There are just some things that are unexplainable.
Others can be put into words
words just can’t do it justice.
Traveling has taught me a fair share of life lessons.
It’s an opportunity to look at life from a new perspective,
letting the current environment make its influence.
Since the start of my adventures,
I’ve been asked a time or two
Maybe a dozen more,
What brought you here?
What are you doing?
My quick answer, I’m living my life.
Giving back to and being a part of a community other than my own.
The long answer….
I am 26 years old.
From the time I could write, I always wrote I wanted to be a teacher.
Life, up until recently, had other plans for me.
Upon college graduation,
I began working for the number one trusted media brand, PBS
in the United States for a little over four years being the Community Engagement Coordinator.
This, I left to be where I am now.
I received my TEFL certification online in September 2013
from the incredible International TEFL Academy
after volunteer teaching in Tanzania for three months at the start of 2013
and reconnecting to my desire, passion, love for and purpose of teaching.
Just days before leaving the States,
I received my yoga certification from Yoga Six in Southern California.
I thought I was learning how to teach yoga,
what I learned,
was how to speak my truth,
step into my light,
dance my dance,
and sing my song.
Photography is my means of communication,
giving me a voice that at one time was too hard to tap into.
I excitedly published two coffee table books from my adventures throughout Tanzania, Africa – just this past year.
Eating with chopsticks is by far one of my favorite activities,
no matter the food.
I am in love with one of the most sincere South Africans a lady would be blessed to meet.
Connection is why I exist.
My love for my friends and family overwhelms my own heart at times.
What is all this you ask?
Why am I telling you this,
Because writing this,
forces me to ask the question…
Is this all what I am
Who I am?
Have you asked yourself that question?
What is your answer?
It is still unfolding.
Those listed above are both what I am and who I am.
I am happy,
I am proud.
I am living a life I dreamt of.
This is my reality.
Please let me share.
In January 2013, I paid to volunteer teaching English at a secondary school on Mafia Island, Tanzania.
I had 132 students ranging from 12 to 18 years old.
Where I rotated classrooms with two other teachers.
I flat out fell in love.
Fell in love with the students.
With being a part of a community so completely different than that of what I’ve known.
upon returning to the States,
I registered for my TEFL certification with the International TEFL Academy.
Without a question,
after a few email correspondence with the incredibly helpful staff,
there I was.
time went by.
And before I knew it,
my online course was starting.
And even more so,
by this time,
I knew I wanted to teach in Africa or venture to Central or South America.
Hours and hours of research later, I was set on Costa Rica.
I spent the last four or five months in the States,
Preparing for life abroad.
Connecting with people online.
Joining facebook forums,
Asking anyone and everyone if they knew people in Costa Rica and if they would connect me.
Before I knew it,
the connections kept happening,
Even to the point of being connected to the ex-presidents family.
I asked everyone I knew,
every question I had.
I had phone calls with the International TEFL Academy where we revised my resume,
cover letter and I asked the hundreds of questions at hand.
All were answered with such ease and so much detail.
It was recommended to start emailing potential employers
a month prior to arriving letting them know when I would be in the country and what I was interested in doing.
That just seemed too close.
I sent emails with a cover letter, resume, references and two letters of recommendations.
Sent to those whom I was most interested in.
I let them all know I was immediately interested in a skype interview
and that I would be in the country at the beginning of January for an in person interview.
I received responses right away.
Some not hiring.
Others wanted me to have a teaching/ education degree.
Which didn’t exist.
And some super interested.
I had preferences,
Many things that didn’t need to be a reality.
And others, that had to be a reality.
I wanted to live with a local family.
I wanted to be walking or public transportation distance from my house.
I wanted to learn Spanish.
I left the States a month a half earlier than going to Costa Rica.
I spent that month falling in deeper love with my incredible boyfriend in South Africa.
That is another story,
One far too long for this.
Within the first week of being in South Africa,
I received several emails for skype interviews.
One I was most interested in.
We scheduled a skype interview.
Scheduled a second one.
By the end of the second interview,
I was offered a teaching job in the city.
Within 24 hours I signed a contract.
Within the next 24 hours I was sent 3 options for housing,
living with a local family.
Within the next 48 hours,
I secured my new home.
Living with an incredible divine local couple, their two dogs and 3 other roommates.
And that was that.
Here I am.
Close to 3 weeks being in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Two weeks of training,
lots of training,
and an insane amount of lesson plans.
And this is my first week teaching all week.
I teach around 13 classes a week at close to 24 hours.
I walk to the office.
And ride the bus to my clients.
Most of my students are adults,
Working for corporations whom are paying for their English training.
With classes ranging from one to eight students.
On Saturday’s I teach high school students for 4 hours straight.
Of which have all received special scholarships to be in this class.
On the weekends I spend my time exploring the city,
Going to the local organic farmers market,
Venturing to Jaco.
Trying to learn and speak in Spanish.
Taking as many photos as possible.
And all around loving life.
Of this reality,
What would I recap and recommend?
Do your research.
A lot of connections.
Don’t be afraid to state what you want.
Let your passion for teaching and life shine through.
I don’t believe in contacting schools too soon,
get your name in their mind.
Ask for help.
Utilize your resources.
Come with money
Be very open.
And be grateful!
As always, thanks for letting me share and experiencing this journey of life with me!
This article was originally published on the International TEFL Academy website!
You can also read my Alumni Question and Answer on Costa Rica.
If you want information on receiving your TEFL certification or teaching abroad,
please feel free to email me!
I would love to hear from you!
The moments of the day
The conversation within those moments
The realizations within those conversations
The thankfulness within those realizations
The humbleness within the thankfulness
The words of my reality
I am intrigued by life,
Constantly fascinated with all at hand.
Marveled at the true beauty of this world.
Of the makings amongst us.
As I wonder about,
I wonder how their is hatred,
And so forth
with all the beauty shining its light with each passing moment.
These wonderings I speak of,
Came about while taking a sunrise walk amongst the creations
that make up Arenal in Costa Rica.
Well here they are.
Up the road,
And before we knew it,
We were getting dropped off at the edge of what appeared to be a very long dirt road.
Erica and I began walking,
And walked some more.
We shared conversations,
Stopped to ponder at the animals’ brave enough to show their eyes.
We walked a little more.
We stumbled upon horses glistening in the rising morning sun.
I was convinced; they were magical
And I’m pretty sure, I saw some wings.
Was far too fairytaleish.
Took us back for a few moments as we watched the horses in complete amazement.
And as a time has a way of doing so when one is enjoying themselves fully,
Hours went by
And there we were at the end of the path
With our driver waiting patiently in the van.
We ended our sunrise hike,
Huge smiles on our faces.
Almost in shock of the majestically reality of a morning we created.
In the van we went.
Stopping not too much further up the road.
for hot springs.
We got out of the van,
Went under a bridge
And there they were.
My first hot springs.
Beautiful flowing stream of water,
With steam rising just above its surface.
I put down my bag,
And saw a local family laughing as they spent their morning relaxing and simply enjoying the presence of one another.
Where that time went,
I am not sure that I can tell you.
Something along the lines of flowing in these shallow warm springs of the earth
With my whole being submerged under water,
And nose above water
Just enough to keep the breath flowing.
It was divine.
So incredibly divine.
Another humbling moment.
And as the previous adventure,
Time went far too quickly.
Before we knew it,
We were grabbing our belongings,
Taking photos of locals playing about
And then jumping back in the van.
We ate lunch that day at around 10am.
As we had already been up for quite some time.
Our lunch consisted of peanut butter and banana sandwiches,
But of course!
Sitting in the center park,
Soaking up the sun
And the realities of the moment.
We had a horse back riding tour scheduled.
And off we went.
Shared a few words
And before I knew it,
A helmet was getting strapped to my head
And I was jumping on the back of a horse.
Needless to say,
I thought I was ready for what was to come,
But in the moments shortly following the initial take off,
I felt like crying and jumping off the horse.
I’ve been wanting to horseback ride for quite some time.
My adrenaline rushing when getting on the horse,
The tears coming when the horse began to gallop faster than I could grasp.
I took a deep breath
Laughed it off
And before I knew it,
We were trekking along a path carved just for the horses
Amongst the rainforest of Arenal.
In just a moments notice,
I was ever thankful again for taking this leap,
Facing an unknown fear
And becoming one with the horse.
We rode horses up to one of the most luscious waterfalls I’ve been blessed to experience.
We hiked some distance to get to the bottom,
Stripped down to our swimming clothes,
Trekked over some more rocks
Completely submerged ourselves in the ice cold water
Flowing off the side of Mother Nature’s artwork.
What a rush.
Again, ever thankful.
We hiked back up.
To be greeted by our horses.
And adventured along
Down to the roots of where this particular journey began.
The rest of the weekend
Was that of what you can call peacefully mellow.
We went back,
Made lunch or at this point dinner
On the balcony of our hostel overlooking a beautiful little town.
We ventured into the city
To take part in the free festivities taking place,
Bands on stage,
And lots of smiling faces.
We took our smiling faces
Into a place of a little more calmness,
Ice cream and a bench in the city park.
I am extremely thankful for those moments that night.
Erica and I had the chance to express, listen, give and receive advice.
The beginning of a beautiful friendship.
We woke the next morning,
Found ourselves having breakfast in the park,
Then a trip to a local waterfall
And before we knew it,
It was time to adventure back to our home.
The bus ride consisted of almost 6 hours of me having my perfect seat on the bus
Two open windows,
Fresh breezes blowing my hair every which way.
Camera around my neck.
Coloring book on my lap.
And ipod in my eyes.
As I am sure you now know,
were experience with so much bliss.
I am so thankful to share
With each and everyone of you.
Thank you for reading and sharing my journey.
Your support gives me strength.
Until next time.