Life After Teaching Abroad in Hungary

It all began in December 2012 as I was approaching graduation from University of North Carolina-­Asheville with my Bachelor’s in Health & Wellness Promotion. Not knowing for certain what I wanted to do with my life was a bit terrifying. A new life without finals, essays and exams was a strange transition.

A few months after graduation, I was working at my family’s business as the Worksite Wellness Director. It was all well, especially as a fresh new grad, but I was longing for a new adventure. I finally built up the courage to get in contact with ITA. Doug was my advisor and made a huge impact on my decision to begin the ITA Online TEFL Course. At that point, I still wasn’t certain if moving abroad was the right decision.

I knew I wanted to be in Budapest, Hungary, since my husband was from Hungary and I had my mom’s side of the family in Hungary too. I also wanted to test out teaching English in Hungary and see if that’s where we could live permanently and raise a family one day. My husband had graduated from medical school a few years prior and moved to the US to be with me (that’s a whole other story in itself!) so I knew he could work in the hospital as a doctor.

The whole process happened so quickly. In July 2013, I came across a job board with a company called CETP advertising for teaching jobs in Hungary. I emailed them but with little hope, seeing that the school year would begin in just two months. They quickly emailed me back, set up an interview (I’ll never forget how nervous I was!), and before I knew it, I was booking plane tickets to leave for Budapest on August 28th.
Ah, the stress of packing everything you own.

August 28th quickly came. I was incredibly scared of what was to come...especially since I had no experience teaching high schoolers. There were probably two or three times where I almost canceled and called the whole trip off. Thank God I didn’t. Hungary, while it was extremely challenging, changed my life. And here’s why (don’t worry, I’m getting to the post-­teaching experience soon!):

1. It helped me embrace the various challenges that came.
2. It gave me a strong sense of courage.
3. It truly let me live-­out my Hungarian roots and experience life abroad.
4. It made me open up and step outside of my comfort zone.
5. It gave me a heart full of gratitude, compassion and patience (trust me, you need to have patience when dealing with pre-­teen/teen aged students.)
6. It gave me life-­long relationships with a few fellow colleagues and with my beautiful & wonderful students, whom I’ll never forget.
7. It allowed me to travel to places that I had always dreamt of (Austria, Slovenia & Italy)

Now to the fun part that every person teaching abroad wonders:, what happens after you move back?
Moving back to Asheville was not an easy decision. I wanted to stay and be at my school with my kids another year, but the idea of staying there permanently kind of terrified me. It very well may be different for you, but I want to raise my future kids around my close family in America. I knew that we needed to get back and begin building a foundation here in Asheville.
I began applying for jobs in Asheville two months before moving back. I was determined to move back and begin working. That didn’t go as planned. It took about two months after we moved back before I landed a part-­time job as an Office Manager. I definitely believe that my experience abroad help me land my current job. Here are a few examples of questions and answers from my interview specifically about my time abroad:

Q: So, tell me about your experience abroad? How can you use that experience with this position?
A: Teaching in Budapest was by far the most courageous and positively growing experience for me. Not only did I have to sort of ‘train’ myself to teach and learn how to manage 22 classes per week, but it opened my eyes to people of various cultures and languages. I had to prepare most of my own lessons (if I wasn’t teaching out of the book to my beginner classes) and use creative ideas to make my classes fun, exciting and interesting. I learned how to be extremely organized and become an effective time-­manager.

Q: What was the most challenging part?
A: Aside teaching 22 classes a week (yes, that’s right, 22 classes per week with about 100 students total), and learning classroom management, the language was by far the most difficult part. Yes, I had an advantage because I’m married to a Hungarian and am half-­Hungarian, but my Hungarian initially was terrible. I learned to take that challenging language-­barrier and create it into a positive challenge. I took private Hungarian lessons and by the end of the year, I was able to teach a lesson for 20 minutes in just Hungarian.

Shortly after landing my job, I got involved with an online teaching company based in Beijing, China, and began teaching English to Chinese children based in China. It feels so wonderful to be teaching again. (If you’re interested in this job, feel free to email me!)

Teaching abroad sets you up to a world-­wide variety of opportunities. Being a world-­traveler and developing into a more well-­rounded world-­citizen, is one of the greatest things you can do in life. You just have to push hard and not give up -­ especially when you move back home and it seems like forever before you get a job. You have to be diligent and persistent in your job-­searching and stay positive.

When you can’t seem to find a job quick enough, stay active. Buy a planner and keep yourself busy. Laying around and feeling self-­pity will only harm yourself. Also, never stop learning. Since I have moved back to Asheville, I began learning German and continued with studying Hungarian. Find someone you can share your struggles with and will help pull you back up when you’re feeling down. Thankfully, my husband is incredibly supportive and has always been my biggest cheerleader. Cherish your memories abroad and continue to travel, whether near or far distanced and experience new adventures.
Home sweet home.

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