Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The end is in sight? Well, sorta.

More than halfway done! I just need to make it through the rest of this week and next and then maybe I'll have a life again. Today I had to teach my entire class the rules of reported speech in 15 minutes. I was getting graded on it, one of our teachers was there, and after bombing the non-graded one (that we only had 30 minutes to prepare...we were set up!). I almost peed myself, but ended up doing well so that is a HUGE weight off my shoulders. Did I mention it took me like 4-5 hours to prepare for that 15 minutes? I definitely need to get quicker at this grammar thing, but it's hard when I don't even know the grammar myself and have to look it up and learn it. I'm assuming I'll get much quicker over time.

I just had my last meeting with my one-to-one session student, Mila, who is absolutely lovely. I really enjoyed our sessions and prefer the one-to-one's so much more than teaching classes because they're definitely more low-key and you get to know your student(s) a lot better. Today I was trying to teach her the different uses of prepositions of time in/on/at so I printed out all these pictures of places and had her arrange them into categories and gave scenarios and such (The plane stopped AT Prague airport on the way to Australia, We live IN Prague, The mall is ON the way to TEFL Worldwide, etc.) and I think it worked out really well. At least, she was using them almost completely correctly by the end, so yay!

Anyway, what I learned from these sessions is that I definitely need to keep my eye out for jobs that focus more on one-to-ones. I'd really love to work at this place called TeaTime I applied to that has you meet 1-2 teenagers in cafe's for English lessons in order to put them in setting they enjoy (re: learning OUTSIDE of the classroom). I have an interview next week so everyone cross your fingers for me! Teenagers is definitely an age I can do and the premise of the school is just to get kids learning in situations they're comfortable in and I think that's pretty cool.

Now I just have to write a 10 page paper this week/weekend and the worst is over! Going to see an apartment Thursday in Prague 7 with Gina. Gina, Kyle and I were all looking for places so we decided to live together and the place we're looking at this week is effing bangin'. If we get it, I will definitely post pictures here. There's one more aaaaamazing place I e-mailed that I hope gets back to me, also in Prague 7. We'll see how it ends up. Does want sweet ass pad.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mmmm fingers.

Oh, and I should totally mention the really drunk older man that licked my hand at the Letna beer garden last weekend. There was lip motion and spit involved. It was horrible.

Lesson Planning Machine! Stress! Jobs! Flats!

Wow. I'd say I've done as much lesson planning in the last few days as humanly possibly if I didn't know there was more to come. Last night I put together what I think will be a pretty fun lesson on phrasal verbs using Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up". I recently had the realization that working music into my lessons, a) makes the time when students are working and I'm walking around monitoring significantly less awkward for me (and maybe them? silence = awk), b) makes my life happier, c) puts a good use to the 18+ GB of music sitting on my hard drive. Just finished my lesson plan for my second one-to-one meeting with Mila on the Amish and I feel significantly less stressed. My first session with her went really well. I got to know a lot about her and she's quite lovely. We talked about her job, travels, kids, Prague, etc. and she bought me tea! It's been a good experience and I definitely think I prefer one-to-one sessions in some ways.

I went on my first job interview today out in the suburbs of Prague at an English-speaking preschool. Well sorta, apparently it was still Prague 9, but I had to take the metro to the end of the line and then a bus to get there. There were farms! It went relatively well, the main issue was that I have a lot of experience supervising older kids, but not much with babies. It seems like a great place, though it may be a bit far for me and in all honesty I may indeed prefer to work with older kids. Good practice though! I have another job interview scheduled the day before the end of the course and hopefully another sometime once I write the lesson plans for the application this weekend. Ah!

Right now I am stressing out about flats and jobs like whoa. I just want to find a place and a job so I can get settled, but this is no simple task. Most of the jobs I'm applying for ask for detailed lesson plans that I have to do on top of my seemingly insurmountable pile of work. The thing is, I need to have this sorted by the time my tourist visa runs out or I have to apply for a short-term stay visa or leave lest I get deported. Not to mention it apparently takes about a month for all the visa paperwork to go through. No pressure!

I'm looking at my first flat in Letna on Saturday and have been purusing some other ones online. There's a chance of living with people from my course, but since it's only the second week a lot of people aren't quite sure if they're staying here or already have sweet flat connections. I figure it's scarier to live with people I don't already know, but if I find a great place it's probably worth it and will potentially increase my social network, which is good as I don't know many people here yet. We'll see how this goes!

As it is 12:44, it is officially Friday. Even though I have a lesson to teach "today", TGIF. Halfway done.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pivo a knížky (Beer and books)

I made it through my first week somehow! I even managed to do well with my 45 minute lesson, the main criticisms that Terry had for me were to stop saying "You guys" and to make my explainations more direct and simple. Something I need to work on in general, as I always seem to find the longest way to explain something. If any of you have heard my stories, you know this is true. Heh. Tomorrow I have my first one-to-one on hour long English lesson with a woman mamed Mila. I'm preparing for it now and I must say I'm a bit nervous! I'll have three sessions with her and then I have to write a 13 or so page paper about the experience.

Anyway, last night it was one of my fellow TEFLers birthdays so we went to her effing gorgeous flat in Letna to drink copious amounts of wine and hangout. I guess we were too loud in the balcony because at one point the people above us just started POURING water over the balcony above to try to get us to shut up. As we were drunk, it took us awhile to catch on. We just thought it was raining really sporadically or something. Oops! Later in the night we went to the Letna beer garden in Letna park. I forgot to take pictures (and seem to have maybe forgotten/lost my camera battery charger...fuck) so a Google image of the view from the beer garden must suffice!

So pretty! We met some other TEFL students from another school and befriended them and had a much needed night off from class. It's pretty sweet how just speaking English brings us all together and that it's totally not weird just to start talking to someone here because they speak your language. If my time here brings more nights like last night, then I am very excited to live here!

I managed to finally find hummus in a pretty bangin' middle eastern grocery store in Prague 1 and now I'm sitting in the Globe Cafe, which is an English language bookstore and coffeeshop, trying to stop procrastinating. It's pretty awesome in here (though they don't have soymilk for coffee :-( ) and I'm excited that once I have free time there'll be somewhere to buy books. Apparently the Prague library has an English language section as well? Win. I really should be lesson planning, but ugh. While I love my classes and am learning so much, I can't wait to just have a job, get settled and not be stressed all the time. Three more weeks and 25% done! Hopefully beginning to apply for jobs soon, just trying to sort out my references and whatnot. Ahh!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What the TEFL?!

Wow, I've already taught two English lessons to two different intermediate classes and today was only my third day of TEFL class! As you may gather from that, my TEFL course is pretty intense. Like finals week intense, well, maybe an easy finals week at Smith as I'm not quite at the I'm-going-to-burst-out-crying-because-I-dropped-a-piece-of-broccoli-in-the-dining-hall stage. I have class from roughly 10am to 6pm everyday with an hour and a half lunch off. I've taught two 15 minute lessons the past two days with two other TEFL students (each of us did 15 minutes for a total of 45) and Friday I'm teaching a 45 minute lesson on my own, out of a total of 5 such lessons. For each of these lessons, I have to hand in a detailed lesson plan. Additionally, I'm going to be working with a student for one-on-one lessons. For someone with absolutely no experience teaching before this Monday, I've certainly thrown myself into it! My classes thus far have been great and so have the teachers, I can't say I've been bored during class much at all! Much more than I can say for half of my time in high school and college.

Haven't been out much since the course started, so I'm excited for the weekend. I'm currently super overwhelmed as I apparently need to start applying for jobs this week so that I can snag a job and get all the work visa paperwork done before my tourist visa runs out. On top of that, I'm trying to look into flats and figure out whose staying here and where I might want to live. Unfortunately, a lot of people from my class are leaving after the class or not really sure if they'll stay, so who knows who and where I'll end up with!

Anyway, two things I've noticed in Prague so far. One, peeing in public and people letting their small children of either gender pee in public seems to be pretty standard. As I was walking through a park in Prague 2 by myself the other day I saw a mother holding her kid in the AIR with its pants down and noticed a STREAM of pee shooting up in the air to the ground from it. I had to force myself not to stare as to not appear a pedophile, but I was pretty impressed with the projectile pee job going down. Second, fast-food of the food court variety is actually served on real plates with metal cutlery that you return to them in the mall near my flat! None of that throw away styrofoam bullshit. Very trusting of them, I must say, but yay for less waste!

I'm in that oh-shit-I-just-realized-I'm-in-another-country-with-no-real-friends stage right now and am trying to work through it. It's a bit hard as there's only 4 of us (2 in each flat) in the Hotel Pivovar and it seems there's much more people in other housing grouped together so that they get to be more social. Ah well. Mission Friends will begin as soon as I have some goddamn free time!

Sbohem teď!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Second day in Prague was definitely eventful. Woke up, found the grocery store, had an awkward language-barrier moment with the cashier where she handed me my bag full of potatoes and pointed at the produce section saying "kasa" over and over again while I stared at her blankly. Apparently I was supposed to weigh my veggies and print out stickers that said how much they weighed for her to scan. I've looked up "kasa" since and it means "cash machine". I still don't quite get it, I assumed she was saying "weigh" or something like it.

Most of the day was taken up by a tour of Prague given by an employee of TEFL Worldwide who was awesome. We saw:

Prague castle (Pražský hrad),

the cathedral (Praha katedrála),

some creepers creepin' on the cathedral,

Charles Bridge (Karlův most, oops no pictures!), saw lots of interesting statues:

an angry one,

and an anatomically correct peeing one,

walked through the Old and New Towns and drank beer. After the official tour, one of the guys on my course whose lived in Prague for a few months showed us some other cool things and took us to a coffeeshop in the basement of a bar where I somehow bought a date with M.J. for 250czk ($13.73). Effing bangin'. It took me an entire term at Sussex to find the hookup and I manage to do it in less than 48 hours here. Needless to say, my habits will definitely not set me back much in Prague. Most of the beer I've been drinking has been between 26-35 czk($1.43-$1.98) for a big mug. I'll leave you with a couple pictures of the Prague skyline...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

V Praze!

I somehow made it here alive, after waking up at 8:30am, catching the bus to Heathrow Terminal 5 (they didn't lose my luggage!), then caught the Cedaz minibus transit service to the Hotel Pivovar, where my flat is. For some reason, both Cedaz and the hotel didn't expect me, the hotel said I wasn't supposed to get here until Monday, so I had a bit of a panic when I first arrived as they wouldn't let me move in until they called someone and spoke in rapid Czech. It ended up working out, even made the 8pm pub crawl with everyone! Though to do that I had to sprint to the 3rd floor of the building with all my luggage. My guns are making a comeback.

Pub crawl was great. Went to a huge beer garden and this windy underground tunnel place. The beer is indeed tasty and cheap. Win-win. After a couple pubs we went to this 80s-90s club, danced to hilarious music, went up on stage and got swarmed by Czech men. They're either very forward here or very drunk, or both. Good night overall, though I'm not quite sure how I managed to navigate the night tram home at 3am all the way back here (18ish stops). I'm alive, though!

Apparently the course is going to be pretty intense and they've recently deported a bunch of Americans for overstaying their tourist visas so I have to be on top of my paperwork and job applications! Sort of excited to begin the course tomorrow, however!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Left, but not there quite yet.

I'm currently back in Brighton, England staying with my friends and former flatmates Lisa and Emily. Being back here has been weird, to say the least, but also more normal than much of anything that's happened to me in this past year. It's funny, when I'm here America and my last year there feels like it was all a dream. When I first got back to America after my year in Brighton, I dreamed about Sussex and my friends here, closed my eyes and pictured the familiar bus ride to town and all the nooks and crannies of campus every night, feeling horribly misplaced. Eventually I settled back into life in America and my former life in England felt like a dream. It's funny how familiarity works like that.

In any case, one week left here and I'm leaving again, off to my next adventure in Prague. I have with me a lot of luggage and was in fact charged $70 in overweight fees from Virgin Airlines on my way to the England. I've been aggressively using up contact solution, toothpaste and the vegan white chocolate chips I felt the need to bring along with anything else that has the potential to lighten my load before my next flight. I was about 10 kilos over in my one suitcase, however, so that might be a bit of a challenge! It's hard to move your entire life in just two suitcases! Though, when you think of me having more than 100 pounds of stuff, it begins to sound like I'm just being extravagant. How does clothing get so bloody heavy?

Quite excited to get to Prague and sad to leave here at the same time. As it's the summer, most of my friends aren't in Brighton or are just passing through for Pride, so it's sort of strange being back. I miss the days when we were all at uni together on the Sussex campus! I might even miss that tiny little kitchen in our Park Village flat just a little bit. Speaking of Pride, it was enormous and wonderfully gay. Got mobbed and hugged by the Allsorts kids as they passed us during the parade and then free sandwiches and noms from the tent later.

Saturday I get to Prague, then there's a pub crawl and the next morning a tour of the city. I can't wait to get there, meet everyone and get settled. Even excited for the work that the TEFL course is bound to be. I get to use my brainz again!