August 28, 2013
T-minus 5 days and counting. That is when I leave my home in Boston, Massachusetts to move to Prague in the Czech Republic indefinitely. It could not possibly feel more surreal. On one hand, I am incredibly nervous. I have found myself breaking into 15 minute crying jags randomly, thinking about missing my kitties (who I just gave away temporarily last night to two wonderful friends of mine for the time being), their absence looming in my now-almost empty apartment, or knowing the impeding goodbyes still left to come with my close friends and family. However when I take a deep breath and remind myself that this is all my doing, this is exactly what I want, one of my life dreams and life excitements, then I start to get incredibly pumped about it all.
Travel is easily one of my top excitements and joys in life. I cannot think of much that gets me more pumped. I really cannot get enough. I caught the travel bug in July, 2008 to be exact, when I studied abroad for 7 weeks at the tail end of my college career in Florence, Italy. That was THE time of my life. I traveled to Rome twice, the Cinque Terre three times (if that name doesn’t ring a bell, Google it, you will be in awe), Pisa, Venice twice and Amsterdam (actually, I spent the night in the Amsterdam airport! That is certainly a story). The entire 7 weeks was a thrilling adventure for me, including when my Mom flew over at the conclusion of my course and we went to Paris together for my 23rd birthday!! I remember feeling my legs shake and my heart race with excitement as I rounded the corner of a large forgettable building and was met with the unobstructed and complete view of the Eiffel Tower for the first time, with my Mom by my side, and the velvety looking sky deepening in color during dusk as a backdrop. It was jaw dropping. Ever since then, I seek to travel whenever I can and as much as I can. I find it thrilling, awe inspiring and always something akin to being in an exciting story unfolding with surprises waiting around every corner. I find my breath being continually taken away whenever I am traveling.
I have returned to Europe three times since my time in Italy (back to Italy, back to Paris and then this past spring, to Prague with brief stops in Germany and Switzerland). Each time, I found myself just as spellbound by the romance of Europe as I was on the last trip. And every time I have traveled to Europe, I feel a pull within myself towards the continent. There is just something about it (the culture, the adventure, the easy access to multiple countries, the charm, I don’t know what exactly) that is so…me. I find myself missing it when I am back at home in the US from whatever trip I was just on abroad.
Therefore, it made total sense when, after my 9 year relationship ended about 7 months ago which was heart wrenching and very challenging for me, the idea of moving to Europe entered my thoughts once more. The idea solidified in my mind when, upon mentioning this idea to two people very close to me (my mother and coincidentally my ex), they each responded by saying they believed it would be the perfect time for me to do this, that it would be a mistake not to make the move, and that the idea is “so Brooke.” I let this potential plan settle within my heart which rapidly snowballed into Internet research about how one can go about moving to Europe. It turns out it isn’t easy. You either need: a job offer (a job willing to sponsor you essentially) in which case you almost always need to speak the language of that country for them to want to hire you, or you need to marry a European. Neither of those was looking like realistic options to me right now. But then I recalled TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), and I knew I had found my answer.
Interestingly, I am actually already certified to do this. I obtained my certification in TEFL about four years ago. However I never utilized it. I was offered a job in China upon completing my initial certification which I turned down as it was not a convenient time in my life for me to disembark on a long term venture like that, and since then, I have not had the prime moment to utilize this certification. I realized that this was it; this was that right moment to finally do this.
I found a TEFL course in Prague that sounded excellent. Yes, I am already certified, but this course offered in-class practicum as part of the course, which I did not receive in my previous course (that was solely online based) and this course also offers visa assistance and work placement assistance, which was a main selling point for me. Prague is one of the easier cities to obtain a work permit for Americans. Other European countries are quite difficult I have been told. This course is also accredited and is rated as one of the top TEFL schools. And in many of the articles I have read about teaching English abroad, Prague is listed as a top choice. And finally, not only is Prague a cheaper European city but it’s a gorgeous one. I was sold. I paid the course fee before I could change my mind, and the idea became a plan set in motion. Soon thereafter, I booked my airfare and began banking money.
And now, I am about to head off!!!
Last night I had a heart wrenching goodbye with my kitties, Bug and Olivia. They have essentially been my babies for the past 4 years. I love them deeply, though especially Bug. He and I have a special closeness between us. He follows me around like a little puppy would. I have two wonderful, kind friends who offered to take them temporarily until my previous partner takes them back to live with him, so that makes me incredibly relieved, they are in a wonderful home for now. But returning to my empty apartment after dropping them off cracked my heart. Opening the door where they are usually sitting to greet me with their large eyes craned up to meet my own, but being met instead with silence and nothing, that was hard. Waking up this morning with no one in the spot next to me where Bug is usually curled up caused a pulsing ache in my heart. I miss them.
And then saying goodbye to three of my very close friends in the past couple days has been very hard. I have gotten especially close with a number of my friends over the past 7 months, so leaving them is tugging my heart quite a bit. That is easily the most difficult part of this whole thing. Saying goodbye to the people I love. I am so lucky. I have truly wonderful, kind, generous, caring, loyal friends. I miss them already. Though I am looking forward to a number of them hopefully coming over to visit me while I am abroad (hint, hint, to all of you)!!! That would be outstanding and would make my entire year.
Until next time…the countdown is on. My adventure will begin in just a few days!!!