The Window Nook

Adventures in living abroad

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A Day in the Life of a Teacher

It’s misty outside when I leave my flat, an early morning fog that muffles all sounds and wraps itself around the red-tiled roofs. The air is already warm and slightly muggy, heralding another humid day in a week filled with thunderstorms. My first student is at a building close to the local market square, and I walk along still-shuttered shops, occasionally meeting the owners as they arrive to open up for another day of business. Early morning commuters stream towards the metro entrance, some holding a latte from the ¬†favored local coffee shop located along the edge of the square. As I near the building, the security guard spots me, and waves. He is used to me appearing every Tuesday for a Business English class, and quickly hands me a security pass and waves me through. This company has a more relaxed approach to security, meaning there are no metal detectors and my license is not scrutinized every time that I arrive.
An hour an a half later, I am heading back to the metro station, this time to head south. My next student has an office on the 22nd floor, with a stunning view of the countryside. Lush green hillsides, intersected by waterways, fade into the distance, broken only by the occasional hideous panelak apartment building, a relic of communism. During a recent lesson, the rainstorm began as I arrived at the building, and shadowy tendrils of clouds reached out to touch the nearby hillsides. I launch in to the lesson, an interactive one designed around a TED talk I discovered recently. Students are drawn to the intriguing topic of 30 Day Challenges, and I have found this to be a great listening exercise, as well as a way to introduce new vocabulary and discuss correct word stress in English. Afterwards, I head back to the bank of elevators to return to the lobby. During the long ride down 22 floors, I am reminded of the Czech approach to the classic awkward elevator rides. Here in Prague, the person entering the elevator greets the other occupants with a quick ‘dobry den’, and is then wished goodbye when they leave. During my first few months here, this repeated exercise sounded strange, but I’ve now come to see it as a way to acknowledge the beginning and end of the shared elevator ride, and a much better approach than individuals each staring at their cell phone.
The clouds form and darken throughout the day, and the heat rises. I stop for lunch at a favorite restaurant off Wenceslas Square that serves a wonderful Pad Thai, and enjoy a short hour catching up on emails and news. As a main metro transfer station exits at the top of this square, I often stop here to run errands, stop in at one of the several bookstores, or explore the winding roads that lead off it. A Franciscan garden, a hidden coffee shop, and a famed gelato shop are all located within a few minutes walk of this Square.
The end of my teaching day finds me deep in an article about the Taj Mahal with another Business English student. This article covers the digital mapping of heritage sites throughout the world, and contains many technology-related vocabulary words. This student is puzzled over the word ‘dome’, until I explain that the word is derived from the Italian ‘duomo’, house, as a cathedral (often containing a domed roof) was seen as a house of God. As the word for house in Czech is ‘dum’, this makes it easier for this student to remember.
A last metro ride, and then a walk through the farmer’s market just before it closes. I quickly buy farm eggs, fresh pasta, and a zucchini to roast later. On my walk home, I stop in at the coffee shop to buy a tub of lemony hummus with fresh-baked pita bread. The rain drops begin to fall as I reach the door of my building, and I ride the elevator to my floor listening to the ping of heavy drops hitting the metal siding of the elevator shaft. Once home, I open the windows to the cool air and the growing roar of a downpour. Large bursts of rain fall, so quickly it looks at first like a hailstorm. Pedestrians below dash to the shelter of awnings and open doorways, and a small band of teenagers runs shrieking into the deluge, reveling in the cool water after a long and humid day. I sit near the window, with a cat snuggled in my lap, savoring the distant rolling of thunder and feeling the coolness of the rain seeping into the room.