By: Brittony Girton
For those of you who have never been to Prague, or Praha, before let me describe a couple sites to you. And for those of you who have been here before, feel free to compare my ramblings to your own.
Prague is divided into different districts or neighborhoods, labeled by name and then also by number. Praha 1 is of course Old Town, or Stare Mesto, where all of the most iconic places are, and the city goes on from there. The TEFL Worldwide Prague School is located in Praha 9, which is about a 15-minute metro ride from the main center of town. The neighborhood is a mix of a residential cement houses and local businesses. There isn’t too much to report about that area, but when walking around the local neighborhood still reminded me that I am in another country. Every now and again on the first month of being in Prague, we poor struggling contestants in this TEFL survival course, experienced some small reminders that we are in another country starting a new adventure. In those moments we had to pause to consider the implications. Half of those thoughts were filled with joy and awe for our ability to take the jump and move to another country. The other half would fill with panic with the general overtone of “what have I gotten myself into?!” Thoughts like, “will I be good at this?” or “will I enjoy teaching?” or “will I find a job?” or “will I make enough money?” or “I hope everything works since I have taken this leap and left everything back home!” became quite common. And those thoughts still plague me a bit.
And I digress, back to Prague. For most of the course you will be busy with schoolwork. When they say it is an intensive course, they do not lie! We did however have a few times that we got to wonder through Old Town and it is beautiful! The architecture is hard to describe because it is a little bit of everything. A dark Gothic tower can stand next to an Art Nuevo building with an Edwardian house squeezed in between some Baroque churches. Adding to that is a dash of Community era block cement buildings and around the corner the latest modern abstraction made into a building of steel and glass. I am going have to learn all my architectural styles because I am getting them confused and the fact the Prague probably has them all isn’t helping me keep track! Prague seems to be in a constant state of repair too. There is always building somewhere covered in scaffolding with workers renovating or cleaning it.
The most iconic and tourist spot is Old Town square where the Astronomical Clock is. The clock is beautiful but doesn’t actually tell time, it gives the positioning of the stars. Astrological signs cover the face of the clock in a mixture of colors; I can understand all the tourists who come just to see the clock. Locals have told me that I should go see the clock in the morning when there is no one there. And I know it’s cheesy, but I am going to be getting souvenirs of the clock from the tourist shops. This is also where you can see street performers painted in gold and silver, grab a quick sausage and beer, avoid the racing segways that come speeding across the cobble stones, and guard your bag obsessively because if you are going to get your passport stolen, it will be here.
Another iconic spot would be Charles Bridge. This is another relic from the age of the Czech monarchy. Its gothic and dark structure reveals its age more than anything else. Religious gold figures stand on the bridge’s tower as well as on the bridge itself, some of them buffed by the many passers who touch them. The bridge used to be part of the coronation parade when a new king was crowned, however now it is the place to go to get jewelry and other hand made crafts. The few times I have walked along the bridge, I have drooled over the jewelry while defensively guarding myself against the onslaught of people that occupy this bridge. It is another huge tourist spot with way too many people! So this would be another location where you will want to guard your bag, just in case.
It was a good thing that the TEFL School wasn’t located in Old Town because it would have been very distracting. Having to make a metro trip to Old Town encouraged most of us to stay home and do homework, especially since it was dark when we got out of school. I am also glad that I did the February course when the weather was cold and dark. If the weather had been good I would have just wanted go out exploring. Now that summer is just about here I can explore Prague more thoroughly. I may spend one June morning getting up with the sun to wonder through the ancient cobble streets to view the Astronomical Clock and listen to the bells ring in a new day.