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Living in Prague: My Experience
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jabrda



Joined: 29 Jun 2012
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:03 am    Post subject: Living in Prague: My Experience Reply with quote

I recently finished up living in Prague for 14 months, and searching around other countries' forums I am frustrated by the lack of the sort of information I'm looking for. I decided to pay it forward and be part of the solution, so here's my take on Prague, in the form of random observations in no particular order:

It's a great place to live and work. The majority of teaching will be done for private schools, and the majority of these offer "in company" courses. That is, you travel around from company to company teaching 45-90 minute classes in different locations. This means you will become very familiar with public transportation. This is okay though, because the public transit is awesome (trains, TRAMS, metro, and buses) and very affordable if you use the "OpenCard" and load it up for several months at a time (I think it came out to less than a dollar per day for unlimited transit usage). Split shifts are common, since many companies prefer to have their courses either in the mornings before the work day, or in the evenings at the end of the work day.

Nearly all schools require TEFL certification, but experience isn't required. They're not really picky about whether the certificate is from a "good" school or not, they mostly want to see that you simply have one (online ones do NOT count!) There's a bunch of places to get TEFL certified in Prague, it usually takes 4 weeks.

I've heard people complain that there's a shortage of work in Prague, but I left there just over a month ago and I'm STILL getting emails from schools asking me for classes. The thing is, there's a handful of schools that are very well known (Channel Crossings, James Cook, Caledonia, Svektor (sp?),etc.), and everyone applies to these, so its hard to get work there. But there's even more schools that are much smaller, are not well known, and don't really advertise themselves, so they are hurting for teachers year round. Its just that most would-be teachers don't even know they exist. So, it really pays to research and find the tiny, not-well-known schools, because I guarantee you they still are looking for more teachers, every month of the year.

Prague isn't a good place to save money, but its hardly just "getting by". Most people make around 15,000 - 25,000 CZK per month, which is not much at all converted to Euro or USD, but its enough to live off of. Rent is the biggest chunk of that money, and renting a room from someone usually costs around 6,000-9,000 per month. Getting your own place is much more expensive, especially because you usually have to use apartment finding services which can charge a 1 month's "finder's fee".

I worked only part time and never made more than 15,000 per month, and I still managed to save enough to cover my start-up costs and airfare. However, I rarely went out to eat (besides cheap pizzarias), bought my groceries at LIDL and cooked my own meals, didn't spend money on new clothes or electronics, and didn't piss away my money at expensive bars or clubs. If you know how to live cheaply, Prague is very doable. Even if you do like to go out to eat a few times a week and travel around from time to time, it's still doable if you work a bit more and are smart about it.

Prague is very chill. It's got kind of a relaxed feeling to it, with tons of great parks (where you can sit around and drink amazing beer for next to nothing), a bunch of jazz clubs, and a lot of green being smoked. I've heard it called the Amsterdam of the east. There's a ton of cheap and great museums, and the zoo is terrific and only costs around five bucks. It's a beautiful city just to walk around and explore. There's several small little independent movie theaters where you can grab a movie and a beer for cheap. It's also very safe, I don't think there's a single part of town I'd ever avoid for fear of getting mugged; the only crime I ever even heard of was pickpockets and auto-stereo-theft. In general, life seems to be kind of low-key, low-stress in Prague.

...with the notable exception of the mind-boggling bureaucracy. No one seems to know for sure how to navigate through it all, including the officials in charge of it, and the rules seem to change frequently and without notice. If you've read Kafka at all, he's not describing some insight into the human condition or the relationship of the individual to society, he's quite literally describing what it is like to live in Prague and deal with the government. Getting your papers straight to legally live there, getting a Zivnostensky list license which allows you to operate as an independent agent (as opposed to sponsored by one particular school), even picking up mail from the central bureaucracy mail center, all of these are needlessly complex and frustrating tasks. Everyone has to do it though, so it's not really a reason to not go there.

Czech people are not outwardly friendly, but not really rude either. You will rarely see them smile at you in a shop, for instance, so as an American, it was initially a little off-putting. They seem to have a natural defensive "wall" towards strangers, and you have to break through this. Once you do, however, they really open up and are quite friendly. They have a dry, dark, sardonic sense of humor about life and their own culture. There's so many expats living in Prague though, that you might not even interact with the locals that much unless you seek them out. There's a handful of expat owned bars and places where expats generally congregate, so its almost a city-within-a-city, or a culture-within-a-culture of English speakers living in Prague.

UPDATES:

Two websites that will be *very* helpful are: www.prague.tv and www.expats.cz

The cheapest place I've found to get a phone (and where I'd say 80% of expats do) is Vodafone. There's locations everywhere, and you can buy a phone there for 500czk (about $25), and then pay as you go in 200czk refills which can be bought just about everywhere.

The 4 main grocery stores are Lidl (the cheapest), Albert (the most common), Billa, and Tesco.


Last edited by jabrda on Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:09 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Xie Lin



Joined: 21 Oct 2011
Posts: 514

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice contribution, jabrda--thanks!

.
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Moto



Joined: 20 Oct 2011
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that Smile It echoes my own experience of living there in 2010 , I miss it so much Crying or Very sad I cannot wait to get out there and start teaching , but I have to save some cash first . PS...Any advice on decent schools or organisations to check out when I go over there for work would be Mucho appreciated . Smile Thanks .
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TEFLXpat



Joined: 27 Sep 2012
Posts: 8
Location: Prague

PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:44 am    Post subject: Recommended schools to check out Reply with quote

Hi Moto,

I've lived and worked in Prague for a little over a year now, and have made a lot of friends and acquaintances within the expatriate teacher community. There are a lot of Language schools in Prague, and I've heard good experiences about working for the following schools:

IJV
Dino School + Dino Preschool
Bead Preschool
WattsEnglish
Presto (if you don't mind traveling a bit)

Also, I know a few people who opted for jobs slightly outside of Prague in cities such as Pardubice and Hradec Kralove. If you're TEFL certified, sometimes these schools in the smaller area will give you perks such as a free place to live.

I'd encourage you to check out these schools. If you're looking to get certified, I got mine through TEFL Worldwide Prague, and I'd recommend it. It's very challenging and rewarding program.

-Justin (TEFLXpat)
TEFL Worldwide Prague class of September 2011
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TEFLXpat



Joined: 27 Sep 2012
Posts: 8
Location: Prague

PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, I've heard that Sentia, Bumble Bee, and Magic Rainbow has some satisfied teachers as well!

Justin (TEFLXpat) TEFL Worldwide Prague Class of September 2011
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Moto



Joined: 20 Oct 2011
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very Happy Thanks for the info , plenty for me to check out . Thanks .
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oipivo



Joined: 02 Jan 2012
Posts: 158
Location: Poland

PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a heads up about TEFL worldwide. I've been hearing from recent graduates that the program has gone downhill. Since I don't know the owners personally I can't say for certain, but I've heard the same information from several graduates in the last few months.

I went through The Language House and have no complaints, nor have I really heard any. It really did prepare me to teach. I've also never heard anything bad about Oxford TEFL.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9499
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll just clarify for the sake of newbies stopping into the thread that the Prague Oxford TEFL course is not related to Oxford Seminars, a weekend/online course heavily advertised in North America.

Oxford Seminars is sub-par for Prague/Central Europe/etc, but Oxford TEFL is considered equivalent to a CELTA and is generally accepted, so far as I've ever heard.
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RL



Joined: 23 Jan 2010
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jabrda - nice post. If you don't mind me asking, why did you leave Prague?
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jabrda



Joined: 29 Jun 2012
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I left Prague for a couple reasons.

One, there's so many more countries to explore and cultures to absorb, that I didn't really want to stay more than a year or so in any one country. I'm about to move to Turkey now. (btw, if anyone has any info on Istanbul like I do on Prague, it would be GREATLY appreciated!)

Two, it's waaaaaaaaaaay too damn cold! I'm originally from a desert where summer is 7-8 months of the year, so I'm sure I'm more sensitive to it than most, but Prague's winters are brutal. They are very, very dark (get up and go to work in the pitch black night, by the time you get home after work its completely dark as well... quite depressing), very long, and very cold. One winter like that and I swore I'd never live somewhere with winters that cold ever again (hence the move to Turkey!).
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9499
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow...are you referring to 2011/2012? It was an exceptionally mild winter.... Shocked
Likely a good move for you!
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RL



Joined: 23 Jan 2010
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the information. Good luck with the move to Instanbul.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9566
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ooppss. Istanbul is miserable in the winter. Cold, wet, overcast. Even snow, surprisingly. Poor building heating systems. Expensive to heat too.

Here's a trailer for a film, called "Uzak". Look! Snow!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rUL0qRNHeA

May not be as bad as Prague, generally, but is nowhere near the exotic camels-in-the-desert image outsiders usually have of it.
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Moto



Joined: 20 Oct 2011
Posts: 23

PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The winters may be cold , but I am Scottish so I know all about cold Smile
But I lived there form late July through to late September 2010 and for a long time the temperature was in the mid thirties every day! even the locals were saying it was just too hot , Shocked I had to resort to spending long days at the huge Podoli swimming pool , and evenings sitting in Pubs drinking lots of cold beer , purely medicinal you understand Smile .
Good luck in Turkey .
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oipivo



Joined: 02 Jan 2012
Posts: 158
Location: Poland

PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yup, unfortunately winters in Istanbul are absolutely awful. My first flat didn't even have heat. Bleh.

I also want to add that upon further review, I may have just met some bad apples that had bad feelings about TEFL worldwide. Overall the graduates seem very happy.
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