I love Prague. Even right now as I sit here in my kitchen, a little hung over from last night, I love Prague. I love cooking my Tortellini soup while watching the snow fall outside my window. I love going down town and looking at the big ol Christmas tree in Old Town Square. I love dancing at Blind Eye every Friday night and having brunch the next day with new flat mate. I love Prague. I love bundling up in the winter and the Beer Gardens in the summer. This city takes my breath away. Having lived most of my life in the L.A. area it feels amazing to live in a city rich with history, and a well respected history at that. I never felt a sense of history in Los Angeles probably because there really isn’t any. I mean this is a city that constantly tears down its historical landmarks and creates new ones. In 50 years the Disney Concert Hall will be replaced with something new. And that’s just the way it is.
And you just have to deal with the way things are.
Having said that, let me explain a little something about living abroad. It’s cool and all that, but you have a lot of bureaucratic bull shit to deal with. Like getting a Visa so that you can live and work in said country legally. Some countries make this extremely difficult – i.e. Spain, Germany, England, USA. And some countries like Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic make it, well, not easy but doable. There are lots of forms to fill out and lots of lines to stand in. Basically you have to jump through a lot of hoops before they let you stay here. And that’s fine. I am willing to do that. I am going to Berlin on Tuesday (because you have to file for the Visa in a country other than the country you are requesting the Visa for) to submit my Visa paperwork. Gonna be a pain in the ass, but it’s just the way it is.
And then there are the little annoying things that happen to you as a foreigner. Like – you get the “asshole” tax when renting a flat. They charge you more because you are American and there is nothing you can do about it. You can get screwed at restaurants and end up paying more because you are American. It happens. I get it. But…you shouldn’t be getting shafted by the people you work for.
I have worked for James Cook Languages since I got my TEFL certificate. They are one of the biggest Language schools in Prague – a city that hosts about 100 of them. They pay their MANY teachers an average salary (you can make more at other schools) and charge the businesses at least double what you make for teaching the actual lesson. I have not had any major problems with them until now. Now? We have a problem.
You see, they have started taking taxes from my salary and I do not have a Visa yet. That means that they are basically stealing from me every month. Once I have a Visa I am legal here which means that I am liable to pay into the social system – before that I am a tourist. The system is set up so the employer is screwed for a few months when they hire a foreigner, but that is NOT my problem. That’s the way the system is. I don’t like being taken advantage of. They told me it was a new “policy”. Uh huh. I am doing battle with them to get my money. Other language schools don’t do this and if I didn’t need the money right away I would quit and go someplace else. But for now all I can do is help out any of you would be English teachers: If yo come to Prague to teach – DO NOT WORK FOR JAMES COOK.
Try these instead: British Institute, Polyglot, Ulrich
I still love Prague and living here, and I am not going to let this bad business practice upset my life, but I know a lot of people read my blog and trust my TEFL/teaching experience so…
That’s my little PSA for you. I’ll return to my regularly scheduled blog next time. Until then…JAMES COOK = BAD.