Life before the Czech Republic
Prior to TEFL I was teaching in America as a Preschool Special Education teacher. I was born and raised in the second smallest state called Delaware, and was ready to explore the world. During my last year at University I studied abroad in Australia and met my now partner Chris. He was also teaching in Australia and was not ready to make the big move to America. So we decided to compromise and look to teach abroad first. We did a lot of research on the Internet looking for the most affordable countries to live in, along with the easiest location to travel. A friend recommended to use the website called TEFL Heaven and suggested looking into the Czech Republic. At the time I was very naïve and did not know where the Czech Republic was located on a map, nor what the country was known for. After through research we decided we would go through with the interview process.
Pre-course communication / organization
My partner and I both went through the TEFL Heaven interview process and were accepted into the program. We were put in contact with LiveTEFL Prague within a matter of days. At the time a young lady named Anna worked in the office and contacted us immediately. She sent helpful PDF files containing almost everything you need to know prior to coming to Prague. We received information on accommodation, packing lists, places to visit, and insurance information. We were very concerned about the Visa process preceding our arrive, but we were told you cannot fill out the application until you are living in the Czech Republic. Anna answered every question and always made herself available. The communication was perfect and we felt at ease moving to a new country for the year.
Travel to Prague (first impression)
My partner and I drove from Delaware to New York and flew out of JFK Airport. The flight was thirteen hours to Copenhagen then an hour to Prague. The flight was easy after saying the hard goodbyes and being emotionally drained. When we arrived in Prague, a driver, who was sent by LiveTEFL to pick us up, greeted us. As we drove to our flat for the first time the beautiful architecture and wonderfully coloured buildings amazed us. We arrived at the end of July, a week before our TEFL course began. Arriving a week early was perfect because we were able to become familiar with our surroundings. We also needed to get accustomed to the heat and having air conditioning only in the shopping centres. We were very pleased with the affordable prices pertaining to food and transportation.
Once my partner and I were accepted into the program we started to consider possible living situations. We did not want to choose a flat to live in for a year without inspecting it in person first. This was very difficult to do, since we needed a place to stay upon arrival. I sent an email to Anna from LiveTefl asking for her advice and she responded with multiple living options for the first month. I reached out to one of her contacts and skyped him, so I could ask further questions. He gave me a tour of the flat and showed me which room my partner and I would be able to rent for a month.
When we arrived we stayed at the guys flat for a month and hired a real estate agent to help us look for our new home. We decided to go with this option because it is very difficult to find a flat on your own. The language barrier is challenge along with possible scams. We used a company called Foreigners.cz Prague, which we highly recommend. We toured only a few flats before choosing, our home for the year. I recommend getting a flat that is close to a metro and tram station, if you end up teaching English you travel a lot!
Live TEFL Premises (classrooms, computers, printers)
The TEFL classroom is located in a great area called Namesti Miru, which has the famous St. Ludmila cathedral outside the classroom window. The classroom in quite small, which means there can only be small class sizes. This was a positive aspect for me because you receive more attention in a smaller class. There is a teachers room available from 8am-6pm on the weekdays. In the room you will have access to the printers and a plethora of English workbooks along with useful materials. A new update in the teachers room is an espresso machine, which will come in handy during your long hours.
Ahead of the course we were told that the course would be intensive. However we had no idea just how intensive it would be. Due to only having four weeks to complete the course you aren’t afforded the luxury of easing into the program. This is certainly not for the faint hearted but is definitely an experience worth persevering with. Over the length of the course you’re taught all things grammar, methodology, planning and even ‘survival Czech’, where you are taught all the basics that you will need to know for your time in this amazing country.
On the second weekend of TEFL course we went to Bohemian Switzerland, a wonderful spot just a few hours away from the city where Narnia had been filmed. We all gathered at the main train station early the morning to ensure that we were able to make the most of the day trip. We would require a train and a brief bus journey to get us to our destination. Once there we started our reasonable hike up through the trees and up until we reached the iconic limestone gate. After getting to the top some of the group decided to split off for some beverages and something to eat whereas others decided to continue exploring the surroundings. To complete the afternoon we were treated with a beautiful and relaxing boat trip along the river at the base of the forest. Truly a day well spent!
Life in Prague (Prices, Public Transport, Places to Visit)
Prague is without doubt an incredibly beautiful and easy city to live in. The public transport is easily accessible and the surrounding parks and stunning architecture is unlike any other city in Europe. We recommend buying a Lítačka card for all public transportation, it’s the most affordable. I would pre order your card online, or plan to be in the Lítačka building for two to three hours due to the high volume of customers.
Within a week of being in Prague we had already fallen in love with our new home! However the heat was something neither of us had ever experienced (and it gets pretty hot in Australia!). Air conditioning is not a thing in Prague and if you’re looking for some cooling off I highly recommend spending the cash and getting a fan! This was by far the best purchase we made during our first few months. Other than that here are some suggestions on places to go and how to get your time in Prague off to the best possible start….
Reigrovy Sady is extremely popular and well known (and for a good reason). It has a fun beer garden during summer and has a beautiful view overlooking the city. Letna Park, Naplavka, Vysehrad, Chotkovy Sady and Strelecky Island are also great additions.
A charming old town square Old Town Square with the Astronomical Clock. The clock does a little show at the beginning of every hour, you will notice when everyone takes out their phone and there is a huge crowd. We found the show to be anticlimactic, but worth seeing one time.
Charles Bridge is the most famous bridge in Prague. It is packed with tourist all day, along with musicians and artists. To get the best views arrive at Charles Bridge right before sunset, with only a very small crowd.
Prague’s Castle is absolutely stunning. I still believe this is the best castle in Europe, due to its gothic structure.
John Lennon’s wall covered with random graffiti, and only a handful of John Lennon tributes. The wall is worth seeing if you are a fan and for taking an artsy photo.
Overall we are extremely happy with our decision to move to the Czech Republic. We have been living here for just over nine months, and love our new life. LiveTEFL gave us all the tools and knowledge needed to become a proper English teacher. I would recommend this program to anyone and have nothing but positive things to say about the experience. The staff is absolutely amazing and will help you every step of the way!