In September 2015, I joined Angloville in Hungary at Hotel Nyerges. This was my first experience in such a program. I applied to this program to have a unique experience in my humdrum life. Plus, I couldn’t say no to see Budapest and stay free of charge at a resort with a pool, thermal bath, and Jacuzzi, including free board and 3 meals a day for one week. Of course, I had to work, but, somehow, after a vigorous week, I felt rested and re-energized.
When I applied, I was concerned that the program was a scam -- too good to be true. However, I did a proper research on the program and didn’t find any negative comment or even a warning to stay away. So, I decided to apply thinking that if it was a scam, they would ask me for money at any point during the application process and even after. However, they never did. In fact, administrators of the program were friendly, positive, and professional.
Last, but not least, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be accepted. Though I earned TEFL Certificate, and my English language knowledge, I believe, is on par with most of English-born speakers, I was apprehensive due to my accent. My accent is not thick, but it stands out. Nevertheless, I was accepted into the program. As Gideon (my Skype interviewee – talk about a new experience) told me that having a different accent in the program will be beneficial to local participants since people of the world speak in English with different kinds of accents and exposing themselves to one would be a great experience. With such positive feedback, I was ready to head out to the land of people who grow wonderful wine (though a bit too sweet) and speak one of the craziest languages of this beautiful planet.
Before coming to the program, I received all of the itineraries that included step-by-step explanations about the tour of Budapest and of the program itself. Of course, one requirement was to provide a confirmation number of my in-bound flight to show my commitment to the program.
My first experience with Angloville (not counting my Skype interview) was during the Budapest tour where I met the Anglos for the first time. The tour guide, Eva Kleyer, was a good guide and provided interesting information about the history of Budapest. Yes, there was a lot of walking, but we also traveled on the local bus and metro. The tour consisted of Buda Castle, Hero Square with the local castle (where a traditional festival was taking place), and random visits such as to Jewish controversial monument, a playful fountain, and monument to Soviet regime and a statue to Ronald Regan on the same square. The tour ended with a lunch.
First and foremost, I want to send positive energy and evaluation to two organizers and administrators of the program Fanni and Sebastian. They were extremely dedicated to the program. Both of them went beyond and above to make sure the program ran smoothly and was interesting, exciting, and fulfilling for all particinants. Due to their dedication, no one had to worry about administrative aspects and activities of the program.
The teaching/tutoring consisted of already pre-planned questions and idioms that we had to discuss with English-learners. Of course, we didn’t have to stick to the provided questions. Many talked about topics that either were connected to the theme of the lesson or about something else entirely. Furthermore, there were group activities, two-on-two activities, and, finally, a presentation on any topic that an English-learner would like to talk about. Anglos, for the final project, worked only as mentors. Overall, the organizers did a phenomenal job with preparations and running of the program. Pre-planned lessons were difficult to talk about but were not a hindrance. After all, when intelligent people come together, conversations become quite interesting.
Last, but not last, group activities were fun and exciting; really took people out of their comfort zone. The environment was safe, I believe, and it allowed participants to be a bit foolish that was welcomed. Two-on-two conversations were rare but more useful. One such activity was a telephone conversation. I wish we had more of such activities.
My recommendation about the activities would be to create more useful activities that are challenging but not too philosophical because some one-on-one discussions had such great conversations that 45 minutes for an activity wasn’t enough. A lesson is as good as the activity that ends on time.
As for Hotel Nyerges, I would say that the place was great. It was homey. The air was fresh (considering I came from NYC) with lots of animals. Plus, there was a Jacuzzi, a thermal bath, a pool, and great menu (did I mention this before?). However, the place lacks an air-conditioner in the rooms or even a good fan.
In the conclusion, I would highly recommend for any English-speaking individual (who has a good knowledge of it and either was born in an English-speaking country or has a mild accent, like I do) and those want to improve English to jump into this program head first. It would be a new experience and meeting new people of different backgrounds and experiences is always a great idea. You will work hard, but you will relax and won’t feel too stressed out (imagine having an activity in a Jacuzzi). This was definitely a different kind of vacation that I would do again.