1. What do you miss most about home?
Food. Sauces with all varieties of meat, with one of the best sirloin in cream (aka svickova) and other delicacies like cabbage "pancakes" (aka zelnaky), Homemade dumplings; here in Belgium, you can't get them right and they never tasted the same even my wife tried her best.
Close friendship. That is more direct and will reply with their true feelings if you ask them the local equivalent of "How are you?" ("Jak se mas?") which is usually regarded as an inquiry into the other person's actual state rather than a formality. And when someone invites you to visit them, they really mean it.
The countryside. In my travels, I have seen a lot of countries, but none compare with the Czech countryside. There is nothing like the very gently rolling hills, the expanses of green, and the mix of evergreen trees. Historical, poetic towns and villages with small churches surrounded by linden, old castles on the hills, forests, meadows, and gold looking fields, where you can lay down and feel all previously mentioned.
What have you found rewarding about working in such a multinational environment as SHAPE?
The assignments here in SHAPE help me become comfortable with the modern way of thinking, which enables me to adapt quickly and efficiently to diverse situations and circumstances as well as being both professionally and personally rewarding. Working in an international team in a foreign country brings me ideas that would never have crossed my mind. Thanks to my co-workers' different experiences and backgrounds, I have gained a completely different mindset, allowing me to become much more complex in my thinking.
3. What is something unique about the Czech Republic that others might not know?
It has the most castles in Europe. There are over 2000 castles and chateaux in the Czech Republic, more than any other country in Europe. Some of the most famous ones are the Hluboká Castle, Orlík Castle, Lednice Castle and Karlštejn Castle. The largest ancient castle in the world is the Prague Castle, 570m long and 128m wide. Finally, Czechs are the world's largest beer consumers. The first pale lager, Pilsner Urquell, was brewed in the Czech city of Pilsen in 1842.
4. During normal non COVID times how would you usually celebrate this national day?
The whole nation pays tribute to the late President Masaryk and remembers his role in establishing the new sovereign state. The president of the Czech Republic, together with key government members, will place flowers on President Masaryk's grave. In the evening, the Czech president will present honours and awards to leaders of cultural and social life in the Czech Republic.
On this day, the doors of the Czech Prime Minister's House and the Residence of the Mayor of Prague are open to the public. Czech citizens enjoy picnicking at recreational areas with their family and friends.