We spoke with one of our graduates, Carley, 8 months after completing the TEFL course. She talks about her experience since graduating.
Why did you choose Prague? What did you know about Prague before coming here?
I knew nothing about Prague, or even the Czech Republic, before stepping off of the plane that first weekend in August. I studied in Germany in 2019, fell completely in love, and spent the next three years trying to find my way back. It wasn’t until one of my friends posted about TEFL Worldwide that I finally found my opportunity. I considered the Czech Republic a mere stepping stone on my journey back to Germany, however, I realized quickly after arriving in Prague that I was meant to spend more time here.
What made you want to change your life and take a TEFL program in a foreign country?
Aside from my desire to return to Europe, I was also feeling suffocated by the idea that I had jumped into the 9-5 life too quickly. Immediately after graduating university with a degree in Human Resources, I found a job in my field. I am so grateful for the opportunity and the people I worked with, but I was only 22 at the time and terrified by the thought of doing nothing else with the rest of my life than sitting in an office. Although I plan to return to the business world eventually, preferably internationally, I am quite enjoying the change of pace that teaching is providing me at the moment.
Were you afraid to take a step into the unknown and move to a different country/start a new career? Did you have any doubts? What helped you overcome your fears?
As confident as I was that I was making the right decision for myself and my future, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t also terrified. I was leaving behind a well-paying job, my family, my friends, and, arguably most important, my dog. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but the thing that helped me most was checking the instagram pages of all those who had done the TEFL course before me. Seeing their posts from all around the world, whether it was where they were living or simply traveling for a weekend because they could, served as a concrete reminder of what my life could look like if I stepped out of my comfort zone.
Did your expectations from the course differ from the actual reality of it? Did you think it would be easier/harder?
Almost all of my expectations of the course were met. Every review I had read before applying warned me that it would be intense, and they were correct. There was a lot of work to be done in a short amount of time, but the TEFL trainers are there to help and encourage you throughout the entire month. The thing that surprised me was how quickly we were actually teaching in front of students. Having had no teaching experience prior to TEFL, the idea of it was incredibly daunting. But you have to start somewhere, and it all worked out fine in the end.
How was your first couple of months in Prague? What was positive? What was challenging?
The first couple of months were all very exciting, as starting a new life usually is, but they were not without their challenges. I was making friends, starting a job, hunting for an apartment, applying for a visa, and so on…all at one time. For a short period, it felt like every time one piece of the puzzle snapped into place, another one would appear out of nowhere. But Prague was constantly giving me new reasons to stay motivated. Not to mention, TEFL provides you with an immediate community of people who are going through, or have gone through, the exact same thing. You’re never alone in your struggles and you’re never alone in your triumphs. The warm months of fall were spent filling out paperwork and then having dinner on the Vltava River. Signing up for a bank account and then relaxing in a beer garden. Making important phone calls and then walking through Old Town.
Was it difficult for you to find a job after you’d finished the course?
Finding a job was one of the easiest parts of this whole process. TEFL Worldwide has connections with multiple language schools in Prague, and the trainers are constantly informing you of different opportunities to market yourself as an English teacher. I never doubted that I would find work, and within three weeks of graduating I received two offers of employment. I accepted both!
What do you like the most about life in Prague/the Czech Republic/Europe?
It’s difficult to choose my favorite part of living in Europe, but I think the thing I appreciate the most is the history that is so clearly present and affecting even the most modern cities. The buildings are centuries old and showcase brilliant craftsmanship and art. The museums are filled with stories from before America had even been discovered. The traditions, languages, and communities have been in place longer than I can comprehend. Strolling through the streets is like traveling through time and I do my best to never take that for granted.
Life feels more relaxed and slower-paced in Europe, with people enjoying a 30-minute walk to work rather than suffering through a stressful 10-minute drive as I am used to doing in the US. People spend more time outside, relaxing in parks and spending quality time with each other. A healthy work-life balance is more common and respected here. I am learning how to slow down and just exist in the moment, rather than hurriedly planning the next hour or day or week or year.
I also love how easy it is to travel to different countries when you live here. Since moving to Prague, I have visited Germany three times, Belgium twice, the Netherlands, and Austria – with hopefully many more to be added to that list soon!
What is the main difference you found between life in the Czech Republic and life in your home country?
I actually think the differences between living in the US and living in the Czech Republic are quite small, but enough small differences can make for a large change in lifestyle. I have to go to the grocery store far more often and buy food in smaller quantities. I usually stop at a bakery in the morning for my breakfast, as is the norm. My shower head is not attached high up on the wall, but just sort of hangs out by my feet until I need it. Instead of watching sunsets over the Great Lakes, I watch sunsets over Prague Castle. I walk a lot. Like, a lot. My average daily steps have tripled since moving to Prague. And, if I’m not walking, I’m taking public transport. Maybe that’s the main difference…I do absolutely no driving!