Change of Plans
October 8, 2009

So, after a (mostly) lovely 5 weeks in Prague, I’m deciding to throw in the towel.  The job market here is tight as is, and for a non-EU citizen, it is even harder to get in.  I had been very hopeful about finding a job here, but it just isn’t meant to be, I suppose.

First of all, I haven’t gotten any positive responses back regarding the nearly 100 CVs (resumes) I’ve sent out.  Secondly, I don’t think I’d care to live in Prague long-term.  Don’t get me wrong, the city is beautiful, historical, and safe, and the people are warm and friendly (when you’re able to connect with them), but it isn’t the most friendly of cities.  Just going into the bakery or supermarket is a guarantee to meet with unfriendliness.  Sure, in the city center, everyone is happy to see a foreigner.  But in the more local places, we’re seen as a nuisance.   I’m sure any perceived unkindness is only on the surface, and would melt away if we got to know each other.  However, on a day-to-day basis, it makes your day feel draining when smiles and kind words are few and far between when you’re out in public.  There are, of course, a good deal of exceptions to this: Nicole at the Akcent cafe was a darling, and some wait staff at restaurants have been pleasant indeed.  I apologize for any offence I may have caused to my wonderful Czech classmates here, but I’ve found it frustrating in the last week here.

Anyway, I’ve decided to move on and do a bit of traveling before returning home to the US to find a job.  I’m carefully crafting some plans to stay with friends-of-friends at city(ies) en route to Sicily.  Saturday, I’m tentatively planning to stay in Linz, Austria for a few days with a friend-of-a-friend.   This trip will culminate in Sicily where I hope to see one of my mother-lands and meet some distant family members for the first time.  If I can actually make it to Sicily, it will be a dream come true!  Keep reading for updates 🙂

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I’m Gonna Make It
September 23, 2009

I’m Gonna Going To Make It

The end of my CELTA course is fast approaching.  In about 10 days I will have a certificate in my hand and no room to call my own.  As much as I’ve planned and researched, the upcoming week and a half will be murderously busy.

So far, I have compiled a partial (very incomplete) list of schools I’d like to apply to work at, refashioned my resume into a respectable European CV (with the help of a tutor), and gotten to thinking about the real possibility of working in Prague.  After my second advisement meeting, it looks like my scores will most likely be passing – which is saying a lot in this make-it-or-break-it practical.  In the next day or two I really need to get my CV out there in front of the eyes of the EFL powers that be.  And I have lesson planning and two assignments on top of that.  But hey, if I can find a job I’m happy with in Europe, it will all be worth it.

I also have been pondering writing about some Prague-isms I’ve noticed so far – things that are different here than back home.  But please, when you read this, forgive my over-generalizations.

1. Don’t drink the milk.  The store-bought “fresh” milk should be avoided.  I suppose that my sensitive palette is accustomed to the super-yummy milk available in America, because the fresh milk here is sour!  I’ve confirmed this with other non-Praguers.  Tip – stick to the long-life Parmalat-style milk; you’ll thank me later.

2. Men and purses.  Yep.  Not messenger bags, real purses.  Ok, maybe not all men wear a purse here, but I’ve noticed that it’s pretty common to see men with plain black leather purses hanging on their shoulder.  It’s gone beyond a European carrying case and onto a full-fledged handbag.  So, men in America, there’s no need to feel like you’re out-of-place just because you carry a messenger bag or fanny pack – in Europe you’re only halfway there.

3. Metro – awesome and clean.  A little bit awkward to figure out after midnight, but still the best.

4. Shop assistants – Actually, this isn’t very different from back home.  I had been warned all about unfriendly sales clerks, but not that I’m here, it doesn’t seem like a big change from NY.   I suppose NY shop assistants aren’t the warmest, either.  However, I do miss sweet old ladies in shops who help you and make you feel Southern-ish hospitality.

5. Peanut Butter – Doesn’t exist in its American form whatsoever.  The closest thing I’ve found is a peanut cousin of Nutella, that is more like a dessert than a protein…..which brings me to….

6. Nutella. Hazelnuts.  Everywhere. Yesss!  Being a big fan of anything Hazelnut-flavored (not flavoured) back home, I have been in a gastronomical 7th heaven when it comes to dessert items.  At least half of the desserts and croissants have Nutella or Hazelnuts!  ….and it’s cheap!  Score!

7.  Watch where you step!  Seriously, on any given walk to/from school, I’ll see at least a few dogs peeing on lawns/lampposts/cars.  But that’s not all – doggie doo doo is a major culprit in dirty shoe smells, and should be actively avoided at all costs.  Kids don’t seem to play in the random green spaces here between apartment buildings; any grass (or sidewalk or street) is the personal toilet of dogs here, who 90% of the time walk freely without a leash.  Molly wouldn’t fit in at all – she would run around in the street with reckless abandonment.  The dogs are cute, but their poo deadly.

8. Apples and flies.  There seem to be lots of apple trees with lots of rotten apples on the ground around them.  This is my guess as to why there seems to bean over-abundance of fruit flies in Prague.  Maybe.

9. Starbucks and KFC’s especially really are everywhere

10. Hot chocolate, more like hot chocolate pudding.  Questionable, but yummy.

11. Pivo.  Beer is cheap here and sold everywhere.  A reasonable price at a local non-touristy restaurant is about 25-30kc, the equivalent of $1-$1.75 (depending on exchange rates).   Our school cafe has Pilsner Urquell stocked so that we can have a beer after a stressful lesson.  In fact, that’s how you can easily find out which trainees taught on any given day.  So far, I like the Staropramen the best, but I forgot which variety, so I haven’t been able to order it again.

I hope I didn’t seem overly negative.  Don’t get me wrong – I love Prague, especially the city center.  But there are definitely some quirky things here, whether from history, culture, communism-after-effects, or mass manufacture.  And remember: beer, not milk. 😉