By: Kenny Parris
(I came from Florida, but this was the ticket for my connecting flight in Germany to Prague)
When it comes to talking about Prague, I feel like I’ve told my story numerous times to different people. Out of all places what made you choose Prague? Do you like teaching? How can you teach if you don’t know the native language? How do you deal with not knowing the language? How much money do you make? Is it enough to live comfortably? What do you do for fun? Do you like the people? Do the people like you?……yep, I’ve answered them all. Truthfully, I love all of these questions and I love even more to respond to them. People are curious, rightfully so, because so was I exactly one year and 2 months ago in March 2014 when I first made the decision to commit to this new life. My hope is that my words can help motivate someone reading this right now, who is on the unsure cusp of wondering if this is something for you or not. I too, had those same feelings of confusion and doubt some time ago. So here’s my story.
We have to take it back to December 2013, as I’d just turned 25 a month prior, and the new year was approaching. “New year, new me”, ehh, I’m not one to believe in that stuff, because I feel if you need self-improvement then you should be able to do it at any point in the year. For me though, the upcoming year was different; I’d just hit the quarter-century mark and I was having a “quarter-life crisis”. I’m not exaggerating, this is the truth. I knew that I wanted to leave my current job by next summer and I started looking into what route I’d take for my next step in life. I was always interested in baking, so I visited a few culinary schools to decide if being a Pastry Chef was what I should do. I even spoke to my boss around this time and told her that I’m staying with the company but I’m at a point in life where I need to move into the thing that I SHOULD be doing for my career. She was very supportive and told me once I get back from Christmas break, we can revisit the topic. I still was unsure about culinary school, and I gave myself a deadline to make a decision by March. Then in March came a special day, one that changed my life forever….
I was out for dinner one night with a friend, and she was telling me about her planned summer travel to Europe. She’d be in Germany for a 3 month internship, and it would culminate with a trip to Spain. Now Spain has always been of interest to me for food, music, lifestyle, etc., and my friend suggested I join her there at the end of her trip. I quickly brushed it off as I knew there was no way I could afford that because I was planning to use my savings to be a big boy and buy a condo in the summer. It was definitely my dream to go to Spain, but didn’t seem like a reality for 2014. But our conversation stuck with me that night as I went home, and I thought, and thought, and thought some more.
The next night I was watching the Travel Channel, and I kept thinking about our conversation. Then a wealth of inspiration started to consume me and not only did I start searching flights out of curiosity, but for the first time ever I started to believe that this could be a reality for me to travel to Europe! Prices were not cheap but not expensive, so I slept on it so I could wake up the next morning to see if I was crazy or not. I wasn’t. I immediately called my friend to tell her, and with that confirmation, I went from “Oh no there’s no way this could happen” to “So what hotel are we staying at?” Within a matter of two days I booked my first transatlantic flight to Europe and I was going to Barcelona!
Once I made this decision, I immediately contacted a friend from my childhood, who was now living in Australia on a work & travel program, to tell him the news. Through our conversation, the subject of Teaching English abroad came about and I started to do my research. Knowing I was planning a career change for summer, it dawned on me that it was a rare point in my life where I’d have the free time and opportunity to actually make not just a job change, but actually a significant life change. At this point I was locked in and teaching English was all I could think or talk about for the next two weeks. I researched tirelessly, called friends who’d traveled abroad, called language schools for more info on the TEFL, watched YouTube videos…EVERYTHING! What booking that Spain flight did for me was instill a confidence and element of adventure that I’d never had before. It was time to do something beyond where I felt my capabilities reached, and teaching English in a foreign country was it. If I was going to make this move, the two factors that mattered most to me were: job opportunity and cost of living. Prague satisfied both of those and by the end of March, I was officially enrolled in TEFL Worldwide. I knew absolutely nothing about Prague or the Czech Republic before March, but in 5 months, I would officially be moving to this new land. The information and support provided by TEFL Worldwide was a huge factor in my decision to choose Prague and this school. One plus year later I can say this was the best decision of my life.