Month: May 2017

Costa Rica Places!

I graduated from my Tefl course last Friday. I was a great experience. I am glad I made the trip to down to take the course. The last week my fiancé and I traveled around Costa Rica exploring and applying for jobs. Let me tell you about the places we visited and what I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about the places.

The first place we went was Isla Tortuga. We went through Calypso Cruises. The company picked us, along with other people up from San Jose and drove us to Punta Arenas, where we had breakfast. The breakfast was a typical Costa Rican dish, Gallo Pinto. After breakfast we boarded the catamaran boat and headed for Isla Tortuga. It is about an hour and half boat ride. They served fresh fruits and drinks. We could drink free water and soda, everything else we had to pay for. It was a nice ride. We sat on the netting on the bow and took in the breeze. They had music and  a pool for your feet on

isla torgua
Isla Tortuga

the boat as well. Once we got to the Isla we had a few minutes to get ready for a snorkeling tour. Everyone who wanted to go boarded boats to the middle of the water. They gave us snorkeling equipment and let us go. We snorkeled around the area and saw lots of beautiful fish. The fish were so close we could touch them. Apparently, there was a ship wreck we could see if we had went over to that side of the snorkeling area. We had about 45 minutes to explore before heading back for lunch. Lunch was a four course meal consisting of ceviche, chicken, salad, and dessert. I had the vegetarian option which was a plantain ceviche, a bean mixture, salad, and dessert. After that we had plenty of time to enjoy the beach. I was not a huge fan of the beach. I have been to nicer beaches so for me this is a one-time trip.  The boat then took us back to Punta Arenas where we got our ride back to San Jose. The boat ride home was very rainy. There was an amazing thunderstorm that lasted the whole ride back. It was amazing to see the lightening and the rain on the water.

The next place we went to was Monte Verde. This is one of my favorite places in Costabird monteverde Rica. It is up a dirt and rock road in the mountains. It is amazing to be in the cloud rainforest. It rained a lot while we were there which I love because the sound and rain is a wonderful thing here. We stayed right in town near our favorite places to eat. We love Stella’s Bakery and this little restaurant in the back of the co-op that were right next to our little apartment. We spent our time at the cloud rainforest reserve with our amazing tour guide. We saw two kinds of monkeys, the howler and the spider monkeys. We also saw the most magnificent bird! I don’t remember the name. (see the picture to the right) Our guide told us a great deal of things about the rainforest and the different flora and fauna. He was a Quaker born in Costa Rica. His father actually did a lot for the cloud rainforest. They built a bridge dedicated to his father.

Playa Ocotal is tied as my number one beach in Costa Rica thus far. It is a black and white sand beach not far from Playa del Coco. There is a really great restaurant right on the beach called Father Rooster. They have good cocktails, smoothies, and food. I have been here twice and both times I was not let down. The beach has some amazing soft

sand. The water is so clear and calm, it makes for a relaxing time in the water. There are some volcanic rocks that have pools you can sit in and relax. The sunset is an amazing one as well. It is a quiet beach with not many people. I really enjoy this type of beach. It is a MUST SEE!

conchal
Playa Conchal

Playa Conchal is the other beach that is tied for number one. It has really clear water, seashells for sand, and massages right on the beach. It is more of a popular beach which makes it busier. The water is great for snorkeling around and the seashells are great for finding the perfect ones. Since it is more touristy there are people all over the place trying to sell you beach chairs, massages, drinks, and whatever else they have that day. Again, a MUST SEE!

We stayed at a AirBnB between Samara and Nosara. We slept in a tent that had electricity and a fan. The family that owns the AirBnB were amazing. They had a little child that loved to play in the mud and explore the grounds. The lady was a wonderful baker.

camping
Our tent

She made some amazing bread that we had for breakfast. I would recommend staying there if you like peace, quiet, and the outdoors.  It was a quiet place with very little tourist. The roads to get there were dirt and rock. Sometimes you had to drive thru a small stream to keep going. We took a trip to Samara while we were there. I was not a huge fan. The water was not clear at all and it was very rough. Samara would be a great place if you love to surf.

barco
Playa Barco Quebrado

We went body boarding while we were there and it was a ton of fun. I could only imagine how great surfing would be.

We briefly stopped at other beaches such as Tamarindo, Playa Barco Quebrado, Playa Garza, and Playa Barrigona. I like the town of Tamarindo. It was a tourist town that had some life. The water seemed to be similar to Samara. The other three beaches I did not like at all. They were dirty and reminded me of beaches similar to Ocean City in Maryland. I came to Costa Rica for nice beaches so these were low on my list.

There are still plenty more beaches, volcanoes, and rainforests I have to explore. Hopefully over the next year while teaching I will be able to explore more. As I explore I will post some reviews!

Falling into Place

It has been an adventure of trusting myself. From the beginning, I have been taking risks and seeing what time brings. Since I quit my job back in February things have been falling into place. Once I quit my job, I started looking for other options. I had plenty of job offers from babysitting to teaching pre-kindergarten. Nothing seemed like the right fit. Since coming to Costa Rica last year I knew I was bound to go back and work there. Something told me to look into getting my TEFL certification. I looked at the prices and the options. After talking with my fiancé, I decided to make it happen. I gave myself 45 days to get ready for the next step in trusting myself. I made the decision to go and nothing was stopping me except my passport. So, I sent my passport in for a name change back to my maiden name. Since it was a month away I wasn’t going to work because why work for such a short time. The next day an old employer sent me a text asking how my job search was going. I told her I was moving to Costa Rica and stopped looking for jobs.  She asked me if I could work for them again until I left. Since they were moving in a few months it was perfect for them. It was a blessing to work for them for the short time before I left. Everything was falling into place. I got my passport back two weeks later and applied to the course.

 

I wanted to stay in Costa Rica for 6 months when I first decided to go. It has since changed to an undetermined time. I fell in love with Monteverde last year when we came, so I looked up schools I could work for. I found the Friends School to be the only one that I am qualified for in the area. After doing research I fell in love with the school. I wasn’t going to apply because it is a two year commitment. After going within myself, I realized I can’t sell myself short. I need to try. This school became my number one school for employment.

 

During the tefl course I was able to see some other schools and received a job offer from a school in Liberia. I drove to Liberia Costa Rica to see if I liked the place. I do like Liberia. I just didn’t find the school to be the right fit for me. I contacted the Friends School and they told me that there was a possible position depending on the teacher. I told them I would come by after my course ended. I sent them an email a week after speaking with them to thank them for their time and the dates I would be coming. I never looked at other schools because I really want this one.

 

I passed my course and now I am in Monteverde. I went by the school to get a tour and reiterate how much I would love to work there. The teacher who I would replace has some medical issues the directors are worried about. She left school early today while we were there for medical reasons. They offered the schools apartment for us to use while we are in town. I am staying in town until Thursday at the earliest. They directors told us to come to their end of the school year meetings Wednesday morning and hopefully we can speak after about the position. If he gets busy we will speak on Thursday.

 

This is a true test of listening to myself. I fell that his place is where I am supposed to be. I feel at home here for so many reasons. It a small quiet town. It has lots of hiking trails for exercise. It’s in the mountain so the temperature is perfect. The school is a Quaker school with great ties to the community. They do a lot of volunteering in the neighborhood which is fantastic. It is perfect for my growth and where I am headed.

 

I will be patient and trust that things will fall into place the way they are supposed to. I will live for the now and the right things will fall into place. 18644694_10213368932117405_483205279_n

Pura Vida

I finished my course. I am now certified to teach English. My final grades were A’s. The course was absolutely amazing! If you ever want to learn to teach English as a foreign language TESOL Costa Rica is the place to go. Melanie and Luke are amazing teachers. They prepare you to succeed. They give you help and guidance. I came away with so many games, fillers, and fun activities to use in the classroom. It is by means not an easy course. I can guarantee, you will be far more prepared leaving this course than you would taking it online. I am so happy I made the choice to come here to take the course.

I am off to find a job now. I would like a teaching job where I teach children in a normal school setting. I don’t want to teach English in a language school if I don’t have too. I am looking in the Monteverde area as well as Guanacaste.  Since I am looking for a particular type of school I have limited options. I do have plenty of experience from home so hopefully I won’t have a problem.

My fiancé came two days ago to spend time with me and help me find the right school. We also plan to scout out wedding venues while we are here. It will be a busy week! So far we have gone to Isla Tortuga and La Paz Waterfall and Gardens. We took a catamaran to Isla Tortuga which was super fun. It was a huge boat with 83 people on board not including the staff. They served fresh fruit and drinks while onboard. Once we got to the island they provided a snorkeling adventure. We took another boat out farther in the water. It was a great spot to snorkel. A sunken ship and lots of fish! When we got back to the beach they had a four course meal ready and waiting for us. After lunch we had plenty of time to swim. It was fun. I would have explored the island more if we could. Since the island is protected you have to stay on the beach. I am not sure I would visit again. It’s a great one time thing. Beautiful place, it just needs more to do.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens is really nice. I have been twice now. They have a butterfly garden, a toucan house, waterfalls, and lunch. It is nice to go with a guide rather than the self guided tour. You get more information with the guide. I had a guide the first time and learned a lot. This place is near Poas Volcano. Since the volcano is erupting I was having eye issues. If you go and you wear contacts do not wear them. You can mess up your contacts from the ash in the air. I made this mistake the first time. I learned the second time and wore my glasses. I am so glad I did because the ash this time was bad.

We are off to Monteverde tomorrow to explore and try to convince my favorite school to hire me! More to come soon! Pura Vida! “Dare to live the life you’ve always wanted”

What is Culture Shock?

There are many myths about culture shock. I want to explain some of them so everyone can truly understand what culture shock is. It is important to understand what culture shock is so that when it happens to you, you can take the right steps to overcoming it.

Myth #1 Culture Shock happens all at once.

Fact #1 Culture Shock happens slowly and gradually. What happens is your defenses are weakened until it is at zero.

Myth #2 Culture Shock is noticing difference. Example: “I almost got hit by a car today. What a culture shock it is to walk across the streets in Costa Rica.”

Fact #2 Culture Shock is you going crazy. When you have a mental breakdown due to the weakened defenses of being in another country.

Myth #3 Culture Shock can happen on a one week vacation.

Fact #3 You must live in a country for a long period to experience culture shock. It can take weeks or a few months for this to take place. It depends on your situation and environment.

Myth #4 It won’t happen to me.

Myth #4 Culture Shock happens to everyone.

I realize I am going through Culture Shock right now. It has been coming on slowly and I know it is not completely here yet. I can feel the stress of finding a job, finishing assignments, and meeting new people weighing down on me. I love the course I am taking. I know it is preparing me for what will come. Although, the work load is intense. I have lesson plans, quizzes, assignments, and lecture. This course should be done in 6 weeks instead of 4 weeks.

The stress of choosing a job is huge. There is a school that I want over any school here. They are waiting for the current teacher to decide whether she will be staying or leaving. This is stressful because I got another job offer that would be a good fit, not the perfect fit though. I don’t want to lose this job offer waiting for the other school to decide. Letting go and trusting my intuition is a hard thing to do. If I just let go and listened to my intuition I would have less stress. My defenses wouldn’t be breaking down as quickly.

 

There are different phases of culture shock: the honeymoon, the frustration stage, the adjustment stage, and the acceptance stage.

The Honeymoon Stage:

This stage happens when you first get to a new country. It is the positive and excited stage. When I got to Costa Rica I was full of excitement and energy. I was in awe of all the differences between the US and here. It was wonder and exhilaration. like any thing else this stage can eventually go away.

The Frustration Stage:

This is the stage I am in right now. It is also the most difficult stage from what I have read. This is the stage where small things begin to get to you. For me, it is the people in my class and not having an answer from one of the schools. I am frustrated with not feeling 100%. I have had headache and body aches the last few days. I do not cope well when I am sick. I don’t miss home. I really like it here. I just want to get started with getting into a routine and having a job. It is frustrating not being able to plan ahead for things like housing.

The Adjustment Stage:

I want to get to this stage. I want to begin adjusting. I want to find a permanent place to stay. I want to start taking Spanish classes to improve my Spanish. I want to be able to make friends that are along the same wave length as I am. I want to figure out where I will be so I can figure out how to navigate around the new place.

The Acceptance Stage:

This stage can come weeks, months, or even years after dealing with frustration. This is the final stage. It is about accepting and adapting to a new way of life. You have to build a new foundation of how to deal with the different things that will come at you when you are some place new. I am use to having my monthly trips to IHP. I am used to having my girlfriend’s to hang out with and bounce Ideas off of. I am used to having my fiancé be there to comfort me and show me it is going to be okay. I have some of this because I can easily call or text home.  I have to accept that things are different here and it will take time to create new relationships and stress relievers for myself.

culture shock

One thing I have learned is that we have the choice to determine how long this process takes. We are the only ones who can do the work to get through the different stages. We have the choice to take care of ourselves and give ourselves the space to look at the emotions. Looking at the emotions and the thoughts that are raging through our bodies is our choice. The sooner we look at them and come to accept that they are there, the sooner we will get through the stages. Patience is the number one thing we need because it won’t happen overnight. Although, we can make sure it doesn’t take years or months. We can make sure that we stay positive and love ourselves though the different stages. It won’t last forever. And life does become normal again.

accept

Host Family

Hey All!

I want to tell you about my experience living with a host family for the last few weeks. It is absolutely the best experience one could have! Every

host family is different so you may not have the same accommodations and situations as I do. Here are some things that took some getting used to for me.

  1. They cook every meal for you. My host mom has done all the cooking for me since I have been here. She enjoys doing this for me. She tells me all the time she is happy I like everything she makes. I also enjoy this because I can focus on my studies and get to enjoy Costa Rican cooking. She makes some really good food. One of my favorites is a Costa Rican green bean fried with an egg. Who knew green beans and eggs would be so good together. She also makes me fresh juice every day!
  2. They do your laundry. My host mom does my laundry every week. Again, this is helpful because I can focus on my studies. I will come home and my laundry will be folded on my bed ready for me to put them away. The funny thing about this is she fell in love with my laundry detergent. Costa Rican laundry detergent is very harsh on your clothes. It can fade your clothes in one wash! I used their detergent last time I was here so this time I brought my own. It is Molly Suds, very natural and gentle on clothes. My host mom has requested my fiancé bring her some when he comes next week because she likes it so much.
  3. Taking quick showers. Since most homes use solar power or suicide showers you have to take a quick shower so that there is hot water for everyone else. My host family is a wealth family so they have a solar powered heater for their shower.
    shower
    electric shower aka suicide shower

    Other people in more course do not. They have a suicide shower or electric shower head. There are wires going to the shower head. These wires heat the water as it is leaving the shower head. I have used one before and they are scary looking.

I was told by my school that many of their host families do your laundry and cooking because they are afraid you will break something such as the stove or washing machine. I don’t mind because I have more time for school work and other things.

Here are somethings that I love about staying with a host family.

  1. They have the best recommendations. My host mother has helped me find the best places to go shopping and getting things done. I needed a small purse and some rainboots. She helped me find the perfect purse and rainboots. There are some clothing stores here in Barva yet the best place to go for shopping is in Heredia. It is about a 20 minute bus ride away. I found a cute purse from Payless shoes and
    IMG_4021
    my purse from Payless

    rainboots at a local store. I also wanted to get a pedicure. There is only one spot in Barva that does them. I wanted to make sure they were good. She said they were. She also said they her sister in law does pedicures at home. She called to ask her sister in law. Since she was busy she said to go to the place in town. The place doesn’t compare to the US yet they did a great job so I cannot complain.

  2. They are native speakers. I was setting up my Costa Rican cell phone and kept getting a message. I had no clue what it was says so I asked my host mom to listen and tell me what I needed to do. Then she told me the best place to get minutes added to my phone was in town. This happened to be the Mega Super grocery store. Since my host mom came with me shopping it made it easier for her to talk with the employees about what I was looking for. It made the shopping experiences go faster because I didn’t have to rely on google translate and hand gestures.

Everyone has different experiences with host families. I have heard stories about the most wonderful experiences and the worst experiences. The first week I was with my host family I was the only one here. During my second week, I came home and there was a guy in the other room. I found my host mom and she explained to me that he was studying at the University. He needed to leave his old home stay for reasons that were not fully explained to me. I do know that the environment in which he was living was hostile. He is much happier here and I like having someone who speaks good English and good Spanish to talk to.

With all that said, you should try staying with a host family when traveling abroad for a long period of time. You could stay with a host family for a short time just to get the experience. That is what I plan on doing. Once school is done and I find a job I want my own apartment.

It is a great experience in many ways. You definitely do not want to miss out on the opportunity. Some schools provide them for their students as a cheap option and others do not. There is a website called homestay.com that provides this opportunity for people. I have never used it. I do know some people who have.

Get out there and explore!

You’ll Never Know

I have been in Costa Rica learning how to teach English to non-native English speakers. The experience is eye opening. It feels surreal. Some days, I wake up and go about my day like any other day. Most days, I wake up getting ready like normal. Once I leave the house I am awoken to a different environment from what I’m used to. There are many things the same. I see grocery stores, clothing stores, and people going about their business. It’s not the same as back home even though it seems similar. I don’t know the language well enough to go out without google translate. I can’t walk across the street knowing the cars will stop for me. Here pedestrians do not have the right of way. The weather is pretty much the same every day. I know what will happen with the weather so there’s no need to check my weather app. If I want to get some where I either walk or take the bus. I have never taken the bus while in the states.

I have learned that life abroad is precious. Life abroad is an experience that not everyone gets to experience. There are things that stop people from taking the leap. For me, I didn’t want to take the leap because of money, or leaving my fiancé. I didn’t want to be put in some of the situations I have been in since being here. This included not being able to communicate with others. I didn’t want to have to try to make new friends.

I have been here for a little over a week. In this time, I see the knowledge and growth that takes place when someone is living abroad. It is enriching and inspiring to make little strides I have made in so little time. I was able to communicate with my host mom today with little use of google translate. I was able to make copies and buy paper clips at the local art supply store with no help. The feeling of being able to accomplish something so little has a huge impact on self-confidence in other areas. I have a skype interview on Thursday with a school in Liberia, Costa Rica. It is not one of my tops schools. I feel confident in being able to find the perfect position at the right school. I am excited to see where this interview takes me.

perfect life