My Reflections on My Volunteer Experience in San Jose Costa Rica

What have I gained from my experience volunteer teaching in Costa Rica?

The thing that will stay with me the most about my volunteer experience is my memories of having lived in Costa Rica and the friends I made. I am still in touch with my students and I teach them English online. I am happy I got to teach them English and I am glad to have been able to have improve their fluency. The skills and experiences I gained while teaching are also very valuable.

What were the differences between Costa Rica and the United States?

The language was a little bit different and by that, I mean that Costa Rica has certain words that are different from the words I learned during Spanish class. I had gotten a book from the library about the different Spanish words use in different Spanish speaking countries and that helped me out lots. I definitely noticed the new Spanish words that were specifically Costa Rican words when I was speaking to my Uber drivers and to the retail staff in the stores.

The food was also different. I have eaten lots of Mexican food, mostly tacos from taco trucks and I did not really eat the same kind of tacos in Costa Rica. I had all sorts of other kinds of food. I got to try lots of Costa Rican food from Kracovia. I tried passion fruit drink and passion fruit pie. I had never really had passion fruit before and I got to try the drink and I absolutely loved it. When I was little one of my grandmother’s friends had passion fruits at his house. I think we got some fruits and tried to make a juice out of it, but we didn’t really know how and it ended up being sour so I did not really drink the juice. So yes, technically it was my first time drinking an actual passion fruit juice and what an awesome thing to think of making them into pies. We did not have lots of passion fruit in the Philippines and since I have been living in America I have never really seen passion fruit pies at the grocery store or in the restaurants so it was a treat to get to enjoy the passion fruit drink and the passion fruit pie. I also got to try passion fruit macaroons at the airport. Those were so yummy. You get a sweet and tangy delight in the little bite sized macaroons.

The other thing I really liked were the crepes in Costa Rica. I have always loved the dessert crepes with the Nutella and the strawberries, but Costa Rica has taken crepes to another level for me and the crepes have savory food inside that I got to eat for lunch.

My other favorite go to for food were the panaderias or bakeries. I got all sorts of goodies from the bakeries. I especially loved all the different types of empanadas you could get. I also loved the hot dogs in a flaky type of bread that was similar to a croissant.

What are some similarities between Costa Rica and the United States?

Costa Rica is very well developed and the roads and infrastructure are amazing. When I first arrived in San Jose, it seemed to look a little bit like Davao City in the airport areas, but as you go to San Jose and Escazu, it definitely looked more like the United States, which is a good thing. Also, the malls had lots of the same brand name stores. When you went into the grocery stores, you could find lots of the same United States brands like the shampoo and other toiletries.

What lessons did I learn?

I learned that even though I have been learning Spanish in school and online I still need to learn more. Yes, I was able to get by and have basic level conversations, but I really could not fluently express myself in Spanish. I really needed to watch more Spanish movies and listen to more Spanish music. I also need to make friends with someone who speaks Spanish so I can improve my fluency.

What was the most important part of my Costa Rican experience?

I would say making new friends was the most important part. I did not expect to make so many new friends and I was delighted to have made so many. I will cherish my travel memories more because I got to experience my tour of Costa Rica with friends. I think you can enjoy yourself so much more when you are touring with your new found friends.

What turned out differently during my trip than I had planned?

I decided to stay longer that I had expected. I just wanted to go for two weeks and then come right back home. I was expecting to really miss my friends from home and yes, I was a little sad my first night, but after my third day of being there, I really got over being away from home.

I also didn’t expect to be going to Nicaragua. That was not planned at all, but I am glad I went to Rivas and I got to see Nicaragua. I also did not expect to be staying for two months in Nicaragua. I thought I was just going to stay there for two weeks at most, but I really loved it there and I did not want to leave.

What were the most difficult parts of my travel?

I would have to say that the most difficult part of my travel has been the actual getting around Costa Rica. I am glad that I had Uber to take otherwise I would not have found half the places I was looking for. Taking the bus was also challenging at first, but after a few months of being there I felt more comfortable and once I got to know the bus routes I was golden and taking the bus became easy.

How is my volunteer experience shaping my future?

Because I loved volunteering so much and living in San Jose, I got a TEFL certificate in Manuel Antonio, which then led to a job at Academia Europea. I think my Costa Rican experience is going to stay with me forever and in the future I will be going to teach English in Latin America again because I have already experienced it and it was fun and easy. I had the best time ever in San Jose and Manuel Antonio and I hope to be going to Costa Rica specifically; however, I would also like to teach in Managua, Nicaragua.

My volunteer experience was such a positive experience for me that I would also like to try other volunteer programs through Maximo Nivel like the program where you work with hatching turtles in Manuel Antonio. I have also been looking on the IVHQ sites recently and there is an internships with footages of dolphins program that they are running in Greece. That also really interests me lots. Overall I had the best time and I would highly suggest the volunteer teach program that you can book through the IVHQ site.

My Reflections on My Volunteer Experience Part 1

My Reflections on My Volunteer Experience Part 2

About My Teach English Volunteer Program Through Maximo Nivel

Training

When I first arrived at Maximo Nivel I had a mini orientation with a field manager during my first day of my volunteer program. I learned all about what Fundacion Mujer was and what my duties were. I also learned some introductory TEFL course lessons with my field manager. It was only a few hours, but it was plenty to learn about what I needed to do. I think the training went really well.

Tour

My field manager also gave me a tour of the Maximo Nivel. I got to learn where my resource books, supplies, and guides were. I was able to use some of the resource books, but I ended up using Google as my main resource. I also bought an English book while I was in San Jose. The book was very helpful for planning my classes.

Computer Lab

Maximo Nivel has a computer lab. I used the computer lab to type up my lessons. I then sent my lessons to the front desk to be printed. My class at Fundacion Mujer was an advanced English class so I only had a few students so I usually printed about five to seven copies of my lessons.

Class Structure

During the start of the class, I had a mini ice breaker session. The class and I talked about what we had been up to lately and just caught up with each other in general. Afterward we started out lessons and did some activities on the board or on the printed worksheets. We also had discussions, which helped my class express themselves more fluently in English. I also got to gage what level of fluency they were in.

Lesson Design

I also gave the class reading materials. I printed out articles from Wikipedia. I then had the students read a paragraph each. I then tested their reading comprehension by asking them questions about their reading materials. I think my classes went well because I designed my lessons to be engaging and I utilized rich content.

Another method that really helped me out with planning a lesson that kept my class engaged was asking my students what they wanted to learn about. Once I found out what they were interested in, I went on Google and researched the topic. I then came up with a lesson plan based on what they suggest for the next day’s lesson.

How I Could Have Improved

I should have played more games with my class. I know the class was an advanced class, but I think more games could have kept the class more engaging. I also needed to make more flashcards and have pictures. I think flashcards really help and I wish I could have made lots.

Conclusion

Teaching English at Fundacion Mujer was loads of fun. I am glad I got to help my students. It was fun making friends with them and I think overall my volunteer experience was very positive.

About the Awesome Maximo Nivel Staff

About Transportation in San Jose Costa Rica

How to Take Uber

A Day In the Life of a Volunteer

About Shopping and Entertainment in Costa Rica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Motivated Me to Volunteer Abroad

I wanted to gain teaching experience abroad. I had always wanted to teach English abroad and teaching in Costa Rica was going to help me get experience in teaching abroad. I also wanted to learn about the Costa Rican culture and be immersed in the language. Living in a Spanish speaking country really helped me improve my Spanish speaking skills.

I think my travel experience helped me discover a new place I could possibly live in for a long time. If I could afford to I would love to live in San Jose, Costa Rica. During my volunteer experience I learned to be more open to new experiences and new food. My volunteer trip was lots of fun.

During my volunteer trip, I was able to help my students learn English and I was able to give back to the community. I hope teaching English to my students helped improve their lives. Often times, the ability for the students to speak English can really improve their chances of getting a job. My students were advanced students to they had a good understanding of English already, but I think my lessons really helped.