Finally Feeling Like A Local

The day has finally come… Prague now has warm weather! Now lets all keep our fingers crossed and hope it stays this way! I am having quite a semester and my life will not seem to slow down. Which, I guess, is both good and bad. I am staying extremely busy but the semester is already halfway done!

I have gotten myself involved in an Internship with a local school. I am assisting an English teacher. The students are all 18 or 19 years old and are all taking entrance exams for college.

My first day was nerve-racking and once again I was filled with a mixture of emotions- but over powering all of those was excitement! My class welcomed me with open arms and seems to be very interested in the “American” way of life. We are constantly exchanging stories about our lifestyles, food, culture, and school. Before coming to Prague, I had high expectations to do some volunteer work and I had hoped it would be with children. The students in my class are teenagers and it has turned out even better than I could have ever dreamed! Since we are all about the same age, it makes it easy to talk and hang out… HANG OUT! Did you hear that!? I have actually made some Czech friends and get to HANG OUT with them! This is one of the best things that I could have ever done while studying abroad! I get the opportunity to practice my Czech with them and they get to practice their English with me. I have this amazing chance to chat it up with the locals and get to know their culture through their eyes.

Now that I have expressed my excitement, I guess I should get back to how my first day was… I explained to the class where I was from, what I liked to do, and how the school system works back in the states. They exchanged the same and even though they were all shy at first, we all seemed to warm up to each other fairly quick. I was only around these students for an hour and I have learned more from them than they probably had from me. I know it took me a month to get involved but better late than never! Once class ended I could not wait for the next weeks to come!

The second class I prepared a small activity using the song “Chicken Fried” by the Zac Brown Band. I chose this song for a couple different reasons. One, it has no inappropriate language or references and two, it relates directly to Texas. The first class I had the opportunity to describe my hometown, Albuquerque and so this class I took the time to describe my other “home” and where I go to school, Texas.  The students listened to the song and had to fill in certain lyrics that I left blank. We then went through the song and I explained how it relates to Texas and answered any other questions they had about specific words or phrases. The students really seemed to enjoy it. And just between you and me, I was worried about my song choice because country music does not seem to have a good reputation in Europe, but I think the song grew on them!

My third class I explained some American “slang” and idioms. They then taught me some Czech slang that I then took back to my Czech class and impressed my teacher with! This internship is helping me more than it is helping the students. However, I do hope that they are learning as much from me as I am from them.

I can’t wait to share more of my culture and learn more about theirs. Specifically about food and local restaurants… My favorite subject! :) I also have a lunch planned with some of them for Tuesday and I cannot wait!

This internship is just a cherry on top of my entire experience abroad and I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to study abroad to try to volunteer with locals! I would also encourage you to work with students around your age so you can gain some local friends and learn some local slang! You never know when it will come in handy.

Alyssa Fidel
Classmates Connecting Cultures
Prague, Czech Republic
Spring 2012

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