Crashing the Dream
One might think that a journey to the Czech Republic would be magical, like stepping into a transfixing dreamworld. Unfortunately, I have yet to find that elusive state of mind. It has evaded me since before I even arrived in the Czech Republic.
I flew out of Pittsburgh on a Saturday morning, the day after my last day of work. I was only given a week’s notice to be in the Czech Republic, ready for training, so everything was particularly hectic (and it’s never really calmed down). Mistake number one: I bought my ticket on a shady third party site, so I couldn’t do the online check-in. I successfully checked-in at the airport, but the lady at the counter was having real problems printing me luggage tags that marked my luggage for Prague instead of Toronto (my layover). Whatever.
I arrived in Toronto and waited for an ungodly amount – something like 6 hours, I forget now. The flight to Germany went off without a hitch, except whenever I asked the stewardess for drinks, she kept walking away and not coming back. However, for some reason we arrived late to Frankfurt. Cue panic mode – I had a connecting flight to Prague that left in an hour. It would have been plenty of time, if Frankfurt Airport wasn’t the size of New York City, and I wasn’t on the completely wrong side.
In fact, the airport is so big that we had to take a bus to the main terminal. When I finally got to security, my flight was supposed to just be starting boarding. I cheated and went through the fast lane (which is totally an awesome invention), and then proceeded to run up and down flights of stairs and through countless terminal hallways. Finally I arrived in the middle of boarding. Phew.
However, not “phew” yet. I’m not really sure whether it was because of the dumb lady in Pittsburgh or because our plane got in late to Frankfurt, but my baggage never appeared in Prague. Boo hoo. I filed a lost luggage claim and went to meet my ride.
Here is where the issues with the company I work for begin. I was already late because of the baggage dilemma, but waited another 20 minutes for them to arrive. When they finally did, it turned out to be the parents of the office manager, who didn’t speak any English. Really? Don’t you have any employees who could have helped? I guess I shouldn’t complain – better than having no ride at all, right? These are the kinds of questions I have to keep asking myself over and over and over and… well, you get the picture.
When I did arrive at the hostel, I was the only one there, and felt like passing out/punching someone in the face until they cry for mercy. Wattsenglish promised us that girls and boys would be in separate rooms, but as I glanced at the other people’s baggage I could tell that there were at least a few men staying in here. Another broken promise. It really wasn’t a big deal, it’s just the fact that they keep deliberately lying about things.
The only thing I wanted to do was change my clothes and have a hot shower, but I had no supplies or clothes. I went out and bought some really unfortunately masculine soap/shampoo concoction, hop in the shower, and realize that you have to hold in a button the entire time for the water to come out. Most relaxing shower ever!
Finally, a light in the gloomy darkness – my luggage arrived the next morning. And actually, everything was in one piece. I regained some hope in that moment, only to have it crushed once more.
Training that morning and the preceding two days was lackluster, dull, and useless. Ok, I lie – it was helpful at first. We all got to meet each other, and a lot of the information was useful, such as learning icebreakers, how to organize a group, etc. But then it kept going on and on and on and on and – yeah.
Here’s the structure of the three day training session. Our teachers (who were just other Wattsenglish teachers who had taught for a year already, nobody special) would demo the activity we were to learn (riveting subject matter including teaching games to primary school children, teaching games to secondary school children, playing icebreakers with children, or acting out a skit where we pretended we were children). We would always be the students during the demo, i.e. we had to pretend we were children playing a classroom game. Then, we would be split up into groups and demo the activity ourselves using the other teachers as students. As you can see, this might be cool a couple of times, but not for THREE DAYS STRAIGHT!
I won’t go into too much more detail as I don’t want to get fired and I don’t want to bore you. But I do want other naive teachers who are applying to work for Wattsenglish to know what they are getting into. Consider this – if for any reason a teacher is to quite before the end of their contract, they supposedly owe $500 USD for this training. $500 to sit in a circle and play games for three days. Yup. Just go to vacation bible school instead!
By this point, I hope I’ve set the scene for you – this job is certainly not a dream job in a dream setting on a dream earth. It’s simply… a job. And one where the people in charge really suck at being in charge. And I have oh so much more to say – stay tuned to hear about how changed the city where I would be teaching, how they left me passport-less for two weeks, and how I basically live in a dorm room in an elementary school (oh, if only I was a pedophile…).