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.





3 Responses to “Just Keep Swimming…”

  1. pickledwings August 31, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    First, congratulations on getting the teaching certificate! That is a big accomplishment.

    As for money, hold the course just a bit longer. September is nearly upon us and the schools will be able to give you more work soon.

    As for the Živnostensky List, aka business license, be very careful about that. It only works to your benefit of you’re making enough money to support it. The schools will give you all kinds of stories about how wonderful it is to have one, but the first advantage is theirs as it relieves them of the responsibility to pay your social insurance and provide your health insurance.

    I’m a non EU citizen who’s been living and working in the Czech Republic for about nine years and I know how intimidating, and often misleading, the bureaucracy in this country can be.

    Here’s a link to the section of my Czech Republic blog that deals with settling in this country:


    If you have not visited the Prague office of foreigners.cz, I strongly advise that you do. They didn’t exist when I was new here, but they are certainly are a resource that could help you with the red tape and will probably be able to advise you on what are and are not good things for you to be doing right now in your situation.

    If you participate in any online forums for expats in this country, be very discerning about any advice you get. I stopped using such forums quite sometime ago as I learned, with near disastrous results that not everyone on them knows what they’re talking about.

    • jgravesss August 31, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      Thank you so much for all this information! Everyone told me to get the trade license instead of a regular visa because it allows me to work for different employers instead of just one. I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. I am still getting bank statements, but the good news is my landlord will help me and I’m pretty sure my job will too. Plus I’m surrounded by Americans who are doing the same thing. But I will definitely check out your post and the website! Hopefully that helps me!

      • pickledwings August 31, 2013 at 11:13 am #

        The important thing to remember about the business license is that, unless the law has changed, you will not be able to pay health insurance in monthly installments. you will be expected to pay the full visa length worth of health insurance in full and upfront. I remember needing the proof of payment document from the insurance provider as one of the required visa application documents when I took out a business license.

        Unless you’re able to get by on what amounts to glorified traveler’s insurance, that upfront payment can be a killer. Also be careful where you buy it from as the visa authorities are very selective about where they will accept your insurance from. At least they still were when I switched from visas to permanent residency three years ago.

        Having a business license also makes you responsible for your own taxes, so you’d do well to find out exactly what’s required of you there.

        One strategy I found works quite well for getting a reasonably straight answer from bureaucratic offices is to have two or three native Czechs call the same office independently and ask questions on your behalf before you visit those offices. Its very often a case of “Ask three different people and get three different answers”. Using this strategy, you can stand a better chance of going to the office and not being told that you’re missing something.

        If you wish to ask me anything, please feel free to email me through the address in the contacts section of my blog.

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