Header

coworking-2-m

Shared work space

It must have been a man that said being on maternity leave is like being on extended vacation.  Not only is it hard work, but it’s a 24-7 job, and we can’t call in sick – ever!  Although I think there are many benefits to being on maternity leave for 3-4 years, like many women in the Czech Republic, there are also some disadvantages in the long run.  After having a couple of kids or even one, the woman is at a disadvantage going back to work as many of her skills are now obsolete and an employer usually frowns upon hiring a woman with small children (as sad as that is).

Technically your employer cannot fire you while on maternity/parenting leave, but they will only hold your position for 6 months and after that they are free to replace you with someone who can do the job.  When actually coming back a few years later, legally you cannot claim your position back and can even get demoted.  Although an employer would never admit it, it’s a perfect way for them to push you out upon your return – and it happens quite often.   Another obstacle is the fact that there is a lack of state kindergartens in the country, and if you child can get in at 3 years old, you can consider yourself lucky.  My son was just rejected and he will be 4 come September.

Daycare

Daycare

For some, it’s a clear choice and returning to the workforce is not a priority.   Now, I know that for many women that do want to return to work before the 3 -4 year maternity/parenting leave is up, the private daycare system is simply not affordable, as almost all of their earnings would go towards childcare, whether working part-time or full time.  Therefore, many make the choice of staying home, rather than going back to work for the obvious reasons.  In the end there are sacrifices to be made, and it usually is a combination of necessity and personal choice .

I am personally lucky to have an employer that is flexible and has stood by me throughout my pregnancies and now two kids.  Upon my return (when both my kids turned 6 months), I was able to work part-time until I was ready to go back full time.  With my older son, I worked part-time until he turned 2 years old and with my younger I will go back to full-time when he is 1year old.  But I know that many women in the Czech Republic are not so lucky, and have a number of obstacles in order to integrate back into society and realize themselves professionally, while having children under 3 at home.

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Conference room

As it’s a popular topic these days, different types of services are starting to cater to mothers in an attempt to overcome some of the obstacles we face today.   One of these services recently opened its doors and much like The Hub, provides a working space, but with an array of services that also includes childcare.   The Baby Office, located in Prague 4, opened very recently and caters to freelance or remote working moms that can utilize the shared office space, while their young children are looked after in their daycare center.  But The Babyoffice isn’t simply about providing a working space and daycare, the team is also trying to serve as an advisor to mothers in helping them reintegrate into society by providing many seminars and a source to available part-time work or an advisory to start-up businesses.

 

I think this is a wonderful project and give its creators big kudos for getting it started!   

 

Baby Office provides many options for you and your little ones at reasonable prices.  Some of the mainstream services are:

Coworking & Your own workspace:

Shared space:  50 Kc / hour
Your own working space: 4.000 / month

Baby Office Daycare (children from 15 months):

Reception / Cafe

Reception / Cafe

Ad hoc attendance cost: 100 Kc / hr
Regular attendance: 70 Kc / hr
Inidividual child care (from 6 to 15 months): 200 Kc / hr

At home childcare:

Childcare for a Baby Office user: 150 Kc / hr
Childcare for general public: 200 kc/ hr
Additional child: +50 Kc/ hr
Childcare after 22.00: +50 Kc / hr

For additional information, please visit www.babyoffice.cz

 

Introducing New Prague Guiri: Phillippa

October 31st, 2012 | Posted by Karolinad in Lifestyle - (Comments Off)

I’m from the North-east of England and I’ve been living in the Czech Republic since 2002. Originally I intended to stay for a year, but ten years on I not only seem to have slightly delayed packing up, but also find myself with a Czech husband, two children, a dog and a cat. We live in a small village just outside of Prague with my husband’s family. I speak fluent Czech in a way only a foreigner could, pretend I understand the difference between a wide variety of mushrooms and occasionally drive closer to the car in front than I really should.  I believe this has practically turned me native.

I am currently on maternity leave with my one year old daughter and three year old son, but also work part-time at an international school. I spend quite a lot of time in sand pits across Prague, have an expert knowledge on how to handle tantrums in the city centre and only vaguely remember what it was like to navigate the public transport system without a pushchair. I hope I can offer some useful insights into family life in and around the city.

This post was written by Guiri Guest writer: Meghan Modafferi.  Meghan is from North Carolina, USA. She is currently living in Prague and working as an English teacher. In her free time, she’s a freelance writer who’s particularly interested in politics, performances, and personalities. 

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So, now that you’ve visited Prague, you’re dreading leaving. Maybe it seems impractical to come back in the future, especially to come back and stay back. It’s possible though, and not so impractical either. If you’re reading this with relative ease, you’re already engaging the extremely valuable asset that can keep you here.

 Why:

Teaching English in Prague is in high demand. It pays the normal bills and the travel bills, while also feeding a traveler’s soul. I’m an English teacher in Prague, and the more I get into the job, the more I realize what a unique and wonderful position I’m in for learning about people.

No matter how many questions I ask my students, they aren’t annoyed with it. They know the point is to get them speaking, get them speaking better, and keep them speaking (better.) So they keep talking, and I keep asking, and it feels completely natural, until I get home and realize I suddenly know everything about their relationship with their mother.

I’ve thought a lot about this, and how strange it is that they tell me so much, and that I feel comfortable asking for more and more details. I’ve thought about other jobs I could do where I’d have to ask questions. If I were a journalist, my interviewees might (and have in the past) worried about ulterior motives or how their words might be represented on the page. Although it would be part of my job to ask questions, it would be a part that sometimes made people uncomfortable or defensive or guarded. Likewise, if I were therapist, a large part of my job would be to ask questions and keep my patient talking. But I’d need to be drawing psychological conclusions from the content of patients’ answers, and this might give them pause. If I were a teacher of anything other than language, my students’ answers would face scrutiny for accuracy in both grammar and content.

But as it is, in a conversation lesson, my job is to draw conclusions only from the form of my students’ answers. A student tells me, “I think I’m in fault for my divorce,” and my only critical response is “at fault.”

From this vantage point, I’m able to cultivate an incredible amount of intimacy with people from not only a different culture, but a different language. If I were in Prague for any other reason, I would hear “dobry den” at most from the majority of the Czechs I encountered. As it is, I hear their ideas about God, education, love, and politics. I feel extremely lucky and honored to have such a beautiful opportunity, and that’s why I want to pass it on to you.

How:

So I’m recommending it highly from a human standpoint, and from a culture standpoint. But logistics are important too. Just because you speak English doesn’t mean you’ll feel or be 100% ready to dive in. I was an English major at University, but still I was shocked by how many grammar rules I didn’t know. They’re intuitive—you know how to speak them, but not necessarily how to teach them. Learning to explain your language to someone who doesn’t speak it is like learning a new language yourself.

I got my Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certificate at The Language House TEFL in Prague. It’s a month-long intensive course. You’ll be in class more or less from 9am until 9pm. It will be your life for one month, but it can open doors for much longer.

During the day, you’ll take grammar and methodology classes. It’s all taught to you from within the strategy that you’ll be asked to master. In other words, they don’t have you read a textbook page about creative teaching. They engage the method in order to present it. It’s a little meta, and it’s not easy, but it’s a lot of fun.

In the evenings, you’ll be teaching real Czech students who signed up for free English lessons with teachers-in-training. You’ll give a 45-minute lesson, watch two of your classmates give 45-minute lessons, and then be subject to critique by a TEFL observer. It’s a little like a reality show. You get a challenge (to teach x grammar point to a group of Czechs in 45 minutes), you execute that challenge, and then you face the judges. The “judges” are strict, but only because they believe in how much you can learn and how much you can improve in just one month. Wearied, but optimistic for your next assignment, you’ll go home (to your house where you’ll live with your classmates who are all in the same boat) and begin lesson planning for the next round.

You’ll teach students of all different levels, and you’ll be prepared for how that should alter your lesson strategy. For true beginners, you’ll learn how to teach them sentence structure by building from such simple lines as “My name is…” For upper intermediates, you’ll learn to identify holes in their extensive knowledge, and begin filling them in. You’ll be sent across the city to meet privately with a student, so you can experience the difference from class lesson to individual one. And when the month is over, you’ll be qualified and confident, plus you’ll have connections.

The Language House TEFL prepared me for teaching in any situation. They helped me get my Visa. They helped me with my CV. They helped me find a job. And most importantly, they provided me with a community. The TLH Alums in Prague Facebook page has almost 200 members who are ready with support and friendship to make Prague not only a place to work, but a place to really live, a place to call home… at least until your next adventure.

 For more information, go to http://www.thelanguagehouse.net/, or send me an email at meggmod@gmail.com

What to Expect When You are Expecting [in Prague]

February 29th, 2012 | Posted by Karolinad in Karolina | Logistics | Medical - (Comments Off)

Expecting a baby is considered to be a wonderful, life changing experience that many women wait all their lives for.  Getting pregnant in a foreign country is another experience and it can be pretty scary, especially when you are going through it for the first time.  Not only do you not know what to expect in terms of your body changing [I won’t even go into the hormonal changes], but what can you expect from a healthcare standard and insurance perspective when you are not in your home country?    

Because I have gone through it before in Prague, I can say that it’s definitely better than you’d expect and I have heard many expat women say they are grateful to have had a baby in Prague because of the overall pre-natal and post-birth care.  Whatever your residence status may be, everyone in the Czech Republic is required to have healthcare insurance – whether you are an EU citizen,  have insurance through your employer, husband, or whether you are covering it monthly on your own.   The good news is, very little money will come from your pocket.  Pre-natal check-ups and the birth are covered by your insurance. On top of that, the most of the necessary tests and screenings are also covered by your insurance.

The first thing you need to do when you determine that you are pregnant, is make an appointment with your gynecologist – they will invite you between week 6-8 for your first ultrasound to determine  the status of the pregnancy.   When all checks out, you are required to return around week 11, and if everything is good, you receive a “Těhotenský průkaz” – a pregnancy booklet that tracks the progress of your pregnancy, all of the test results, allergies, previous pregnancies / complications if any.  Congrats, you are now officially pregnant ;) 

Between week 11 and week 14, you have to give blood to determine your blood’s RH factor and other  important information and get scheduled for your I. Screening to determine the possibilities of birth effects including Down syndrome and other potential developmental problems (Detailed ultrasound/blood test).  This screening is most often done at Podolí or Motol hospitals, or private clinics that have quality ultrasound machines with specialists.  The I. screening is not covered by your insurance anymore, which was the case a couple of years back when I had my baby.  Good news is, it costs aprox. 1,000 Kc, so it’s not a major dent in your pocket. 

Around week 14, sometimes a couple of weeks earlier depending on the institution, you HAVE to register with a hospital where you will deliver.  The reason is that in recent years there was a baby boom and all the “porodnice” or birthing hospitals were busting at the seams and women would get turned away when they arrived, due to limited space.  Sounds scary, but don’t worry, the baby boom has slowed down, and it does not happen often that you have to go give birth in a different hospital than expected. If you are over 35, they will consider you to get the genetic test around week 15 to ensure your baby is healthy – this does involves a sample of your amniotic fluid, potentially other genetic tests.

The II. Screening is due around your 20th week, which also involves a detailed ultrasound to ensure all of the organs of the baby are developing correctly – this is covered by your insurance and is done at a specialist office (usually same as the first screening).  Around this time, you will also have to get the glucose screening / tolerance test to ensure you do not have gestational diabetes.  At week 30, it’s time for your final screening, and this could be done at your doctor’s office, depending on quality of the ultrasound machine.  Throughout the pregnancy you will several vaginal exams to determine the status of your cervix and one pap smear (usually at the beginning of the pregnancy) unless you have had one recently.         

About a month before your due date, your gynecologist releases you to the hospital of choice, where you will have to go for weekly check-ups before the delivery.  In most cases, women do not have a specific doctor that will be present at the birth, but will deliver with whomever is on shift that day/night.  However, if you feel more comfortable to select a doctor that will deliver your baby, it can be done, but you will pay extra.  The amount ranges from 10-20,000 Kc and you have to select the doctor before you register (if you are given a recommendation) or select from the doctors that are at your hospital of choice.

Hospitals in Prague:

Motol – Prague 5 (My choice)
Podoli – Prague 4
U apolinare – Prague 2
Porodnice Bulovka – Prague 8
Thomayerova Nemocnice – Prague 4

Here is a link to the ranking of the hospitals mentioned above – Motol wins ;)  Read about having a baby in Motol Hospital in Prague

Good luck with your pregnancy!

Introducing a fairly new website - Hello Czech Republic - launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Here you can get information on living in or visiting the Czech Republic straight from the source.   The website is available in 6 different languages and provides you with accurate and up to date information on a number of different topics.
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