I have only good things to say about CETP. I applied at a flexible time in my life: I had left my previous teaching position (in NYC) to write a book, which was now halfway done. I had just visited Hungary and was eager to spend more time there. I read about this program, wrote to Mary Rose, the director, and heard back from her the same day. She asked whether I would be interested in teaching at a high school in Szolnok. I looked it up, read about it, and responded: Yes! As it turns out, I could not have made a better choice. It's a wonderful school, and I quickly became part of its daily life. I not only teach English but offer a philosophy elective and am involved with music and drama. I bike to school along the Zagyva river; ducks, egrets, storks, and (in the colder weather) swans are part of my daily commute. The school is intellectually demanding and artistically rich; it has poets, songwriters, musicians, actors, directors, photographers, painters, athletes, and more.
CETP made this possible. The organization helps with the paperwork and placement; Hajni even picked me up at the airport and drove me to Szolnok when I arrived. They are also on hand to help with bureaucratic problems. Fortunately I did not run into any big issues. Like many others, I had to wait a few months for my first paycheck, residence permit, etc., but once I was all set up, all I had to do was renew the paperwork each year. I am used to the process now.
I am not involved in CETP social activities, beyond having dinner with American colleagues in Szolnok now and then--but they are open to me. The support--both social and logistical--is there if you want and need it, and if you don't, that's fine.
Some people ask: "Why should I pay the renewal fee to CETP each year? Why not just continue in my position, without CETP?" These are legitimate questions, but they involve some serious considerations. The terms of the contract more than compensate for the CETP fee. The school district pays for your apartment and utilities; in addition, if you need help with the residence permit and other official cards/papers, there's a contact person assigned to you at the school. Someone who chose to continue without CETP would have to be able to handle the paperwork independently and might have to deal with a change in the terms of the contract. If you speak Hungarian with reasonable fluency, intend to apply for permanent residence, and are willing to pay for your own place, then this might be a reasonable option. I might consider it after this coming year or the following--but know that it involves a tradeoff.
Back to the important things: Hungary can be a great place to teach, if you are well matched with a school. (And if the match isn't right, you can apply for a transfer the following year.) There's a lot of room for initiative: offering new courses, leading extracurricular activities, introducing new materials in your lessons, collaborating with colleagues, and so on. The country is beautiful and full of cultural life; it's easy to travel by bike and train, so you can visit other towns and cities on weekends (and even sometimes during the week). Other countries are easy go reach as well; this wasn't called "Central Europe" for nothing.
As for the Hungarian language: what better way to learn it than to live and teach here? Inow speak Hungarian with my colleagues at least half of the time, and I read in Hungarian as much as I can. Hungarian literature is magnificent and alive; every week, there are literary events of some kind here in Szolnok, and writers regularly visit our school.
As for the people: most of the Hungarians I have met are both kind and up front. They can be critical--criticism is part of daily life--but there's also a general goodwill and a great sense of humor. That said, you'll find the whole range of human nature here; it just expresses itself somewhat differently from in the U.S.
I heartily recommend CETP. It's great not only for the teachers, but for the students and schools. We probably underestimate how much good it does (in terms of bringing different cultures together, giving students opportunities to learn from native speakers of English, giving Americans a chance to learn about Hungary, etc.). So if you're interested, apply!