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Posted 03/22/2016 in Alumni Q&A

Costa Rica Teaching Q&A With Molly

Costa Rica Teaching Q&A With Molly


What is your citizenship? American (USA)

What city and state are you from? Kansas City, Kansas

How old are you? 22

What is your education level and backgroundBachelor's degree from Kansas State University

Have you traveled abroad in the past? Yes, I have.

If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been? I have been all around Spain and to Morocco, Africa. 

If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you studyI studied abroad in Granada, Spain.

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad? After graduating college I didn't want to go directly into a cubical 8-5pm job. I wanted to go explore a new culture, expand my Spanish language abilities, and have the adventure of a lifetime!

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad? I was worried that communication would be difficult in a non-English speaking country. I was also concerned I wouldn't be able to find a job right away or be able to find a place to live. Something else that concerned me was not making enough money to still be able to travel around on the weekends.

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad? They thought it was an amazing opportunity and were very supportive! Of course my family was nervous (especially my mom), but they knew it was something I had always wanted to go do. They admired the fact that I wanted to try something completely unique and off the grid!



Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy? I wanted to become TEFL certified because I knew with that certification it would allow me to go teach ESL anywhere in the world, which only expanded my travel opportunities! I chose TEFL Academy because their name constantly popped up on the internet while I was doing research on the subject. They appeared to be a very reputable organization with high praise from their Alumni members!

Which TEFL certification course did you take? I took the course from June 29- July 24 2015. 

How did you like the course? I absolutely loved the course! The instructors are amazing and have so much experience in teaching ESL and living abroad. They guide you throughout the entire course and completely set you up for success for after the course is over. The course supplied me with many hands on teaching experience which made me feel 100% comfortable with the idea of teaching once the course ended. The course also helped me transition into being in a new country with new people. The people in the people and instructors in the course become your support system and really help you feel secure and adapt to the new environment. 

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position? During the TEFL course we were supplied with countless examples of how to teach each ESL level, and now I find myself going back to those examples that they gave us to use in my own classroom! Due to the student teaching we did during the course I was able to walk into the classroom feeling confident in my teaching abilities and knew more of what to expect working with ESL students. 



Which city did you decide to teach English in and why? I decided to teach English in the Heredia area. I decided to teach in this city because it was close to my host family I lived with, and it also is a great central location. Most of the people I met during the course ended up staying in the Heredia area. It's a great location because most of the transportation leaves from this city so it makes it easier when you need to hop on a bus and go somewhere else!

How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay? I have been in Costa Rica for 3 months and I plan on staying for 1 year. 

What school, company, or program are you working for? I am currently working for Idiomas Mundiales.

Do you have a work visa?  If not, please elaborate on working without a work visa. I do not have a work visa, but I do have a work permit called Servicios Profesionales. It is essentially a work permit saying that the country knows you are doing some sort of work in the country. 

Tell us about your English teaching job. I teach all levels of ESL and to all different ages. I teach levels from Starter- Upper Intermediate and the ages range from 7-50 years old. Like most language schools I do not have a normal work schedule. Some days I work in the afternoons, some days I work in the mornings and some I work both. I like the fact that my days aren't so regimented, having each day be different keeps me on my toes and also keeps me energized. Each day is unique and that keeps me motivated through the weeks! ESL students are absolutely amazing, and most students really want to learn and improve their English abilities. They have so much respect for the teachers and we in turn have so much respect for them as students.  

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates? I found a house by walking around the neighborhoods and seeing papers people had posted saying they had places to rent. Normally they post their papers directly outside the house or apartment they are renting. After you find one in a location you like you simply call the landlord and set up an appointment to see the house/apartment. It's a very easy process! I am currently living with 2 other ESL teachers. I met them through my host family I was living with during the course. These girls were also living with the same family and we decided after our month was over we would rent a house together!



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

Public transportation is huge here in Costa Rica. There are buses running through every single city and neighborhood, so it is easy to find one that is going where you need to go. There are also taxis as well if you need to get someplace in a timely manner! The nightlife is very fun. In Heredia you can find bars of every type. There are places to hang out and there are places to get your “Bachata” and “Salsa” fix and fully immerse yourself in the culture. There are so many adventures you and friends can go on over the weekends. There are nearby mountains to hike, volcanoes to explore, beaches to see and wildlife to experience! Plenty to keep you busy with new adventures. The food is incredible. Their staple items are rice and beans, and believe me this is one aspect of the food you will experience day in and day out. There are plenty of restaurants around that are serving this “typical” food, but you can also find places to fit your taste such as sushi, pizza, etc. There is something for everyone! Don't forget about the huge ice cream cones you see people walking around with. This is a must try if you stay in Costa Rica. The people are incredibly friendly and appreciate when you try to speak Spanish. There have been countless amount of times when I didn't know where I was going and had to ask someone. Most of the time they responded with a smile and direct instructions on how to get there and sometimes they even walk me to the correct bus stop to make sure I got there safely! It's easy to form a home away from home here and the people are a huge part of that. The Ticos here are very open to any foreigners, meaning that both the men and women here are open to relationships with non Ticos. There are plenty of opportunities to meet a special someone either out on the dance floor or through extended friends! The community is huge!

What are your monthly expenses? My monthly expenses include rent, food and any transportation fees such as the bus or a taxi. In total you expenses can range anywhere from $200-400. If you budget well it is definitely possible to save some money! 

How would you describe your standard of living? I would describe it as incredible. They have wonderful places to rent, making you feel completely comfortable. I feel supported by the staff at the school I am teaching at and the friends I have made here are ones that will last for a lifetime! I am extremely happy and feel perfectly safe and content. 

In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably? I think around $600-700 is enough to live comfortably. It is enough to cover rent, buy yourself food, and if you really budget you can save enough to go travel for a weekend. It is a little tighter than a budget in the United States, but it is definitely achievable. 


What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?

If anyone is even considering teaching abroad I highly HIGHLY recommend it. It is the experience of a lifetime and each and every day you are growing as a person. It challenges you in ways you cannot be challenged in your home country and allows you to expand you cultural knowledge and appreciation. Costa Rica is an amazing place to do that in. The people are incredible and it is a country full of rich culture.  The students are so willing and want to know everything there is to know about English. By teaching them you are filled with pride for your language and also a sense of happiness as you know the opportunities English could give them in the future. You always say to yourself “I wish I could do this..” or “If only I could just travel more..”, well here is your opportunity. Your life back at home will always be there waiting for you and it takes a lot of strength and courage to go pursue a life you've only ever dreamed of. What is stopping you? Take the risk and gain experiences and memories that you will take with you everywhere you go. The world is waiting for you; go explore it. 


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