June 12th, 2022
I am halfway through my program and it was definitely been an adventure so far! Teaching in Costa Rica has been an incredible experience so far. All of the students are eager to learn as well as have a lot of time to explore and interact with each other in the schools that we have been volunteering at, one of them being private and the other being public (pictured below). I have taught various grade levels from 1st grade up to 11th grade in subjects such as English, science, and math. The teachers gave the floor to me any chance they could so I was given many opportunities to implement my experiences and practices in their classroom with open arms. I enjoyed getting the chance to interact with them as a group as well as individually.
Through this 2-week USF teaching abroad program, I knew I would be teaching English to younger students as well as teaching different subjects in English to older students but I did not know much beyond that. I was surprised by how little English my host family would know and so communicating with them has been a challenge but it has been such a great learning opportunity for me and one that is helping me grow tremendously. Despite knowing little of the Spanish language, my Costa Rican family has been supporting me along the way and I’ve been learning how to communicate in a variety of ways. We also had the chance to learn some Spanish through a class that ILISA (the Costa Rica study abroad program collaborating with USF) provided for us that week. My family has been a lot of fun and have been adding such an enriching experience to my stay here. A few of the activities they love and have had me join in on include singing karaoke, dancing, and roller skating.
I have also learned so much about Costa Rican history after visiting the National Museum of Costa Rica and taking tours around the city of San Jose with our amazing tour guide, Ana Maria Rodriguez, who is the first woman to become a tour guide in Costa Rica (pictured with me below).
Throughout our program, our USF group has also been given the opportunity to explore Costa Rica outside of the city of San Jose. We visited La Paz waterfalls, Poas Volcano, a coffee plantation, Isla Tortuga (an island off of the Pacific border), and Sarapiqui rainforest where we went white water rafting and ziplining. The food has been great as well. Their typical dish in Costa Rica is called casado and consists of rice, beans, a salad, plantains, and an optional protein source like chicken, fish or beef but can also be made vegetarian. They also have fruit drinks made with the local tropical fruit. It is so fresh and delicious! Overall, my vast experiences here so far have broadened and cultivated a deep appreciation for Costa Rica’s land and culture.