Alumni Spotlight: Tomaž Anclin

Tomaž is an English teacher in Prague, and a devoted follower of Dick, Philip K. He has one master's in Teaching English and another in History, but this is not really important to him. It might, however, make people think that he is a credible source of information. To those he just wants to say that one should never uncritically trust people, no matter who they are, and that a critical mind is an important tool.

Teaching ESL in Prague

Why did you choose this program?

I sometimes think that I chose this program, but maybe the program chose me. In any case, be it determinism or free will, I was looking for a way out of the rut I was in so I looked up several TEFL programs in Prague. Of all the available programs I found Live TEFL to be the most intriguing and worth a try. Their presentation was quite good: the well designed website bursting with various information, testimonies of former trainees, video presentations, and interesting photos on their Facebook page. Yes, I admit, social pages have shown me that I have a stalkerish streak. Anyway, they convinced me and taking into account the price, which was acceptable considering my limited resources, I booked everything and moved to Prague.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Well, they were supportive from the very start. When I was still mulling over what TEFL course to take, they immediately responded with useful information and answers that actually answered my questions which was one additional reason why I decided to go for this course. So, the program provider assisted me with housing, transportation from the train station (or the airport if you fly here) to the apartment, with information about the public transport, and the essential ins and outs of living in Prague. They were always available to answer any additional questions. All in all I had little to organize myself. As far as I can remember, I was able to immediately focus on the training, because the provider took care of everything.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Get informed about the public transport: where to buy tickets, what tickets are worth it (the monthly one is quite acceptable), what buses, trams, and metro trains to take, and in what direction to take them. Yes, this is basic knowledge but all masters of old have always expounded the importance of basics. I am not implying that I am a master though.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

I find this a difficult question to answer. What is average? What is normal? What is life? Let me answer it through music. Below you will find a collection of songs, a sort of a playlist and a collage, that shows how I experienced the TEFL (disclaimer: experience may vary).

Get Up, Stand Up; Here Comes the Sun; Sun is Shining; Walking on Sunshine; Coffee; Taking Care of Business; 9 to 5; Work Hard, Play Hard; In da Club; Let's Dance; All Night Long; Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear? Maybe existential dread as I basically threw myself into a foreign country. However it actually helped my existential dread because I was constantly distracted by all the stimuli. Maybe my fear that I would not get a job and it was definitely a valid fear as I am not a native speaker. However hard work and tenacity paid off and I am now quite satisfied my job situation.

My favorite Prague story?

One day my roommate and I left the apartment to go for a smoke. In the dirty, grey hallway stood an old lady with unkempt silvery hair. She was yelling something in the empty space as if trying to communicate with some unknown entity (there's a lot of ghost stories in the Czech Republic). Anyway, I soon realized that she was in distress and knowing a bit of Czech I understood that she needed help. Without thinking I responded to her cries and she told me she was blind and needed someone to take her to the shop at the corner of the building. We somehow managed to communicate this using Czech, Slovenian, and Croatian (Slavic languages are similar). I took her hand and we slowly walked down the stairs. Whenever I tried to hurry she threw a tantrum and complained that I will kill her if I hurry. Anyway, after what seemed like an eternity we finally got outside and eventually to the shop.

Naturally I thought she needed to buy some food so I offered to help her get what she wanted. Well, despite being blind, she was capable of moving to the register and ordering a bottle of vodka and cigarettes. I don't remember how I felt seeing this. Maybe confused? We left the shop and she immediately opened the bottle and offered me some cheap vodka. I drank a bit, as it was only proper to accept it, and so did she. We stood there for a while and she started talking about her Yugoslavian lovers, Tito, and former husbands. She probably thought I could relate to it, coming from an ex-Yugoslav country, but I do not care much for failed totalitarian, communist states, nor for male lovers. I did not understand most of it anyway, which is why I kept telling her: "Nerozumím, Alice.''

Passersby were chuckling at this odd pair drinking vodka in the street and arguing about something. This went on for a while and as it was already late I had to take the charge, so I took her hand and led her back to the apartment building. She was so pleased with me that she kissed my hand, but got angry when I did not want to drink anymore. The struggle of going up the stairs was real and several times she just sat down to drink vodka. When I eventually got her back to where I had found her she stopped and did not budge. I left her, because she did not need me anymore. I finally got to relax and smoke a cigarette outside only to later find her lying on the ground with an empty bottle of vodka with her husband trying to convince her to go back to the apartment while dragging her along the ground.

What I have learned that day is that good intentions and good deeds do not necessarily produce good results. If you want to learn more about life, definitely visit Prague.