Friday, May 23, 2014

Week 2 Learnings!

     During week 2, we have learned about what the European Union is, and about the political & cultural environment in the Czech Republic.

The European Union is an economic and political partnership between twenty-eight countries in Europe, and was constructed after the Second World War in 1956. Europeans were determined to end the bloody and violent period during the late 1940s- early 1950s. Introduced by French politician Robert Schuman, the idea of the European Union was to create peace internationally. It was originally started as an economic partnership to open up trade between countries. But as time went on, the union continued to evolve and soon developed into a political partnership. The European Union has a main goal of promoting human rights, which makes it an admirable around the world.  

As for the political and cultural environment….

Political Environment: 

-Just last year in 2013, the Czech Republic held their first-ever preseidential election! President Milos Zeman was announced the winner.

- The main political parties include Czech Social Democratic Party, Civil Democratic Party, Czechoslovak People´s Party, Freedom Union, and The Communist Party. The Czech Social Democratic Party has the most seats in the Chamber of Deputies and the Freedom Party has the least with ten.

-Vienna has a federal republican system. It is governed in accordance with the rule of law and representative democracy.

-Some recent news that we should be aware of is that Petr Necas, the former prime minister of the Czech Republic, was charged with bribery because of a scandal. He was forced to resighn because Necas had been offering state posts to three old members of Parliament who were rebelling, in return for them leaving office.

-Every citizen, after age 18, has the right to vote.

-Currently there is an election and there are a lot of scandals and the people part of 'Red Vienna' are concerned about the turnout. Many people are saying that government is not credible anymore and the majority of voters are over age 50. 

-Power is divided into three different sectors; executive, judicial, and legislative. 

Cultural Environment: 

1. Negotiation and Corporate Social Responsibility

-The Czech Republic usually practices negotiation as a joint problem solving process. The buyer has the superior position, but it is up to both parties to reach an agreement. They focus equally on short and long term benefits.

-Business people there don't have a ton of experience so they are careful in collecting information and make planned approaches but not in a deceptive way. 

-The idea of corporate social responsibility was new to the Czech Republic until they began ethical business practices in 2007. Giving back to the community has now become part of Prague. The city even has a Corporate Responsibility Club and managers to evaluate methods of corporate social responsibility and their practice usage. 

2. Nonverbal V. Verbal Communication & Punctuality 

-Non-Verbal Communication is dependent on many factors. Such as level of education, familiarity, and many more. The actual distance that you would stand away fro someone from the Czech Republic in conversation depends on the context of the situation and the individual inclinations of persons involved. Distance is usually greater when speaking or dealing with not-yet-familiar people.

-Eye contact represents trustworthiness

-It is customary to shake hands with both men and women upon meeting them

-Pointing is very impolite

-When in a business, do not sit until asked to

-Verbal Communication in the Czech Republic is very business orientated. 

-The Czech Republic is a business community, and most who live there function with that mindset. 

-Czechs are not the type of people that will speak what's on their mind to anyone, or go out of their way to talk to strangers. 

-A suggestion is to not get too in depth in conversation with a Czech, they will begin to feel relatively uncomfortable.
-Most people do speak English, so if you do need to ask a question, majority will understand.
-Punctuality is very important in the Czech Republic.

-If you are not early, you are late in the Czech Republic

3. Attire and Communication Preferences 

-Formal attire is worn at almost all times. When attending a concert or an opera, there is an expectation of formal wear. 

-Even students who are going to an exam can be seen in formal attire. 

-When talking about business formal attire, this mean a suit, tie, dress pants, and dress shoes. For women, this could be a blouse or a formal dress. An evening dress is usually unnecessary, unless you are attending a ball. 

-Denim is also looked down upon in the Czech Republic.

-English is very common in business languages. This is also very prevalent among younger generations as well. 

-Czechs view themselves as non-confrontational and do not push the issue. 

-The official language is the Czech language, which is a slavic language, with about twelve million speakers. Most come from smaller cities within the country, but most businesses will be able to understand English.

4. Gift Giving and Business Meals

-When receiving a gift in Czech Republic you should refuse the gift until the giver insists, and you should open it right away.

-If you are invited to someone's home, take a gift and should range from $15-30. Flowers, food and alcohol are acceptable gifts. 

-Business gifts should be quality but not too expensive. Liquor like, Scotch or Bourbon are acceptable and office equipment like pens and calculators are acceptable. 

-For business meals, the host will always choose the restaurant, make the reservation and pay for the meal, including tip. Formal business attire is dress code for lunch or dinner. In Czech, you are not obligated to accept everything you are offered and doesn't matter if you finish your food or leave it on the plate. Drinking beer or wine is common.


Team Wanderlust


Monday, May 19, 2014

Getting started!

Welcome to Team Wanderlust! Our group members include myself, Shelby Duren, along with Abby Graves, Christina Smith, and Mackenzi Mink. In mid-June, we will be traveling abroad visitng Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. It is an exciting adventure and we all cannot wait! As part of some of our pre-departure studies, we did some research on the Czech Republic and the city of Prague. Here is some of what we found!

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, and also the country's largest city. Wiki Travel says Prague is a, "Magical city of bridges, cathedrals, gold tipped towers and church domes, that has been mirrored in the surface of the swan-filled Vltava River for more than ten centuries." Prague is a very modern city, with a passion for music and arts. It is the largest in the Czech Republic and is also divided into ten districts. The districts have many different neighbourhoods and can be easily transported by a tram network. The population is quite large, with over one million residents. Prague castle is one of the most famous landmarks, and is also a place I am really interested in visiting. Another area I would like to visit is Old Town. It is also known as "Stare Mesto". It stood untouched through both World Wars and is a very popular spot in Prague that is almost always busy. Another noteworthy place is Charles Bridge. Construction of the bridge began in 1357 under King Charles IV. Construction was finished in the 15th century. It is about 1,700 feet long, with 16 arches, and 30 baroque statues along the bridge. Google maps gave the bridge 4.7/5 stars!

As far as food goes, if you like meat, you are in the right place. It is hard to find vegetarian meals at restaurants. The tap water is fine to drink, but most restaurants won't serve it because they want you to buy bottled water. Dobra Cajovna is ranked #6 of restaurants in Prague and is respectively priced. The Tavern is ranked #8 and they have burgers and also respectively priced. In Prague, lunch is the main meal. A typical lunch dish would be either chicken/pork with a starchy side, such as bread. Beef isn't too popular. Violent crimes are not common, but pickpocketers are in crowded areas. So beware! Also beware of beggars!

The language spoken is Czech, which is a slavic language. But, mostly anyone that works in a hotel or restaurant will be able to speak at least some English. Outside of the capital, English speaking residents are rare. In case of emergency, the "911" number is "112" from any phone. Prague looks like an exciting place and I am so excited to explore!
Czech Republic is known for growing wheat, potatoes, sugar, beets, hops and fruit and raise pigs and poultry. The size of this country is similar to that of Maine and it's landlocked between Austria, Germany, Poland, and Slovakia. The time zone there is 7 hours ahead of what the time is in Maryville. In the Czech Republic, limited liability company's and joint stock companies are the most common. They have a growing urban economy and it is based of the service sector. Prague is the center of financial and economic success and also the capital of this country. Tourism, automobile, pharmaceutical and electrical engineering are important in Prague. There are many ancient castle-like buildings that would be cool to see when we visit this city. Some monuments even light up every three minutes at night in order of the century they were built in and are shut off in the same order. I would like to visit some small shops like Klara Nademlynska, who is a top a designer and has worked in Paris for many years. Kempa Park is a restaurant I found that is supposed to have a really cool view and has some options that we aren't used to and would allow us to see what their food is really like.

We hope you learned something you didn't know and there will be more to come!!

Team Wanderlust