Archive | August, 2013

Just Keep Swimming…

31 Aug

I cannot even explain all the emotions I feel right now. 

The program ended yesterday & I officially got my TEFL certificate. I did it! I passed everything, survived all the lesson planning, demo teaching & giant grammar test. I guess I still don’t really realize just how much of an accomplishment that truly is.


(Above: Me with my TEFL Certificate!)

I really fell in love with all the people in my class. They are from all over the world & all different ages. It was only one month, but I feel like we are a family. Some of them are staying in Prague, some of them are going to teach in other countries & some of them are going home.

Is it weird that lately I have been wanting to do all three?


(Above: The coolest group of people ever)

1) Why I want to stay in Prague:

Prague is really starting to grow on me. I came here a little jaded. I was still way too obsessed with Paris, my ex-lover, & found myself comparing Paris & Prague every chance I got. But that’s not fair. Prague is great & unique in it’s own way. While the two are both European countries, they have a very different set of pros & cons for me. 

Since living here one month, I have already begun the acculturation. I have learned to weigh produce & get stickers, to not take cabs, & to show my metro pass to scary men flashing me their badge. I am becoming a Prague-ian. 

& I want to continue to become one. When I first got here, I was still in vacation mode. It didn’t really hit me that I was moving here. However, now I feel like I am much more comfortable with the idea.

I have already worked so hard & come so far in only one month. I found an apartment & (99% sure) I am getting my dream job. I would be foolish to throw that away. Plus you wouldn’t have a blog to read anymore :p 

The biggest con of Prague for me right now is getting my Zizno aka: trade license. The process is expensive, overwhelming & detailed. If I end up going home this is the reason why.

2) Why I want to go to another country:


That’s really it. I know it sounds shallow but I am kinda really struggling right now. Like dangerously struggling. The money in my account is a week to week thing. I just cannot seem to get ahead right now. My poor family is trying so hard to give me all they can & I hate that until I start getting paid I’m useless.

It would be very nice to go to Asia & have my plane ticket, housing, Visa & cell phone all paid for. But then I think about all the cons (helloooo, culture shock) & I just think to myself: now is not the time.

Ideally, I want to live in Prague for a year. Go home to re-cooperate for a little bit. Then go teach in Asia & make bank. But you never know. Like Mama G always says: Man plans & God laughs. 

Deep down I think making such a drastic life change like moving to the other side of the world just for money is a lot of trouble to go through. 

So someday, but not right now.

3) Why I want to go home:

Part of me feels like you do when you have a long weekend of drinking in college & just want to leave. You want to sleep in your bed, have a fridge full of food, & just be surrounded by love. I want to do that right now so bad. If I could, I would fly home for a week or two just to recover from the past month. But I can’t.

Plus, the thought of getting in another plane so soon to make that awful 14hr journey back is sickening. 

Going home is my worst case scenario. Before I left, my mom & grandparents told me: “have fun, be safe & remember–you can always come right back.” At times I really want to. I am so broke. Broke to the point that I had to pay 230czk for the extra copies I made at school & couldn’t afford it. That is humiliating. It also doesn’t help that every day I wake up to a new message from my mom nagging me about money.

I am so terrified. Terrified to the point where I want to physically get on my knees & pray to God for direction.

I know it’s supposed to be hard before it gets easy, but right now, I just need someone to tell me everything is going to be okay. I am prepared to sleep on a mattress in my new apartment, because I can’t afford sheets. I am prepared to skip meals because I can’t afford food. But when is enough, enough?

Going home sounds tempting, but I know that it’s also quitting. It’s proving right all those people who sneered at me when I told them I was doing this. All the people who thought I couldn’t do it. I can’t let them win. Plus, I know that once I am back home it’s game over.

It’s back to minimum wage jobs, getting nagged to make my bed, struggling for gas money, fighting with my little brothers, running into people I know everywhere & oh my God–finding a job in America. That sounds like a sick nightmare.

I made the decision deep down before I did this that I would rather be broke in Europe than being broke at home. I guess I just didn’t realize how literal that would become…

So, if you’re reading this, please pray for me.

Because I am really scared as I’m typing this. I am so terrified that I won’t make it & that things won’t work out. I am so scared about Visas, money & surviving. More than anything, I need a good pep talk or some advice, or maybe just a hug 😦 

So if there’s anyone out there reading this who feels like I do. Know that we are in the same boat together……I just hope it doesn’t sink.




Young, Skilled & Employed (?!) In Europe

27 Aug

Yes, you read that right. EMPLOYED. I still actually can’t believe it myself. But someone out there wants to pay me money for my skills. Skills that involve more than just scanning groceries & making coffee. Desired skills. Skills that are in high demand. Where I actually have to think & work really hard.

Hello, adult world!

So, how did it all start? It all started in February when I first decided to embark on this crazy adventure. I clicked on an ad for a website, thinking it was a scam. I mean it had to be. How could someone 1) get certified for something so demanding in just 4 weeks & 2) how could they get HIRED right away? Impossible!

But, my dear Americans, we are so jaded. Our economy has us thinking that the world is ending. I mean, our parents can’t even hold onto jobs, who the hell wants to hire us, college graduates?! Unless it’s an internship aka: we couldn’t/didn’t feel like affording this employee anymore so do their job for free & get no credit. Oh yeah, for 30hrs a week. WHO HAS 30 HOURS A WEEK TO SIT AROUND & STAPLE PAPERS?! Not me. You don’t either. So don’t SETTLE. 


(Above: it’s a never-ending cycle of defeat)

So what do most of us do after we leave the magic world of dining halls, free gyms & where our biggest concern was what alcohol we were drinking that weekend? We drown. But at different speeds. Some of us just give up from the get go. We move back home, with no job & get to be lectured all day about chores while we apply to hundreds of jobs that don’t even open our resume. Some of us return to our old jobs aka the one that can barely afford gas money & a cell phone bill, that we are so sick of. Then a rare few of us get the first big job right from the get-go. We are scared out of our minds, intimidated from 9am-5pm while we convince ourselves that this is happiness.  

But you’re just barely above the water.

& 6 months after graduation, you’re sure to go under. This is when banks think you should have you life together. Enough to start paying off those student loans. They want to basically punish you for the next 20 years for not going to a miserable community college full of underachievers. It’s not fair. 



(Above: Post grad cat is sad)

But there is a loophole. One that doesn’t involve illegal activity! Just move to Europe! Or Asia! Or somewhere where the economy is doing just fine. It’s a crazy concept to grasp, but people get regularly hired in Prague. They are paid decent & the cost of living remains low. They do more than just survive they get ahead. 

I knew what my post grad life would be like. It would be my mom yelling at me to make my bed, Dunkins always calling me in to cover someone, spending every weekend on the hunt for a DD, & probably a lot of crying. Why? Because for the past 4 years, I have worked pretty damn hard. I wrote a great thesis, an awesome creative writing story, worked on television & got a chapter published in a book on itunes. & It killed me to think that just doesn’t cut it for “must have 2-3years experience”. 

So I came here.


(Above: One of the classrooms in TEFL Worldwide Prague)

And let me get this straight, for anyone who is reading this with the wrong idea: I got myself here. This is not a vacation. My family is not supporting me. I am not running away. I wanted this, & I made it happen. How many times can you say that about your life? How many huge decisions do you dream up & then actually make happen? What’s stopping you?

Money, I bet.

Think about all the things you spend it on. All the little things you don’t really need. Like coffee every day at Starbucks, take out a few times a week for dinner & drinking on the weekends. It adds up. What if instead you saved up? My graduation money paid for the course. My graduation gift was my one-way flight & my spending money/housing was paid for by Dunkins, Lottery, Conversation Partner & babysitting. It’s not easy, but it happened. 

Now here, I am, 3 days left until I graduate the course & get my certificate. I have applied to 10 jobs. I have heard back from 8. I have interviewed with 5. I have (so far) been hired by 1. In 3.5 weeks. Employers don’t care about my age or that I just graduated. They only care about dedication & hard work. & Let me tell you this course was certainly a challenge. But it’s already paying off! & I will be making decent money too!

So I know you majored in business or art or whatever but you’re a native English speaker & there’s a million employers out there dying to hire you. Europe has several locations, so does South America, the Middle East & Asia will pay for your flight, Visa, housing & cell phone.

So skip your daily Starbucks once in a while, save up that spare change & buy the ticket. Because those who are crazy enough to follow their dreams are the ones who make them come true.

-JG 🙂 


An Open Letter to Mama G

23 Aug

Dear Mom,

I just first want to start by saying thank you. Thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for giving me horseback riding lessons at age 3 because I loved animals, & art lessons at 7 because I loved to draw. Thank you for never missing a soccer game, play, Christmas concert or graduation. Thank you for always offering to give rides & for teaching me that you never go to someone’s get together without bringing something. 

Thank you for realizing at a very young age that school was my thing. Then thank you for working all those hours to give me the best. Private Catholic schools, international high schools & my dream college– you spoiled me. But thank you for following through. Thank you for teaching me boundaries & rules. For making me terrified to bring home anything less than a B, because I was smarter than that. 

Thank you for always telling me I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up. And then keeping your promise. Thank you for letting me see the world. From taking me on my very first plane at age 6 to Aruba with Grammy, to cruises to Bermuda to Disney World twice. Some kids never go once all their lives. Thank you for teaching me balance. That I can take all these vacations & trips, if I worked hard for them. Because life is too short, and like you say, I will live with bills & I will die with them too.

Mom, thank you for always asking me about my day at dinner time. & For always making me, Adam & Sean call to say goodnight if we’re sleeping over a friends’. For forcing a 12:30 curfew throughout high school, & knowing that every single time I pulled into the driveway at 12:33, you would be waiting. Actually you would always be waiting. Thanks for doing that. I used to think it was too much, but now I see that it’s because you cared. You cared that I got home safe, but mostly, on time. & If I didn’t, you would come get me. Even in your pajamas. 

Remember the two really only times I lied to you? I learned fast. Because karma got me. I got stranded in Rhode Island alone & almost fell in a lake. After that I vowed to never lie to you ever again, & I haven’t. It’s not worth it. Because after that I lost your trust. And it killed me. Because you thought so highly of me. I will never let you down again, mom, I promise.

People say that we’re so much alike. Most of your friends knew who I was before I even introduced myself because we’re twins. We act a lot alike too. For me, this is the greatest compliment of all. You are my hero. You’re a role model. You are one of the kindest people I know. I’m tearing up typing this because I am so lucky to have you. Some people in their life never meet someone like you. & Here I am, your daughter.

Thank you letting me follow my dreams. Just like you told me when I was a little girl that I could be anything I wanted to? Sorry, I grew up so fast. Now, I’m doing it, I’m living my dream. Thank you for allowing me to leave the nest. But still making space if I ever need to fly back home. I know it is hard for you to let me fly so far away. But I am with you all the time. Look for little signs, I am okay. Ruth is watching over me, remember? I am safe, I am happy. I am so alive.

All thanks to you.

Please know that if I get sad, or lonely, or unhappy–I am not afraid to come back. If something happened to me, I know you’d go all Liam Nielsen. This is just a stage of life. I promise I won’t be gone forever.

Today I had a job interview at a preschool. The principal was so sweet & asked me if when I was older if I would have children of my own. I said of course. Because my mom is my hero. I want to be just like her. We both had tears in our eyes, because she knew. The love between mother & child is unbreakable. It never ends, no matter what challenges it may face. 

So until then, Mom, ignore what others say. You did the right thing. You raised a girl who is strong, smart, confident & most importantly kind. I will do my best to make you proud. 

I love you so much,

Jessi ❤


(Actually) Giving Peace A Chance

18 Aug

Today, it finally happened.

I finally had that moment when you experience something so foreign & beautiful that it just completely blows your entire mind. And then you think to yourself ‘This is why I travel. This is why I leave my comfort zone & all familiarity towards something new. Something that effects you so much that it questions how you could have ever lived before without this new perspective.”

The Lennon Wall made me think this today.Image

(Above: The beautiful & so deeply resonating John Lennon Wall in Prague)

In case you don’t know, the Lennon Wall is inspired by late Beatle & human rights activist, John Lennon. Although I am not going to lie & say that I grew up on the Beatles, I do really enjoy their impact on pop culture. However, John especially paved the way for the future. He sang about ideas such as world peace & universal love, which are things that many struggled with during this time & it’s very upsetting to say that a lot of people still are. 

I don’t talk about politics much, but I’m going to for a quick second.

If there are two issues that I feel very passionate about it’s bullying gay rights mostly because they are two issues which really hit home for me. I have been bullied & one of my best friends is gay. It absolutely blows my mind that in the year 2013 there is still so much violent homophobia & preteens are hanging themselves because they’re bullied so much. It absolutely breaks my heart because it’s just so unnecessary. 

It has got to stop. 


(Above: 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, a bisexual teenage who was known for his activism against homophobia & inspirational videos for victims. He committed suicide after constant bullying. His death inspired me to get involved in these two issues)

Bullying has always been a very interesting thing for me because it’s so ingrained in society. We are taught to maintain normalcy, yet strive towards perfection; be unique but not too different. Um, does that make any f-ing sense to anyone?! No. Because chances are you’re still going to be physically attacked at school or mentally attacked on the internet & everyone around you is going to chalk it up to part of growing up. 


Regardless of your opinion of her, this is a beautiful cover. Esp the verse she adds: 

People of the nation, 

Are you listening?

It isn’t equal if it’s sometimes

I want a real democracy.

Listening to John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ puts everything into so much perspective for me. He makes it sound so simple. So basic. We are all humans, we all love & fear, so why do we have to go & complicate it with things like race, sexual orientation & social class? 

We don’t.


(Above: ‘Love is an astronaut, it comes back but it’s never the same’)


(Above: In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make)


(Above: Coexist)


(Above: Love is a color only the blind can see)

It’s amazing that The Lennon Wall should be in Prague of all places. Up until 1989, the Czech Republic was actually Czechoslovakia & it was under totalitarian communism. Since I’ve been here, I’ve met more & more Czechs who remember so clearly life before the revolution. They remember newspapers being censored & not being allowed to leave the country. The scariest thing was that they have only experienced true freedom for 23 years. THAT’S INSANE. That’s so recent!

However, The Lennon Wall shows that there is so much hope for the future. People travel from all over the world to spray paint or write their own personal message of what peace is. I just hope that they all truly follow these inspiring words. There is so much sadness in our world. After all the genocides, ethnic cleansing, wars & ‘exterminations’ haven’t we learned? That killing/starving/violently attacking an entire group of people in order to get rid of them WILL NEVER WORK (I’m talking about you, Russia). 

Yes, we have differences. We have odd cultural habits that foreigners don’t understand, but unfamiliar does not mean evil. & Lack of education is no excuse for hatred. We are not all the same, so it’s just better to come together instead of divide. Image

(Above: My own personal contribution, a lyric from the Bright Eyes song ‘Cleanse Song’. For me, peace is based on karma. The happiness you put into the world, you will get back)

I cannot wait to keep returning to The Lennon Wall. Visited by thousands & thousands of tourists every day, the new messages, like the world, are always changing. Until then, I will continue to get more & more new perspective on what it means to find peace, regardless of what happens around the world. It’s just like John said:

“You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

I hope someday you’ll join us & the world will live as one.”

-JG 🙂 




The Euro Diet

13 Aug

So the past few days have been full of more ups & downs than Amanda Bynes PMS-ing!

One of my biggest concerns before I came to Prague was my health. In case you’re unaware, Czech food is not exactly the most figure friendly. You have meat, gravy, potato dumplings, stews, soups, bread & then you’re introduced to battered pork steak & FRIED CHEESE & don’t forget to wash it down with a ton of beer. Delicious? Yes. Dietable? No.


(Above: I will never apologize for loving Svickova aka: steak in gravy with potato dumplings, cranberry sauce, whipped cream & lemons)


(Above: Nor will I stop my love affair with Becherovka aka: ‘Christmas in your mouth’)

I agreed to give myself the first week to sample all the astronomical calories that traditional Czech cuisine provides. However, then it was time to get in shape! Scarred by my complete lack of healthy eating or exercise while studying abroad in Paris for 5 months & gaining 20lbs, I vowed there was NO WAY this would happen to me in Prague.

Sorry to be a little depressing, but let’s get real for a quick second. I have always had weight problems. Pair that with crippling body image issues & you have a pretty battered self-esteem (I honestly still remember being 7 & coming home bawling because a classmate called me fat) Yup. Those words stay with you. However, I realized I could either 1) develop an eating disorder 2) cry, binge eat & never leave the house forever or 3) do something about it the healthy way.

I have always played sports (horseback riding, soccer, volleyball, tennis, & 6 years of cross country…I know, right?) & loved being active. However, while in Paris I found myself in a slump. Upon returning home & after seeing how fat I was, my mom & grandparents decided to get me a personal trainer & it was the best decision ever.

Having someone push me for the past year has been awesome. Laurie is so sweet, but still knows how to completely kick my ass. I love it! More than that she is unbelievably encouraging. She has said positive things about my body when, for the past 21 years, I had always only heard negative things. She praises me for getting stronger & more fit instead of getting ‘skinnier’. With her help I was able to shed the 20lbs I gained abroad & gain a ton of muscle. (Seriously, you wanna challenge me to a push-up contest?) 

But in the weeks leading up to Prague, there was one question on everyone’s mind: how would I do it on my own? I had already decided that there was no way in hell I would ever let the past repeat itself. I had come so far & worked wayyy too hard. 

At RWU I was so spoiled. I had a giant cafeteria with a ton of healthy options, a fully equipped gym 2mins away & a ton of free exercise classes which I generously utilized. But now, here I was, on my own. Buying my own groceries, doing make shift workouts & resisting temptation all day long. It’s a little overwhelming. But then I realized that all the opportunities were right in front of me. 

There’s plenty of healthy options in the supermarket & a bike path right across the street. Today I just said enough is enough. Geeking out over my newfound motivation, I went to the grocery store & stocked up on veggies like cherry tomatoes, spinach & arugula. Got some fruit like apples, bananas, blackberries & watermelon. And how could I forget my protein! Ham, chicken breast & eggs nom nom! I have also been trying to drink a ton of water, something uncommon in Europe. 


(Above: My super healthy super delish salad! Eating clean again feels awesome)

I also found the courage to check out the gym across the street, which looks like a super intimidating MMA fighting rink. To my surprise–it wasn’t! There’s cardio machines & strength training machines & a protein shake station. I died & went to gym rat heaven. I cannot wait to start my membership tomorrow! I am most happiest when I feel fit. Endorphins are magical, I swear.

That being said, my dear readers, you can do the same! Not everyone has to gain the Freshman 15 or the Study Abroad 20. There’s a loophole called inspiration, motivation & dedication. No matter how drastically your new lifestyle or routine changes, there is always hope to find some normalcy & stability. 

Stay focused on your goals & you will be able to achieve them! 🙂



Head First, Fearless

11 Aug

I knew this day would come. The day where I would be forced to stop clinging to friends during shopping trips or supervisors during bar crawls. When I would actually have to decipher the super scary Czech streets/public trans stops on my own.

Today was that day.

A few days ago I applied to 4 jobs. Most were ‘privileged’ preschools around Prague aka: you don’t go to just color, eat pb & j and learn your ABCs. No, at these schools you eat organic snacks, learn dance, cooking, art, sports and have a daily yoga lesson. Yes, you read that correct, they want 4 year olds to downward dog it.

Needless to say, I applied to these jobs immediately. I’d like to think that by harnessing a child’s creativity at such a young age allows them to flourish, plus I bet my salary would be pretty decent too 😉

So I sent my resume, and a totally heartfelt cover letter and pressed ‘Send’ with an instinctive sense of doubt. I was already well prepared for rejection or, more likely, to be completely ignored. Our economy really scars a recent college grad-Thanks, America! 

But then something AMAZING happened. They responded! Or more importantly–they told me to come in for a personal interview 2 days later! I almost died. This of course sent me into a nervous frenzy. Do I have to prepare a lesson? What do I wear? Will they like me? What are they looking for?! and the #1 concern…



(Above: the Prague bus map. Doesn’t look toooo hard right?)

Then, I got to work. I prayed there was a nearby metro aka the least terrifying form of public trans. No such luck. Well, what about a tram? Trams are okay, I have taken those before…nope, no trams. But wait, there’s hope. There’s a bus. Aka: a hot, dirty, smelly vehicle full of people who look like they want to hurt me. Oh my God.

Now, my distaste for buses does not come from never using them. It’s coming from practically living in them for 4 years. When you hate driving as much as I do, you learn to deal with public trans reeeeal fast. While I was studying at Roger Williams University, I never brought my car, Owen. So I was forced to take the RIPTA. The RIPTA scars you. Why? Because there’s people who urinate on themselves, people who ask if you want to hear a song they wrote about their dead father, people who dress like zombies for no reason, and people en route to Kennedy Plaza aka: an open-air in the middle of Providence.

You wouldn’t even believe my stories from going to do the lottery or to my internship. Terrifying.

So, I thought that because Prague is way bigger than Providence, the bus situation would be even worse. Thankfully, I was wrong.

The buses are SO NICE. They have semi-AC, multiple comfy chairs, and flatscreen tvs that list the upcoming stops. I loved it! Of course, you better sit down and hold on tight unless you want to fall over, but I can live with this!

So I somehow figured out that I had to take the 117 bus to the end of the line. No problem. To get to lottery I had to take the 60 to Providence for 40mins (if there was no traffic) then switch to the 54 to Woonsocket for 25mins. And there was always the occasional late bus, bus full of screaming babies or 300lb women taking up the first 3 seats. And sometimes you get stranded in the rain, snow, or have to walk 3 miles. The RIPTA made me a survivor. 


(Above: Casual zombie on the bus. Gotta love Rhode Island public trans)

So I walked up to the bus stop and waited for the 177. To my surprise it arrived perfectly on time! Once on board I was able to relax for the next 26mins to my stop. Once there, I (somehow) encountered not only friendly Czech people, but Czech people who SPOKE ENGLISH. The first lady showed me the correct street, the second lady showed me the direction of the school (which I, of course, walked right by. Twice.), and the third lady was my guardian angel. 

After asking her in Czech if she spoke English, she smiled but shook her head ‘no’. But instead of most people, who would have kept walking, she put her People-esque magazine down, put the half-eaten bread in her purse and she helped me. I tried to mime out what I was looking for, but gave up and just showed her the address. She looked confused. We were on the street. So close!

Then I just pointed to the name, Sunny Garden Pre-school.

“Ahh! Sunny Garden!” she said in her thick accent. (After you travel for a while dealing with language barriers you will realize that there is absolutely no better feeling than the eureka! moment when a foreign person understands you)

She then proceeded to grab my hand and lead me to the building I had been circling. After thanking her profusely, she was on her way.

So, dear readers, today’s moral of the story: face your fears. Aside my all my stupid phobias including escalators, fire, bugs crawling on me while I sleep, needles, driving, thunderstorms…getting stranded in an unfamiliar place is #1.

It definitely takes a lot of courage to step on a random bus to go search for an unknown destination with no cell phone/way of communication/Google Maps. But this makes you think. Being thrown into such situations gives you street smarts and, as nerdy as this sounds, It felt pretty liberating. Realizing you are capable of so much more than you ever thought. You also have to rely on the kindness of strangers who help you realize that everything is going to be okay!


(Above: Inside the Prague Bus #177)

Now I have to go plan a demo lesson for tomorrow. My interview is at 8am!

Wish me luck 🙂


#SkullProbs Worldwide

7 Aug

I am a teacher!

Well, I mean not technically but I have only been in Prague 1 week & have already taught 2 classes! And no, it wasn’t just shapes, ABC’s or the basics; it was Intermediate/Upper Intermediate material! Like about clown doctors in children cancer wards & how to write a grand proposal! Out there, somewhere, a handful of Czech people have tiny bits of knowledge that I transferred to them! I feel so accomplished! 


I would have never imagined I would ever be a teacher. I always wanted to be in Journalism. I liked solo work, writing & being on tv. Not standing in front of 12 adults with names I couldn’t pronounce teaching them the English language. Crazy. But then it hit me, we are much more capable than we lead ourselves to believe.

The trouble all starts senior year of high school. You are basically forced to pick a major, aka: an area of study that you hate the least. With this decision, you envision a cloudy crystal ball future, one where this field of study will somehow lead you to both money & happiness. You take classes & actually enjoy them. You write a few Hawks’ Herald features stories, a chapter in a book that is now on iTunes & a 34pg thesis about Lasik Eye Surgery…but in the real world, that’s just simply not enough.

Getting into the Journalism field was risky. Everyone I talked to had some condescending remark to make. 

“Newspapers are dying…”

“There’s no jobs…”

“There’s no money…”

OH MY GOD. I HAVE HEARD IT ALL. But I kept going. Why? Because degrees aren’t as black & white as colleges make them out to be. There’s a ton of wiggle room, which is great news in the United States economy! 

When I told people I was moving to Prague to teach, everyone scoffed: “But you don’t have a teaching degree!” 

No, no I don’t. But do you know what I do have? People skills from all my Lasik Thesis interviews, time management skills from writing a chapter in an iPad book & a whole ton of humility from my internship at WPRI-12 News Station. My degree helped me in more ways than just the Journalism field. And yours did too!

Go apply for that Plan B! You may not have the degree/whatever…but you have more skills than people give you credit for 🙂


Better Safe Than Sorry

4 Aug

I never thought that I would EVER say this in my life…but my Dad WAS RIGHT.

I always get so annoyed because he’s super OCD about closing windows/locking doors. Super. He would always much rather be safe than sorry. And, dear readers, I have no idea how much you know me…but I am the exact same way.

I seem spontaneously and carefree, but there’s nothing I love more than routine, rules, boundaries and stability. I am also unbearably cautious. You just have to get to know me in order to see these characteristic really affect me. 

Whenever we leave the house, he always flips out about locking the door and closing windows. And I vehemently assure him that we live in the middle of nowhere and there’s no rain in the forecast!

So today it was beautiful out. I had my walking orientation with everyone and the sun was shining, the temperature was rising and we were all huffing and puffing climbing the stairs up to Prague Castle. Then later on, we got dinner. Then came the storm. Which I’m pretty sure most of the people in my TEFL program now know is something I absolutely dread. Severe weather gives me anxiety and makes me fear my safety. It just does. So after sprinting in the rain to the metro, going home, I came to an awful realization: 

we live in an attic

attics get hot

you open windows when it gets hot…


(Above: Remember the wonderful skylight windows in my room…?)

It had just stormed…

So I walked into my apartment in horror. Hugeeee puddles had formed all over. In the bathroom, in the kitchen…and yes, right on my freakin’ bed. And I just kept thinking…omg my Dad was right. I mean, I had literally no way of knowing that it was supposed to downpour that day…but I wasn’t safe, so now, I’m sorry.

My blankets, sheets, pillow and pillowcase all needed to be blow-dried (Europe doesn’t have dryers, woohoo! So convenient!) but luckily my super nice neighbors helped me out & now I may still have a giant puddle all around my bed, but I have dry sheets and a fresh pillow!

děkuji Kelly, Meta & Ben! 🙂 

So moral of this story, your parents, even if they seem insane and unreasonable at times…have way more life experience. So every once in a while, listen to their advice!



Acculturation for the Culturally Challenged

3 Aug

Based on Sociology, culture shock is the uncomfortable feeling we get when we are suddenly immersed and surrounded by norms and rituals which are not our own. Moving to another country, this obviously happens a lot. Like you have to weigh produce & get stickers, pay for plastic bags, not take creepy taxis & even simple things, like you stay to the right on fast-paced, 90degree angled escalators. 

But the thing is…no one tells you this. 

Why? Because that would be wayyy too easy! You have to make mistakes and look like a tourist idiot first before you take the hint that everyone around you is judging hardcore. You have to break culture rules in order to learn them. 

It’s totally scary and weird, and maybe you won’t even realize you’re making a social faux pas at first. But eventually, you learn. And if you don’t then maybe someone who feels sorry enough for your awkwardness will straight up tell you whatsuppp.



(Above: this is the pool we went to! It was huge and even had a waterslide!)

I am steering this topic now to my experience at the Prague public pool today. Now, as you know, Europeans have no problem with nudity. To their culture, it’s very basic biology, not some forbidden taboo no-zone that no one should ever speak of. It’s natural. 

Therefore there are several nude beaches, and in Prague’s case, a topless pool. Before we went I obviously had my mind made up how I would handle this situation. I would acculturate. Because after you see your first topless woman, the shock value kinda ends. (The men sporting speedos were more interesting anyway…) So who cares anyways. 

So I laid down,  pulled my bathing suit down and acculturated. It was super liberating! Deep down, I also have no problems with nudity, but in my culture the less clothes you have and the more skin you show conveys specific and not to mention negative meaning. It was like I was shedding all restrictive social norms, not to mention my own personal constrictive norms. AND IT FELT GREAT. 

After 10minutes of sun, my point was proven.

Then do you know what I did? I went down a waterslide at the pool, and was one of the only girlS to jump off the cement diving board. Because if I wanted to sit on the sidelines hating my body, being self conscious, worrying myself to death of what everyone else thought of me…I could just go back home and do that every day, like I always have.

But I am in Prague, and I’m not going anywhere.



Czeching out the City (Sorry, this pun is so fun!)

1 Aug

Today, you would have been proud of me. I explored. Both on my own & with others.

I woke up at 7am because my body either 1) thought it was 1am & time to party or 2) knew it was 7am & just wanted me to get the maximum amount of adventuring out of the day. (It was probably option 3) I live in an attic with skylights & no shades) either way, I carpe’d that f-ing diem right away!

I had noticed the day before that there was a park across the street from our apartment. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was also a bike/jogging/walking path & it was amazing! So I followed it, in my sparkly sandals, scarf & purse, dodging bikers, dog-walkers & joggers for the next hour. The path just kept going & going. It had a few divergent trails that looked enticing, but I figured the last thing I needed was to be ‘that girl’ who got lost alone in the city on the very first day. Sober. So I stayed on course.Image

(Above: The path was parallel to a little stream that had ducks, bridges & waterfalls!)

As I was walking, I passed playgrounds, dog parks & a soccer field. It was cool to see everyone out & about doing their own thing, so early in the morning. I sat on a park bench for a while to just take it all in. It felt so much like Paris. Kind of like that feeling when you feel alone, but also like you’re swimming with the school. Like a real member of society. It was nice.

At around 9am I wanted to head back to the grocery store to get some fruit. I got apples, bananas & triumphantly rung them out with their appropriate stickers. I also splurged & got me & my roomie ‘Mystery Mojito’ & no one batted an eyelash that I bought it at 9am. I love Europe. It was mango flavored & had a picture of a mask on it. But we just drank it & to my utmost dismay I noticed the word ‘pivo’ on the back. Beer. It was beer! Malt-y nasty mango flavored carbonated beer. Ugh. Guess Czechs don’t understand what a mojito is…


(Above: If you want to trick me into drinking your beverage, using 50 Shades imagery will definitely help…)

Later, me & my Aussie roomie, Kathryn, met up with a few other kids in the program to explore the city. Two of the girls (one being Courtney, the girl who met me in Stockholm!) had studied abroad in Prague before & thank God, because we had no clue where we were going. They brought us to an awesome Italian restaurant, then it was time to see the sights!


(Above: Old Town Sq. complete with the Church of Our Lady before Tyn.)


(Above: The Astronomical Clock, which goes off every hour complete with dancing saints)



(Above: View of Prague Castle from Charles Bridge)


(Above: Petrin Tower aka: the Eiffel of Prague!)


(Above: View of the city after climbing all the stairs up to Prague Castle)

For all of those who were asking me what Prague was & why I was going there…do you understand now? Everything is beautiful. The streets are all cobblestone, the doors are all huge, the architecture is breath-taking. I guess I just have a knack for living in picturesque places 🙂 

Another major plus? Everything is so cheap! My lunch was a massive prosciutto & cheese panini with a glass of wine. It cost 75czk. Um, that’s $3.81. And this was in a legit restaurant. So far so good with the budgeting. Something we all know is impossible for Jgraves…but I’m learning! I stocked up on eggs, fruit & am going to buy some chicken soon. I want to be healthy yet also frugal. Here, it’s definitely possible!

After coming back from our adventure, Kathryn & I passed out for a few hours then had a midnight snack. This was when I discovered the injustice that is Mystery Mojito, but I also tried Boursin-esque cheese with POMEGRANATE & NUTS aka: heaven in your mouth when on bread! Ya win some ya lose some.

That’s all for now!

Dobry Noc!

-JG 🙂