Volunteer Review: Imogen P., Teach English and Other Subjects in Costa Rica
After traveling for 28 hours with two stop-overs in America, I was relieved to have arrived at Liberia airport in Costa Rica. Here I was met by a member of the Projects Abroad team and driven to my home for the next four weeks. The journey from the airport to my host family was fascinating. Although it was rainy season in Costa Rica, it was a very hot and sunny day, horses were at the side of the roads and it was completely different to any place I had been to before. I instantly loved it.
My host family
When I arrived at my accommodation I got to pick my room as the other volunteer staying in the house hadn’t yet arrived. It was comforting to know that another English speaking person would be staying with me as I soon came to realize that my host family didn’t speak any English and I only knew a few words in Spanish. Although the language barrier was a bit challenging to begin with, I soon felt comfortable- it was as if they were my own family. I lived with 2 host parents, their son, their dog and another volunteer from America.
My host family were lovely people and so warm and welcoming. They really tried to communicate as much as they could and when we didn’t understand each other, we laughed!
My Teaching project
Once I had settled in, I started my two week teaching placement at a nearby school. The children at the school were very happy and caring and really keen to know about my own culture. They all had different levels of English and learning abilities, which proved to be very challenging at the beginning. However, I soon found that by using a variety of big expressions, written work and games, I could cater to their different needs. Flash cards were particularly useful when testing how well the children remembered things.
When the two weeks had finished, I started a two week summer project. In the mornings all the volunteers did painting work. The boys painted a volleyball pitch and the girls painted a wall of a nursery. This was really fun and rewarding. In the afternoon I taught English at a summer school to children aged 6-10 years old. Again, their English abilities varied and, as they were younger, they needed more engaging activities to stay focused. I really enjoyed my time at both projects and loved the fun that I had with the children.
Traveling in Costa Rica at the weekend
When not working at my placement, there were plenty of opportunities to plan weekend trips with the other volunteers. It was a chance to relax for the weekend and have fun with new friends from all over the world.
On the first weekend around 15 of us crossed the border in to Nicaragua. The beaches there were beautiful and we learnt how to surf. Other weekend trips included Samara (a relaxed beach town), Montezuma (a hippy town with gorgeous beaches, lots of monkeys and waterfalls), Tamarindo (a party town), Monteverde (for the Cloud forest and zip lines) and La Fortuna (for Volcan Arenal and hot springs).
All of the places I visited I loved, but the company of the volunteers made the trips even more enjoyable! I would definitely recommend allowing travel time at the weekends and following your placement to travel. I was with Projects Abroad for four weeks and then had ten days travel time afterwards. If I did the project again I would plan to do the project for an extra month. I felt my adventure ended too soon. I really loved my time in Costa Rica. Pura Vida!
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.