Thursday, September 12, 2013

First week in Prague! September, 2013

September 10, 2013

I have been in Prague for one week exactly, to the day.  So far, it’s been a whirlwind. 

No, I have not been daring enough to try Czech food yet.  Lame, I know.  But Czech food is lots of hard core meats, such as stuffed boar leg, lamb, or rabbit.  I am not really into any of that…as someone who rarely eats meat, aside from occasionally chicken or bacon; this is a tough cuisine for me to venture into.  They also eat lots of sauerkraut, fried foods, dumplings and sweets.  Aside from the desserts (as you all know, I am a devoted consumer of all things sweet), not much of that food is up my alley.  So as of now, I have been a bit of an unadventurous soul when it’s come to the food portion of my time here and have stuck to various dishes like mushroom ravioli, vegetarian crepes with spinach, onion and goat cheese (which were DELICIOUS), a large salad with cooked salmon, goat cheese, red onion, bacon and pine nuts, and of course, beer (Prague is a beer city, known in fact for having some of the best beer in the world).  I will eventually get around to at least tasting a couple of traditional Czech dishes, which is a promise.  And when I do, I will be sure to report back the details!  But for now…I am sticking to the dishes I feel strongly that I will enjoy.

On Sunday early on in the day, we had to meet up with our TEFL group outside of the Language House School briefly, to say hello to one another and be given a brief course overview.  I felt quite nervous about this, as I am naturally an introvert and while I generally really enjoy socializing, I prefer to do it in small groups with people I have become close with over time.  Meeting large groups of new people is always an intimidating situation for me. 

However the class meeting went off without a hitch and was just fine.  After this, a small group of us walked to Old Town Square together, bought beers and stood within the buzzing hub of activity around us, enjoying our drinks and getting to know one another.  Then we strolled over the magical, stunningly beautiful Charles Bridge and settled in, upon my suggestion, at Kampo Park where we sat in a circle and conversed for a couple hours.  This was relaxing and fantastic.  We ended the afternoon with a grocery store excursion, which is a story in itself, my god, going grocery shopping here is insanely daunting and stressful, that is for sure.  Stay tuned for more on that experience.  And then we all headed back to our respective flats to relax for the rest of the day and rest up to begin class the next day.

On Monday, we officially began class.  We enjoyed learning various ice breakers and warm up games, ways to introduce our subject matter to our future students in what would be affective and attention-grabbing ways, to engage with them and increase learning.  This was a lot of fun, it got everyone laughing and interacting with one another.  Then on Monday evening after class, we were given a three hour tour of the city by a young woman who works for the school.  She was fabulous.  Energetic, incredibly funny, warm and a great speaker.  We toured Old Town Square and learned some fascinating history about the square, we walked the Charles Bridge, and we headed up the hill to Prague Castle which we walked around and were rewarded with up close and personal views of.  I felt like I was standing outside of Hogwarts Castle in Harry Potter!  It’s so Gothic and magical looking.  We took a break for beer or ice cream, our choice (I instead settled on the choice of a pastry.  A gingerbread star to be exact, which was so delicious, it reminded me of eating Christmas), and then we headed out to a little restaurant for a free meal, compliments of the TEFL house!  That was a blast and a wonderful respite after a long day of walking and touring.

Today we had our second day of class, during which we had to teach our fellow students how to do something within 15 minutes.  I taught the class how to pull their thumb in half, a fun little magic trick that my Dad taught me when I was little, which used to leave me in awe and giggles whenever he performed this for me.  The class seemed to get a kick out of it.  And at the conclusion of the day, we were left with our homework being that we have to prepare our own ice breaker and warm up game for tomorrow (with a specific topic that we might use for a lesson) which we will be teaching to ACTUAL Czech’s this Thursday!!  That will be our first real, live, partial lesson.  So that is rather nerve-racking, though simultaneously exciting for sure.  I am getting psyched to begin the actual teaching part.  I find that part anxiety provoking but also sort of exhilarating, getting up there in front of everyone.

After having been here for a week, I am still feeling pretty good about all of this.  I am still very excited about the entire thing.  I cannot wait to be done with the course, which after this week, ends in just 3 weeks!!!  And I am very much looking forward to securing a job and beginning to actually teach on my own, how cool will that be?  Plus, then I can begin my real endeavor that I wanted to undertake while I am here in Europe, which is to TRAVEL! 

I am not feeling a huge amount of culture shock (yet…) but I am beginning to really miss my friends and family.  I am having random, sporadic moments of missing them deeply.  Hearing a song that reminds me of them (when I was jump roping this morning on the little courtyard outside of my flat, Sunset Driver by Michael Jackson came onto my i-pod.  That reminded me of playing Just Dance on the Wii with my little sister and my Mom), or just wishing I could call up one of my close friends on the phone on a whim to say hello and tell them about something crazy/fun/interesting/you insert the adjective, that happened to me today.  I miss seeing them weekly too.  So I am hoping to be able to make Skype dates with all of them sometime soon, within the next week or so.

“One of the great truths of life is that while you’re stuck with your family, you can choose your friends.  There is a different love that flesh and blood cannot guarantee; the love of a friend who knows you, doesn’t judge you, and will be there for you no matter what.  True friends are never just friends.”

That aside, I am feeling incredibly happy to be here.  Blessed by the fact that I even have this opportunity.  Excited and intrigued by the unknown of what my future holds over here…where this might take me…what could happen.  It’s sort of like reading an interesting memoir as it unfolds, except the story is my own and I am living it!  It’s outstanding.

Until next time, I am signing off for now.  I miss you all.  Stay tuned for upcoming adventure updates!

 “If you wait until you are ready, you will be waiting for the rest of your life,” –Lemony Snickett

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