So I’ve been really slack about updating my blog, and I apologize, but it just goes to show how little free time I had while taking the TEFL class.
I finished my class on Friday September 4 (with a Strong Pass, YAY) and also got the great news that I was hired at a language school here in Prague called IJV that I had interviewed with on Thursday. So that was really exciting, because it is a great school and a great company to work for. They guide you through the whole process of applying for a visa, which is really confusing and complicated with a lot of bureaucratic BS, so that is really helpful. What’s even better is they pay for their employees’ visas, which is even better news because the whole process is super expensive. So I’m really excited about my new job, and my roommates Annelise and Ali got jobs there too so that’s great.
The TEFL course was really demanding and really difficult, but it was a great experience. I learned so much about communication with others, and it was really helpful not only for learning how to teach (not to mention learning the English language!) but also for learning how to talk to people and how to communicate with people of all types. But our teaches Trish and Terry were amazing, and I feel really prepared to begin working. I got my class assignments on Friday, and I’ll be teaching 2 post-secondary classes which are for students 19-21 years old who want to take an intensive year of English for various reasons and it’s recognized by the Czech Government’s Ministry of Education. I’ll also be teaching a few English classes at businesses around the city. I don’t officially begin my contract until September 21, but I substitute a few classes this week for my friends that are “on holiday” in Italy and Austria (I’m jealous!!).
I’ve gotten to do a few cool things on the weekends while taking the class. We went paddleboating on the river one day, which was a lot of fun. They rent out paddleboats for really cheap and you can take it on the Vltava. You get such a beautiful view from the city, and we paddled down the river to a river beer garden and listened to a musician play some tunes on his guitar. It was really cool.
I also got to go see RADIOHEAD which was AWESOME. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen, not to mention I got to see them in Prague which is so cool. It was a great show, with a fantastic light show, and just an all-around surreal experience. One thing that was different, but smart, was how they sold beer at the show. They made you put a deposit on your cup, and you had to buy a new cup every time you bought a beer. For example, to get a beer I had to pay 50 Kc for the cup and 40 Kc for the beer, so each time I had to pay 90 Kc. However, there is a separate tent where you can sell your cups back, and you get all the money back for the cup that you deposited (all 50 Kc). So that prevented people from littering, and saved a lot of trash because people didn’t want to waste 50 Kc (about $2.50) for every beer they bought. So at the end of the night, the venue was so clean!!! I’ve never seen anything like that done in the US and it’s a great idea.
On Tuesday I went to Kutna Hora. It was so cool! It’s this little town outside of Prague- about an hour train ride. They have this ossuary called Kostnice that is decorated with the remains of over 40,000 human bodies. It’s pretty crazy, there are chandeliers made from entire skeletons, and all the walls are decorated with bones, and there are pyramids of bones everywhere. It’s really eerie and creepy, but it’s so crazy because it doesn’t seem real. I saw all the bones on the wall, but they are everywhere so it doesn’t really register that those are actual human bodies that are covering the walls and ceilings. It’s unbelievable.
I also had my first experience with trying to decipher a Czech hair bleaching kit. So it’s been about 6 weeks since I’ve had my hair done, and my true colors are starting to show. I haven’t officially started working and I’ve had to pay 3 months worth of rent in the past month with no income, so spending money on getting my hair done is my last priority at the moment. So, one day after one of my classes I asked a student with great blonde hair what she used, and she wrote down the brand and name of the dye she used. I went to the store to buy the bleach and there was an elderly woman with silver hair on the cover of the box. I was really skeptical about using this, and figured my student must have given me the wrong name, so I went one step down which looked like what I wanted. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I thought I knew best and that this would all work out. So my roommate Anneliese (who is great) helped me do my hair, and it was quite a task trying to decipher the instructions on the box, which were all in Czech. It was a leap of faith, but Anneliese did a great job, and I think we may need to do one more go-round, but I will remain a blonde! Yay!
The weather is starting to get a bit cooler, and I’m getting more and more nervous for the winter. I am so unprepared! My feet are getting very cold in my Rainbows, and I’m finding myself wearing more and more layers each day. Luckily, my mom made a great contact with an airline pilot who flies from Charleston to Prague (go Deb!). She stuffed a bag full of hoodies and 20 boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, which could have been quite possibly the coolest thing a mom can do, and sent it along with Dan. So for the time being I have my favorite hoodies, a couple more pairs of pants, and 20 boxes of Mac and Cheese, which has just been the icing on the cake for my life here in Prague. Mac and Cheese is such a commodity here because they don’t sell it in stores, it’s been quite a struggle not having it for the past month.
Life is great here, the only thing I think I could complain about is food restrictions. I’m so used to going to the grocery store and being able to get anything I want to cook whatever I want. They don’t have the majority of foods we have in the states. For example, no cream of chicken or cream of mushroom. The spaghetti sauce tastes like plaster. I tried to make baked ziti the other day an had a near conniption trying to figure out which of the sealed packages was ricotta cheese and where I could find sour cream because I couldn’t understand any labels. Hummus is virtually non-existant in this city. I still can’t figure out how to turn my oven on. There must be a quicker way to turn my stove on—it’s a gas stove and it’s really tempermental so usually I just hold it on light for 2 or 3 minutes until I trust it’s lit, and even then sometimes it isn’t. But it all works out in the end, and if that’s my only complaint then I guess life’s pretty grand.
I’ve discovered some new foods that have made up for the loss of much of the old foods that were staples in my former life in the States. Number one is definitely the Donner Kebab. It’s so delicious. It’s like a gyro but better—it has lamb meat, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, and a yogurt tzaiki sauce, but the best part is that the pita is made out of this awesome bread that I can really only equate to Panini bread. Its only 60 kc (about $3) and it’s so much food and sooooo good…. I even had one for breakfast the other day. Number two awesomest food is the Fried Cheese Sandwich. I mean, you can’t really beat that. The Fried Cheese Sandwich is the “drunk food” of Prague, but I’m not gonna lie… I love it and I eat it sober. It’s like a cheese patty that is deep fried and served on a bun. I like it with mayo, some people put ketchup on it. Sounds very good for you, huh? But it’s so delicious, I don’t know why it hasn’t made it to the states yet.
They also make the cheese spread that they sell in grocery stores. It comes in a little plastic tub and it’s a very yummy snack. They have so much cheese of so many different kinds here, its like heaven. Ali and I were exploring our neighborhood today and we stumbled upon a Cheese Shop. It’s meant to be that there is a cheese shop within walking distance from my apartment.
It was really cool exploring our neighborhood today. Since I’ve been so busy with school, I haven’t had a chance to look around my ‘hood. It’s really cool. My friends and roommates and I joke that we live in “Praguelyn” because our neighborhood is like Brooklyn while Old Town Prague (Praguehattan) is like Manhattan. But our area is awesome—there is a little theatre, lots of little restaurants and bars, a bowling ally, and a huuuuuge park. And the park is sweet because there are lots of hills and it slopes down to the river and there are weeping willows and its really beautiful. And people have their dogs everywhere just running around.
Ok well it’s getting really late and I can barely keep my eyes open but I really wanted to write something since it’s been so long. I promise to be better at writing more frequently!