TEFL 101

Even today, close to four months after having left Prague, questions continue to flood in regarding my time in the Czech Republic.

“What were you doing over there?”

“Was it hard to teach English?”

“How did you find a job?”

“How much do I need to save beforehand?”

“I’m tired and need a change, how did you teach English in Prague?”

I truly enjoy answering all questions thrown at me and take time to thoughtfully answer each one.

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Not only is teaching abroad in Prague a simple decision, but it’s quite easy to execute as well.

The country, as a whole, is inexpensive.

A TEFL course is easy to sign up for.

Finding a job, post course, is made easy by the connections made through The Language House (TLH).

I decided in March that I was going to teach English abroad, and moved at the end of August; in a matter of five months I made all arrangements necessary to tie up loose ends in California and throw myself headfirst into a foreign country.

Upon moving over there, I didn’t know a single person.

I had never been to Prague before.

In fact, I had never been that far East before.

I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Beyond the TEFL course I was signed up for, I had no plan regarding job, visa, money or a home.

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I would encourage everyone, at some point in their life, to take a leap and live abroad. Ideally, go on your own and have no expectations. It is such a life changing experience that I’m so incredibly thankful to have accomplished.

Of the twenty something students I took TLH course with, I was one of the first to leave Prague – some seven or eight months after the course. Each of the students found their niche in the country, found a job (or multiple jobs) and made a life in the new country. A pretty good success ratio if you ask me. As of now, a majority of those students are still in Prague.

Teaching English is a very rewarding experience that introduces you to new cultures, ideas and perspectives.

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TLH is a month long intensive course that will give you all the skills necessary to teach English to a non-native speaker. After completing the course I felt confident in my ability to teach private or group language lessons at any age.

I had lesson plans all ready to go, and plans A B and C ready for a lesson that might not go as planned.

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I was set up to successfully teach a class all on my own.

I ended up working full time at an international school, “teaching” 2-5 year old students from all over the world. I use the word “teaching” loosely because it’s quite hard to really teach children that young. They are sponges, everything is new to them. Not only were we teaching, but we were feeding, putting to nap, reading to, and playing with these kiddos all day long.

One of the best parts was seeing these kids from all over the world, from all different backgrounds and native languages, speak to one another…Rather, I should say say, attempt to speak to one another.

For example one of my students had a mother from Ukraine, a father from Saudi Arabia, she was living in the Czech Republic and went to an English language school. This little four year old was already exposed to four different languages on a daily basis. That’s not even including the languages her peers were speaking in their free time.

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My students were from Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey, Africa, Germany, Russia, Chechnya, Ukraine and more. An insane amount of nationalities were covered in one school grade.

The opportunity to work with these kids, speak to them, and watch them learn and grow is one that I never would have imagined I might have.

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So, I say go for it. If you’ve been thinking about living abroad, teaching English as a foreign language, or just going on an adventure, this is one of the best and most affordable ways to make it feasible. Consider this your final push to take the leap into a new life changing experience.

Feel free to email me with any more questions. I didn’t bother covering all the boring logistics and details in this post but will do so in the future; sakehm@gmail.com.

Below are some photos of my sweet little students.


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street smART

Locating street art is always a priority with each new destination. Tastefully done street art typically means you’ve found a potentially “hip” area packed with all sorts of local hubs waiting to be discovered. Over the years I’ve made an effort to track down some cool looking walls and photograph my favorite pieces.

The following six were taken by me in 2012 in East London near Brick Lane.IMG_2258 IMG_2259IMG_2146 IMG_2153 IMG_2156 IMG_2158

Cork, Ireland, 2012
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Český Krumlov, Czech Republic, 2014

Banksy art, London 2015IMG_3233East London, 2015

IMG_3222 IMG_3224Vienna, Austria 2015IMG_3456 IMG_3694Berlin Wall, Germany 2015IMG_3811 IMG_3812 IMG_3818 IMG_3819 IMG_3820 IMG_3845 IMG_3842 IMG_3843

 

Dear Milton, Florida,

I would like to take the time to commend you on some newly discovered hidden gems scattered throughout your “seemingly” boring boundaries.  I have been pleasantly surprised on multiple occasions over the last few days, as I have stumbled upon various restaurants, cafes and antique shops. I must admit, upon moving to your township two months ago, I was slightly hesitant to leave the comfortable confines of your more attractive, popular, big sister Pensacola, but hereby declare that I have been sorely mistaken. New, self-gathered evidence points that Milton truly is a quaint, entertaining town all on it’s own. That is, if you’re willing to give it a chance.

Well done, Milton. I applaud you and look forward to future discoveries.

With newfound respect,

Sarah

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Alright guys, it’s true – there really are places worth visiting in Milton! I am finding that I am really starting to enjoy myself here. From Bands on the Blackwater activities each Friday evening, to the quaint little thrift shops and antique stores, I’ve certainly been finding a lot to enjoy.

I’ve recently learned that Historic Milton is having some trouble thwarting plans of an intrusive four-lane highway. The highway proposal could potentially destroy old buildings in its charming district as well as redirect any prospective tourism straight out of the pleasant little downtown.

“Saving downtown does not just mean saving our past, it means investing in the brightest future for our beloved little city.”

In honor of small towns everywhere, let’s hop on board and help give Milton a chance to prove itself. For more information read and sign the petition here to help fight for preservation of Milton, Florida’s Historic District.

OR if you live in the area, stop by Old Post Office Antiques. Sign in person and enjoy one of the lovely buildings that could potentially be harmed by the lane add-ons. They also have the most delicious lunch cafe with the sweetest staff.

Wearing: Rag and Bone denim, thrifted neck tie ($1 downtown Milton!), Mango gladiators here (40% off!)



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Blackwater Bistro-ah-go-go

 

Milton eateries are hard to come by. We’ve discovered one that has quickly turned into a regular destination. Easy, delicious and friendly, Blackwater Bistro is on the top of my short, Milton ‘must eat’ list. I always show up for the buttermilk pie but usually end up taking it home, because I can’t say no to the pre-meal artichoke dip.

If you’re a beer lover, the Civil War is a must try, half yuengling, half aibta, half awesome. Get the large and thank me later.IMG_1874_1 IMG_1878_1 IMG_1880_1 IMG_1881_1

Prague in Review

TL;DR – SCROLL TO BOTTOM FOR RECAP, I get a bit postwench-like in this one.

A friend recently recommend I start posting reviews on cities I have visited. Although it would have been much smarter (and easier) for me to start this blog while I was actually in the heart of my journeys, I will do my best to rely on memory and photos until the next opportunity for travel presents itself.

Throughout the last few years I’ve found a lot of joy in recommending everything from cities and locations, to eateries and bars, to friends all over the world. It’s amazing connecting with other travelers and swapping stories and tid-bits about new places. I’m always up for a challenge and enjoy trying new things.

I’ll start with the most recent, and biggest adventure. I spent seven months living in Prague. While I was working very long days and was a home-body during the week, I took advantage of my temporary home and did a lot of exploring on the weekends. Prague is a wonderful, picturesque, tourist friendly city and as an added perk, is the perfect city to visit on a budget.

Transportation

Located in Central Europe, the Czech Republic is extremely accessible by plane, train, bus. Within Prague travel by using the easy to navigate underground system or the trams – buses are a bit more tricky to figure out but when you do they will quickly become your best friend. If you plan to travel outside of Prague to other Czech destinations or even nearby cities, look into taking a Student Agency bus. They’re very affordable, easy to catch, have individual TVs for each seat, AND they serve free hot chocolate! I took Student Agency three times to Vienna, once to Berlin, and a couple other times to small Czech destinations. I’m telling ya, they’re one of the best options I’ve seen throughout Europe!

Money

The Czech Republic uses the Czech Crown (koruna) and the exchange rate is quite nice for an American tourist. While I write this post, it is sitting at about 1 CZK is equivalent to 0.042 USD. The country overall is inexpensive and extremely accessible. I could spend an entire night out, including a hearty dinner, transportation, and many pivos (beers) and never spend more than $10. Oftentimes I would never pay more than $1 for a beer.

Room and Board 

If you plan on staying long term, renting a flat or a room is the way to go. There are some great resources out there for finding a spot. Flatshare in Prague is a great place to start. People are always advertising rooms or looking for flatmates.

I lived in a two-bedroom flat, East of Old Town, deep in the city area known as Žižkov. Žižkov is full of expats always looking for roommates. To give you an idea of what to expect in terms of pricing, my home, including water, heat, trash and maintenance was never more than $300 USD per person. It fluctuated monthly because I was there over the winter months.

If you are just planning on stopping through, there are many hostels worth looking into. I would suggest staying in or near Old Town just because on a short trip you will want to be near the excitement and tourist options. For a free lodging option, look into using a site like couchsurfing.com, where you can sign up to sleep at someone’s home free of charge. It’s a great way to meet a local and get some city insight.

Food and Drink

Czech food is absolutely delicious, hearty and heavy, but flavorful and enticing. Similar to German food, the Czech’s have a lot of meat and starches. Dumplings are a common side dish. Goulash, roast pork, and river rat (yum), sauerkraut and different types of strudels are also common Czech cuisine. Beer with every meal is the must, the Czech beer culture is an epidemic in itself. They really pride themselves on their beer and no one can blame them, it truly is some of the best.

My favorite restaurant for Czech food was called Lokal, located on Dlouhá street near Old Town Square. Upon first glance, Lokal appears to be a small hole in the wall beer hall filled with smoke. I was surprised to find that the place stretches back through almost a full city block. Might I suggest the potato dumplings and sausage sampler, with mustard. My favorite. Maybe plan for wearing pants with a bit of stretch that evening. 😉

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Bread dumplings
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Some lovely Czech friends had my roommate and myself over one afternoon and taught us how to make a traditional Czech meal; bread dumplings, pork with onions, sauerkraut, and of course, beer

A great friend and travel companion from London came for a long weekend and treated my roommate and me to a delicious meal at La Degustation. An incredible 12 course meal served in the most visually appealing way. Incredible menu filled will all sorts of delicacies turned tasty with a Bohemian twist.

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There are bars on every single corner. I found that my favorite adventures stemmed from wandering into any one and sharing beers and cheers with new friends. Many bars and clubs on Dlouhá street will provide for a fun filled night in Prague. The Beer Museum, across from Lokal is the perfect place to start the night.

As a side note, the best burgers in Prague are at The Tavern, near Riegrovy Sady

Activities

In terms of sightseeing and activities in the golden city, the opportunities are endless. Of course you must satisfy the tourist mission by visiting the famous Prague locations; Old Town Square, Prague Castle, Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, etc but for a bit more of a local experience might I suggest the following:

For a casual Saturday visit Žižkov Tower, the tallest (and possibly ugliest) building in Prague. You’ll notice that there are foreign structures that scale the side of the TV tower, upon closer inspection you will see that they are large, alien-like babies. These babies, along with many other vulgar and controversial artworks in the city are done by local Praguer, David Černý. After viewing the tower, mosey on over to the square at Jiřího z Poděbrad (JZP), on Metro Line A, where you will find a lovely Saturday market, full of locally grown veggies, food vendors, pottery, and live music; the JZP market is sure to please any visitor. If for some reason you can’t find a snack you desire, hit the West corner of the square for some incredible Vietnamese takeaway… quite possibly the best in Prague. Get your food and head a few blocks over to Riegrovy Sady, the massive mid city park, to enjoy some great views and people watching. Oh, and some pivos.

A few more city recommendations:

Cat Cafe (Kočkafé) – sip on wine and read a book while friendly cats weave in an out of your legs, and try to share your wine.

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Cat Cafe regulars

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There are daily, free walking tours that start in Old Town Square, look for large colorful umbrellas.

David Černý art, scattered all throughout the city, is sure to make an impact. My favorite piece is called Brown Nosers. Hard to find but worth the hunt, these humanlike rear ends stand propped up against the back of an art museum West of the Vltava River. Ladders lead to the hole of the butt where you can peek in to see a video of the Czech president, Václav Klaus, being fed baby food. Černý has been known for having strong objections to the president.

EXIT GAMES! A new craze throughout Europe, these games use logic and basic skills to escape from a room in a specific amount of time. I participated in one involving sneaking into the flat of a Soviet spy, we were locked in and had to find a key to get out in 60 minutes. Using clues it was necessary to break free of the apartment before the man got home and. There are many companies that offer these games but I did mine through Trap. An absolute must try!

TL;DR Prague is awesome, inexpensive, and beautiful. Good food, better beer. The only city that didn’t get bombed during WWII. You should visit.

 

The Broad Abroad Pt. 2 – The Language House

“Why was she going to Prague?” her reader wonders aloud.

To make sense of the situation, let me rewind to about this same time last summer. I spent close to a year and a half working for a Fashion PR company in West Hollywood, CA as the team’s Development Coordinator. It was my duty to create press releases for our 20+ client brands and blast off to all sorts of industry representatives. We collaborated with designers and brand reps to coordinate gifting for VIP and celebrity talent. I worked under my manager to create strategic gifting placements and ran office deliveries. I also assisted in management of all facets of social media. All in all, it was a great first job, with even better people. As the months went on, my feet began to itch and I began scheming different ways to get out of the country.  I decided that Teaching English as a Foreign Language was my best, and safest, option.

I did a general search, read some blogs, and stumbled on The Language House in Prague. I jumped through the company hoops just to feel it out, baby steps here and baby steps there – without making any real commitments. Next thing I know, I’m chugging wine and putting down a deposit. I told my job shortly after that I would be done at the end of summer. I spent the next few months planning, arranging storage, and pretending to study English.

In September 2014 I made my final travel arrangements and moved to the Czech Republic. It could be said that I should have done a bit more research, with such a big move and all, but apparently I just got lucky. The TEFL course took up most of September, it gave me all the skills necessary to teach English and also refreshed my memory on all things English language. Upon arriving to Prague, The Language House sets up housing with other students for the month. They did a great job of really helping us integrate into the new country, from a city tour, to a crash course in the Czech language, they really set us up for success in our new home. It should also be noted that they do a wonderful job of building a community around their new students, within the first week I had many new friends who were currently in the course, as well as previous graduates of the program!

I could go on and on about this course as it was easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If anyone happens across this post and would like any more information, please don’t hesitate to email me at sakehm@gmail.com. I’d be happy to give a more in depth review and answer any questions!

Below are some photos of my favorite TEFL Language House memories.

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