Written by Ryan Keating
Polish expat Lukasz and I recently sat down in a typically smoky Czech bar with nothing but quirk and mulled wine to entertain us. The perfect bar atmosphere to engage each other in an endless discussion about everything… and nothing. With a slight Irish twang in his accent, Lukasz’ story is quite an interesting one. Read on to see for yourself.
So! Your surname translates into English as “good”, do people ever make fun of your name?
Not really, because gut is German, and these things are quite normal I guess. But, if I was brought up in an English speaking country, probably they would.
(Laughs) “Lucas Good”, I would probably make fun of you… sorry! This is a German surname, do you have any German ancestors?
Yes, my grandfather is German and I have some family there but I’ve never heard anything from them, just seen some pictures and that’s it. It’s a pity that there was none of the language in the house, my grandfather spoke fluent German, but he never spoke it to my father.
So where are you from in Poland, Lukasz? What was it like growing up there?
Very small town or village kind of close to Krakow, about an hour away. It was nice, huge gardens, a lot of animals around me. We didn’t have a farm, but my grandmother did. So after school, instead of going home, I would usually go to my grandma’s and playing with the animals and then come home at about 9 in the evening, covered in mud (laughs). I would sometimes bring animals home too.
Frogs, lizards, some exotic insects, hamsters, parrots. I also had a dog at home and I had some fish too.
You had everything!
I was basically taking anything that I found on the street (laughs)
And how did you get to Prague? How long have you been here for?
Well, I’ve been here for three years. I had actually never been to Prague before I moved here. I had been living in Ireland for a couple of years and I just wanted something, I wanted a change. The opportunity actually came one summer when I had a job offer. I actually had two job offers at the same time. One in Berlin, and one in Prague. And I chose Prague.
That’s great, I think most people choose Berlin.
Yeah well I chose Prague because I had heard a lot of nice things about it. I think it’s a beautiful place, man. I actually came here and knew no one. I went from no one to quite a few great friends, so I’m very happy here now.
Did you find it easy to meet people when you first came here?
For the first few months it was a bit difficult, I came here with, I think the Irish way of meeting people still in my head. You know, when you’re waiting in a queue or something you’re just naturally talking to the people in line, and that doesn’t really happen here. For the first few months, people were looking at me in a funny way (laughs). So that’s when I thought ok.. this isn’t exactly what you’re supposed to do. But then when you meet people and meet people through other people it works very well. This is how I met all of my friends.
Photo: Lukasz Gut
Great, let’s backtrack a little bit.. Why Ireland? How did you end up there for two years?
Well, I needed a change in my life and Ireland was quite popular at that time. So basically, I gave notice to my boss and in two weeks I was already in Ireland. It was all very quick.
Wow! That was quick.. And you went to Dublin?
It was very quick! Yes I went to Dublin, and I only knew one person there but after some time I made some really cool friends. Friends forever 🙂 Not just Irish people, but other nationalities too.
As I understand it, sometimes there is a bit of a conflict between the Czech Republic and Poland. It’s a common stereotype that Czech people hate you guys! What do you think?
I have never had any trouble living in Prague. We like Czech people. We like the attitude, the beer and we like Prague too. There are a lot of Polish people here in Prague. If you ask anybody back home about the Czech Republic they will say it’s cool and that it’s really nice. I wouldn’t say that the Czechs hate the Polish. I think this negativity is more common in Ireland or the UK.
What are the main difference from the Czech Republic to Poland? What do you miss?
Well I always miss family, but I don’t miss anything else. We are quite similar. The food is pretty much the same as well so I don’t miss that. I also left Poland straight after college so I didn’t have any really strong relationships with my friends. But yeah there is never a time when I’m sitting on my couch and thinking “Oh my god, I really miss this…” That doesn’t really happen.
One thing that’s weird about going back is that everyone speaks your language! And I can hear people talking about me. Always strange after being away for a while.
Great. Now I want to ask you about the language. I know that Czech and Polish are very similar, but there are some words that are the same but have extremely different meanings. Tell us about some of them.
I think there is even a website with a list of them (laughs). The word čerstvé means fresh in Czech, but it means old in Polish.
That would have made an interesting trip to the supermarket.
(Laughs) Well luckily I already knew about that difference when I came. But there are others, for example šukat means to look for in Polish but it means to f@#$ in Czech (laughs). I was at the office once and there were a lot of Czech people there and a Polish friend was here. And I kept saying Magda I was looking for you and everyone thought it was a bit weird. I mean, they know about these differences, but it’s still sounds funny.
If you could describe Prague, how would you do it.
Ok, I need to tell you something…. This isn’t my opinion, but my friend’s. They said that “Prague is like a prostitute, it’s so beautiful on the outside, but underneath it all it’s dirty! And used! Hahahaha. But she said that because she had some issues with the foreign police and visas and everything, she wasn’t from the EU. Sometimes it can be hard. She’s a lovely person though, I miss her a lot.
Yep, I know what she means and a lot of others do too.
But for me, I really like Prague a lot. I do avoid the tourist places and those bars that everybody goes to. But when you know where to go and live, it’s so beautiful. It’s green and has a nice vibe. I also think that Prague is one of the safest cities in Europe. It’s really fun!
For expats and other people who are thinking of living in Prague, what advice would you give them?
Well, there is some advice I can give that is the same for any country that you move to… Understand the culture, it’s the first thing you have to do. After that, everything is going to be ok.
How tall are you?
Photo: Lukasz Gut
This is a stupid question, but a lot of people want to be taller to see the world from a different perspective or to be above people etc. How does it feel to be tall Lukasz?
Well, I’m not that tall. 190 is not that tall. I’ve never thought about that actually (laughs). I actually wouldn’t mind being a little shorter.
Tall people have it so good! Where do you like to chill out in Prague?
Riegrovy sady! I just love it. I live very close so I spend most of summer there.
I like it to. Very nice atmosphere. Who would you say has made Prague really worthwhile for you?
Well I’ve got a couple of Czech friends, American friends, Polish friends. Friends from everywhere really! I have a lot of active friends here which is nice. Whenever I want to grab a bike and go somewhere or go to the gym etc, there is always someone who is up for it.
You’ve travelled quite a bit, tell me about a crazy travelling experience.
Definitely Africa, it was so different. Lots of people are offering you things; hotels, hostels, tourist attraction deals etc. It really opened up my mind. I was sleeping in a tent with animals walking around – right in the middle of the Serengeti. There were a lot of hyenas around, and that was a bit scary.
Great! Thank you for your time Lukasz and enjoy your time in Prague!