www.costaricatesol.com - ITA Costa Rica
Posted 09/01/2017

Q&A With Brent

Q&A With Brent


What is your citizenship?  United States

What city and state are you from?  Lompoc, California *shout out to any Lompocians reading this!*

How old are you? 29

What is your education level and background?  Bachelors degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Ag Business with a  minor in Wine and Viticulture. 

Have you traveled abroad in the past? Yes, I lived in Margaret River, Australia for 5 months in 2015.

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad? I was taking classes to earn my teaching credential in California, working as a substitute teacher in my hometown, and living at my parent’s house. As much as I love my family and friends, I needed to get out of that situation. I had heard of teaching English abroad before, but had never considered it as a realistic option for myself. After a bit of research, I realized that most alumni said the same thing…I was sold!

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad? I can’t say that I was overly concerned about one specific thing. I knew the language barrier was going to be tough, but I was also very eager to start learning Spanish. Other than that, my biggest concern was whether I’d teach in the city or closer to the beach.

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad? My family was a bit concerned at first, mainly because my decision to leave was very sudden, and I had dropped out of my credential class. Once I told them more about my plan to come to Costa Rica, they got fully on board and have supported my choices 100% since. I would not be here without their love and support. My friends were, in general, really stoked for me, and some are even planning to come visit me here!


Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy? I researched a lot of TEFL companies, and while the reviews were generally good for all companies, I saw a lot of praise for ITA. I got on the phone with an advisor and she quickly made me realize I was in the right hands with ITA. 

Which TEFL certification course did you take? I took the on-site course in Barva, Heredia, Costa Rica in March 2017. Best decision of my life

How did you like the course? The course was amazing. Taking it in person allows you to instantly make friends with like-minded individuals. Luke and Melanie were my teachers and while they are amazing TEFL instructors who helped me become the teacher I am, they are also people I consider to be close friends and an integral part of my Costa Rican community. 

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position? It would be impossible for anyone to effectively teach English without this certification. 



Which city did you decide to teach English in and why? I teach in Barva, Heredia. I decided to stay in the city because I had already built a great network of teacher friends and Tico friends. I didn’t want to start over after making such great friends. Also, I was offered multiple jobs in the area, so it made it a no-brainer compared to looking for jobs on the beach. 


How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay? I’ve been in Costa Rica for just about 6 months. It’s hard to say, at this point, how long I will stay. I really love it and my life is amazing here. That being said, I really want to utilize my TEFL certification around different parts of the world, so leaving is an inevitability. 


What school, company, or program are you working for? I work for Idiomas Mundiales, which is the language school attached to the TEFL school. I also have a private class for 4 employees at a local restaurant. 

Do you have a work visa?  If not, please elaborate on working without a work visa. I don’t have a work visa, nor do I want one. The tourist visa allows me to work and live here with the only catch being that I have to leave Costa Rica every 90 days for 72 hours. Because of this, my travels have taken me to Cuba, which was incredible! In the future, I anticipate going to Nicaragua, Guatemala and Panama. It is very easy (and fairly cheap) to travel within the Latin American countries. 


Tell us about your English teaching job. I honestly love my job. At this point I have mostly high school aged students, ranging from starters to pre-intermediate. I don’t think I’ve had a single class where I didn’t laugh. These kids crack me up! They are so eager to share stories from their lives, and some of the things they say are so unexpected and funny. I am eager to go to work each day. On top of that, the job is almost never stressful. I feel fully equipped to do my job well, so it takes a lot of the anxiety and stress away from the workplace (something I never experienced in the US). 


How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates? Finding a place to live was probably the biggest struggle I’ve encountered in Costa Rica. Myself and two other students from the TEFL course decided to live together, and it took a couple weeks to find a place. Eventually, we ended up finding a beautiful unfurnished apartment just north of Heredia. Furnishing the place took some time, but once we had what we needed, it became our home! We are very comfortable now, and our high rise apartment has roof access for spectacular viewings of the Costa Rican sunsets. 


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

I really love the Tico culture. While there have been some obvious culture shock moments, they have been few and far between. The bus system is a bit hard to get used to, but once you know your routes, it’s a really cheap way to get around the city. 

The nightlife is a lot of fun. We have a couple “regular” spots that we go to, but we’ll often mix it up and go to a dance club or a sports bar. 

For the day to day social activities, there are a lot of opportunities to get out and about. I play soccer with a mix of English teachers and Ticos every Wednesday. I play poker with a group of friends about once a month. I have taken long trips as well as day trips with friends to beautiful locations across Costa Rica. There are so many places to see! 

The typical food here is delicious, in my opinion. Gallo pinto is delicious and is everywhere, and I’ve made it a mission to find the best chifrijo in Heredia. If you’re stuck in your ways, there’s plenty of familiar foods to choose from at both the grocery store and at restaurants. Burgers, fried chicken, tacos, etc… 

The expat community is fantastic. I am lucky to teach at Idiomas Mundiales, as it’s the same school that 10-20 new TEFL students study at each month. Therefore, I am consistently making new friends and adding members to my social circles. 

The dating scene is alive and well! Depending on what you’re looking for, it’s fairly safe to say you can find it here in Costa Rica. 

Travel opportunities are endless. Whether you want to see more of Costa Rica or another country, you can get a cheap bus ticket, find a cheap hostel, and immerse yourself in a different part of the world without breaking the bank. Overall, the people here are incredibly helpful, nice, giving, and welcoming to all other cultures. I have had very, very few bad experiences and those few bad experiences are far outweighed by the great experiences I’ve had with the wonderful people of Costa Rica. I have formed some amazing friendships here with expats and Ticos alike, many of whom I consider to be my family out here. 


What are your monthly expenses? Monthly expenses vary depending on your own personal standard of living. Personally, I probably spend about the same on rent as I do for food/drink/social. Somewhere in the $500-$600/month range (total).


How would you describe your standard of living?  No complaints here. I ride the bus, I travel within Costa Rica, I eat delicious, inexpensive food, and I drink cheap beer and boxed wine…it’s all part of the experience! The only things I miss are the beer and wine of California, playing golf, and occasionally I miss driving and jamming out in my car by myself. Rough life. 

In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?  It depends on the person and their version of comfortable. $500-$600 US dollars is realistic, in my opinion. 


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

I could make a long list of advice, but there’s only one piece of advice that matters…JUST DOOOOO IT! I was the person who would always talk about doing things like this, but when push came to shove, I’d sabotage it for some reason or another. Once I finally made the leap, I realized it was the best thing I could’ve done for my life. Be ready to be uncomfortable at times, be ready to be confused, be ready to be waiting for the bus, then having a Tico driver pull up and start jabbering at you in Spanish that you can’t understand at all, then you try to explain that, but all you needed to do was move out of the way because you were standing in front of his garage…

On the other hand, be ready for your life to change! Be ready to learn, be ready to make a TON of new friends, be ready to see breathtaking scenery, and be ready to be constantly excited for the next adventure! If you’re debating and you’ve made it this far, take my word for it: stop reading and sign up for the on-site Costa Rica TEFL class right now!


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