Teaching in Costa Rica’s Central Valley: Graduate Feature

By Tessa Judge
February 23, 2018

YogaAfter living in Heredia for a period in college, December 2017 Costa Rica TEFL graduate Satonya McNeal knew that she wanted to come back to Costa Rica. When she discovered and applied for Costa Rica TEFL, she found a way back to a country she loved and took some big steps down a path of self-discovery.

“I always knew that teaching was meant to be a part of my greater calling in life to bring a newfound sense of awareness to people and help them grow and evolve, but I didn’t have the skill set to carry out this ambitious endeavor,” Satonya tells us. “Costa Rica TEFL provided me with the necessary skills I needed to successfully teach others by first teaching me about myself.”

Satonya now lives and works in Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jose. Balancing its urban atmosphere with natural surroundings, San Jose offers all the amenities of a bustling city, as well as the opportunity for quiet reprieve in its numerous city parks and surrounding mountains. Making the move from hot, tropical Samara was an adjustment for Satonya, as the weather in the Central Valley can be cooler and unpredictable at times.

“Some days the sky is blue and clear with a sweet breeze flowing through the palm trees, and other days ominous grey clouds hover in the mountains as a soft mist of rain quietly blankets the city. I have learned to awaken each morning without expectations from my environment,” says Satonya.

San Jose’s central location and easy access to transportation makes exploring so much of the country quite simple. Satonya takes full advantage of city living by spending her weekends shopping for fresh produce at the local markets, sampling the many vegan restaurants, and exploring the local parks. When she needs an escape from the hustle of the city, Satonya hops on one of the many direct buses to head to the beach with new friends.

“Living in San Jose makes it easy to explore Costa Rica’s many breathtaking beaches and jungles filled with diverse flora and fauna. Each weekend I can go somewhere different, so it’s never a dull moment before I have to return to the mountains,” says Satonya.

When she’s not exploring her new city or a new beach town, Satonya teaches English reading, writing, and speaking skills to intermediate- and advanced-level adults at a language institute located in San Pedro. Though she always thought that she wanted to teach children, Satonya has found a real sense of purpose and joy in her position teaching adults. Coming from Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, her students are diverse and enthusiastic.

“My adult students are very motivated, as many of them are learning English for a job or for travel. It’s been a humbling experience teaching a class full of such determined individuals,” Satonya shares. “Sometimes I even feel that my students are teaching me more than I am teaching them!”

While she is thoroughly enjoying her time in Costa Rica and at her new school, Satonya is currently planning and saving to teach in Southeast Asia at the end of her contract.

“It has always been a dream of mine to explore Asia after Latin America,” says Satonya. “I’m excited by the many prospects of travel that have opened up since obtaining my TEFL certificate. I feel secure in myself knowing that I can go abroad literally anywhere and be able to support myself while simultaneously living my passion. Most people only dream about pursuing their passions but I can proudly say thanks to Costa Rica TEFL that I am out here in the wide open world living my dream as a reality to the fullest.”