Teaching Perks

Sometimes, there are perks to being a teacher that go beyond the salary or benefits offered by the institution. This is a note I received from a former student who I gave some help and advice to when he sought me out. Names have been omitted for privacy.

Dear Dr James,

I feel a bit ashamed for not having written to you since you helped me with your recommendation but I wanted to wait some time before I give you some feedback on what it’s like being on the other side of the world.

As you know I have applied to the Screenwriting MA program of Georgia State University and was accepted which made me really happy but also anxious about what life would be like. I was working in the corporate sector for 1.5 years after graduating from ELTE and I was worried what it would be like to return to school. I remember reading your blog and your bad experience with the “new generation”, the Bologna process students. My friend G.H. who was actually in one of your classes told me about how, um, different the attitude and abilities of current students are.

So I took care of the paperwork, and flew for the first time over to the US. What a different experience. My first few days were great, then a number of bad things happened but I eventually survived. Money is, unfortunately, a new factor. As my first degrees were practically almost free in Hungary, facing the financial toll caused a bit of an emotional crisis but my parents’ emotional support helped me through.

My first semester was actually pretty bad: my classes were mostly theory based, and the “old school” style of most ELTE professors did teach me to hate theory. I also had a job at international admissions (as international students can’t have jobs outside campus) but that also was pretty frustrating.

It’s all different now. I have two production classes, one on acting/directing and one on screenwriting plus I have a job at the school’s studio so life has definitely gotten better. I’m producing my own web-based sitcom and that also has its challenges but at least I’m doing something worthwhile. Also, as part of a school project I’m working on a gay-themed series with a group of fellow students. Unfortunately, the group suffers from the same flaws as what you experienced, a lack of enthusiasm and work ethic, but all in all, I think I’m headed towards something good.

How about you? How’s ELTE and Hungary treating you?

Again, I’d like to thank you for the help you’ve given not only with the recommendation letter but also with helping me create my CV – I’m still using the same document, updating in once there’s something new to add!

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