Why did you decide to teach abroad with CETP in Hungary?
Jake: After graduating from San Francisco State, I knew I wasn't ready to enter the workforce. With the job market in the U.S. dismal, I decided to look elsewhere. Who knew that I would end up in Hungary! I never saw myself as a teacher, but I was excited to give it a try, especially if I could find a good opportunity in Europe. A family friend told me about CETP, and I immediately got in contact with them. One of my biggest draws to Hungary (as opposed to more conventional destinations like Japan or Italy) is the fact that I'm half-Hungarian -- teaching here has given me a chance to learn about a part of myself that I hadn't given much thought to. In my time here, I've even had the chance to meet family members and visited old family haunts, including the place where my dad was born!
Describe your day to day activities as a teacher.
Jake: At my school, I teach first and second grades. I have six classes, with each class having two groups (about 16 students) -- for a total of 24 hours per week. Each lesson is 45 minutes long. CETP guarantees a minimum of 22 work hours per week, but it really depends on the school situation. I usually get to school a little early, and prepare any materials I need for the day. My day typically ends at 1:00 p.m., unless I'm involved in an after-school activity. Last year, I offered an extra hour of English -- mostly involving reading and games -- to my students. Once or twice a year, a school or district-wide competition will come up, and I'll be asked to judge.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Jake: I really never saw myself as a teacher -- let alone an ESL teacher -- and yet I've had such an amazing experience that I have come back twice already! In college, I double majored in broadcast and electronic communication arts and technical and professional writing -- totally unrelated to what I'm doing as a teacher. However, I have looked at teaching as a challenge, and have set my mind to mastering the craft. I'm definitely one of those people who do not enjoy public speaking whatsoever, and yet I chose a job where I am in front of a group for several hours a day. What was I thinking? Whatever made me think of participating in CETP, I'm glad I made the choice to do so because this has definitely been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Teaching English abroad is almost addictive -- once you catch the bug, you don't want to stop. I think Budapest is an amazing city, and it's been great to be able to visit places that I never thought I'd have a chance to see. Although it's been interesting to visit foreign destinations, I've made it a priority to explore Hungary and to learn as much as I can about its various cities! I've definitely grown a lot since moving to Hungary, and I am proud to be who I am today. I am very thankful for all the opportunities CETP has given me, and look forward to the rest of my time in Hungary.