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An Expat’s Guide to Restaurants in Prague

An Expat’s Guide to Restaurants in Prague

One of my biggest guilty pleasures, especially since moving to Prague, is eating out at local restaurants. One of the amazing things about Prague is that the cost of living here doesn’t preclude people from trying out different restaurants in the city, as the prices are typically so reasonable! Tourists are typically shocked at the prices in Prague compared to their own countries or cities, especially in comparison to other major European and US capitals. This just means you have that much more opportunity to try all of the interesting types of cuisine that Prague has to offer!

Looking for hotel recommendations in Prague? Check out my Guide to Hotels and Hostels in Prague for all budgets!

Because I love to eat out, and I love trying new restaurants and cuisines, I’ve compiled a nice little list for myself of my favorite restaurants in Prague for essentially every budget and taste. I had the amazing opportunity to be sponsored by four of my local “spots” to create a video featuring these four incredible restaurants:

These four restaurants are ones that I eat at all the time, but of course there are other restaurants in the city that regularly see me when I’m in town. Unfortunately, Prague is one of those cities where it is incredibly easy for the unsuspecting tourist to be ripped off by businesses looking only for a piece of the action. There are, however, a ton of really amazing restaurants that are great value and provide excellent meals. I think it’s so important for tourists coming to Prague to take advantage of all of the local flavors, as well as the international cuisine that has recently flooded the city. These are my top spots for each type of cuisine:

L: Lunch Menu Available (with lower prices than the regular menu)

$: 50-200 CZK, $$: 200-350 CZK, $$$: 350-500 CZK, $$$$: 500 CZK+


Bad Jeff’s Barbeque (L, $$$)

Bad Jeff’s beats some of the best barbeque I’ve had back at home! They serve up ribs, brisket, wings, and my favorite, mac and cheese (with truffle oil!). They’re located near Náměstí Miru in Prague 2, one of the prettiest neighborhoods in the city. Check out the YouTube video above to learn more!

Pavilon Grebovka ($)

Pavilon Grebovka is an absolute gem to visit in the summer. It’s tucked away in Havličkovy sady, a public park in Prague 2. The restaurant has a grill where you can get Czech barbeque dishes like grilled sausage, and it overlooks a vineyard that sits behind a gorgeous chateau. This place isn’t frequently visited by tourists like the vineyard at Prague Castle, but it’s an equally beautiful place to enjoy Prague’s sunshine and gardens in the warm summer months.

Bars (for drinks and food!)

Beer Geek ($)

Beer Geek went from a specialty beer store to a craft beer bar located right at the Jiřiho z Poděbrad metro station. It’s a really cool bar with great atmosphere and a ton of beers from all over the world on tap. They’ve recently started serving wings ranging from Ranch to Godzilla, served with fries, and those absolutely hit the spot when you’re out for a few pints with friends.

Prosekárna ($-$$$$)

This is an (aptly named) Prosecco bar that I was recently introduced to which is such a hidden treasure. It’s in a fairly busy part of the city, but you would never know how interesting it was without going in! It feels like having drinks in your friend’s really fancy living room, but their bottles of Prosecco are amazing. If you’re headed out for an evening with a group of friends, or you want a nice beverage to start off your evening, I definitely recommend this one!

T-Anker (L, $$)

T-Anker is a rooftop bar and restaurant located on top of the Kotva building at Náměstí Republiky. Because of its location about 10 minutes away from Old Town Square, the views from the outdoor terrace are some of the best to be found in Prague. The entrance is a little tricky to find (walk around the Kotva building to the left from the main entrance, and you’ll see an elevator on your left-hand side). Make a reservation for a table outside on the terrace if you want to enjoy the views- this place tends to fill up quickly!

V11 Wine Bar and Deli ($-$$$$)

Before I moved to Prague 2, I would be at this wine bar at least weekly. It’s a tiny wine cellar on a side street near theJiřiho z Poděbrad metro station, and their selection of wine is amazing. They have bottles and glasses for absolutely everyone’s price range, with helpful staff that are willing to answer questions for you if you know nothing about wine. They also have a great selection of meats, cheeses, olives, and bread that make a great appetizer or snack. In the summer, they set up a patio outside of the cellar so that you can enjoy under the stars (until the 10 pm quiet hour begins!).

Zanzibar ($-$$)

Zanzibar is located nearby Bad Jeff’s in Prague 2. I love this place for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and wine! They have great wine that you can order by the carafe (and they even give you free tap water to go with it!). In the summer, they set up quite a few tables outside so you can relax under the peaceful green trees and gorgeous buildings of Vinohrady.

Cafés (for both coffee and food!)

Café Lounge (L, $$)

Café Lounge is a little more up-scale than the traditional coffee house in Prague, but still boasts a nicely decorated interior, several rooms with cute tables and seating areas, and most importantly, excellent coffee. You’ll also find a daily lunch menu with beautifully presented food still for a decent price (usually under 200 CZK for lunch).

Café Louvre (L, $$)

Café Louvre is one of Prague’s famous historic cafés that has served patrons like Einstein and Kafka. The interior is lavishly decorated with high ceilings and waiters in bow ties. The atmosphere, however, is not as pretentious as you might expect. This is a great place to grab brunch on the weekend when you have time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. The lunch menu is less expensive than the regular menu, but is in Czech only, so bring your Google translate app!

Café Savoy ($$)

Café Savoy is another of Prague’s most famous cafés. It’s arguably more up-scale than Café Louvre, but with a similar style. You can imagine the historic atmosphere after just a minute in this restaurant. The food, coffee, and pastries certainly do not disappoint!

Kavárna Pražírna ($)

Located near I.P. Pavlova, Kavárna Pražírna is a true local spot where you’ll often find young Czechs and expats alike basking in the glow of this cosy coffee house. They offer some food, including a great potato bake, but their coffee is really just incredible.

La Boheme Café ($)

Located just off Vinohradska in Prague 2, this is a popular café with somewhat of a hipster vibe. They have excellent coffee, good pastries, and some interesting cocktails. It’s a fairly close walk from Náměstí Miru or Riegrovy Sady.

Žižkavárna ($)

Žižkavárna is located close to the Žižkov TV Tower, and is a small café with local charm. You’ll find friends gathered here to chat, students and young adults typing away on laptops, or locals reading the local newspaper. This is a small café with only a few tables, but it’s an excellent place to rest for a while if you’re in the neighborhood.


A divadlo pokračuje ($)

This is a pub located between the Pohořelec tram stop and Prague Castle (Hradčanské náměstí). You’ll find all of the traditional Czech classics, plus a great terrace overlooking Petrin Hill and the Strahov Monastery. The history of this particular place is really interesting- check out the YouTube video above to hear more!

Kolonial (L, $)

Kolonial is a great restaurant for tourists at lunch because it’s located in the heart of Old Town (just across the street from the old Jewish cemetery in Josefov), and offers an inexpensive but delicious lunch menu. Be sure to ask for the lunch menu (they have it in English and Czech) instead of the regular one, the regular one is much more expensive!


La Gare (L, $$$)

La Gare is a French restaurant located near Nam. Republiky, next to the Old Town Hilton hotel. I was skeptical before first visiting because of its location and proximity to major hotel chains, but I was pleasantly surprised. The food is delicious, the wine selection is great, and the service was good. I plan to go back, and I would recommend a visit for a nice night out!


Hurry Curry (L, $$)

Hurry Curry is my local curry spot, and I’ve just fallen in love. Their food is generally less expensive than other options, and they don’t have a fancy restaurant to eat it in, but you cannot beat this take out. Their sauces have excellent flavors, their portions are very generous, and the staff is SUPER friendly.

Indian Jewel (L, $)

Indian Jewel is a great place for lunch in the city center. It’s located only about 5 minutes from Old Town Square, and it offers a daily lunch menu for a very discounted price! They always offer their Monday option (Butter Chicken), but have different options rotating Monday-Friday. If you’re looking for an inexpensive lunch in the city center, this is a go-to, as their regular menu is much more expensive (you may even catch me there on my lunch break!).

K the Two Brothers ($$$)

Looking for a fancier night out for Indian food? K the Two Brothers is the place to be! The atmosphere of this place is relaxed and upscale. The prices are a bit higher than the usual fare in Prague, but the quality of the food is top-notch and delicious!

The Pind (L, $$)

When I lived in Žižkov, this was my PLACE. I still go back to visit even though I’ve moved a few tram stops away, as the food is delicious and it’s a good place to grab a meal without too much fuss. In the summer, they have outdoor seating which is very casual and lovely.


Grosetto Náměstí Miru ($$)

There are a couple locations of Grosetto across the city, but the one at Náměstí Miru is my favorite by a long-shot. The food at this one is the best, in my opinion, and it’s a nice restaurant with a great menu. In the summer, their terrace is an absolutely lovely retreat in an otherwise busy part of the city.

La Finestra ($$$$)

This is arguably one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. The chef is Italian, and the menu reflects that. La Finestra also features an excellent selection of meats and fish which is sometimes otherwise difficult to find in Prague. They have an incredible selection of wine with a sommelier that can make recommendations. This is the perfect restaurant for a special night out. You’ll need a reservation for this one!

Wine Food Market ($$)

There are a couple of locations of the Wine Food Market around Prague, but I always visit the one in Smichov. It is a little out of the way in terms of Prague’s Old Town, but it really is only a quick tram ride away from Mala Strana. The Wine Food Market has a gourmet food court style restaurant that uses ingredients imported straight from Italy. They also have a café and shop where you can find excellent bottles of wine, and deli favorites like prosciutto, cheese, and olives.


Hanil ($$$)

Hanil is a fancier Japanese/sushi restaurant near the Žižkov TV Tower. They have main courses that are quite good and are nicely presented. Their sushi rolls are beautiful, and while I don’t eat fish, I do hear that it is some of the best sushi in Prague. I often visit to sit at the bar and order some appetizers, which is plenty to fill me up and enjoy and nice, quiet evening.


Burrito Loco ($)

If you want a down and dirty burrito at any time of the day (really, it’s a 24/7 place), head over to one of Burrito Loco’s locations. There’s a bigger one near Ujezd between Smichov and Mala Strana, but there are smaller take-away locations across the city. I wouldn’t call this fine dining, per say, but it does the job if you need a taco!

Las Adelitas (L, $$)

Las Adelitas is one of my most-frequented restaurants in Prague. It serves traditional Mexican cuisine, plus delicious drinks with help from their extensive tequila menu. There are three locations of Las Adelitas, and the food at each is a little different in preparation; my favorite location is the one on Lucemburska, just minutes away from the Jiřiho z Poděbrad metro station.


Gran Fierro (L, $$$$)

This restaurant is located just around the corner from Narodni Divadlo (the national theatre), and is an Argentinian steakhouse. You’ll find excellent steaks, plus tapas, empanadas, and superb wine! Check out the YouTube video above for more information.


Kofein (L, $$)

Kofein is a great restaurant in Prague when you know you want to spend time chatting with friends. They serve hot and cold tapas dishes with local ingredients and recipes, and have an excellent atmosphere to go with it! Check out the YouTube video above for more information!


Lemon Leaf (L, $$)

Lemon Leaf is a great place to go if you’re looking for thai food, with a mix of other south east Asian options. It’s not as fancy so you don’t feel the need to dress up if you don’t want to, but it also has a level of sophistication that makes it a nice evening out. The food is absolutely delicious, too!

Noi (L, $$)

If you want a fancier evening and some of the best pad thai in central Europe, you’ll definitely have to check out Noi. It’s located near the Ujezd tram station, and the ambiance is certainly more up-scale than the average Prague restaurant, but the experience is unparalleled for this type of cuisine.


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Diaries of an Expat: Rediscovering Love

Diaries of an Expat: Rediscovering Love

Have you ever had the feeling that what you used to love, or at least, what used to excite you no longer does?  I have.  It’s the worst feeling to know that the things you strived for and once cared most about doing no longer hold your eye as they once did.  For me, this is a fairly common feeling that I get whenever I feel overwhelmed or anxious because I’m exhausted, and travel is exhausting.  Or, it can be for some people, and it often is for me.

This feeling is something that I’ve come to endearingly refer to as “travel fatigue”, and I know that I’m not the only avid traveler who experiences such a thing.  With that being said, I absolutely understand that not all avid travelers experience this feeling; everyone travels and experiences travel differently.  But, since I’ve traveled to New York, back to Prague, off to Singapore, and subsequently returned to Prague, I have had an unimaginable number of things to do- I think that I was jet lagged for all of January when all was said and done.  So by the time my new 107 students arrived at the beginning of last week, I was nearly unable to empathize with their excitement to travel Europe for the next four months.  I mean, does anyone sleep anymore?

After a crazy week working 10 or 12 hour days, I’ve finally had a second to breathe.  More importantly, I had a tour to run with 30+ of my students around the exterior of Prague Castle, which served as an opportunity to wander around a beautiful part of the city, outside, and enjoy what was happening around me.  I absolutely love traveling with my students because it helps me see things again for the first time, just as they’re usually seeing these things for the first time.  I’ve written before about the tendency for us to consider the extraordinary things around us as simply ordinary, but it’s tough to break out of that mentality and experience the seemingly “normal” things again as things which are truly incredible.  When I travel with my students, I get to see them experience things which are seemingly “normal” to me as something absolutely beautiful, new, and exciting.  Today, I spent two hours walking around the Prague Castle complex on the first tour of the semester for my new group of students, and while I was mainly focused on ensuring the tour was going well and photos were being taken, I was able to re-examine a place which I’ve now walked through dozens of times without really giving it a second glance.

After the tour was over, and my work was done, I took myself up to the top of the tower at St. Vitus Cathedral, which is the iconic neogothic structure in the center of the Prague Castle complex, and I am so glad that I did.  After realizing that I was incredibly unprepared for making the ascent to the top of the tower (you’d think all of this walking around Prague would mean something…), I finally reached the summit and sat down for a 5-minute breather.  Then, I looked at the view.

In the 20 seconds it took for me to take in the massive expanse of the Prague city skyline, I instantly realized why I live here, why I’m doing what I’m doing, and why I love traveling so much.  It’s that feeling you get when sitting at the highest point of any new and beautiful city, and I can think of countless places I’ve sat and thought how absolutely incredible it is that these cities all exist simultaneously and relatively independently of one another, but still exist in all of their beautiful glory.  But looking out at the orange and green Bohemian rooftops of Prague and its most famous architecture, I realized that this city is special.  At least, this city is special to me.  Usually I look out at cities from these viewpoints and I wonder what it’s like to live inside of those roofs, or what life might feel like in that place once you’re past the beautiful exterior.  Here, I understand.  I understand exactly what it’s like to live in an awesome neighborhood, what it’s like to work at the oldest university in the country, what it’s like to show a new group of people the magic of this place every four months.  I realized, upon looking out at the city, that I could identify all of the major landmarks I was seeing, the neighborhoods those landmarks were located in, and I could find my own apartment amongst the beautiful rooftops spread over the horizon.


Today, I got the urge to travel again to a new place in an effort to try to understand it.  I felt the desire to sit at the top of a hill in a city where I know no one and marvel at its beauty and mystery.  Today, I fell in love with Prague again.  I can’t wait until I get to fall in love with it again.

If you’re feeling lost in your own city, whether you live abroad, in a new city in your own country, or in the house you grew up in, I encourage you to go experience something new.  Go hiking in the nearby, unexplored forest.  Go try that restaurant that you’ve always said you’d like to visit, but haven’t gotten around to yet.  Go to a park you’ve walked through a million times, sit on a bench, and take in the surroundings.  No matter where you are, there is something magical to be found, whether it’s in the gorgeous rooftops, surrounding nature, or in the people that inhabit the place.  I’ve said it before, and I’m sure that I’ll say it again, I will no longer take this place or this opportunity for granted.  And I hope that you don’t either- every place you visit, everywhere you live, you will leave a part of your heart there, so you might as well get to know it well enough so that it leaves a part of its soul with you, too.

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Diaries of an Expat: A Year in Review

Diaries of an Expat: A Year in Review

It’s been just over a year since I moved to Prague to start my new career and life as an expat, and I’m just now returning from my first trip home.  Being away from home for over a year has been incredibly challenging, but has also been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done thus far.  Even with my little travel habit [sarcasm], if you’d asked me 2 or 3 years ago if I thought I’d be semi-permanently living abroad, fully employed, and traveling all over Europe (and the world) for work, I would have told you that I thought you were crazy.  Even crazier if you’d told me this would all be happening in the Czech Republic, a country I had only visited once and spoke so little of the language it was nearly negative comprehension.


But, here I am.  I live in Prague, I occasionally speak Czech, and I’ve even been successful in making some pretty great Czech (and non-Czech) friends.  So although I’m not big into the resolution thing, I think this might be an appropriate time to review my year, and make some goals for the next.  After all, I have another year in Prague to contend with!


My 2015 in Review:

  • Traveled to 39 cities in 14 countries on 3 continents



Istanbul, Turkey

  • Learned Czech acceptably enough to prevent most Prague inhabitants from wanting to kill or verbally assault me
  • Coordinated study abroad programs for three cycles of university students, 258 students total
  • Made some incredible (mostly Czech!) friends who have generously and graciously introduced me to their home city, and who have become excellent travel companions


  • Cooked my first full Thanksgiving dinner, and while I seriously overestimated the amount of required food, I think it was a success!


  • Came home and rediscovered my love of Prague, travel, diverse cultures, and my career

Needless to say, it’s been an excellent year.  I’m absolutely honored to have experienced everything I have, and to have met all of the people that I have.  Every single person I’ve met this year has taught me something, and I’m grateful for all of them. With all of these incredible things under my belt, I recognize there is always room for growth and even more experiences, so I’ve decided to make a list of goals for 2016.

My Goals for 2016:

  • Book and take trips to Morocco and Iceland for personal vacations
  • Continue to appreciate exactly where I’m living, and don’t let a day go by where I don’t marvel at the beauty, history, and culture of this city
  • Explore Prague more often!  I often get so bogged down by my work that I forget to explore in my free time.  I haven’t climbed Petrin Tower since 2011, and I’ve never been to the top of the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square.  It’s time to get my butt to the top of both, among other beautiful things in this city.
  • Run more, particularly in beautiful places in Prague- it serves two purposes!
  • Watch the sunset from Riegrovy Sady as frequently as possible.  The view from this park is insanely  beautiful, particularly at sunset, and I live too close to not appreciate it more often.
  • Travel in the Czech Republic to a few new places I haven’t visited yet- this beautiful country deserves to be explored, too

And finally…

  • Write a blog post or travel guide at least once a week.  If you have any suggestions for topics you think I should cover- let me know and I’ll get to it! I’d love to be able to build up this blog and community in 2016, and your continued involvement will only help us along!

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Diaries of an Expat: Rediscovery

Diaries of an Expat: Rediscovery

After months of having very little time or energy to give exploring the full attention it deserves, I decided to take a trip with my good friend, Ivana, to her hometown of Třeboň. Her hometown is actually a much smaller town next to Třeboň (which I’ll never be able to remember the name of), but we made our way around much of the region over the course of a delightful long weekend. Now that I’ve been living in Prague for nearly a year, I find myself too content to just sit in the city, or my apartment for that matter, instead of exploring all of the beautiful and historic places surrounding me. I guess that’s what having a full time job does for you, right? Well, no longer! My new Fall Resolution (which will henceforth be a thing) is to continuing exploring, trying new things, meeting new people, and truly taking advantage of all that this place in my life has to offer.  Because the Czech Republic is too incredible to ignore any longer.
Now that this grandiose statement has been made, the weekend:
On Friday, Ivana and I drove deep into Bohemia with two of our friends, Rita and Lukaš. Once we arrived at Ivana’s sister’s house, our homestay for the next few days, we all made our way to actual Třeboň to have dinner. We decided to treat ourselves to a wonderful meal at a restaurant whose name translates to “White Unicorn Restaurant”, and given that things are cheaper outside of Prague, it was a truly excellent meal without a terrifying sticker price. I even had a dessert, translated to “chocolate mass”, which was actually a chocolate blob with homemade ice cream- the best thing about going on holiday! Afterward, we grabbed a drink at a local bar where everyone seemed to know Ivana- it was really nice.
The next day, Ivana, Rita, and I made our way to a local castle, which was much different than I expected for whatever reason. The whole area around the castle was magical, it was so lovely to be out in the woods and park surrounded by incredibly beautiful architecture.
Afterwards, we wandered to České Budějovice to have a cup of coffee and grocery shop for our dinner. We grilled meat and veggies on a raclette grill and played Cards Against Humanity, aided by a few bottles of wine. Nights like these really make me feel like I’ve been able to make a life here- it all felt so normal and comfortable, and I realize how truly lucky I am to have these people in my life.
On Sunday, Rita and Lukaš left for Prague, so Ivana and I took the opportunity to explore Třeboň by daylight. I was so pleasantly surprised by this town! In the daylight, the colors of the buildings absolutely glow, and the atmosphere is just that of a small European village- people are friendly and there is just enough to see and do. We started our adventure by walking through the castle grounds, past the local brewery, to the lake. I’m sorry, pond. Well, you see, the definition of this body of water is up for debate because, as you can see from the photos, it’s a lake. Unless you ask Ivana. Anyway, we walked around the lake and enjoyed some autumn sunshine before stumbling upon a small winery which was selling the local delicacy of Burčak. This is a drink which can only be sold from August through November, and is the young form of local wines. It’s very sweet (as the sugar hasn’t had time to ferment yet), and very delicious.
We decided to forgo the mid-day wine festival (complete with an outdated and poorly translated Czech DJ), and continue walking around the lake. On our way, we noticed a tourist train coming around the bend on the dirt path along the water. This train is not an actual train, but one you might find at a zoo meant for moving people from one attraction to the next. We moved over to given the train room, and the next thing we know, we’ve been been hit full-force by the little engine that could. The only way I knew how I was one minute standing and the next minute sprawled across the dirt path was from the crunching sound I heart as the front end of the train hit both of our backs. The conductor said that he’d swerved to miss a child on a bike, and hit us instead. How sweet. Fortunately, aside from some sore muscles and bruised egos, it was a no harm no foul situation. Still hilarious, and still made me wonder how my life has not yet been turned into a sitcom. Anyway, after our near brush with death (or a chilly September swim), we continued along our way, a bit more slowly, as Ivana had been talking about a crypt that we could visit. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I don’t think it was this:
It felt like we’d stumbled across Snow White’s chapel in the middle of the forest along one of the most beautiful lakes I’d ever seen. Saying this is a crypt does the structure a huge disservice, because even if it really is a crypt, it’s also a magical little spot in the forest of Třeboň. We wandered inside and admired the chapel, and then made our way back to the town, careful to avoid any more rogue tourist trains.
Back in Třeboň, we grabbed a cup of coffee, wrote out some postcards, and then took a climb up a tower in the city center to get a view of the rooftops. The climb up was certainly worth it, as the rooftops and surrounding nature of this town were breathtaking. Or I was out of breath from the climb. Regardless, I loved every minute (shout out to Ivana who made the climb despite a sore back and fear of heights- this girl is the best, ladies and gentleman).
Once down from the tower, we made our way out of town, grabbed some dinner and a bottle of wine, and spent the evening drinking that wine while watching Eat, Pray, Love and painting our nails.
I had the best time this weekend, and I’m so glad that I decided to come despite how tired and grumpy I’ve been recently. Finding a work-life balance is tough, particularly when you’ve established your life around your work. And I love my work. I love my work so much, and I am so glad I’ve chosen to dedicate my life to international education. But I also need to practice what I preach, and this excursion into Bohemia was exactly that- a much needed and thoroughly enjoyable weekend with some of the best people I know.
What I Learned Living in a Tourist Capital for 4 Days

What I Learned Living in a Tourist Capital for 4 Days

I live in Prague, which is a touristy city, but I don’t live in a particularly touristy area.  The neighborhood I live in is full of other expats, artists, families, and a truly incredible amount of adorable puppies, and living here affords me the opportunity to pretend that millions of people don’t invade this city every year.  Living outside of the tourist center of the city has also caused some…encounters…with Czechs that aren’t particularly thrilled that I don’t speak Czech very well, and with Czechs who think my attempts are either laughable or adorable (I’ve never been able to tell which).  Regardless, my experience living in Prague 3 feels “local” to me.  I feel like I’m part of a community here, and that I’m adapting to this beautiful city well enough to start calling it home.

All of this changed last week when I had to temporarily leave my apartment while some repairs were being done.  Because I work in Old Town, I decided that I would take my rent reduction and book an Airbnb apartment close to work so that I’d be able to cut down my commute for a couple of very lazy days.  I had no idea that 3 nights spent living in Prague’s Jewish Quarter would be so incredibly different than the past 7 months I’ve spent living 4 metro stops away from the heart of the Old Town.  Experiencing my (current) home city through a tourist’s eyes gave me both a deeper appreciation for tourists, and for the city itself.  In light of my most recent revelations, here are some things that I learned while living in the tourist district of Prague:

  1. Using the local language will (usually) earn you major brownie points.  I’ve been learning Czech for 3 or 4 months, and I can say basic things.  Very basic.  So basic that people in my own neighborhood usually get frustrated or angry with me, and if they don’t, they usually just laugh at the “cute” attempt.  In my laziness, I visited restaurants in the Jewish Quarter that I probably wouldn’t have ever gone to otherwise, and did my usual “attempt to order in Czech” thing, and it was met with such gratitude I felt like I was going to be thrown a parade.  I had one waitress apologize to me for greeting me in English as soon as she heard me say “ja si dam” (“I’ll have”) when placing my order.  …She actually apologized- and in a very heartfelt way at that!  I had another waiter come over to me when I finished a meal to thank me for attempting Czech, and he said it so earnestly that I could believe he’s never had another customer make the attempt.  I’ve never been thanked for butchering a language before, I guess I can check it off the bucket list…
  2. Not using the local language can be a serious detriment.  It’s not often the case that I can pick and choose when to speak the local language, and to be fair, if I can speak the local language I almost always give it a shot.  In these three days, I certainly ran into moments when my Czech wasn’t sufficient, and it became a truly interesting exercise.  In these moments, it was clear that my quality of life in Prague is significantly better when I’m attempting to speak Czech.  Or in any case, I pay less for wine.
  3. Tourists are both incredibly annoying and incredibly charming.  When you’re trying to get to work in the morning and have to walk through Old Town Square, it’s much like the feeling you get walking to an important meeting through Times Square at 2:00 pm on a Saturday.  It’s not a happy feeling.  On the other hand, seeing the city you’ve lived in for more than half a year through the eyes of those tourists is a great path to rediscovery.  I usually blow past them on the sidewalk in an effort to get home, but because I was living so close to the office I had a lot more free time to appreciate what was around me.  Part of what I found to appreciate was the amazement with which many of the tourists see Prague.  It’s also a great feeling when someone asks you for directions, and you can help them.  It’s even better when you can see the pure joy in their eyes when they realize that you speak English- a feeling I can truly understand!
  4. Prague is beautiful, and I’m incredibly lucky.  I read a HuffPost article today which named Prague “Europe’s Prettiest City”, which may be an exaggeration, or maybe not.  This city is truly beautiful, there’s no denying that.  I live and work in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, if not the world, and I almost never actually think about that in my day-to-day life.  It’s so easy to get caught up in work, friends, and traveling outside of Prague that I forget to appreciate my own city.  It’s actually ridiculous that I’m saying this, because it’s the one thing I always tell my students- “remember to live in and love Prague, it’s just as amazing as all of those travel destinations you have planned”, but I’m so guilty of the same mindset.  While I was staying in the Jewish Quarter, I walked down Parizska ulice (Paris Street, reminiscent of the Champs-Elysees) and admired the beautiful architecture surrounding the incredible store windows of the most expensive stores in Prague.  I even took a walk down to Charles Bridge at sunset and parked myself on a bench to stare at the rooftops on the other side of the river.  Not many people get to experience that feeling ever in their lives, I can do it whenever I want.  So I’ve decided that’s exactly what I’m going to do- something to appreciate Prague every week, if not every day, I owe it to this magical place.

This week’s revelations aren’t Prague-specific, I think they’re travel, study abroad, or expat relevant, in general.  So many of my expat friends and students tell me about how boring it is in their host city, or how they can’t wait to travel somewhere else, and it kills me!  Learning to appreciate the beauty surrounding you, no matter where in the world you are, is one of the greatest rewards and lessons you can gain from traveling.  Learning to respect and appreciate the local people and language is another great, albeit challenging, lesson to be learned from traveling and living abroad.  Once you make that step towards immersion and adaptation, it’s become clear to me that your life abroad will become significantly better.  I’m so happy to call Prague home for now, and I’ll be even more happy when I’ll be able to officially add Czech to my “languages spoken” list.  Living in the Jewish Quarter for 3 nights was a great experience, and I would recommend anyone living abroad to experience their city as a tourist would- it will certainly breathe new life into your experience!

Prague at Sunset

The view from my bench at Charles Bridge.  Did I mention this city is incredibly beautiful?

Diaries of an Expat: What Does it Mean to Be American?

Diaries of an Expat: What Does it Mean to Be American?

By Katie Ford

As I sit in the Dallas Fort Worth Airport, I find myself surrounded by “American” cultural icons- a cowboy-themed bar, country music, multiple fast-food options, and a steakhouse.  But the thing is, I don’t really identify with any of these things in the way that many of the people around me seem to.  I actually feel like I often do when I’m traveling in other countries; I recognize the similarities between myself and those around me, but the difference are also glaringly obvious.

I’ve been traveling in the United States for various conferences and meetings over the past week and a half, and it has given me an interesting insight into my own culture, and that of different regions around the USA.  Probably the most valuable part of the time that I’ve spent back in the States is that I was visiting places I had never traveled to before, despite those places being located within the confines of my own country.  Furthermore, in New Orleans, the culture is significantly different than the culture in New York, my home state.  I felt as if I was visiting another country while I was there, and it was shocking to notice how little I fit in as a “typical American”.  So much of what I noticed people saying or doing seemed so foreign to me as I wandered through the streets of the Big Easy.  Is it possible that I’ve already lost fundamental components of my “American” culture?  Is it possible to actually lose culture?  At what point do you become a foreigner in your own country?

These are the questions I began asking myself.  It’s particularly interesting because when you live as an expat, you’re often defined by the place that you came from.  For instance, whenever I meet someone new in Prague, I’m always first asked where I’m from, as I am obviously not Czech.  As soon as I say, “the States”, “New York”, or any variation thereof, there is always an immediate judgement that you can practically see and feel.  I’ve never particularly minded that people tend to initially judge me based on my home town, state, or country, as those are certainly things that have played a large role in who I have developed into as an adult.  I also usually find that after I spend more time with those people, their judgements tend to shift as they realize that I don’t fit into most of the typical American stereotypes (thankfully).  Despite this, I have always been proud of being an American, of my home state and all that it offers, and grateful for the opportunities I’ve been afforded because of those things.  On the other side of the coin, when I’m in the United States, and where I live somehow comes up in conversation, I am instantly judged as a foreigner.  An American who isn’t quite an American that lives a crazy and exotic life that seems essentially incomprehensible to many.  It’s hard for some people, especially those who haven’t traveled, to relate to me anymore, and it’s an interesting byproduct of becoming an expat.  You can’t relate to those who are native in your host country, as you’re obviously still foreign, but those at home also find you hard to relate to because you’ve made yourself somehow foreign.

The question of whether or not it’s possible to “lose” culture came up at one of the conference sessions I attended this week, and I thought it was a very interesting question.  There wasn’t really a general consensus in the room, although some of those in attendance had some very thought-provoking responses to the question.  I personally like the response from one woman working at a university in Barcelona.  At her university, they teach classes in Catalan, Spanish, and English in order to give all students, local and international, the opportunity to develop a wide array of language skills in order to better prepare them for the world.  The concept of culture is particularly poignant in Barcelona because of the ever-lasting Spanish versus Catalan culture contention.  She said that she doesn’t think her students lose anything in terms of culture when they take courses in a language outside of their own.  In fact, she said that she thinks that no matter where your cultural roots are, you will always have the ability to gather other cultural insights to incorporate them into your own, but that growth doesn’t negate your own culture, which will never change.  I feel like this fairly accurately describes how I have developed personally over the last 5 or so years since I first studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence.  Living abroad in three different countries has taught me how to learn from and truly appreciate other cultures while still maintaining my own identity.  The key thing, for me, is to recognize how my identity may be perceived by other people depending on what their previous exposure has been, and accepting that as something I can do nothing about.  The most important responsibility I have is to continue growing, developing, and learning about everything around me in an effort to become the most compassionate, well-rounded, and forward-thinking individual I can be.  Yes, I am an American.  I am also a global citizen, and part of this experience means reconciling the two.


Diaries of an Expat: Part IV

Diaries of an Expat: Part IV

By Katie Ford

I’ve now been living in Prague for just about 3 months, which seems insane to me.  What’s even crazier to think about is that this is the point when a typical study abroad student would start to think about leaving and going back home after the semester, but that’s not going to be in the cards for me for quite a while yet!  The past three months have certainly been an adjustment period for me.  I think it was a bit easier for me to adjust to living in Prague since I moved here from having spent the last year in Wales, so I was already adjusted to living outside my own culture.  With that being said, it certainly hasn’t been easy just because I’m used to living outside of the United States.

The biggest struggle that I’ve found so far is something that I would imagine most expats experience; it’s hard for me to accept that I just don’t know anyone here very well yet, and that I can’t expect to forge deep and lasting relationships in 3 months’ time, as much as I would like them.  I miss being able to call my friend in the next town over to meet at Panera, or being able to call one of my good friends in Cardiff to meet at Pettigrew’s for tea and scones.  That actually brings up the second part of this particular adjustment issue- I’m struggling to distinguish between what I miss from New York and those things that I miss from the places I’ve lived in Europe.  Living in a European city brings back memories from when I lived in France 5 (!) years ago, and it really makes me miss things from Aix-en-Provence.  I can feel myself missing the weather of Aix, since parts of this city actually remind me of Aix in very strange ways.  I’m excited for it to get warmer and sunnier so I can sit outside and enjoy that part of living in an absolutely gorgeous city.  Living in Prague feels much more similar to living in Aix than in Cardiff because of the language barrier, which at times has been significant.  Even with my admittedly limited French language skills, I was generally able to communicate anything that I needed in France, and that is certainly not the case in Prague.  I also find myself missing a lot of things that I really enjoyed in Cardiff, namely Cardiff Castle, relatively easy access to horses, and scones.  I don’t miss the rain in Cardiff, or the UK at large, so there’s that.

My advice to those who are interested in living and working abroad is to carefully consider how isolating that can be, at least in the beginning.  Living abroad sounds like this incredible adventure, and it definitely is, but on those shitty days when you just want to eat Ben and Jerry’s with a good friend and forget about what’s around you, you likely won’t have that friend around for a good while after you move.  I am extremely fortunate because my co-workers are great people who have generously introduced me to their friends, and have spent a bunch of time with me outside of work.  Many expats don’t have this luxury when they move abroad.

So enough of the whining, of course living abroad isn’t ALL that bad!  I haven’t had the chance to do much traveling outside of Prague since I’ve gotten here because I’ve been working quite a bit to keep up with the 124 students who just arrived to Prague that are “under my wing”.  I’ve taken one day trip to Plzen and one to Lidice, both in the Czech Republic, with my students as a part of their curriculum, and both of those have been great experiences.

Plzen and Pilsner Urquell Brewery, Czech Republic

This week my anti-travel streak is definitely ending!  On Thursday, I leave with a small group of students to Olomouc, Czech Republic and Krakow, Poland.  I’ve not been to Olomouc before, so I’m excited to spend a day there learning more about Czech history, and about Moravian culture.  I spent a few days in Krakow last year and absolutely fell in love with the city, so I’m very excited to have three more days of exploration this year!  We’re traveling with an incredibly knowledgeable and interesting professor, so I’m very excited to see these cities with his guidance- it should be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Two days after I return from Krakow, I head off to the United States for just under two weeks.  I’ll start with two days in Miami to meet my colleagues there, as a big part of my job is working specifically for the University of Miami, and then I’ll travel on to New Orleans to attend The Forum on Education Abroad.  I absolutely loved going to the Forum two years ago, as I learned a TON about study abroad, and it certainly made me a better International Education professional.  I’ve never been to Miami or New Orleans, so I’m excited to spend some time there.  I have a free weekend in New Orleans which I’ll be spending with my family exploring the city.

Every once in a while, I get a bit down about living away from everyone that I know and love, but then I remember that I get to travel to so many incredible places, live in such a fantastic city, and work with such amazing people, that I know I can’t complain even the slightest bit.

Remember to check back next week for a blog re-cap about my weekend in Olomouc and Krakow!

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Diaries of an Expat Part III: “Nemluvim cesky.”

Diaries of an Expat Part III: “Nemluvim cesky.”


It’s been over two months since I moved to Prague, and almost exactly two months since I began working, but I’ve had almost no time to truly learn the city, learn any more Czech than I came with, or even meet a lot of people.  Today, I decided that that was going to change.  I realized when I was walking around with my students after they arrived last week that they were going to know more about Prague than I was, and I truly think that I should be the voice of experience, so I made plans to spend the day walking.  I started by going to brunch with a new friend at a restaurant called Bohemian Bagels, which is apparently an expat-favorite, and I definitely understand why.  Having a real brunch (with a mimosa) was one of the most comforting things I’ve done so far- even the waitstaff were expats, which I realize isn’t the point of cultural immersion, but it helps every once in a while!  Afterwards, I took the tram up the hill to Prague Castle, and started working my way down through the city.

After walking around for a bit through the outdoor areas of the castle, I realized how much I remembered from the first time I visited Prague in 2011, which was really nice.  I began walking down the hill, which was absolutely gorgeous.  The views are spectacular, and the architecture is exactly the type that I love, imperfect, unique, and beautiful.

I wandered into several art galleries, considered buying crepes many times (I resisted), and eventually got down the hill near Charles Bridge.  I found a couple of beautiful places along the Vltava River, and I sat along the riverbank for a long time just looking at Old Town across the way, and convincing myself that this where I live now.  The weird thing (that I’ve found) about being an expat is that it’s really difficult to come to terms with the new place that you’re living in, especially if you’re moving from one foreign country to another.  By the time I left Cardiff, I finally felt at home there, but it took a long time.  Sitting at the river watching the tourists be in awe of the city made me realize two things: one, that I’m incredibly lucky to live here and to have more than just a weekend to experience this city, and two, that I have to give myself just as much time as I did in Cardiff to call this place home, maybe even more.  Moving to a new city, much less and new country, takes a lot of energy and takes a toll on you emotionally.  I know that I will love this city as if I’ve been here forever, but I can’t have expected that to happen in the first week (although the mulled wine all over the city at Christmas helped).  Anyway, after my musings along the river, I continued walking across the river and over towards the university building where my office is located to take the metro home.

Today was one of the best days I’ve had in Prague so far.  I feel like I was able to claim this city a bit, which is really exciting.  I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so that days like this will be more comfortable in the future.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be fluent in Czech, or if I’ll ever truly integrate into the Czech culture (no matter how hard I try), but I’ll continue to try my best.  I already order coffee in Czech and wanted to die seeing the restaurant prices in the touristy areas near the Castle, so that’s a start, right?

Remember to check out and for more travel tips and tricks, and updates on my new life in Prague!

Diaries of an Expat: Part II

Diaries of an Expat: Part II

By Katie Ford

It’s been just over a month since I moved to Prague, and it’s been an absolute whirlwind.  Because I moved here for the specific purpose of working, that’s been my focus which is, I suppose, a blessing and a curse.  I’m very fortunate to have found such an awesome job in a foreign country (especially in such a cool city like Prague), but working 40+ hours per week doesn’t give me much time to explore the city, meet new friends, or really enjoy the fact that I’m living in such an incredible place.  With that being said, I’ve really made the effort to try to meet new people when I’m not working, find time for activities that are unique to Prague, and exploring a new piece of the city every once in a while.  That leads me to my next bit of expat advice: make the effort to meet people, try new things, and experience the place where you’re living.  I know that I’ve only been here for a month, but I also know that the next 4 months will definitely fly by, and most likely, so will the next 11 months.  So, how do I do all of these things when I’m working full time, dealing with varying amounts of culture shock, and all I want to do is cuddle with my cat after work? (Oh, is that just me?)

Meet Finnegan Frolík, my new Czech love

This is what worked for me:

I joined a couple of Facebook groups meant specifically for foreigners and travel enthusiasts in Prague.  My intention has always been to make Czech friends, and to learn the language and culture, but you need to start somewhere!  You’ll also be surprised how many locals participate in these kinds of groups and events- they’re looking for like-minded people, too!  I had great luck with the Couchsurfers group in Prague.  You may notice that Couchsurfing is conspicuously absent from my website and blog, and that’s mostly because I’ve simply never tried it.   The fun thing about Couchsurfing is that you don’t actually have to “surf couches” to be able to meet people through the site.  If you create a profile on you can opt to just be available to meet people instead of actually hosting them or being hosted yourself.  There’s a super active Couchsurfing group in Prague, and they host meet-ups every week that are totally open to anyone who wants to stop by.  They’re also held super close to my apartment which was a big motivating factor in my attendance.  Anyway, I was able to meet several really cool people at the first meeting, two of whom I went out with for New Year’s Eve and have hung out with since (and they’re even Czech!).  I also joined a Facebook group meant for expats living in Prague.  That one has been really great to find people to grab drinks or coffee with that are also just looking to meet new people in the city.

View of the fireworks on Petrin Hill overlooking all of the Old Town in Prague on New Year’s Eve

I’ve been trying to do things.  Whether I’m invited to do something or I organize it on my own, I still try to get up and do things no matter how tired I am.  Culture shock, moving, and starting a new job all cause stress and tiredness, and many expats are dealing with at least one of these things… or even all of them.  Getting out of your house and finding something to do will help you adjust to your new life abroad way faster than cuddling with your new cat.  I took myself to see a production of Don Giovanni at the Estate’s Opera, which was a truly incredible experience.  I was invited to go ice skating, so I rented skates that did NOT function at all, but was able to meet a couple new people.  And probably the most seemingly innocuous but most interesting experience was going to an “Aqua Park” where there are pools, waterslides, and a sauna.  European sauna etiquette is very different than American sauna etiquette.  In case you were wondering.

The Estate’s Theatre, where Don Giovanni first premiered in Mozart’s lifetime

The last month in Prague has been absolutely great, but I know that it’s just the beginning.  The students I’ll be working and traveling with all semester are arriving on Monday, and I could not be more excited to meet all of them, and help them experience Prague on their own.  I have a feeling that I’ll be learning more about this city from them than I’d be able to learn on my own!  February is a fairly calm month for me, aside from work and such, but March is when the fun really starts.  My first overnight trip for work is 4 days in Krakow, Poland (love that city <3), and then I’m off to New Orleans and Miami for just under two weeks for conferences and such!  I’ll be sure to keep you updated on all of the adventures as they come.

Remember to check out the Study Hard Travel Smart website for tips and tricks about travel and study abroad, including travel guides to all of the cities I’ve been to!  And follow us on Facebook for all sorts of updates and posts on recent happenings in Prague and elsewhere.

Diaries of an Expat Part I: The “How” of Working Abroad

Diaries of an Expat Part I: The “How” of Working Abroad

By Katie Ford

Hello from Prague!

The home base of Study Hard Travel Smart has jumped across the Atlantic to the beautiful city of Prague, but that also means that my life has uprooted itself once more.  I landed safely back in Europe about two weeks ago, and it’s been a whirlwind since the moment I stepped off the plane.  Moving is stressful no matter where you’re going, but when it requires flying across an ocean there are so many more things to consider.  I usually preach about packing light, but that’s nearly impossible to do when you have to bring most or all of your things with you.  I ended up with 4 suitcases that were pretty tightly packed, but my apartment is totally ready to go!

The first question that I’m usually asked when people find out that I’ve become an expat is, “How did you manage to get that job?”, or some variation on this question (which, depending on how it’s phrased, can be borderline offensive).  The simple answer is that I stalked out a listserv for international education professionals for job postings that would fit my skills for months, and was so happy when this one came along.  Of course, this method won’t work for everyone, so here are a few suggestions if you’re also interested in moving abroad:

  1. Don’t be specific about the “where”.  If you want to move abroad, it’s likely that you have a country in mind.  If you’d asked me a year or two ago where I would move if I were to move abroad, the answer likely would have been France.  It probably still is if I’m being completely honest, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love Prague.  You need to be willing to go where the jobs are, and this is even more tricky when the job is abroad because you have those silly visa requirements to consider.  For example, in my position it was a necessity that I be a native English speaker as I’m working with American study abroad students in a non-English speaking country.  If I were to apply for the same job in the United Kingdom, the fact that I was a native English speaker wouldn’t matter as much.  Maybe the fact that I’m familiar with the American university system would, but it truly depends on exactly what the company/organization/university is looking for.  A great option for English speakers is to get your TEFL certificate and teach English abroad for a while.  There are an absolute ton of opportunities for this all over the world (government sponsored and not), and it’s a great way to get your foot in the door.  Making contacts and finding a job is way easier when you’re already in-country!
  2. Don’t give up too quickly. Often times job seekers hear of the dreaded visa process or plummeting economy and immediately run away.  It’s true that these are things that may prevent you from securing a job, but it’s not impossible.  Find out which websites companies use to advertise locally in each country.  For example, in the UK you might want to look at, but in other countries it’ll be something different.  Don’t look only at the sites that market to foreigners- you’ll probably just find a lot of dead-end recruiters looking to take up your time.
  3. Be ready for a challenge.  A lot of people seem to think that moving abroad is some sort of fairytale where you just find a magical job that pays a ton of money, flights and moving expenses don’t exist, and paperwork nightmares aren’t a thing.  I appreciate that there are people who realize that this isn’t true, but an alarming number of people seem to dwell in the first camp.  Moving abroad is difficult.  You’ll get really overwhelmed.  You’ll miss home and your family and friends.  You’ll probably have a lot of up-front expenses between getting visas, flights, and moving abroad.  But it’s worth it, and that’s what you have to focus on.  Don’t give up because the consulate refuses to answer your questions in a coherent way- it’ll get better in time!

So this is pretty much where we’re at in my expat story.  I got a job in Prague, and then I moved here.  I’ve only had about 4 days of work, but so far I really love it.  I definitely missed working in study abroad, and I’m so excited that I’m getting to do it full time with really unique programs and fantastic co-workers.  I haven’t done too much exploring of the city yet because I’ve been doing so much running around, but the bits I have seen have been just as amazing as I remember them.

Check back soon for more updates on my adventures (in Prague and elsewhere!), and for tips on living that expat life!