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LGBTQ&A: Teaching English in Hungary with Caitlyn
Written by: Caitlyn
Last Updated: April 22, 2021
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
Where are you from?
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Taught English abroad previously
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
England, Germany, Croatia, Poland, Australia
Please tell us about yourself.
I'm 27 years old with a Bachelor's in English with an emphasis in writing. I enjoy things like writing, volleyball, and travelling. I also adore cats, and have gotten one of my own since moving abroad. His name is Noiz, he's a black shorthair and he's three-years-old.
What sparked your interest in teaching English abroad?
I've wanted to be an English teacher since I was 11-years-old. I had phenomenal English teachers in middle and high school, and I wanted to be just like them. It didn't really come to me that I should try teaching abroad until I graduated with my bachelor's degree. It was an opportunity to see the world, and a chance to move myself closer to my girlfriend at the time.
CHOOSING WHERE TO TEACH ENGLISH ABROAD
Which country did you decide to teach English in?
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad? Were they supportive, apprehensive, excited, concerned, etc.?
The most supportive of me moving were my friends; they thought it was a great opportunity for me to travel and put myself out there. I would say that my parents were a mix of apprehensive and supportive; they wanted me to live my life to the fullest, but the realization that I would be far away from home was something they were on the fence about. They've seemed to come around on the idea, and as my contract is coming up and I am looking for another job, they're more accepting that I will probably move straight from one country to the other if I can. Of course, some of my other relatives has told me ever since I've moved that they want me to come back, but I'm not sure that's something I really want for myself.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
My main external concern was finances and expenses. It's still a really big issue for me, but I think what helped make it less of an issue was learning more about money management along the way. I would say my main internal concern was wondering if I was going to run into problems and unsafe situations since I was part of the LGBT+ community. That potential for danger scared me far more than any money problem ever could.
What resources did you find helpful when deciding where to go?
My strategy for finding a job was just emailing for every advertisement I thought I qualified for and then hoping for a response, and I got the majority of my ads from Teaching House and i-to-i TEFL's job board. I also found a lot of ESL blogs that were really helpful as they gave me a peek into a country that I was looking for. Finally, I also referred to the ITA's job handbook quite a bit; it really helped when trying to narrow things down.
THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY IN HUNGARY
Please give your thoughts on dating abroad.
It was tricky, but I was willing to put in the stuff to make it work. Distance becomes a big problem, and even though I'd eliminated a good 3,000 miles by moving there was still another 1,000 to go, and it didn't make things any easier.
Was there anything about being a member of the LGBTQ+ community abroad that was unexpected?
Moving here, the mixed reactions were really something that threw me for a loop. As a conservative nation, I was expecting people I told to automatically write me off, so I just didn't talk about those sorts of things unless someone asked. When it did come up, I was really surprised to see people were actually okay with how I live my life.
Did being a member of the LGBTQ+ community have an impact on where you decided to teach English? If yes, how so?
Yes, it did. When looking at countries I had to consider where I had heard the least amount of bad news concerning the community, and I often looked up laws to see if there was anything explicit about being part of the LGBTQ+ that could get me into trouble. Hungary is not the friendliest with its laws, but I feel that while they're not the warmest, they are far from hostile, and most people just don't really care.
Did you come out while living abroad? If so, how did your host country and experience influence that decision?
I came out while still living in the US, though below is something about me coming out to my coworkers.
Tell us about finding your community abroad
Unfortunately I work so much I don't get a chance to connect with people in general, let alone members of the LGBTQ+ community.
What were some of your most memorable experiences teaching English abroad?
It definitely has been watching kids that I've taught since they were small learn more and more. That feeling of pride when I hear students talk in full sentences they couldn't say three months ago or watching their faces light up as they're instantly able to recognise a concept gives me a great deal of pride that I wouldn't trade for anything.
Did you have any difficult conversations abroad? If so, would you mind sharing?
When the girlfriend I had moved to Europe for broke up with me, it was very hard to deal with. Until then I hadn't come out to anyone at work as I saw it as something that didn't affect them, so they didn't need to know. But it was all very hard to hold in after everything that had happened, and I ended up caving and sobbing in front of everyone. It was hard, but I found my coworkers and my employers were understanding and compassionate.
Did you find that locals had any stereotypes? Or did you have any stereotypes about locals?
Can't say I've run into stereotypes myself, nor can I say that I've had stereotypes about people living here.
Were there any cultural boundaries you found to be different than your home country? If so, please explain.
Before I arrived in 2015, Parliament had passed a law forbidding businesses to be open on Sunday. I hated it because Sunday was when I had free time to do my shopping. Enough Hungarians complained though, so they removed the law. Hungary also has this rule that if one of their holidays falls on a Tuesday or Thursday then they'll work and go to school an extra Saturday so they can get that Monday or Friday off as well. I can see the point to it; they don't like taking the students out for one day and then going to class the next day and then it's the weekend again, but I absolutely hate working Saturdays. They cut into my private lessons and just mess my schedule up completely. Maybe if I weren't a teacher and I had to work Saturdays regardless, I wouldn't hate them so much, but I feel like the government taking a part of my weekend to give an extra day for the holiday is not worth it. Also, I have a feeling the students don't like it either and it just makes them bitter.
What are your thoughts on safety in your host country abroad, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community?
As I said earlier, Hungary has some interesting LGBTQ+ laws. They're not good, but they're not bad either. I feel very safe overall.
Have you participated in any pride celebrations abroad? If so, please tell is about them.
When I was dating my girlfriend I went to the Birmingham Pride Festival with her. It was a lot of fun, we just walked around and did some dancing and had a good time. It was more about spending time with her, so I was more focused on that at the time.
Have you had any weird and/or funny questions from locals?
Mainly if I voted for Trump. Recently I've had a lot of people ask me why I would ever want to leave the US.
Do you have any advice for people planning to move to this country/move abroad?
Hungarian is an extremely hard language to learn, but knowing a little bit goes a long way. If you can just say "thank you" or even ask for a bus ticket in their language they'll be more lenient towards you as a foreigner. Hungarians are wonderfully loving and compassionate people, yet they often first come across as aloof and uncaring. This is from years of being invaded and wary of foreigners, so don't let that discourage you.
Do you have anything else you'd like to share? If so, please feel free to write that here.
The food here is excellent. If you don't want to teach here, then you should at least come visit if you're able to. Hungary should definitely be on more people's bucket lists as it is an amazing country.
Caitlyn is from Wisconsin and took ITA's Online TEFL Course. She then made the move to teach English in Hungary.
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