I’m extremely lucky that my program gives us a lot of help and support, but that meant I had to go through a dreaded orientation. It happened in CIEE’s Study Center in Vysherad which is on top of a huge hill. The perks are that we get amazing views of the city, free WiFi, and food. Plus we get to bond with other people in our program… which is pretty cool.
We arrived in Prague on Friday, August 16 and orientation was from Saturday- Tuesday. I wasn’t struggling with jet lag too much, but I was tired from all of the activities we had to do. We accomplished more than I thought in a small amount of time- introductions and name games, an intensive language course, and we got a personal tour around the city (mic packs and earpieces were included). Plus, we had to take trips for different things like opening a bank account, buying a metro pass, and exploring the neighborhood we were living in.
One of the biggest reasons that I came back to Prague was because I know the language and it feels familiar. After taking 4 months of Czech and not brushing up for 4 years, let’s just say I was a little rusty. I think the hardest part of orientation was feeling like I was doing really well in Czech and suddenly struggling. I took Italian in high school and college and didn’t do well in it. I don’t have the right voice for a romance language, so when I started getting confused about Czech, it was extremely discouraging because it felt like the only language I was decent at. Don’t get me wrong, my teacher was great, but I needed more than 5 days of intensive Czech lessons.
CIEE gave us housing for a month and we all lived in the same building during orientation. It was nice because our program wasn’t huge, but we’re all gonna be teaching in different places in and outside of Prague. Some people are sharing apartments with one another, some are doing homestays, and some have apartments provided by their school. For two weeks we were able to get drinks, have dinner, and create strong relationships with people we can rely on for the next 10 months.
I’ve made some friends with the people in my group and I’m comfortable enough sharing different things with them. There’s a few more weeks before we have to move out of the shared apartment building and find our own palces/ start getting used to our new normal. Orientation is all fun and games until it starts feeling like a glorified vacation with a little stress mixed in. It’s overwhelming, extremely new and kinda different, but I’m lucky that it’s also manageable.