San José, Costa Rica
The Costa Rica volunteer experience was nothing like I expected, and I had an amazing time. I met friends and worked with people from all over the world who were all doing amazing volunteer work across Latin America, and just had the right ideas about life.
I loved my host family in Costa Rica, I lived in Curridibat, a city just a 20 min from busy San Jose, and stayed with a lady and her son who treated me like part of the family. I had my own room, hot water, and enjoyed a beautiful middle class home, delicious food, and good conversation. I hope to stay in contact with my host family and if I return to Costa Rica (which I plan to) I would love to spend time with my family again.
My second favorite part of this trip was taking the Spanish classes at the language academy in Los Yoses. This school went above and beyond, providing everything anyone would ever look for in a language academy. I learned so much Spanish, more than I had ever learned in High school or college. I took Spanish classes for all 3 weeks I was there, and had an excellent teacher with only one other student in my class. The school also provided entertaining dance, cooking, and conversation classes, which I found to be extremely helpful and fun!
The project coordinators for volunteering in Costa Rica, helped me get introduced to my project, providing me with materials and ideas and driving me to the project for the first day. For my last 2 weeks in Costa Rica I was volunteering at an orphanage for abandoned children, called HogarInfantil Blanca Flor, in the nearby city of San Francisco. I loved my project and the kids I worked with. At first the project was challenging because the ladies who worked at the home didn’t speak any English and were a bit hesitant to talk to me so I felt a little out of place, however in the next few days I started bringing art projects and interacting with children more and I began to find my place in the home.
It was easy work but rewarding at the same time. All I did was art projects or play with the kids outside for 3 hrs a day or so, but I already felt touched by my experience and welcomed into the home. In the end, I was sad to leave the project, because I felt I had finally found a place with the children and started communicating with other ladies who worked there. I wanted to further establish that relationship and continue volunteering there, but maybe sometime in the future I will visit the home again.
Lastly, the entire country of Costa Rica is completely beautiful. The people are beautiful, warm and welcoming, and eager to meet new people, and learn about different cultures. I loved traveling outside of busy San Jose for the weekends, and visiting the national parks, volcanoes and beaches that are all over Costa Rica. I saw so many amazing animals, like toucans, parrots, iguanas, poisonous frogs, and monkeys that I had never even dreamed of seeing.
My trip to Costa Rica was a diverse volunteering and cultural experience, with a ton of fun and tourism mixed in as well!!!