www.costaricatesol.com - ITA Costa Rica
Posted 11/22/2016 in Alumni Q&A

Costa Rica Teaching Q&A With Molly K.

Costa Rica Teaching Q&A With Molly K.


What is your citizenship?

I am a citizen of the USA.

What city and state are you from?

I am from Norcross, Georgia.

How old are you?

I am 24 years old.

What is your education level and background?

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW) from the University of Georgia.

Have you traveled abroad in the past?

Some before, and more since I have been living in Central America.

If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?

Before coming to Costa Rica I had been to Honduras, El Salvador, and Spain.

If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?

I studied Spanish in Alicante, Spain for a semester in college in 2012.

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?

I always knew I wanted to live and work/ volunteer abroad after college, but just couldn’t exactly determine what I should actually do. To give it some trial and error, I started doing some volunteer teaching in the US to see if that could be the “ticket."  I loved it and then realized that I just had to find a way to expound upon it!

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?

So many! I was a nervous wreck! I was terrified about finding a job, having friends, being safe, etc. But mostly I was really worried about “is this really the right step for me?” Turns out you just have to throw yourself into it to figure that out! 

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

“Okay, so you’re coming home in a few months once you get this out of your system, right?” … Everyone was definitely supportive since they knew this was something I had been wanting for a while. But they also thought it was a much shorter term thing than I intended- or for what it has actually become!


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

I had a family friend who got TEFL Certified through International TEFL Academy and had success teaching in Ecuador and South Korea after her course. Then when I was in the process of researching various courses, the advisors from this company and the onsite school in Costa Rica were all super helpful. So it became obvious that this was a great program!

Which TEFL certification course did you take?

I got certified on site in Heredia, Costa Rica in July 2015.

How did you like the course?

Loved it! I got so much out of the experience and felt truly supported through the entire intensive month. I was lucky to go through the course with a great group of women, and was set up with an incredible host family. All in all I could not have been happier with my course.

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

In so many ways! Not only did my course / instructors connect me with my current school (so I wouldn’t even have my job now had it not been for them!) but I learned so many fundamentals that have been crucial to my development and success as a teacher. It was clear that the instructors of my course knew what they were doing and knew what questions to answer before you even asked. When the power goes out in my classroom or something runs-a-muck on a teaching day, I thank my TEFL training because I have a solid base to fall back on. I am lucky in that my school does provide some training and teacher development, but I know there are many schools that do not. In those cases the TEFL would be even more of a lifeline.



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

I am in Heredia, which is the same region as my TEFL school. I got too overwhelmed by the thought of going to San Jose where I wouldn’t know anyone, so I decided to look for jobs in Heredia, where I still had connections- two host families, two fellow TEFL classmates, and my TEFL instructors. I was lucky enough to get a job at the school that I wanted which was in the center of Heredia, so that made the decision to stay a no-brainer!

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

I have been living and working in Costa Rica for just shy of 1.5 years and I will be here for at least 1 more year. We will see how things play out in 2017 to decide if I stay longer. 

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

I work at Centro de Idiomas Intercultura.

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

Yes, I have a work visa sponsored by my school.

Tell us about your English teaching job.

I am a teacher and a “Team Lead.” So I teach two beginner level classes in the mornings. Then the rest of my schedule is dedicated to working with struggling students, training/ working with teachers, planning and coordinating school events and doing various things for the school.

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

I have lived in many different places. I lived with two families, which my TEFL school helped me coordinate. I also was connected to a family to live in their “side apartment” by my TEFL instructor- I lived there with a friend/ coworker. Then, later I moved to an apartment that I found off of an online post- also with a friend/ coworker.


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

Costa Rica is a super active place- so you can go on lots of adventures, find awesome gyms, do triathlons, swims, runs etc. That is probably my favorite part of living here. Even in the pouring down rain, someone is outside and there’s something to do to keep yourself moving and active! Busses are easy once you get the hang of them- but there are some growing pains that go along with figuring those out. Lots of Spanish practice in asking bus drivers and people around you how to get from place to place! Uber is also your best friend and your wallets enemy. It is semi-affordable and super convenient, but it can get too tempting if you’re not careful! I walk a lot and ride my bike, so it is nice that it is safe. I love the local markets and go to the same one every Friday and get a tortilla and then do my fruit/ veggie shopping for the week! Travelling is not super difficult if you don’t mind busses. I don’t travel a ton because I work a lot, but there are many conveniently located places.

What are your monthly expenses?

Rent, electricity, busses/ ubers, groceries

How would you describe your standard of living?

I often forget I am in a “third world country.” I live comfortably yet not beyond my means. I don’t make a ton, and Costa Rica is by no means cheap, but I am able to live without major sacrifices just on my monthly salary. If you budget and don’t go crazy, you will be just fine!

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

Hard to say… everyone is different. But, I would say maybe $600-700/mo.


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

There is no such thing as the “perfect time” to go. If you are any bit of a Type A person like I am, you will think yourself crazy trying to plan things to a tee. If I had let that hold me back, it would have been the worst decision I could have made. I am so glad I just made the decision to go, and then just did it! Once you’re here, open yourself up to the unknown, because there will be a lot of it! If you can let you of your extreme- gringo- need for independence / control, you can experience so much! The hardest part: getting used to goodbyes. You go through it when you leave home- tough. Then you start a job full of very transient people. So you have to get used to getting close to people and then saying “hasta luego.” So my advice- get used to using whatsapp, facebook and facetime!

Would you recommend teaching in your country?

OF COURSE! Costa Rica is a fantastic country. It is safe, BEAUTIFUL, and enough of an “out of the box” experience to influence your worldly perspective, but not enough to totally rock your world. You can have so many adventures and have a life changing experience this country. I would love to go to SO many countries, but the fact that I can go most places and do most things without being overly concerned for my immediate safety is huge. Without being terrified about communicating or figuring things out, means that many stresses are eliminated in turn freeing you up to live and experience the culture and freedom of being on your own in a foreign country. There’s not much to inhibit you here, so you are free to truly get the most out of living and teaching abroad. Costa Rica is amazing and coming here was the best decision for me that I recommend to any/everyone else.

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