Posted 01/14/2019

Costa Rica Teaching Q&A With Maya

Costa Rica Teaching Q&A With Maya

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF

What is your citizenship?

United States of America

What city and state are you from?

Flagstaff, Arizona

How old are you?

20

What is your education level and background?

High School diploma, I’m a student of the world!

Have you traveled abroad in the past?

No

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?

I was brainstorming ways I could live in a Latin American country to practice my Spanish while being able to make a living and take on-line courses for college. My aunt sent me a link to the ITA school and we both decided to move to Costa Rica to take the course. I have a passion for teaching and learning so I knew this was the perfect opportunity to flourish and learn a new language. Having freedom to pursue my desires yet still making a living and accomplishing my goals were all factors that made teaching abroad a very appealing option.

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?

I was mainly concerned about being so far away from family. It’s still hard but it makes it worth it when they’re able to come visit me! Every time I see them it’s even more special than the last time. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?

They were all very excited! I’ve never lived away from home so everyone was a bit sad to see me go but they understood how much it means for me to be able to follow my dreams. I am very grateful to be surrounded by such supportive people.

TEFL CLASS INFORMATION

Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?

I researched many different TEFL schools and found that ITA offered the most support, had the best reviews, and was in the right location.

Which TEFL certification course did you take?

I did the course in February 2018 in Barva, Heredia, Costa Rica

How did you like the course?

I loved it! It was very helpful to have the guidance of my instructors and fellow teachers. I would not be the teacher I am without the ITA Barva school. I continually feel support from the ITA school whether its stopping by for a quick chat or joining in group alumni events I always enjoy my time!

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?

I always use the resources offered through the course when lesson planning, creating quizzes, teaching online, EVERYTHING!! I don’t think anyone could teach ESL effectively without going through a certification course. What's special about ITA is the community it builds. Even if you were certified under a different company the ITA community is welcoming and helpful for all English teachers! I really feel that I can rely on my fellow teachers to help me with anything I need.


TEACHING ABROAD IN COSTA RICA

Which city did you decide to teach English in and why?

I decided to say in the city I was certified in, Barva, Heredia, Costa Rica. The ITA school here has a small English school called Idiomas Mundiales where I work now. I live very close to the school and feel very at home even when I’m at the school. Originally, I wanted to work online and live by the beach but once I got offered the job at Idiomas Mundiales I knew I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work with such a great school. Barva is a great town in Costa Rica. Everything is within walking distance, there’s plenty of fresh markets, and the beach is only an hour bus ride away! There is also very accessible hiking trails all around so if I get tired of the city life, I’m a short bus ride from nature!


How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?

I have been here for eleven months and I currently have no plans to leave. I really enjoy my job, location, friends, and more!

What school, company, or program are you working for?

I work for Idiomas Mundiales

Do you have a work visa? If not, please elaborate on working without a work visa.

I don’t have a work visa. I am obligated to leave the country every 90 days which can be stressful at times. As long as I plan my classes ahead of time and give myself plenty of time to create sub plans it isn’t stressful. But it’s very important to save a little money each month so that you can enjoy your border run and go somewhere new! It’s an incredible opportunity to see more of Central/Latin America.


Tell us about your English teaching job.

I absolutely love my job! I teach 10 hours a week online and 4.5 hours a week in person. I love having the diversity of both jobs and my students are fantastic! For me, it is absolutely incredible to watch my students learn and grow in the English language. There is a lot of work to be done outside of the classroom with grading, lesson planning, creating assessments, and investing in your teaching skills but it is all worth it when I’m able to enjoy my job and learn as a teacher. I am able to work a 20 hour week (or less) make ends meet, travel, and enjoy my free-time pursuing my other passions. I also observe the new TEFL teachers going through the course and substitute for friends when needed. Having multiple forms of income is important for me so I can save up to go on more trips!

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?

I was very fortunate and had a very easy time finding housing. For the first ten months I stayed in a house I found through Airbnb with two other roommates. We had an incredible living situation and I didn’t have to buy any furniture, bedding, kitchen supplies, etc. Currently, one of my housemates is moving back to the States so I decided to move out so they could continue "air bnbing" the house out.

A co-worker and friend found a house very close to Idiomas Mundiales and we moved in yesterday! She found the house through one of the instructors here at the ITA school. His friend needed tenants and everything lined up perfectly. The house is furnished and everything has run smoothly. There is a great network of willingly helpful people within the TEFL world so it wasn’t hard for me to find housing.

COSTA RICA

Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, and travel opportunities in your country:

“Ticos/ticas,” as the call the Costa Rican people call themselves, are incredibly nice people. I definitely recommend making friends with as many "ticos" as possible because they LOVE to have fun, enjoy life, and travel. Plus they can show you things only a local would know about. It’s easy to get comfortable and surround yourself with the English community but, trust me, its worth it to immerse yourself into the culture you’re in, learn the language, eat the food, laugh, enjoy, love.

The buses here will take you anywhere in the country. But patience is key. Not everything goes as planned when traveling and “tico time” is a real thing. It’s very affordable to get around but you have to get lost a couple of times before fully understanding the public transportation. If you don’t like traffic, it may not be the best place for you but with global population rising, anywhere you go you’ll experience traffic jams. I rarely have to drive anywhere since I work so close to my school and it’s not necessary to have a car here.

Whether you like going out, dancing, staying in, or playing music, there is a place for everyone here! I enjoy a balance of everything and never find it hard to find something to do. There are many concerts, events, gatherings, and more! "ticos" love being social.

I love to cook so I was very important for me to learn how to make all the typical tico food. I cook everyday and it's very affordable and easy to buy food as long as you adapt to the way locals eat. I definitely have changed my food habits but I am learning to prepare new meals and still incorporating health and creativity into every meal. I also enjoy eating out from time to time and love getting recommendations from students!

I have many friends living abroad here that have found companionship with ticos or ticas. And many English teachers who have found love amongst English teachers. Anywhere you go you’re going to attract what you put out into the world.

The country is small but there are endless opportunities to travel! I have a huge list of places I’d love to visit in Costa Rica and I don’t think it’s possible to check off every single place before I leave. If you like nature and animals, this is the place for you!

What are your monthly expenses?

I haven’t been very attentive with this but I’d say I roughly make $600 a month. My rent is $200 a month, I spend $100-$200 a month on groceries (depending on how crazy I get in the kitchen), and the rest can be spent on going out, going to the beach, sweets, beer, activities, transportation, etc. I often like to bake, try new recipes, feed my friends etc., so groceries are my highest expense other than rent.

Luckily, I have no other bills or debt to worry about so if that’s the case for you, make sure you have extra work online to supplement your needs. I have friends who are paying off their student loans and working abroad, anything is possible!

How would you describe your standard of living?

Great! I don’t think it would be possible for me to work 20 hours a week, pay rent, enjoy life, eat amazing food, travel, have an amazing house, and have endless opportunities at 21 years old living in the United States. I am very grateful to have found this career path at such a young age. I plan to continue my studies so I can open even more opportunities and continue improving as an ESL teacher.

In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?

It depends on who you are and what you consider as happiness. For me, having my basic needs met and being surrounded by loving people is all I need to be content. I can make this happen easily with less than $600 a month.


ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS IN COSTA RICA

What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad?

If you’re interested in teaching abroad there is OBVIOUSLY a pull that is calling you to this path. If you feel nervous or scared, GOOD! Happiness is at the opposite spectrum of fear. You must face these inherent fears before you can set yourself free and meet the incredible things that await you. All it takes is one decision, minimal planning, a plane ticket, and determination. This experience has changed the entire course of my life, my happiness, as well as my perspective on life. It’s the best life hack I’ve come across. Everyone I’ve talked to only has one regret regarding moving abroad: they all wish they would have done it sooner.

Would you recommend teaching in your country?

Absolutely! I love Costa Rica. It’s safe, fun, and very easy and affordable to travel to other countries in Latin America. The weather is nice (even during rainy season) and you’re surrounded by nature and new places to visit!

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