How Does An American End Up Teaching In Hungary? Part 1: My Motivation

Ever since I started telling my friends and family that I was thinking of moving to Hungary, I began to hear the same old questions. What? Why Hungary? Where will you be? You're not a teacher, what do you mean you're going to be teaching? Teaching what? How did you find that job? How long will you be there? Can I have your X-Box?

I'll try, now, to explain all of this.

Lets start with my motivation. I studied Business at the University of Colorado. During my studies, I spent a semester in Brussels, Belgium. It was my first time out of North America, and it was a real rush. I loved Europe. I loved learning about new cultures. Most of all, I loved the absolute challenge of everyday life. Nothing was a guarantee anymore. Need to buy toilet paper? Good luck, try saying that in a language you don't speak.

After returning home, I still had that itch to travel. I made it back to Brussels the next summer for an internship. It was very different. This time, I didn't have a group of Americans around me. I struggled to find my way and make friends. Eventually, I was successful and felt even more satisfaction than I did the first time.

Then I went home again. I graduated in December of 2008, into a glorious unemployment market. "Real jobs", as many call them, were not easy to come by. I, and many of my recent graduate friends, struggled to find something, anything. Many were putting their diplomas to good use at restaurants and landscaping services - not exactly what we had in mind during those endless nights of studying.

Occasionally I would hear about another one of my friends living overseas and having a great time. What were they doing? Teaching English. "That sounds lame," I thought.

But, I would learn through e-mail that they loved it. Willing to research any job prospect, I began to look into it. It seems that it's very easy for an American to get an English teaching job in Asia. It can be done in many other parts of the world, but that's the simplest continent.

Sounds cool, but I don't really want to move to Asia. I'd like to go back to Europe, is that possible? Yes, but difficult. Since people from the British Isles hold EU passports, they can work freely in other European Union countries. With this as an option, most schools don't want to hassle with the visa process for an American.

After much research, I found an organization that places teachers in Hungary. It sounded cool, but I still wasn't sure if I wanted to teach. The idea went to the backburner.

I found temporary jobs, but never anything that would stick around for the long term. Fortunately, I have generous parents who were willing to take me into their home. I wasn't living under a bridge, but I was required to keep a room clean. It almost balanced out.

Putting my accounting degree to good use, I got a job preparing tax returns. I spent my days explaining tax laws and socializing with customers. It could be fun, except I hated 99% of the people. They were firm believers that the customer is always right. That means I must be wrong. And, I charged too much. "I could do this at home for free." If that was true, why didn't they?

One day something clicked in my mind. Taxes were sucking the life out of me. I need to do something cool. Something that I'll enjoy even if I hate my job.

I remembered the Central European Teaching Program and made an impulse decision to move across the world. I refused to allow myself to change my mind.

The people at the library grew used to me checking out guide books and language learning tools by the dozen. They kept telling me to travel while I'm young. It gave me confidence.

My friends gave a mixture of being happy for me, or anger because I'm leaving. My parents grew to accept it. My poor dogs had no idea. They're so angry they won't even return my e-mails.

That's what made me decide to come here, but how did I arrange it all?

To be continued...