Central European Teaching Program in Hungary

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The Central European Teaching Program represents a significant presence in Hungary. CETP has been placing conversational English teachers in Central and European Europe since 1990. Our volunteers are responsible for enhancing student's oral fluency through conversation practice, classroom drills, games, audio-visual instruction and listening comprehension, as well as through working closely with native teachers to emphasize important grammar concepts. High school teachers may be asked to help prepare students for stringent national language exams as well.

Questions & Answers


based on 30 reviews
  • Benefits 8.2
  • Support 8.5
  • Fun 7.9
  • Facilities 7.7
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 16 - 30 of 30
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Szeretlek Magyarorszag... after some patience and flexibility

I took on this challenge after being burned out by American public schools sooner than I had anticipated. I was interested in Hungary as it had a rich history, interesting culture, and good location within Europe.

Upon arrival, there was a week long orientation that got us situated to the culture, a bit of the language, and the expectations of us within the program. Admittedly, it was fast as we were all embarking to our individual towns at the end of the week, but it was a "dive in head first" kind of thing. I worked hard to soak up as much information I could to prepare myself for my experience.

Once I got to my new town, it was about flexibility, patience and understanding. Everything was new to me overnight, but the system in the country had been operating that way for decades. So, was my arrival the most important thing on everyones mind? No, and that was okay. Life moves a bit slower, and it was good for me to take the challenges as they came, learn from them, blog about them and share them with as many people as possible.

I was placed at a prestigious Gimnazium in my town, and the students were focused and education oriented. My colleagues did their best to get me up to speed as quickly as they could, while juggling their responsibilities in the classroom as well. I learned so much about the Hungarian school system and the importance of education while at this school!

I joined the local church choir and went on trips with them, they became my second family. I took on private students and still receive letters and communication from them three years later.

Sure, I struggled at times- but remaining flexible and patient was the only way to be successful. Things are not always going to go your way, but as a 'foreigner' in a new land, it was my job to accept these challenges and learn to adapt.

Since returning to the United States, I have joined a local group of Hungarians to continue the language I learned while there. I have also returned to Hungary three times to see milestones in my students' schooling, their coming of age ceremony and graduations.

I hope to continue telling others about the wonderful culture, traditions and experiences I took in while in Hungary. In fact, I'm having a Hungarian dinner party next week. Would you like to come?

How can this program be improved?
As I said before, the 'system' has been in place for decades there. Unfortunately, as a foreigner, it took me a while to get into the system so my pay was delayed initially. They warned of this, but it still was a struggle at first.
Yes, I recommend this program
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CETP is wonderful and ignore those bad posts

I love Hungary, and am so grateful that CETP is such an efficient way to get here and explore this beautiful way of life. If you are coming to make money, turn around and go to Korea. But, in spite of the small paycheck, I love it here. Hungary is great for those open to new experiences. I lived here for two years without CETP, and moved back to the States. When I decided to come back, CETP was an obvious choice by how efficiently they placed me, how well they communicated with me, and worked with me.
CETP can only do so much, and ppl are getting on this website and complaining. What do you want from them??? They arrange a flat for you to live in, with utilities paid. That, if you add up the price, would turn out to be SOOO much more than you pay them in program fees. It is a win win. Our Hungarian colleagues are living in flats much tinier, with grandparents and siblings because the salary is so small they can't afford a flat and utilities on their own. Go on, go without CETP and get a teacher's job here on your own , and get your own flat and don't use CETP. After utilities (which can be up to 300$ a month), and monthly rent (around 200-400$ per month), let me know how that 500$ teaching per month salary is working out for you. (and before CETP i lived here and my school paid for the flat and I paid utilities, and I was almost broke, with about 200$ disposable income per month. My CETP friends were traveling and I had to stay home, cause I had no money). And let me know how fun it is to go to immigration and take care of paperwork without an organization backing you.
Now, for those of us who have been blessed to partner with CETP (i went back to America, and came back to Hungary with CETP), we get a, albeit low in US standards salary, but plenty to live on here. You have pretty much no bills, health care is free, and utilites, rent, and maybe your transportation pass are paid for. I think it's a great set up if you want to come to Hungary! You can explore this beautiful city, travel, and make international friends and enjoy doing things with them!
But if you are coming because you want a perfect experience, just according to everything you think is right, then don't come. You have to be flexible, open minded, and open to other cultures, not judging constantly that "this is wrong" or "we do it this way". I feel bad for Americans who come here and have a selfish mindset, demanding their American way. You are in another country, and you adapt to their way of life. If you want to be in America, stay in America. If you want to discover a beautiful, deep, unique culture of beautiful people who will enrich your lives, your world view and touch your heart, then come to Hungary! It's wonderful, beautiful, and the children are absolutely fabulous. They are so precious, and my life has been changed by being here. For people who asked to be placed in Budapest and were told there weren't any options, and then saw others get placed in Budapest, did you ask the directors, or did you just assume they were being deceitful??? I know that schools in Hungary can be last minute and bad communicators (sorry, that is true, get used to it), and after I asked the directors about it, they told me that those openings did not come available until August, after they had placed people in small towns, and turned down applicants, and they were very upset too, but were trying to place people last minute.
CETP works with you, and is always responsive to emails, contact. You can't ask for a better program when going overseas... You always have a director who works tirelessly to make sure everyone is happy, and they are so so so flexible, and always answer the phone no matter what your problem is. To be unhappy with them must mean that you are so rigid that no one can please you. My roommate and I met through CETP, and teach together, and we are so different but both love it here. This is my third year in Hungary and I think I'll be here much longer!

How can this program be improved?
nothing. its not perfect, but it's perfect for what I was looking for.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Entry into Hungary w/ CETP

I have just signed up for another year with CETP, having had a very good experience with them. Their process for application made the transition to an overseas position much easier than doing it yourself (which I have done before). The week long orientation in Budapest was very helpful with a very inspiring teacher of Hungarian culture and teaching tips. Then door-to-door transport to the new assignment. They provided a basic telephone (I didn't have to hassle with this), instructions, helpful contact sheets, information cards, a FB page to talk to other teachers and ALWAYS someone available to call if you get confused about something -- 24/7. Plus they also organize cultural and travel events for the teachers. The position they matched me with is perfect for me and my co-workers are so kind and helpful. I don't regret for one minute going overseas with CETP.

How can this program be improved?
The Hungarian language teacher at the orientation was not very helpful. She went too fast and seemed annoyed to be there. The material tried to cover too much grammar rather than day-to-day phrases and pronouncation. I went away not knowing how to pronouce the double consonants or say the basic greetings. She needs to redesign her class with role plays and small group drills.
Yes, I recommend this program
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In Response to Sandra Jacobs

I am the teacher who replaced Sandra Jacobs in Oroshaza, Hungary. I had such a wonderful experience in the town, at the school and with the CETP staff that I'm taken by surprise by her review.

I was befriended by the mayor's family while there. They were very kind, helped me get around and, when I first arrived even helped me with buying a bicycle as I couldn't yet speak Hungarian. I also taught their son. I saw absolutely no neo-nazi tendencies with the mayor, his family, or in Oroshaza. In fact, it was one of the most tolerant places I have ever lived.

I had a fully furnished apartment a five minute walk from the school. The teacher assigned to be my contact person (I called her my handler :-) helped me with everything. She went with me to the doctor, to open a bank account, taught me enough Hungarian to be able to fend for myself and basically helped with anything I needed. I became so close to her and one of the other teachers that their families all but took me in.

We had a beautiful facility with modern equipment and up-to-date text books. The language department there worked really well together and were supportive of me and I think I was helpful to them. I was able to do a unit with all of the classes on the Gulf Coast where I come from and we had a week of fun!

I fell in love with the food and the people. So much so that my husband and I are planning to visit as soon as we can!

I had a really wonderful year and 1/2 there (I took over for Sandra mid year) and I can't imagine anyone could be afraid of anything in Oroshaza!

How can this program be improved?
I can't think of anything off hand. I had no problems with the program.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Central European Teaching Program in Hungary

I am a retired US public school teacher and I've been teaching in Hungary for 5 months. Earlier in my teaching career I lived in Colombia, Costa Rica, Thailand, and Germany. I was thrilled to be able to add Hungary to this list.

CETP provides a week long orientation upon arrival to prepare teachers for living and working in Hungary. It is well organized and also gives new arrivals a chance to meet each other and form friendships before dispersing around the country. The classes include methodology, language initiation, and a historical perspective. It was also very helpful to hear from teachers who have been here for several years.

CETP does a good job of warning applicants that they will not be living a US or Western European lifestyle in many ways. I live in Budapest and can get anywhere around the city by tram, bus, or subway. The living conditions, of course, vary from one location to another, but CEPT contracts state that schools must help applicants with arrangements for apartments and that the apartments must have washing machines. That is a huge benefit of securing a position through an organization like CETP. Food costs are reasonable and I love the huge markets with fresh fruits, vegetables, butchers, cheese stalls, etc. For those who prefer supermarket shopping, there are several Hungarian chains as well as other European chains. There are also import stores if you have to have Skippy peanut butter, but be prepared to pay a high price. Clothing is also expensive so I would advise applicants to bring what you want with you as your salary will not cover frequent purchases.

Teaching in Hungary presents challenges. I love my school as a whole, my co teachers, and my kids. I have been welcomed from day one. Retired teachers are not very common, so many teachers asked me why I came. My answers are quite different from the young people, who naturally want a chance to experience Europe. I too, enjoy that but I also wanted to work a bilingual school with a different kind of program from the ones I experienced in Latin America. The most challenging part of the school experience is the last minute nature in which decisions are made. Do not come expecting 5 year plans and ready made schedules. Flexibility is essential. My school has specific books and a set curriculum, but the English director was willing to let me "stray a bit" and teach a literature unit. What we don't have much of is leisure reading books, so when I go home for the summer, I will be bringing some back.

I would highly recommend that people take the plunge and come to Hungary. Your money is well spent with CEPT.

How can this program be improved?
Once people are out in the field, it's not always easy to get together. Even though there are numerous teachers in Budapest, I really only see the people in my school. Several times CEPT has tried to organize activities to bring people together. Perhaps if a few dates (perhaps a fall and a spring one) were chosen during orientation, it would be easier for people to commit to reuniting.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Highly Recommended for the Open-Minded

I recently graduated from college and had decided I'd go out on a limb and teach English in a country people don't typically shoot for when teaching ESL. CETP was extremely upfront and honest about the fact that there isn't a ton of money to be made here, but I think there's a lot more to be gained by coming to Hungary than a fat paycheck.

The program directors, Mary and Hajni, have been nothing but kind and supportive throughout the entire process. They answered the endless emails filled with questions, comments, and concerns that I sent, and they often bend over backwards to make sure that we're all fine. Hajni even called regularly for the first few weeks when we were first on our own to make sure that all was well, and each email she sends us always ends with a reminder that she is available to help us 24/7.

Hungary was quite a culture shock for me at first since I'd never previously been to any countries that weren't tropical, but the initial Orientation really helped to put me at ease.

As a whole, I love this place, I love my job, I love my students, and I love my coworkers. I really have to give a lot of credit to Mary and Hajni because the city I was placed in, Orosháza, (which, contrary to a previous post, is not a center for Neo-Nazis--and perhaps I should add that I most definitely do not look European by any stretch of the imagination) could not be more perfect for me. I've formed friendships with people who are similar to me and, at the same time, so different. I went in knowing absolutely nothing about the Hungarian culture/people/language other than what I learned from the crash course at Orientation (from which I retained a shocking amount of useful information), but I'm simply delighted by the entire experience. All in all, I have CETP to thank for that since they work so hard to make the process goes smoothly.

Of course, it's important to understand that it's not for everyone, and there are countless difficulties to face, but I'm fairly certain that's just an unavoidable part of life. That being said, if you are open-minded, if you enjoy a good challenge, or if you are just generally an interesting, ambitious person willing to be influenced by a wonderful and eye-opening experience, then I highly recommend taking the plunge.

How can this program be improved?
One thing that comes to mind is the website... it may seem a bit sketch and perhaps a bit outdated in places (pictures, testimonies, etc.), but I assure you the program is 100% legitimate.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Thumbs up for CETP!

I've been a teacher with CETP in Hungary for several years and I love working with the program here.

I originally came to Hungary fresh out of college with only a bit of experience living abroad and even less teaching experience. I looked at other programs (mostly ones in Korea and China where I would be making a LOT more money) but I decided to come here instead. I remember reading on the CETP website something like "if you're looking to make money, don't come here" ... and yeah, they were right. I can't say that I've accumulated any vast savings since I've been here, but the salary is definitely enough to live on, and live pretty well - I mean, eating out a lot, making a weekend trip to neighboring countries every couple months, doing a good bit of travelling around within Hungary, etc.

I know the big fee puts off a lot of people, but I think it's money well spent. CETP takes care of your apartment (except in some cases if you insist on being placed in Budapest) and you also receive a fantastic week of orientation at the beginning. More than that, you have the benefit of 24/7 help from Hajni, the CETP Hungary country director. Really, she's like your own personal Hungarian guardian angel, just a phone call away!

The culture shock was a big deal for me the first year I was here. I won't lie, I spent most of September to February wavering between "this is kind of bearable" and "well, it's only a nine-month contract, I guess I can stick it out somehow". What got me through it was the support of Hajni, and of the other CETP teachers. It was so nice to be able to reach out to a group of people who were in the same boat as me, gripe a bit, collect some ideas, and have a fresh go each week.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this program for most people. As long as you have some flexibility, some creativity, and the willingness to ask for help when you need it, you'll love it here!

How can this program be improved?
If I had to make one change to the program, I would have more official get-togethers other than just the orientation at the beginning. I think the teachers do a good job of meeting up with each other anyway, but it would be good to have some CETP-sponsered programs as well!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Don't work with them!

I contracted with CETP to work in a pre-school in Prague for 22 hours per week. I was to be using my music and theatre experience in conjunction with teaching English. When I arrived they told me I was to work from 7AM to 6PM 5 days per week and I was responsible for the planning and implementing the entire curriculum for the school. There was no other Czech teacher as promised. They offered no additional pay. Not only did I not have this kind of teaching experience, but I have no medical training and don't speak Czech, so putting me in a position of complete responsibility was absurd - if anything had happened to one of the children I would have been unable to do anything! I thought they were crazy! I was to have a room in the school which turned out to be about 5' x 8', had no closet for my clothes, and there was no private bathroom. The CETP agent there knew about this along and chose not to tell me, assuming that once I was there I would have no choice but to go along with it. When I didn't agree to this, they dropped me at a hotel and refused to speak with me again, leaving me stranded in Prague having spent all my money to get there. They have to this date, 7 months later, refused to compensate me for cancelling my contract and abandoning me. They bully and manipulate to get people to work in these post-communist countries for very little money and promote an oppressive communist ethics. Save yourself the trouble and go somewhere else!

Response from Central European Teaching Program

I am Mary Rose, the director of CETP. Since I have been in charge of our program, we have placed over 700 teachers in Hungary with the majority deciding to stay on for at least an additional year. I am so sorry that Zoe is unhappy, but this woman was demissed from the program at the very start of the school year for unprofessional behavior.

This was our first experience in the Czech Republic and it always takes time to iron out problems when working with new schools. Zoe was to teach 22 hours per week but was requested to stay on the premises (she could be in her room or in the garden) from 7 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday just until the other new teacher could be hired. It is our responsibility to make certain our teachers are treated according to their contract, but in Zoe's case, she was let go even before school started due to her unwillingness to teach art or communicate with the other staff. When the school director discovered that Zoe had lied on her application, she dismissed her immediately. Since Zoe lied on her application, paid us not one dime of our program fee, refused to attend our mandatory orientation in Budapest, and never signed our contract, we feel no obligation to provide her with any compensation. She phoned our attorney to say if we didn't pay her (the many thousands of dollars she is demanding,) she would smear our name all over the web so that we wouldn't get any teachers at all!

I value our little organization and we try always to do right by our teachers. In this case, however, we did nothing wrong other than to trust someone who is untrustworthy.

No, I don't recommend this program
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Deception and lack of support

I was placed in a school in Oroshaza, a relatively small town that elected a mayor from The Jobbik party, aka, dubbed the voice of the neo-nazis. Other teachers who were informed of the situation notified me. They were given this info by the director in HU. I was not. I sent 5 e-mails to this person requesting an urgent transfer and expressing my concern and factual info re my safety, and at the time, endangerment; no response.

Response from Central European Teaching Program

I am Mary Rose, the American director of CETP. We have had no problems with neo-nazis in Oroshaza or any other communities in Hungary. Our Hungarian director, Hajni Vancsik, went personally to visit Sandra on more than one occasion to try to get to the bottom of her fear.

We never ignore complaints or concerns, and although not always able to fix things beyond our control, we do our very best. Hajni is a wonderful, caring woman who is always there for our teachers in a pinch, be it small--sleeping past one's stop on a train and talking to a conductor who speaks no English, or large--a serious illness that requires a hospital stay.

No, I don't recommend this program
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Teaching in Hungary has some significant difficulties. Hungary is not an extremely wealthy country and there is not a lot of resources or technology available to us a teachers. Some classes I have no textbook and no form of technology at all and I am forced to create and execute effective lessons. Despite this I do really enjoy my teaching jobs and I really enjoy interacting with all of the students. I live in a smaller town so during the week here it can get very boring. I teach in the morning and then in the afternoon there is not really much to do. After finishing planning the lessons I really struggle to find things to pass the time.

Yes, I recommend this program
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not a great organization

I'm a pretty easy going person, so when at first things weren't shaping up as the program directors told me they would I didn't really complain. We were told it may take a little while to receive our paychecks. I went to Hungary in August and was told that certainly by October I'd be paid. October comes and goes. So does November and December. Finally, in January I got paid, hooray! Some teachers were eligible for advanced pay, but for some reason not all teachers are.
I was lucky in that my apartment has everything I need- but other teachers were not so lucky. Some were living in student dorms and sharing bathrooms and kitchens. I didn't feel like I had much to complain about, because I had a relatively nice place and, thankfully, enough money in savings to eek out over those months until payday. This meant, though, that I could do almost no traveling and stayed in my town a lot.
It wasn't until I wanted to stay on another year (because while I do not like CETP, I really really like my school and my students- they're the best part of the job) that I became really frustrated with the program. I will admit, I missed the deadline due to personal issues, but deadlines have been pretty much a joke in this program. I filled out my application in February to go to Hungary in August and there were people who decided to go a WEEK before orientation who were given placements that I know other people wanted. "No, sorry- you can't go to Budapest it's all full" but for people who decided at the extreme last second, suddenly there's more than enough Budapest placements to go around. And not even at the full price. It seems like to get ahead in this program, you have to hardball them. You don't want to pay the whole fee? Don't. Not everyone does. You want to go to Budapest? Tell them you will not even consider going to Hungary unless you're in Budapest. They will tell you that there are no spots available, but it's not true.
So, I wanted to be placed here in my town again. It seemed reasonable that the new person could be given a different assignment since I already live here, the school wouldn't have to go through all the hooplah of setting up new bank accounts, visas, etc. etc. But for some reason, this is just not possible. I was willing to pay the re-placement fee (yeah, you have to pay again) but there seems to be no flexibility at all. You would think that after as patient and understanding as I've been with them, they could show me the same regard. I've found my own way to continue living in this town, so I'm staying but it's without CETP.
They get you here, they place you, and then you're kind of on your own because they already have your money. I got one or two calls to see how things were going, and I'm lucky that things were ok- but after that there was no follow through. I know others who were in horrible placement situations, and I'm sure CETP is still going to place teachers in those towns. Because once they have your money, they don't really care about your Hungarian experience.
I would certainly find a different way to get to Hungary- others have had good experiences, but I'm sure they would probably say that Hungary itself is the good experience.

No, I don't recommend this program
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Not just for 20 somethings.

My husband and I were placed by CETP at a lovely school in a suburb of Budapest. We are in our 50's and so our experience was different than younger people. The school and the CETP staff were very supportive of us as far as teaching materials and survival in a foreign country. I would highly recommend the experience to anyone with a sense of adventure regardless of their age group.

Yes, I recommend this program
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My CETP experience

Teaching in Hungary has been a wonderful experience for me. I didn't have experience teaching English before, but now I love it. At first I found it daunting to face a room of kids, some of whom could barely understand me, but I have grown to love the challenge as well as the incredible reward that comes with success in the language learning classroom. I am certain I have become a better teacher, not simply in language instruction, but classroom management, creative thinking, and problem solving.

The country itself has many interesting and beautiful traditions, folk music & dance, and history. Traveling can be an adventure since some places are harder to get to than others, but the network of other CETP teachers is a great pool of potential travel buddies, hosts, and trip advisers.

Orientation is one of the most valuable things CETP provides because it connects you with the other teachers throughout the country. When facing the inevitable "culture shock" moments, it's reassuring to connect with others who understand firsthand.

English speakers are easier to find in the larger cities than in the smaller towns and villages, but I have enjoyed tackling the difficult language and making local friends in the process.

I recommend this program to people who are independent, enjoy a challenge, and are open to new experiences.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Adventure Awaits

Due to its history Hungary is an interested mix of eastern and western Europe. Hungary's society is deeply rooted in its history and traditions.

My daily routine includes teaching anywhere from 4-6 lessons and being on hand to the faculty to help focus lessons and address weak points in the students' performances. This also entails being on hand as a direct source of the English lesson for the teachers to reference.

I love teaching the children and being a resource for my colleagues.

Yes, I recommend this program
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CETP puts you in the heart of Eastern Europe

It's a bit daunting, making a move to a new place to do something that you may have little, or in my case, no experience doing! I'd taken my TESOL course, and had done my practice teaching with ESL students, but I was still nervous. However, it's kind of like riding a bike -- except your teaching English!

For me, CETP has been a great experience. While the fee isn't exactly cheap, the fact that housing is included, as well as health insurance, helps offset the cost (at least, it did for me in my rationalizing). The program director here in Hungary has been there for me whenever I had an issue, whether it's being sick or dealing with some paperwork (although calling is definitely more reliable than trying to get a hold of her via email). Also, the bureaucracy of Hungary can be very agonizing at times, but at least when it comes to initial paperwork, CETP and my school have been able to take care of it all so any issues were resolved.

As for teaching itself, I've had such an amazing time at my school that I still haven't left! Teaching at a primary school was frightening to think about, because these kids probably will have little or no English experience whatsoever, so how will I teach them a language when I can't communicate with them in Hungarian? And yet, somehow it works. It's a very rewarding job because at the end of the lesson, getting to hear them use new words that they didn't know 45 minutes before is awesome. One of my biggest problems, even now, is some behavior issues -- mostly talking, and talking in Hungarian more than I'd like. Granted, I work with younger kids, so it can be hard when they can't say complex sentences, but it is still frustrating.

For the most part, my school is pretty equipped with all the materials I need, but I can't say the same for every school. I've heard of other schools not being able to afford books, etc., but it just depends. Even so, I think most teachers here have found a way around any issues and still teach great lessons.

Typically, you'll have a pair teacher or teachers that you work with, and they can help you with lessons or ideas as needed, too. It's been very warm and welcoming at my school, which makes for a much more pleasant teaching experience!

I definitely lucked out with being in Budapest to teach, but I've heard plenty of people have excellent experiences in other cities around Hungary. It's not a big country, so traveling around is also very easy (and not too time consuming!). The food is great, the culture is vibrant, and there's always a festival going on...somewhere! I will warn that it's a very meat and potatoes kind of place, but I know several vegetarians that survive the food here, even at restaurants. Hungarian food is delicious, flavorful...but sometimes a little fatty. Still, I never tire of going out for Hungarian food!

If you're up for an adventure, and have an interest -- especially traveling around Eastern Europe, because it's so easy to get around (and affordable) -- working with CETP, in my opinion, is a good way to do it. The salary you make is enough to enjoy life and travel -- but by no means is it anywhere near what you'd be making in China or Korea, for example. If you're okay with that, then it shouldn't be a problem! There are also plenty of opportunities to find private students to supplement your paycheck!

Yes, I recommend this program

About Central European Teaching Program

CETP exists to benefit young people in the formerly socialist countries of Central Europe by providing public schools in the region with native-speaking English teachers.