Costa Rica

¡HOLA Costa Rica! – An Interview with Teacher Alexandra

Saskia Smuts

June 22, 2021

I took a bit of a trip across the Atlantic Ocean from the comfort of my office chair when I chatted with one of our TravelBud teachers who’s currently teaching in Costa Rica. Alexandra Griffin jetted off to start her adventure in San Ramon in February 2021, doing our TESOL Course + Paid Teaching in Costa Rica program. Needless to say, all of us here at TravelBud are a little jealous of the incredible time she’s been having!

Saskia: Where are you based in Costa Rica at the moment?

Alexandra: I am currently living in Jaco. I moved here very recently but love it so far! It is nice to be near the beach and enjoy the outdoors when I am not teaching. 

girl standing in water at costa rica beach
Teaching online means being location independent! Many of our teachers opt for this because of the freedom it allows to see more of the country.

S: What is the school like where you teach?

A: I work for an online academy. I like it because it allows for a lot of flexibility. I only committed to ten fixed hours a week but I can pick up shifts whenever I want. It makes traveling very easy. The platform provides the curriculum and it is very easy to use. 

S: If you had to sum up your experience in Costa Rica in one word, what would it be?

A: Unpredictable – When I moved to Costa Rica, I planned to work for an in-person academy and live with a host family. However, after learning about the teaching online option, I opted to do that and travel month to month living in AirBnBs. I am such a planner and like to anticipate what is next but it is hard to do that here. I don’t even know where I will be living three months from now but I am not worried because Pura Vida!! Although things are unpredictable, they are never stressful and lead to many opportunities and adventures. 

S: What was it like traveling to Costa Rica during COVID?

A: Costa Rica is unique in the sense that it doesn’t really feel like COVID is here. People are still traveling to the country and most of the country is operating as normal…just with masks. The job opportunities have been impacted by COVID. All of our options were online teaching to start but that was to be expected when we arrived. The benefit of online teaching is that I have been able to see a lot of the country in a short amount of time because I can work from anywhere with good wifi. 

Pura Vida means “pure life” or “simple life,” but is more of a way of living than simply a saying!

S: What was your favorite activity during the orientation week?

A: My favorite activity during orientation week was visiting the wildlife sanctuary. It was neat to be introduced to some of the wildlife of Costa Rica while meeting other travelers who were there to help take care of these injured animals. They also had a swimming pool that we were able to enjoy after helping out a little around the sanctuary. Oh! And this is where I saw my first sloth! They are my new favorite animal.

Did you know? Selfies with and handling of wild animals are prohibited in Costa Rica. This prevents unfair handling practices fueled by animal tourism!

S: What stood out for you during the TESOL course?

A: Something that stood out to me during the TESOL course was how quickly everyone in the group bonded and how well we worked together. We all came from different backgrounds with different skills and that allowed us to all learn from each other.

S: Do you have a favorite go-to dish in Costa Rica yet?

A: My favorite dish in Costa Rica is currently pollo empanadas. It is a simple meal, but I love it!! The pineapples here are also one of my favorite things!

Nothing but heart eyes for these cotton candy skies! Talk about dinner with a view!

S: Have you had a funny experience or strange moment during your time in Costa Rica yet?

A: It has recently become rainy season here. We hadn’t experienced any rain since we moved here in mid-February. Outside of our hostel, there was always a nest with baby pigeons in it so we had been sitting on the balcony watching the pigeons before it started storming. In all the craziness of the first storm of the rainy season, we left our balcony doors open a little.

This first storm was no joke with lots of rain and wind that ended up completely flooding our living room. I don’t know much Spanish but I was able to communicate to one of the hostel workers that I needed a mop due to lots of water on the floor. I spent an hour shoveling water out of the living room with my roommate. Even though we had a fun time laughing at the situation, it was a mistake that we only made once.

S: Oh my goodness! I’ve never experienced a crazy storm like that before, but it sounds like even though it ended in a waterworks clean-up, you still managed to laugh and have fun along with your roommate.

S: Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Alexandra, we always love hearing from our teachers in-country, and thoroughly enjoyed hearing all about your experience in Costa Rica.

If this interview has stirred the travel bug inside of you then there’s really nothing to do but get in touch with us – who wouldn’t want to eat pollo empanadas and stroll along the streets of San Ramon?

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