Bradley is from Ontario, Canada. He was a teaching volunteer with World Endeavors in Costa Rica.
What did you do in a typical day at your volunteer placement?
I spent most of my time paired up with one teacher. I would help students who needed extra attention, mark tests, and assist with pronunciation in English classes. I helped out in math classes sometimes, but usually helped in English classes. I was even able to lead a few classes, and I taught English vocabulary and usage.
Where did you live while you were in Costa Rica?
I lived with a host family, and it was great. The family was very welcoming, and while I was there, the father, who works in sports medicine, actually left to go to the Olympics in China with the Costa Rican team. My host brothers were really nice, and they spoke some English.
What was your favorite part of your volunteer project?
The kids were so nice to me and the environment at the school was really comfortable. I got to know the teacher I was paired up with and her second grade class very well. At lunch, the kids always wanted me to chase them, and if I didn’t catch them, they’d tell me I was running too slow. Then if I sped up and caught them, they’d say I was running too fast! We had a lot of fun.
What did you do in your free time?
During the week, my days were really relaxing. I volunteered, took some Spanish classes, went swimming, read books, and spent time with my host family.
On the weekends, I traveled a lot with other volunteers. It was really fun, and bus fares in Costa Rica are really affordable. On my first weekend, my host family took me to Rio Celeste, a river that is light blue due to minerals in the water. I also traveled to Jaco, Puerto Viejo (which has a great, really laid-back hostel), the Monteverde cloud forest, and Manuel Antonio. I hadn’t seen monkeys in Costa Rica until I went to Manuel Antonio, but I saw so many there!
I definitely want to go back to Costa Rica. There are so many more places to see.
What advice would you give to someone going to Costa Rica?
All you need is a positive attitude. People in Costa Rica are very laid-back, so don’t get worked up about little things. If your plans don’t work out, don’t worry – something just as good, if not better, will usually come along.
How was the food?
I really liked the food. I ate lots of rice and beans and vegetables. It was amazing how many different ways the same ingredients could be prepared.
My favorite food was probably gallo pinto, a beans and rice dish. I bought the salsa used to make it and brought it back home, but when I tried to make it here, it just wasn’t the same!
How do you think your time abroad impacted you?
I thought it would be really hard to get back into my life at home, but the transition went pretty smoothly. I do feel kind of different, and I definitely have a better understanding of other cultures. I also feel like I am less focused on material things than I was before I went. Now I would rather spend my money on experiences.