of their shells, they are very sweet. Their kindness, warmth and easy companionship sometimes even reminds me of people back in India. Their sense of humour is dark and mostly self-deprecating. I think I might learn to appreciate it in a few years. As of now I am still trying to figure it out. Czech food is amazing though! It is not bland like many other European foods I have had. My favourite dishes would be biftek tatarsky and guláš. I also like their homemade cakes.
11/ Do you know any words in czech language? If so, how did you learn them? which one is the most complicated or funniest to pronounce?
I know plenty of words in Czech. I generally find saying the number 4 in Czech difficult and all numbers that have multiple 4s in them (like 444- čtyři sta čtyřicet čtyři). I also find saying Thursday in Czech difficult too (Čtvrtek). I guess I find it difficult when “č” “t” and “ř” decide to make an appearance together.
12/ Do you go back to India much?
Yes, I go once a year.
13/ Do you have a favourite place in Pardubice, or a place where you go to get away?
I like cafés a lot and my favourite cafes here would be Chillis, Pierre and Čoko Bajer. I believe Čoko Bajer has the best hot chocolate in the world. You should try it if you don’t believe me. For walks I prefer the woods near the castle or the river sides. These places are beautiful during all times of the year.
14/ If someone was coming from India to the Czech Republic, to Pardubice, what advice would you give them?
I would tell them to get mentally prepared for 4 distinctly different seasons. I would insist that they not buy any warm clothes from India. It is better to buy them from Czech after you have consulted local friends on what is good enough to keep you warm. I would tell them that they would experience the best summers in Czech because summers here are an equivalent to winters in most parts of India. Additionally, I would like to make them aware that Czech is a meat loving country so they should not have high expectations for vegetarian foods available here in restaurants and other places if they are strictly vegetarians. But if they are not, they are going to like Czech food very much.
A short intorduction: (Who are you? Where are you from? How long have you been in the Czech Republic and at the University of Pardubice...)
My name is Raul Zazpe and I was born in Pamplona, the capital of Navarre (Spain). I studied Chemistry at the University of Navarra and arrived at Pardubice in November of 2015 to join Jan Macak’s group as a postdoctoral researcher.
1/ What is your position at the University of Pardubice? Could you describe it?
I work in the Centre of Materials and Nanotechnologies (CEMNAT) at the University of Pardubice as a postdoctoral researcher in Jan Macak’s group. Basically, our work focuses on nanotubular structures which we coat with other materials to add different functionalities. Composite nanotubes have a wide range of applications, such as catalysts, sensors, in photovoltaics etc… It is important to mention that the deposition of secondary materials lead to a significant improvement of the performance in applications mentioned before. I would also like to point out that the thickness of the materials we deposit is in the range of nanometers, i.e. the millionth part of a millimetre, that is almost atomic scale. I found it really exciting and challenging! A relatively small amount of atoms can trigger great changes in certain chemical and physical properties of the nanostructures.
2/ How do you communicate with your colleagues at the University - are they
The communication is generally fluent and smooth. In the group we speak English, and group meetings are in English, too. On the rare occasions when I have to cope with a Czech document, a colleague is next to me to support me and translate it. I cannot complain.
3/ Is it your first professional experience abroad? Why did you decide to live and work in the Czech Republic, in Pardubice?
No, it is not. I went to Cork (Ireland), initially for 6 months, but finally I spent there 3 years. As I found an opportunity to get a grant for 2 years and work towards Master thesis at the Tyndall Institute. That was really unexpected and extremely satisfying. It was an indelible experience. Regarding Czech Republic, I started to look for a postdoctoral position after finishing my PhD, and found an open position in Jan Macak’s group. After reading the project description, I found it attractive and stimulating and decided to apply. Eventually, the positon was offered to me and I accepted; that’s how I got here.
4/Do you remember what your first thoughts were when you discovered that you were going to the Czech Republic?
More than thoughts there were emotions, and the main one was a remarkable thrill. In my opinion, if one wants to continue the researcher career after finishing his PhD, it is crucial to find a postdoctoral position, and fortunately I got it. Besides, I found the country itself pretty attractive. I did not know Central Europe despite I found it particularly interesting. Honestly, I felt somehow blessed.
5/ Was it complicated to move to Pardubice? Did you have to go through any administrative procedure? Did you get any assistance?
The trip to Pardubice was not particularly difficult as I was supported by Jan Macak and Ondřej Srb, who also helped me with some documents I had to fulfil before coming here. I remember Ondřej waiting for me at the train station when I arrived for the first time. It was very helpful and one feels grateful for that. Indeed, I would like to mention that Ondřej assisted me when I had a health issue and had to go to hospital and stay overnight. He was next to me also during the subsequent medical checks and treatment. I am immensely grateful to him. When you are abroad and cannot express yourself and talk to doctors, such support is extremely important.
6/ How is life in Pardubice? Is it hard to live here?
In my opinion, it is lovely and quiet - in a positive fashion. I come from a medium size city of Pamplona (300.000 people), and I think I would not like to live in big cities. Every place here is relatively close and you can walk everywhere, which makes things smooth. At the same time, Pardubice is large enough to find everything you might need and to host different cultural and sport events. In the case you are eager of stronger emotions (opera, big band concert, theatre, etc.) Prague is only one hour away!
7/ What do you think is the best thing about the Czech Republic and Pardubice?
As I said before, the best of Pardubice is its location, only one hour from Prague by train, and its size, as sometimes the size is important, don´t you think so? Regarding Czech Republic, I got fascinated from the very beginning by the Central European way of life and the character of people, clearly different from where I come from. This country has plenty of beautiful natural places and leafy forests, really suitable for tracking. I also confess I like to eat and try typical drinks, and I found Czech food nicely tasteful, and probably the best beer I have ever had.
8/ Do you have a favourite place in Pardubice or a place where you go to get away?
Sure, I like to take walks or run next to the river. If we talk about enjoying some drinks and a pizza with friends, my favourite place is doubtless the pub Lady Gaga, also known by the rest of people as Dydy Baba. Aquacentrum is another place I usually go to do sport and relax.
9/ Besides your work, what do you do in the Czech Republic (hobbies, job, projects…)?
I usually go to gym before work, and sometimes running in the afternoon along the river. Despite I do not practise as often as I would like to, I also like history (I watch documentaries on the Internet), reading, philosophy, languages, etc… to be honest, I would need more time to tackle everything I am interested in. I like to cook too, although to be honest, lately I did not try different things… inspiration is sadly on strike!
10/ Have you been able to make friends and contacts here?
Yes, mainly my colleagues from abroad related to my work and university, but also Czech people. Actually, my girlfriend Zuzu is Czech! The language barrier is an important drawback to start conversations and establish relationships with Czech people. I usually have the feeling that my Czech level is depressive low for the time I have already spent here.
11 /I was told you were from the Basque country. Can you tell us more about this region? Do you miss it? Do you go back there often?
Yes, as I said before I am from Pamplona, the capital of Navarre, which once had been an independent kingdom before it was conquered and incorporated in Spain. The north part of the kingdom behind the Pyrenees remained independent until 1640. Actually, the Shakespeare’s play “Love’s labour’s lost” takes place at Navarre king’s Court. It is hard to describe Navarre in a few words, but I would say that Navarre can be characterized by the strong contrast from north to south that you can find in the climate, geography, character of people, etc…The north is mountainous (Pyrenees) and green, while the south is dotted with extensive croplands and has a drier weather.
Navarre offers lovely gastronomy and Pamplona hosts the Sanfermines, the main festival which was popularized by Ernest Hemingway´s book “The sun also rises” where he described the cheerful atmosphere of the city during the festival. A well-known event is the running of the bulls that takes place every morning of the festival days. I would like to emphasize that both the sea coast and the big mountains are only one hour from Pamplona by car.
Indeed, I miss it but without being homesick. As you can expect, I miss my family and friends, and also several vegetables and fishes, I cannot find here; but this is not a complain at all ;). I go to Pamplona twice a year: Christmas and summer for the festival.
12/Are there any differences between Spanish, Basque culture and Czech?
Yes, there are. For instance, the character is rather different. I do not mean better or worse, just different…. Comparisons can lead to unfortunate misunderstandings. While I find people here generally colder or more reserved, Czech people find us passionate and shrilling… I noticed that we talk much louder. The lunch and dinner times are clearly different… In my town, both are later than here.
13/ Do you know any Czech words? If so, how did you learn them? Which one is the most complicated or funniest to pronounce?
I try to study Czech as often as I can after work. I found a book for Spanish speakers to study Czech. To be honest, I found it difficult, particularly the pronunciation of some words. Czech has some sounds that I never heard before and I found them difficult. The top of tough words is Thursday and number four, although I have improved it, or at least I think so. On the other hand I found very useful the expression Myslím že… or Můžu …? Ale myslím že česky těžký je.
14/ Speaking about language, I was told that Basque Language is very difficult. Could you teach us a few words?
Unfortunately, I could not learn it in the school, but some time ago, I decided to learn on my own. Nevertheless I am far from being fluent. Basque is not easy to learn, but now I found it easier as compared with Czech! It is actually considered one of the oldest languages in Europe with an unknown origin and no relation to any other language.
Some basic words and expressions could be the following: Kaixo is hello, agur is goodbye, Zer moduz? means how are you, gargardo maite dut means I love beer, beste bat means ještě jedno, and non dago komuna? means where is the toilet…? As you can notice, I provided the essential expressions that everyone should know!
15/ If someone was coming from Spain to the Czech Republic, to Pardubice, what advice would you give them?
I would recommend the use of train as transport system as the railway system works well and it is the most comfortable way to travel around the whole country. I would also recommend to be patient if one starts to learn Czech language; it is so different from Latin languages (e.g. French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese), that usually people find it rather difficult. And for sure, enjoy the natural places one can find in the country, the gastronomy (in particular tatarák, so yummy!!) and the excellent Czech beer. Na zdravi!!!
A short description: (Who are you? Where are you from? How long have you been in the Czech Republic...)
My name is Norhan, from Cairo, Egypt. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. I'm the mother of two boys. This is my third year in Czech republic.
1/ Is it the first time you have lived abroad? Why did you decide to live in the Czech Republic, in Pardubice?
Yes, actually this is my first time to live abroad. And the reason behind choosing the Czech republic – especially Pardubice – is that my husband is doing his Ph.D. study in Chemistry at the University of Pardubice.
2/Do you remember your first thoughts when you discovered that you were going to the Czech Republic?
Of course it wasn't an easy decision, and it took lots of thinking from me. It wasn't easy to decide to move our life -me and my kids- and come to live in a European country. But we were really excited about that and I decided to consider it as a long vacation ☺ .
3/ You have been living in Pardubice for almost 3 years with your husband and your 2 sons. Was it complicated to move to Pardubice and be integrated? What are the different steps/stages you had to go through?
As I told you it wasn't an easy decision. Of course the very early steps were on my husband before our coming, to find a suitable flat –which wasn't easy at all- then we started looking for a school for the kids. From my side I started to read about the Czech Republic and tried to learn some basic sentences in Czech.
4/ How do your two sons feel about living here?
They are doing well. Of course it wasn't easy at the beginning because of the difference in language and culture, but, as you know, kids need less time to learn and get integrated with others.
5/What was the most complicated thing you had to face in Pardubice? How did you handle it? Did you get any assistance?
As I told you, at first it was finding schools for the kids but we got really great assistance from both the Integration Center in Pardubice and the Foreigner’s Department at the University of Pardubice.
Also we sometimes meet difficulties dealing with medical issues as it is so difficult to communicate with the doctors.
6/ What do you think is the best thing about the Czech Republic and Pardubice?
Czech republic is an exciting country with lots of beautiful things to see . Also Pardubice is a nice city, although it isn't a big one, but it is a good place to live.
7/ Do you have a favourite place in Pardubice, or a place where you go to get away?
We like to go to " Park na spici ". it is a beautiful place where the kids can play freely and we can enjoy the sight of the river. Sometimes we have a walk through the forest near my home.
8/ Do you have any hobbies?
I like reading books and listening to music. Also for keeping myself busy I have joined some online courses that are useful for my work field and and also I'm studying the French language through the Aliance Francaise in Pardubice.
9/ How does life in Pardubice compare Cairo? What is the main difference between Czech people/culture and Egyptian people/Culture?
There are much great differences between life in the Czech republic and Egypt. As you know Egypt is a bigger country with a larger population. Life there is more active; most of the shops are open till mid night –if not 24 h ☺. Whenever you are in the mood to go out to have fun or eat something you don't have to worry about it. Also being a coastal country you can enjoy both seas (Mediterranean & red sea); that is something I really miss here. Also there is big difference in culture and traditions between Egyptian and Czech people.
10/ Speaking about culture, I cannot help but think about Egyptian cuisine. Can you cook the typical meal here?
Mostly yes; of course it is not easy to find all materials that I may need here. I try to get some from the Arabian shops in Prague or I would get them during my visits to Egypt.
11/If I may, I would like to ask you something very personal: How is it to be an Arabian veiled woman in Pardubice?
Of course it is't an easy thing. As you know Pardubice is a small city where it is not common to see foreign people walking in the streets – especially a veiled woman like in cities as big a Prague. Up till now I still get people gazing at me while on the bus or at a shop or even walking in the street. Some people just look and some others may ask where am I from? Or why am I dressing this way? But I think that is normal for a small city.
12/ Have you been able to make some friends and contacts here?
Yeah, thank god. I was lucky to meet some nice people here . Mostly parents at my sons' school. Most of them are either foreigners or married to Czech people. Of course it was easier to communicate with them as long as they all speak English, which is something rare to find here.
13/ Do you know any words in the Czech language? If so, how did you learn them? Which one is the most complicated or funniest to pronounce?
As People know, the Czech language it not an easy language to learn.I tried to learn some basic words and phrases online before coming here. And when I came I joined Czech language course provided by the integration center. I can't say that I can speak Czech but I try to do my best to communicate with people. The most complicated thing for me was the" 7 cases " lesson and how they change the words according to their position in the sentence. While the funny thing was how some words in Czech look similar to words in arabic but with different meaning.
14/ Speaking about language, you speak English and Arab. Could you teach us a few words?
Mmmmm. .. OK, let me try something , I will give you some basic words (in English letters of course) that may be useful if someone is thinking about visiting Egypt or any other Arab Country :
Hello = Marhaba , Thanks = Shokran , Sorry = Aasif , Please = Min Fadlak .
15/ If someone was coming from Egypt to the Czech Republic, to Pardubice, what advice would you give them?
Of course it would be better to benefit from the experience of someone who previously lived here, so he may skip several stages that we had to go through, but the most important thing is to try to learn the Czech language as it is very difficult to communicate with people in English only.
16/ I was told that you were leaving soon. How is the whole family feeling about it? Are you planning to come back the the Czech Republic? What are your plans once you are back in Egypt?
The kids are very excited about going back. They really miss the family, friends and the food. Of course I would like to come again to visit Czech republic when I have the chance. I really loved the city. Once in Egypt I'm planning to go back to my job after this long vacation.