Two Weeks Too Fast!
In my previous blog, I mentioned how nervous I was to come to Costa Rica for the TEFL program. I am already laughing at that fear and have no intention of leaving early! I truly cannot believe I have already been here for two weeks. Most days it feels like I’ve been here for years because everyone is incredibly friendly. People make eye contact in the streets and at restaurants. People say buenos dias or pura vida when you walk by them. People SMILE here. And it’s not difficult to see why. Even though this time of year is considered the “low season/rainy season”, it is absolutely gorgeous!! Costa Rica only has two seasons per year: the rainy season and the dry season. Since I’ve been here, it has stormed every day, but usually not until after 5PM or much later, and only for an hour or two at most. We have been lucky in that it has only rained once during our school day, around 1PM in the afternoon. I wake up to sunshine and birds–PARROTS–singing in the trees, and ocean waves just a block away.
I am staying at the Hotel Playa Samara, located in the center of Samara (Sam-uh-ruh). It is owned and run by an ex-pat named Daniel, who is always on property and is always ready to help or to just sit and chat. I upgraded to a room with A/C, cable, and breakfast every morning. The cable only has 3 English channels—CNN, HBO, and STARZ. My room costs $20 per day because we get a discount through the TEFL program. Without the discount, the rooms here range from $14-35 per day, depending on if you want A/C or not. In this part of Costa Rica, it is common to have your bathroom and showers outdoors, but the rooms have private bathrooms. The water is “heated” by solar panels, so even thought it’s not ice-cold water, it’s certainly not hot like showers are back in the States. However, after spending time at the beach or just walking around in the humidity, the water here feels fantastic!
I cannot say enough about the CostaRica TEFL instructors, campus, and students!! It’s an amazing program. The campus is located about a 5 minute walk away from the hotel and the beach, and has great A/C and WiFi, considering most businesses in Samara do not. Our instructors are incredibly humble and patient, and we have classes with them for 3 hours a day, Monday through Friday. We work on lesson planning a couple of hours a day in the afternoon, and then teach evening classes to local residents—Ticos—from 5:30PM-7:30PM.
We are learning methodologies, teaching strategies, activities, and games that I wish I had learned years ago. Only myself and one other student from Canada have previous classroom teaching experience, but my other classmates are catching on fast thanks to the support and encouragement of our TEFL instructors. My classmates are from Canada, California, Long Island, Kansas City, and Virginia, and range in ages from 45 to 21! It is a very cool group of people to learn with and I’m already so excited for what the future holds for each of us when we graduate in two weeks.
Our classes range from Beginner 1 to Advanced/Intermediate students, and the age range of our students is from 15-65+. It has been a refreshing experience to work with students who have a true desire to learn. We are required to create lessons that follow 7 Steps to Mastery and involve about 11 planned activities each!!! The activities include a lot of hand-made materials because the school does not use smart boards or computers for everything, since many foreign language schools do not offer these tools. I have no cut and pasted so many words and pictures as a teacher—EVER. It is tedious and time-consuming work, but the gratitude our students show after each and every lesson makes the planning process worth it! The students are absolutely the best part of CostaRica TEFL.
Another favorite part of this program is the opportunity to practice yoga together on the beach every Wednesday morning before school. I think this is something every school (on the beach or not!) should definitely offer to teachers!!
FUN IN THE SUN
Last weekend, my new friends from CRTEFL and I went hiking nearby to a secluded beach known as Izguerra, and we could see La Chorra island and the blue, BLUE ocean for miles.
Samara Beach has to be one of the best kept secrets of the travel world. It is located about 2 hours away from the Liberia airport and is surrounded by lush greenery for miles during the rainy season. There are heladarías and fruit stands on almost every corner. The ocean water is warm and welcoming, and the sunsets are spectacular. I have yet to catch a sunrise, but it’s on my to-do list for sure.