My life in the dormitory halls in Prague – a balancing act between cultures

It is very difficult to find only one topic to write about, because there are so many things and stories happening in Prague. But I decided to write about my life in the dormitory halls, because this is the biggest influence on my current life here.
My plan was to stay in the dormitory halls for the beginning of the semester and then to move to a flat to live with Czech people and to learn the Czech language. But as I started the semester living in the dormitory (which at first didn’t look very nice, more like  a prison than a place to live in), I got used to everything after few days. I got used to the noise during the night, to the searching for a clean toilet, to sharing all my kitchen utensils with everyone, and to the people I hardly knew in the first days. Furthermore, searching for a room in a flat in Prague is not that difficult if you are willing to pay about three times the price you pay in the dormitory, but it takes a lot of patience. Patience I did not want to have in this time, already falling in love with the life at Vetrnik, my dormitory hall.

The population in the dormitory halls is quite multicultural, which is not surprising, seeing that Prague can be described as the most famous student city in Central Europe. But also a lot of Czech students from the countryside are living here, if their parents’ home is too far away to stay there during the week when studying in Prague. I think there is hardly a nationality which is not represented among the students studying at Charles University in Prague. On my floor, where there is space for up to 40 students, most of the people are from Spain, and most of them came in September and stayed here for a whole year. I would do this too, if I had to choose another time for my study time abroad, because five months is quite a short time to live in another country.

There are a lot of things happening all day long in the dormitory, but I would like to write about an incident which happened on a Sunday evening. As I am living with Spanish people, the kitchen is mostly used between 9 and 10 pm, because normally nobody has dinner before 10 pm. I was reading a book in my room and my roommate was there as well, when suddenly the light went out. We checked if the other lights were functioning, and found out  that the whole area had no electricity. Never mind, after a few minutes the electricity worked again. Going out to the corridor, I realized that something smelled burned. And I was right, my neighbours were in the kitchen because they forgot that they had something in the oven when the electricity came back. The next funny incident was that shortly after, some policemen showed up in the kitchen, accompanied by the Czech woman from the reception. My first thought was that the smoke triggered the alarm. The woman asked me something, but as they always speak very quickly and in Czech, I couldn’t understand her. So she just went to the next people on the floor, asking them who had called the police. Afterwards, we realized that someone in the dorms must have called the police, because they knocked on a lot of doors asking the same question. Until now nobody knows who called the police that day, nor why they did this.

When coping with situations like this and many others, everyone behaves in a different manner. Some like to share everything up to their food and others prefer to cook on their own. These are differences can be seen in dormitories as a mixture of different personalities and nationalities, but also in Prague as a multiculturalist town with a lot of immigrants, foreign students and tourists.

Janna Ottiger

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: