Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Graduate


After four grueling weeks of TEFL mania, I will receive my certificate tonight. I feel so giddy. At the beer garden last night, some of us were talking about how this achievement feels almost as significant as our university commencement. I’m hesitant to go that far, but I surely appreciate the feeling behind it. When I failed my first lesson, I faced the very real possibility that if I did not improve, I would be sent packing. That sort of despair really makes the payoff sweeter.

Around the mid-way point of July, I did not think this day would come. Those 10-12 hour days of lectures, lessoning planning, and teaching took its toll. I have never wanted so badly for a month to end. July – the supposed peak of the 365-day year; the midst of summer; the height of carefree vacationing. These last four weeks were anything but “dog days,” but they are, at last, behind us.

TO BE SURE, we made the most of those precious weekends. Here are some highlights.

You can carry beer around in public, including on the subway. It's convenient and not at all frowned upon. I've been encouraged by locals to open a rug cutting business. It would surely be more successful here than a deodorant store.

Devon and I debate the issues.

On stage with a Czech lady dancing...innocently.

HLOUBETIN! My old home, a subway stop I slept through a few times at 5:30am. The thickest of the thick in Prague 9. It looks like a rough part of Springfield next to my new place.
Mighty Soviet-constructed metro! These escalators are ridiculous. They are the same in every station - long, lined with absurd advertisements, and lightning fast.

Zita and I get psyched (she's from Slovakia - you know, the second half of what was Czechoslovakia). One of the most pleasant ladies I've ever met. She lived south of Wimbledon in England for 11 years, so her English is excellent, with a mix of the Queen's British and the Slovak accentuation. It's something else...
Trisha, the delightful American TEFL trainer from Wisconsin.
Clearly, we are enjoying the bottomless champagne. It was great at the time, but what a headache it became. Thankfully, she never once said "dontcha know." Phew.
Trish, Terry, and I. Terry is a cheeky Brit and a bit of a hard-ass, but after awhile you get used to his ways. They made my four weeks difficult, but they gave me something I have only begun to appreciate...
The class of July 2009! TEFL Worldwide 4 life.

Clearly this is staged, but I asked Jess (an assistant trainer/observer) to pretend she observed one of my lessons and graded it 26/100. This was the scolding I would have got. It's funny now, but it would not have been if it really happened.
A cheers at the beer garden shortly before the ceremony.
Jorge (the ultimate ladies' man) and I keeping it real.
Mike (from Manhattan) and Klement (from Bulgaria) in front of my one and only destination ALL July.
One more for posterity.

Perhaps I’ve made my TEFL education sound more brutal than it was, but I cannot discredit what I will take from the experience. For what little I experienced of Prague as a city, I went from a hapless and bumbling muppet (a favorite derogatory term for the incompetent used by our British instructor, Terry) to about as close as I think can be to a real teacher without actually going out there and doing it.

To wrap, my new roommates Carrie and Devon! More on that to come...