Remember to take the adaptors preparing for a sabbatical in prague
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Remember to Take the Adaptors! Preparing for A Sabbatical in Prague. Richard Sapon-White OLA IRRT Presentation April 20, 2007. Oh My, I’m Going Abroad!. Fulbright Fellowship in Prague, Czech Republic for 4 months 7 month sabbatical in 2005 One month prep, 6 months in Prague

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Remember to Take the Adaptors! Preparing for A Sabbatical in Prague

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Remember to Take the Adaptors!Preparing for A Sabbatical in Prague

Richard Sapon-White

OLA IRRT Presentation

April 20, 2007

Oh My, I’m Going Abroad!

  • Fulbright Fellowship in Prague, Czech Republic for 4 months

  • 7 month sabbatical in 2005

  • One month prep, 6 months in Prague

  • Take the whole family!

Preparing to Teach

  • Different cultural expectations in education

  • Language barriers

  • Developed 2 classes from scratch

  • College teaching abroad: a handbook of strategies for successful cross-cultural exchanges by Pamela Gale George. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1995.

“Strč prst skrz krk!”

  • Important to understand culture and language – even though teaching in English

  • The Coasts of Bohemia – recommended reading from Czech Fulbright Commission

  • Colloquial Czech

  • Made friends with Czech at OSU

  • Examples in lectures reflected Czech culture

Learning about Czech Libraries

  • Searched Library Literature for articles on Czech librarianship

  • Searched the web (especially IFLA’s web site)

  • The more you know in advance, the better you can communicate

Communicating with Czech Colleagues

  • Czechs are busy people

  • Difficult, intermittent, long silences via email

  • Be persistent!

  • Keep asking the same questions

  • Keep asking the same questions in different ways

Preparation of Course Materials

  • Asked for – and received – permission to work on prep during last months at work

  • Reserved a month of sabbatical for prep

  • Most prep occurred in Prague anyway!

Moving to Prague

  • Useful publication from Czech Fulbright Commission

  • Banks, computers, schools, phones, shopping, housing, etc.

  • Electric plug adapters

  • Contact with former Fulbrighters returning/returned from Prague

  • Purchased cell phones, printer, boom box from returning Fulbrighters


  • Czech Fulbright Commission and others: go through realtors!

  • Looked at info on web

  • Tried to elicit help from locals

  • Used a realtor

Schools for the Kids

  • International schools too expensive

  • Czech Fulbright Commission: can enroll in public schools for free

  • Contacted school run by Jewish community but receiving government funding


  • Vegans with wheat sensitivity

  • Czech diet: sausages/hot dogs, cabbage, dumplings, beer

  • Seventh Day Adventist health food store and restaurant

  • Small health food stores scattered around Prague

  • Larger supermarkets carry some health foods and American products

Web to the Rescue!

  • Lots of information

    • Local info: housing, shopping, maps

    • Language and culture

  • Email

  • Banking

  • (Skype)

Help at Home

  • Friends came forward to

    • Mow the lawn

    • Forward mail

    • Keep an eye on the house

  • Alerted police about our absence

  • Phone, water, garbage pick-up on “dormant accounts”

Other Business While Away

  • Chose to not rent our home

  • Paid bills via the web

    • Made arrangements in a month in advance to make sure it worked!

  • Alerted credit card companies and bank of time abroad

Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Journey!

  • 2 guide books:

    • Dorling-Kindersley guide to Prague

    • Guide to the Czech and Slovak Republics

  • Sections on money and banks, shopping, health care, phones…


  • Sept. 2004: 4 page list of things to do

  • Jan. 2005: 4 page list of things to do

And Finally…

  • We arrived in Prague

    • Without an apartment

    • Without a school for the kids

    • Without my lectures prepared

  • But

    • We had a realtor

    • We knew about schools

    • I had syllabi for my classes

    • We could speak a little Czech

Famous Last Words

  • Network with friends and colleagues here and abroad

  • Start as soon as possible to prepare for your trip

  • Enjoy the process and your time abroad!

Dekujeme za Pozornost!

Richard Sapon-White

Catalog Librarian, Oregon State University

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