Guest column: Taking the career path less traveled

Maddie Forshee

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Life after graduating can be weird, as many people in their early 20s can attest to. Going from taking classes, living with friends, partying and working when you can to moving to a different city, working full time and trying to figure out taxes can be tough, to say the least.  

After graduating with a journalism degree from GVSU and two years of working as a reporter, I found myself wanting more. I spent a lot of time (probably too much) dreaming of running away to Europe and going on the ever-so-cliche trip to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. 

After about a year of wishing I could move to Europe, I decided just to do it. I asked myself, “What do I have to lose?” The answer: Not much. So, I bit the bullet and did it. 

After some research, I applied for a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification program with The Language House in Prague, Czech Republic. I chose Prague for many reasons – the old world beauty, the low cost of living and the high demand for teachers – but the biggest reason was The Language House. TLH provides a ton of support and a great community for expats, and I’m glad I chose them. 

There are opportunities to teach English all over the world, and Prague was just the right fit for me. So, in early September 2018, I got on a one-way flight to Europe and haven’t looked back.

Through a lot of hard work, late nights and lesson planning, I earned my TEFL certification, moved into my own apartment and got a job teaching English. 

I’ve lived in Prague for six months and though it’s cheesy to say, I really have never been happier. 

Transitioning from journalism to teaching isn’t easy, but it’s probably not an easy transition no matter what field or background you come from. Teaching is a grind and can be really tough sometimes, but it’s really rewarding to see students of all ages learn and understand something new or difficult. I’ve learned so much from my students and I hope they can say the same. 

Prague is known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and looking around, it’s obvious why. The architecture is awe-inspiring and parts of the city feel like you’ve stepped into a completely different century. 

The rest of the Czech Republic matches, if not exceeds, the beauty of its capital city. Whether it’s castles, cathedrals or national parks, exploring the country feels like a fairytale. 

The history is fascinating, too, as the Czech Republic was under Nazi control during World War II, then was controlled by the former Soviet Union until 1989. The culture is known to be very beer-centric – you’ll hear that the beer is cheaper than the water in Prague – and it’s true, because the beer style pilsner was invented in Plzen in the mid-19th Century. 

The lively expat culture in Prague allows for people from all over the world to meet each other, which is great for making friends and networking. Having a community of people here to relate to helps ease into moving to a new country. 

Since being in Europe, I’ve traveled to Iceland, Germany and Poland as well as around the Czech Republic, with many more plans to travel in the future.

My advice to anyone thinking of moving abroad, either to teach English or to travel, is do it. Do it while you can, otherwise you may end up regretting your decision not to. That’s the question it came down to for me: Are you willing to live with the regret of not taking the chance to live your dream? It’s a decision that is hard sometimes but in the end is incredibly fulfilling. 

I can be reached at [email protected] and can answer any questions about my experience abroad. For more information about The Language House, visit www.thelanguagehouse.net or other worldwide TEFL programs can be found at www.gooverseas.com/tefl-courses