Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 Blog Contest Results

Yeah!!  I repeated as the top expat blogger for Czech Republic.  Thanks to everyone who voted!

This year's contest was much different from last year.  I'm not sure that having the contest around Christmas was the best time to hold it as most people tend to be quite busy.  This may have deterred my main challengers from last year from entering this year's contest.  None the less, it does feel quite nice to have won again.  Congrats to the runner up - Czechesotans

Here's was my original entry...

Top 5 Things I've Learned Living in Czech Republic


1.  Czechia (Czech Republic) is located in Central Europe; not Eastern Europe.  Just look at a map and it's clear that it's located right in the middle of the continent.  Eastern Europe has negative connotations.  Most of the former communist countries want to be found in Central Europe.  Even Belarus claims to be in the center of Europe.  I guess that's true if you consider Europe running from Iceland to the far eastern bit of Russia.  Regardless, Czechland is perfectly centered for travel which is why in less than five years I've been lucky enough to visit 43 countries.

2.  Patience really is a virtue.  Anyone who has spent time in a former communist country knows all about the mindless bureaucracy required in order to get even the smallest thing done.  However, what can be even more draining is just everyday life with a foreign language.  Simple, mundane things such as going grocery shopping, visiting a pharmacy or mailing a package at the post office can require an awful lot of energy.  It's important to never give up.  OK, sometimes you buy sour cream instead of coffee creamer but as long as you don't make the same mistake twice then you at least get a humerous anecdote out of it.

3.  You never know where life will take you.  I grew up during the Cold War.  When I joined the U.S. military, we still taught German, Czech and Polish.  Times change.  Who would have thought that 20 years later I would work for IBM in Czech Republic?  Much less regularly visit East Berlin, have a Bulgarian boyfriend or be Godfather to the prettiest little German-Hungarian princess.

4.  Carefully choose your words.  Just because two people speak English doesn't mean that they speak the same language.  In school, most Europeans learn British English.  Therefore it's often better for me to adjust my vocabulary in order to better communicate.  Elevator becomes lift, apartment becomes flat, and pants become trousers while underwear becomes pants.  It can be a bit confusing at times.  For example, I once called a Romanian girl "chica" which means 'girl' in Spanish and is commonly used in the USA.  Imagine my surprise when I received a lecture about how she didn't appreciate being called "a chicken". 

My most recent English-language blunder was referring to the loo (restroom, WC, toilet) as the "little boys' room".  The next five minutes trying to explain how the little boys' (or little girls') room has nothing to do with pedophilia wasn't exactly fun.

Once I was in a hurry and said that "I was off like a prom dress."  Big mistake.  Huge!  For the next 40 minutes I had to explain what an American high school prom was and why a dress would come off.  Forty minutes of my life that I will never get back.  Lesson learned...save the colloquial expressions for other native speakers.

5.  It has never been easier to be an expat.  I don't think that I could have been an expat 20 years ago.  Aside from e-mail and Skype to keep me connected to family and friends, there are a whole slew of social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  The Internet provides an incredible amount of information to help people get started.  My blog started out simply as a personal journal so that my family could keep up with my adventures.  I would never have guessed that I would receive +125 new visitors per day from all over the world.  With all of the expat blogs available there really is no reason not to get started.

Top 5 Things I've Learned Living in Czech Republic
1.  Czechia (Czech Republic) is located in Central Europe; not Eastern Europe.  Just look at a map and it's clear that it's located right in the middle of the continent.  Eastern Europe has negative connotations.  Most of the former communist countries want to be found in Central Europe.  Even Belarus claims to be in the center of Europe.  I guess that's true if you consider Europe running from Iceland to the far eastern bit of Russia.  Regardless, Czechland is perfectly centered for travel which is why in less than five years I've been lucky enough to visit 43 countries.
2.  Patience really is a virtue.  Anyone who has spent time in a former communist country knows all about the mindless bureaucracy required in order to get even the smallest thing done.  However, what can be even more draining is just everyday life with a foreign language.  Simple, mundane things such as going grocery shopping, visiting a pharmacy or mailing a package at the post office can require an awful lot of energy.  It's important to never give up.  OK, sometimes you buy sour cream instead of coffee creamer but as long as you don't make the same mistake twice then you at least get a humerous anecdote out of it.
3.  You never know where life will take you.  I grew up during the Cold War.  When I joined the U.S. military, we still taught German, Czech and Polish.  Times change.  Who would have thought that 20 years later I would work for IBM in Czech Republic?  Much less regularly visit East Berlin, have a Bulgarian boyfriend or be Godfather to the prettiest little German-Hungarian princess.
4.  Carefully choose your words.  Just because two people speak English doesn't mean that they speak the same language.  In school, most Europeans learn British English.  Therefore it's often better for me to adjust my vocabulary in order to better communicate.  Elevator becomes lift, apartment becomes flat, and pants become trousers while underwear becomes pants.  It can be a bit confusing at times.  For example, I once called a Romanian girl "chica" which means 'girl' in Spanish and is commonly used in the USA.  Imagine my surprise when I received a lecture about how she didn't appreciate being called "a chicken".
My most recent English-language blunder was referring to the loo (restroom, WC, toilet) as the "little boys' room".  The next five minutes trying to explain how the little boys' (or little girls') room has nothing to do with pedophilia wasn't exactly fun.
Once I was in a hurry and said that "I was off like a prom dress."  Big mistake.  Huge!  For the next 40 minutes I had to explain what an American high school prom was and why a dress would come off.  Forty minutes of my life that I will never get back.  Lesson learned...save the colloquial expressions for other native speakers.
5.  It has never been easier to be an expat.  I don't think that I could have been an expat 20 years ago.  Aside from e-mail and Skype to keep me connected to family and friends, there are a whole slew of social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  The Internet provides an incredible amount of information to help people get started.  My blog started out simply as a personal journal so that my family could keep up with my adventures.  I would never have guessed that I would receive +125 new visitors per day from all over the world.  With all of the expat blogs available there really is no reason not to get started.
- See more at: http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/767/top-5-things-ive-learned-living-in-czech-republic#sthash.DIlFyOnS.dpuf
Top 5 Things I've Learned Living in Czech Republic
1.  Czechia (Czech Republic) is located in Central Europe; not Eastern Europe.  Just look at a map and it's clear that it's located right in the middle of the continent.  Eastern Europe has negative connotations.  Most of the former communist countries want to be found in Central Europe.  Even Belarus claims to be in the center of Europe.  I guess that's true if you consider Europe running from Iceland to the far eastern bit of Russia.  Regardless, Czechland is perfectly centered for travel which is why in less than five years I've been lucky enough to visit 43 countries.
2.  Patience really is a virtue.  Anyone who has spent time in a former communist country knows all about the mindless bureaucracy required in order to get even the smallest thing done.  However, what can be even more draining is just everyday life with a foreign language.  Simple, mundane things such as going grocery shopping, visiting a pharmacy or mailing a package at the post office can require an awful lot of energy.  It's important to never give up.  OK, sometimes you buy sour cream instead of coffee creamer but as long as you don't make the same mistake twice then you at least get a humerous anecdote out of it.
3.  You never know where life will take you.  I grew up during the Cold War.  When I joined the U.S. military, we still taught German, Czech and Polish.  Times change.  Who would have thought that 20 years later I would work for IBM in Czech Republic?  Much less regularly visit East Berlin, have a Bulgarian boyfriend or be Godfather to the prettiest little German-Hungarian princess.
4.  Carefully choose your words.  Just because two people speak English doesn't mean that they speak the same language.  In school, most Europeans learn British English.  Therefore it's often better for me to adjust my vocabulary in order to better communicate.  Elevator becomes lift, apartment becomes flat, and pants become trousers while underwear becomes pants.  It can be a bit confusing at times.  For example, I once called a Romanian girl "chica" which means 'girl' in Spanish and is commonly used in the USA.  Imagine my surprise when I received a lecture about how she didn't appreciate being called "a chicken".
My most recent English-language blunder was referring to the loo (restroom, WC, toilet) as the "little boys' room".  The next five minutes trying to explain how the little boys' (or little girls') room has nothing to do with pedophilia wasn't exactly fun.
Once I was in a hurry and said that "I was off like a prom dress."  Big mistake.  Huge!  For the next 40 minutes I had to explain what an American high school prom was and why a dress would come off.  Forty minutes of my life that I will never get back.  Lesson learned...save the colloquial expressions for other native speakers.
5.  It has never been easier to be an expat.  I don't think that I could have been an expat 20 years ago.  Aside from e-mail and Skype to keep me connected to family and friends, there are a whole slew of social media applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  The Internet provides an incredible amount of information to help people get started.  My blog started out simply as a personal journal so that my family could keep up with my adventures.  I would never have guessed that I would receive +125 new visitors per day from all over the world.  With all of the expat blogs available there really is no reason not to get started.
- See more at: http://www.expatsblog.com/contests/767/top-5-things-ive-learned-living-in-czech-republic#sthash.DIlFyOnS.dpuf

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