By: Emma Grace Fairchild
Before moving to Prague six weeks ago to start a new life as an English teacher in the Czech Republic, I lived abroad before in Sweden as an exchange student. I spent the year following my return back to the U.S. with one goal- to return back to Europe. I had the passion and drive to arrange my life to move, completed all of the preparations one could do before leaving their home country, and had a sense of peace about the entire process and the impending move. I thought moving to Prague to be an English teacher would be a breeze… But I realize now nothing could have prepared me for what life would be like when embarking on such a wild voyage!
After studying abroad, I finished my senior year at my home university in San Diego, and when a last minute summer school course deflected my plans for attending graduate school abroad, I found myself with a sudden freedom looming after my final courses were finished. After seeing a flyer on campus for my college’s TEFL program, I did some research online, compared different options, and found International TEFL Academy. Within three days I had signed up for the Online TEFL Academy course due to start in July 2015.
I started planning to move to Europe in the early autumn to be available during peak hiring season. By September I had sold my car, gotten all of my affairs in order, and said goodbye to my loved ones. I flew to Croatia, with the plan to spend some days traveling and then move to Prague in Czech Republic to make a home for myself.
I wouldn’t have made it to Prague without the guidance and support from International TEFL Academy from the very beginning. First there was the exciting and highly anticipated first phone call with my academic advisor Lauren Davis. I was on the train to a friends house and spent almost an hour picking her brain and getting my first round of questions answered. The feedback I received on each weekly assignment in the course was another important aspect of support that International TEFL Academy provides. I was confident each week that I was moving in the right direction because of the insightful and informative feedback from my instructor. Finally, the wealth of information I received from Karee in Student Affairs helped me iron out my final decision of where I was going to move to teach and live. I am incredibly grateful that I chose to start my journey as a TEFL teacher with this school!
Now that I’ve been in the Czech Republic for six weeks, I am greatly benefiting from the emotional support that my friends and family back in the States are giving me. I have a part time job teaching young children at several schools around Prague, a sweet apartment with cool Czech flatmates, and enough savings left to give myself some time to find private clients to supplement the income from the school I work for. Prior to arriving and trying to adjust to life in the Czech Republic, I thought I was totally prepared for my new reality as an English teacher, but nothing could have been further from the truth! Everything about moving away was new and unique, from the completely foreign language always surrounding me to different food and different customs. It was important for me to survive the first few weeks in Prague by making lots of lists of important things I could accomplish. At the top of my list was to find an apartment, followed by finding a job, followed by preparing all I could for my impending Visa application (teachers in Czech Republic typically get visas that basically categorize you as an independent contractor). Other than focusing on my lists, I took time to explore the city, connected with new friends, and just focused on being gentle on myself as I acclimated to a completely new environment.
I feel anyone who makes this kind of transition is ready for a deeply transformational personal journey. This journey has picked me up and put me back down upside down and backwards! Every day is different and exciting, and every week brings me closer to being right side up again. I love teaching and am learning more about myself than I thought possible. The initial start was jam packed with adrenaline and quick decisions, but now I’m acclimated enough to begin to really thrive here in Prague.
I could offer true but cliche advice (“say yes as much as you can,” “don’t have expectations,” etc.). However, I think ultimately to thrive once you move to a new country to teach, you just have to have faith in yourself and believe that you can take anything life throws at you and come out stronger at the end of it. Earning your credential through International TEFL Academy will guarantee a solid support system and you’ll find yourself in another part of the world accomplishing more than you ever thought possible! Although it’s only been six weeks in Prague, each day is full of potential and I am more excited than ever to continue this journey.
Emma Grace is a recent graduate from California State University, San Marcos, with a major in Human Development. She recently moved to Prague and is keeping herself busy with work, playing guitar, and exploring the city. A consistent optimist, she is adjusting to living in a foreign country and thoroughly enjoying teaching, trying to drink all of the coffee in Prague, and being near international friends.