It’s been hard to sit down and write about my Prague journey so far. It’s been tough finding the time to just sit down and write. Between my incredible TEFL course and just trying to take in the city that is Prague, I have been so busy. But today, I am going to write. This experience so far deserves it. Life abroad deserves it.
The day I left Atlanta was hard. I wasn’t expecting to be so emotional, but saying goodbye to my family and my dog left me feeling extremely reminiscent of a place and the people I hadn’t even left yet. However, my adventure awaited me and in that way, goodbyes are sometimes necessary. After I got to the airport, I hugged my parents goodbye and walked through security. I was lucky enough to have a moment of checking in with my purpose of doing this adventure when one of my sorority sisters wanted to chat on the phone about the program I was doing, TEFL Worldwide Prague, and how she too could have this adventure when she was ready. It was the perfect opportunity to explain why I was doing what I was doing, and in that way, an excellent way to check in with myself and remind myself why I began this adventure in the first place.
I boarded my flight and soon arrived in the magical, fairytale city of Prague.
Now, let’s fast forward a bit.
Our TEFL course began that following Monday. Immediately we were receiving so much information about teaching. We found out that we would be teaching our first lesson to real students the very next day. Yes, you read that right. I taught actual Czech students on day two. The next lesson we taught was Thursday, and that one was for a grade. We have to pass 5/6 lessons we teach, so being thrown into a classroom on the fourth day while being graded on a number of components was unbelievably intimidating. But this experience proved to be the exact type of challenge that I needed. How can we learn and grow in life if we aren’t challenged every now and again?
The two weeks that followed were intense. But in those two weeks, I became extremely comfortable teaching; and not only teaching, but also planning any type of lesson. From grammar, to reading, to writing, to listening – I now feel proficient to do any of it.
It is now Sunday, August 27th. Tomorrow begins my last week of the course.
Last night, a new friend and I adventured through the city and stumbled upon way too many cheap cocktails. We ended up having such a fun, pure night. I realized last night, while the two of us were gallivanting through the lush, riverside city that we now call home, that for the first time in my life, I feel so independent. Over dinner we talked about how cool it is that we are actually doing this. We are living here. And throughout the night, we were making decisions based on exactly what we felt like doing. There was no outside pressure. We were going in and out of whichever bars we felt like, talking to locals, and truly enjoying each moment. I don’t know why this felt so new to me, but it did. I keep trying to think of a different word to describe my feelings these days, but independence is the only one that gives any true perspective.
So, that’s where I am. I am independently living in Central Europe. Hanging out with new folks, eating good food, living far away from the comfort of home, and being challenged in ways that I have never been challenged before.
I have come to recognize that in the moments after I achieve something in Prague, I feel invincible. Lately these moments have stemmed from officially saying yes to an apartment. Or after I successfully taught my first one-on-one lesson. These moments are after I get feedback from a lesson I didn’t feel I did too well on, and then the feedback only being positive. These moments are small moments, dispersed through the days, lost in the weeks, sometimes forgotten about by the weekends, but these moments are powerful.
Teaching abroad is not something I ever saw myself doing. But teaching abroad is teaching me lessons everyday. It’s showing me the true feeling of independence. It’s introducing me to the scary world of adulthood, but with a twist: doing all of it abroad where the culture and the language are fiercely different from what I am accustomed to. This has forced my comfort level to stretch, and everyone needs a stretch in comfort level every once in a while.
Tomorrow begins the most intense week of the course. On top of the many assignments due, the exams that need to be passed, and the lessons that must be successful, my roommate and I will officially be signing our lease this week, I will be searching for a job, and on Saturday my boyfriend and I are meeting some friends from back home in Brussels.
Life over here is amazing. It really is. It humbles me daily, but it also builds me up in ways that I never realized I needed. I’m so happy with my decision to move here. I am ready to wake up in the coming days and excited to find comfort in being uncomfortable.
If living abroad has ever crossed your mind but you make up excuses not to do it, I say: Stop it. Stop it right now. You can do it. It’s not hard. It’s everything you never thought you needed. Find a way to come over here, and do it immediately. Life is short. You are ready for this. I promise.