Top 10 Highlights of our Costa Rican Cultural Orientation

 It’s hard to narrow down a favorite activity from this orientation week – from learning to make local foods to seeing a sloth with your own eyes! Here are my Top 10 Highlights of our Costa Rican Cultural Orientation!

By teaching abroad with TravelBud, you can rest assured that you’ll be guided through your Teach Abroad journey by those who have walked the road ahead. In keeping with that, you may see our very own Enrollments Coordinators popping in at orientation from time to time! I had the pleasure of joining our July 2022 Cultural Orientation in Costa Rica, where I met our fabulous teachers and experienced firsthand the exciting activities that our teachers get to enjoy on their first week in the country.

10. A chance to immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of San Ramon: City of Presidents and Poets

The raison d’être for an in-country Cultural Orientation is to ensure that all of our teachers are responsibly acclimated to the local culture that they will be surrounded by once they begin their teaching placement.

Orientation in a capital city or tourist hotspot may feel less foreign and have more of the comforts of home, it often won’t paint an accurate picture of the local culture. By holding our cultural orientation in San Ramon, our teachers are able to truly soak up the abundant culture, scenery, and wildlife that saturates the municipality in an immersive and authentic manner!

cathedral against a cloudy blue sky
In your walking tour of San Ramon, you’ll explore landmarks like the central plaza and this beautiful cathedral.

9. You can opt to fill your weekends with excursions to nearby hotspots!

You’ll have plenty of time to explore San Ramon during the week, so lots of people like to use weekends as an opportunity to hit other nearby hotspots! Would you like to dine inside of an abandoned airplane in Manuel Antonio or hitch a ride on the longest zipline in Latin America? You’ll have these options and more! Weekend excursions can be planned with other coursemates, making travel more easy, fun, and affordable!

old plane turned into a restaurant
What could be cooler that dining in an old plane? Throw in a oceanfront view and the possibility of monkey sightings an you’ve got Restaurant Avion!

8. Practice your Spanish skills with engaging lessons for all proficiency levels!

Are you a Spanish major looking to bolster your vocabulary? Are you trying to remember how your high school Spanish teacher taught you to ask for the restroom? Or maybe you can just somewhat confidently count to six in Spanish thanks to the opening of that one The Offspring song?

During your orientation, you’ll be able to improve your Spanish skills no matter what level you’re coming in on. You’ll even have interactive lessons where you can put your newly-expanded lexicon to the test in the community!

adult students sit around tables watching a teacher
As you’ll learn in your TESOL course, task-based learning is a great way to improve language skills!

7. Eat your way through San Ramon one soda at a time!

Nope, we’re not talking about fizzy beverages. In Costa Rica, a soda is a local restaurant where you can get delicious traditional Costa Rican fare. They’re usually open air and family-run, and can save you a pretty penny as opposed to eating in more touristy places. When I wasn’t eating at a soda, I was usually planning which soda I would be eating at next. Order an empanada or some gallo pinto con huevos and enter a world of culinary delight that you won’t want to part with anytime soon.

plate with gallo pinto, fried cheese, eggs, and tortillas sitting next to a cup of coffee
This delightful breakfast is typical in Costa Rica. You can get gallo pinto at any soda for a quick and affordable breakfast!

6. Learn to make your very own Costa Rican fare in a cooking class taught by locals

Speaking of incredible food….empanadas. I’m sure we were instructed on how to cook other things, but I’ve only got eyes for empanadas. Make your very own empanadas, chimichurri and more in a hands on cooking class taught by a woman who you’ll probably wish was your very own abuelita by the end of the afternoon.

CAUTION: Fillings in empapandas are more delicious than they appear!

5. Take a sweet tour of a trapiche – an old-school sugar mill

Though I don’t know you, I’m quite confident in saying that you’ve probably never see anything quite like this family-run sugar cane mill. Watch the skilled and seasoned folks who have been working here for decades take you through the process as sugar cane stalks become sweet morsels you can take home to sweeten your afternoon cuppa. Check out the behind the scenes in our Instagram highlights from the Cultural Orientation!

This rustic trapiche has been a family affair for decades. You won’t see anything like this on the Food Network!

4. Chase all the waterfalls your heart desires

Sorry, TLC, but your advice is outdated (as is, I fear, this reference as the years go by). You’ll get to enjoy your Teacher Workshop with a beautiful waterfall backdrop, and have time to take a hike to the top to check out the views! Not keen on making the trek? The view from the bottom is quite spectacular as well!

How about those views? Costa Rica’s lush landscapes allow for unmatched biodiversity!

3. Get a behind the beans look by touring a local coffee farm

Costa Rica is famous for their coffee, which makes up around 11% of their export revenue. You’ll get to see the journey from berry to cup on a tour of a local coffee farm, where you can even take a walk through fields full of these blessed plants. Sample some of the Arabica goodness for yourself, and maybe even send a bag home to a special someone!

Not only will you learn about the process of growing and processing coffee, but you’ll also learn about the sustainability practices that make Costa Rica’s coffee some of the most eco-friendly brews in the world!

2. Hang out with sloths, monkeys, and other unique wildlife at an animal rescue center

In recent years, Costa Rica has been cracking down on animal tourism. At the Cultural Orientation, you’ll have a chance to visit a unique animal rescue center dedicated to rehabilitating animals who were abused for the sake of tourism or improper domestication. You can see kinkajou, monkeys, deer, sloths, macaws, and much more from a safe distance and learn about how these animals are being protected!

sloth climbs through trees
Costa Rica is home to the two-toed and three-toed sloth. You can see both at the Animal Rescue Center!

1. Make new friends and memories with others who will be teaching in-country!

As excited as I was to check out all of the exciting activities during orientation week, my favorite part was getting to know so many new people. People begin their Teach Abroad journey for different reasons, and from many different walks of life. However, you’ll find there is always a common thread that manages to tie everyone in an intake together. These people will help form the foundations of your expat network, and in many cases, become lifelong friends!

San Ramon is filled with brilliant street art, which allows for SUPER cool photo ops with your new pals!

Still want more? You can check out our Instagram, where we have the Orientation Week Takeover saved to our highlights! Get an even close look at the Orientation Week fun, and drop us a line if you have any questions!

You can go on your very own Cultural Orientation in Costa Rica, and see for yourself where these activities rank in your top ten list! Learn more about our Teach English in Costa Rica Program here!

About Brooke Mazac

Brooke is a qualified English Teacher and Enrollments Coordinator at TravelBud. She taught conversational English in a small town called Tak in Thailand. Teaching English to kindergarten children made her feel like an absolute celebrity and their hugs and laughs brightened every day she spent at her school.

As an enrollments coordinator she helps people get things rolling when they are looking to teach abroad with TravelBud. She answers questions, put fears to rest, and gets them excited about their new experience. Read more about Brooke →

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