Thursday, August 30, 2012

ITTP Prague July course Graduate article

Mary at Kutna Hora (Click on photo to enlarge)
Kids grown, three years until retirement from a successful career in teaching, is it already over? Surely I am too young to simply stop teaching; I am still energetic and love the classroom and the positive energy it generates.
I have always had a propensity towards travel, but lacked the funds and opportunity to do so. Could now be the right time?
As I pondered the above questions, and talked to many people about international teaching jobs, I was directed toward Prague by people who had similar experiences. I aptly checked online, and through the positive reviews and the more than adequate correspondence with Neville, decided that ITTP/TEFL could give me the experience I needed and possibly quell my urge to travel, at least temporarily.
Before I had a chance to second guess myself, I made the deposit and began the process. Thanks to the people involved across the pond, as Neville says, making the deposits and corresponding via email was the easy part.
I arrived in Prague months later, to find myself scared to death as it began to sink in that I was alone, and traveling was completely out of my comfort zone. Being away from family and friends that love me unconditionally was daunting, and I began to wonder if I had made the right decision. After an uneasy night in a hotel, I ventured out to meet some of the nicest, coolest, and most helpful people I have ever met. My roommate was immediately helpful and kind, I couldn’t have asked for a better friend.
When arriving to class, late of course since I am challenged when it comes to directions, Mila, our instructor, was kind and understanding. The class was small, which concerned me since I was worried about making acquaintances. Worrying about anything, when it pertained to my trip, proved to be futile. The people in class were so remarkable and intriguing; we had a fabulous time in and outside of the classroom. There was not one bad moment in Prague, a few awkward ones, but not one bad one. I felt completely safe in and outside of the city.
The choice of ITTP apartment option which I went for was a bit outside of the city, which I enjoyed because it gave me an authentic view of the culture, minus the throngs of tourists. I also enjoyed it because it was comfortable and very clean, thanks to Neville’s fastidious care.
The historic knowledge I gained from this fabulous city, as well as the experience and instruction from Mila, was such a positive experience that I am finding it difficult to put into words.
I chose to return home to my husband and career since I have three more years until I fully retire from the American educational system. I am hoping to relocate and teach overseas when my husband is retired as well.
Upon my return to work; I was surprised to discover I would be teaching a classroom of students who spoke English as their second language. I would also be team teaching with an international teacher from Australia. I felt well-prepared for this group of students because of the useful strategies Mila taught me, as well as feeling empathetic to my partner, as I briefly experienced the loneliness that accompanies relocating to a foreign country.
I plan to return next summer and tour parts of Eastern Europe with a friend. As I am hoping one day to teach internationally, I am confident that my month in Prague prepared me, and helped propel me into the next phase of my career.
Mary Murfin