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Trainee Stories – Veronica and Zoe

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We ask 2 of our current trainees, sisters Veronica and Zoe, a few questions about their experience during the course.

First, let’s here from Zoe, who originally had the idea to take the TEFL course in Prague. 

Where are you from and why did you choose the Czech Republic?

I’m originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, but I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico when I found TEFL Worldwide Prague five years ago through an exhaustive google search of “How to become an English teacher abroad.” I had just finished backpacking through Europe when I made the decision that I wanted to live abroad. The Czech Republic was one of the European countries that I wanted to visit because my family had emigrated from this area in the early 20th century, and I was curious to see where they came from. Prague ended up being one of my favorite cities on my trip, so when Idid some research and found out the Czech Republic has a high-demand for English teachers, I put it at the top of my list. I kept this course in the back of my mind throughout the next five years as I tried — between money, Covid and a leg injury — to get to Europe.

What do you think of Prague?

I only spent a few days in Prague when I backpacked, so I really took a leap of faith in choosing this city. My sister, Veronica, who had never even been to Europe, took an even bigger risk in choosing to come with me, but so far we love it! The architecture is what made me fall in love originally, but, after being here for a few weeks, my love for the city has grown. I love the size of Prague; it’s big enough to feel metropolitan, but still small enough to commute easily (as an American, the walk ability of the city is a game changer). Veronica and I have also not been able to get over the café culture here. Every street you turn down has an unassuming, quaint little spot to study or meet a friend, and it’s just so refreshing. Finally, Czechs are some of the most accommodating people I have ever met. Some may seem intimidating at first, but as soon as you ask for directions or a recommendation, they are immediately happy to help.

How are you finding the course so far?

Honestly, the course is more intensive than either my sister or I thought it would be. It’s been rigorous, but it’s shown us and prepared us for the obstacles we will face as foreign language teachers. Veronica and I have never taught before, and learning how to teach is like (for lack of a better metaphor) learning a new language. I realise now that doing anything less than this amount of work to become certified would not prepare me for teaching in the real world. And besides, we have already become close friends with many of our peers in the course — there are very few bonds stronger than the ones made between classmates complaining about schoolwork.

What has surprised you so far (either course related or Prague related)?

One thing that has surprised me is the weather. Before moving, I was warned by almost everyone about how cold it is in Prague. I got quite a few eyebrow-raises and“Good luck”s in response to my moving here in the winter time. To my pleasant surprise, it’s January and the temperature has barely dipped below freezing. Last week, when it was 32 degrees Fahrenheit here, it was 5 degrees Fahrenheit in Santa Fe. So, I have nothing to complain about when it comes to the weather.

What are your tentative plans for after the course?

Veronica and I came into the course with no set plans for what we would do after. Neither of us wanted to commit to staying in Prague, just in case we hated it, but I think after these first few weeks, both of us feel certain that we don’t. For that reason our plan is to stay here and get our first year of teaching experience in Prague. After that,who knows? With a TEFL certificate, you open yourself up to new experiences anywhere in the world!

Now, let’s here what her sister, Veronica, has to say about her expereince:  

Veronica: “As students, my sister and I could not be more different. She has always excelled in her studies, gracefully taking things one step at a time, and she is especially keen on academia. Meanwhile, my experience with school was not so easy. My enthusiasm in class meant I would easily become unfocused and felt frustrated when I wanted to learn and know everything all at once. However, what we shared (along with clothes, rooms, and family) was a love of travel, a passion for new experiences, and a desire to make a positive impact on the world. Then, while searching for international opportunities, my sister found TEFL Worldwide Prague. On paper, it was just what she had been looking for: a chance to be immersed in a culture while using her knowledge to help others and live in Prague, a city she had been to once and immediately loved. What held her back though is what I think keeps most people from traveling — the fear of doing it alone.

So she asked me if I wanted to go with her. I remember her surprise when, without hesitation, I said yes and the buzz of excitement we got when we realized we were actually going through with it. Yet, as our course dates drew closer, there also grew doubts, anxieties, and fears. What if we can’t make connections with other people? What if the course is too hard? What if we can’t figure out how to get our visa, and what if Prague isn’t as amazing as we think it will be? As the younger sister, it had always been her having to take my hand and walk me through my fears, and it was as if finally, the roles had reversed. I told her that no matter what, even if every worst-case scenario came true, that we would get through it, because at the very least, we always had each other.

It wasn’t until we got to TEFL for our first lesson that we both saw that all those anxieties and fears had been baseless! The course is rigorous and fascinating, and our classmates quickly became our friends and trusted peers. There is a rich history on every corner, yet at the same time Prague is full of life — especially at night! The trainers have lots of experience teaching this course and teaching EFL, and they never let anyone feel like they have to figure it out alone. Exploring the city, learning how to teach, and slowly (but surely) learning Czech, both my sister and I feel confident that we made the right decision, and grateful to be able to share this experience with each other. Now that we’re here, our only regret is not doing it sooner!”

 

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