I think I was in fourth year of medical school. I went to medical school in Prague, Czech Republic. And yeah, yeah it was an amazing experience and everything, but generally speaking the Czech people aren’t particularly “nice” people in my experience*.
I remember once we were in the University Hospital. Me, my girlfriend and about three of our friends were just talking after our lectures. We were stood adjacent to a set of stairs which were leading up to some offices. Let me clarify this. We were not in any way obstructing people from going up and down this busy set of stairs!
A typical Czech man in his late 40s/50s walked passed us and as he was walking past us, up the stairs, he started sneering under his breath. “Can’t you find somewhere else to stand?!!!”.
I turned around and said “Sorry, but have you heard the phrase excuse me or please?”
The man turned around, a little red in his face and flustered as he probably didn’t think that anyone would say anything. He looked at me and said “I’ll remember you in your final exams and fail you!”.
I responded by saying “Yeah, ok.”.
Needless to say I never saw that man again and whoever he was, he had nothing to do with my education. It was just an empty pathetic threat – and I knew it was as soon as he spluttered those in-authentic words out of his mouth.
What really struck me though was this; When I turned around after that exchange of words which must have lasted like 10 seconds, my “friends” had all stepped away by a mile! My girlfriend however didn’t nudge. Not even by a step!
I’ll never forget that. It’s incredible how when you do the right thing and stand up for something right, most people around you will react by getting scared and hiding away. The few, very special courageous people, who have integrity, will be loyal and stand by you no matter what.
These are the people that you should fight to keep in your life. They’ve got your back.
Needless to say, I’ve lost all contact with those other people I was speaking to that day.
And needless to say, my girlfriend continues to amaze me with her strength of character to this day! :)))
*Disclaimer – I experienced more racism and general rudeness in my six years in the Czech Republic than the rest of my life combined. Yes, you can call it xenophobia, a different culture etc etc. I’m not hating, this was just my own personal experience.