Carlotta’s volunteering in Costa Rica
“The children at school were always full of energy, up for any fun and joyful and grateful that I played with them. This energy always fascinated me, delighted me and also infected me myself.“
Carlotta traveled with us to Costa Rica for 6 weeks and helped in the teaching project. Full of anticipation, she left for Latin America and was warmly welcomed by Lisa and her host family, which quickly made her feel at home. She has recorded her impressions and experiences in this report and shares a few tips that she would like to pass on to future travelers.
During the preparation time, I wrote a lot with Sophia and Lisa. Before the trip, I was pretty excited about what to expect and had many questions.
I was very excited about my host family, who kindly wrote to me beforehand, which calmed me down a bit, because they sounded very nice and relaxed.
I also had no real idea what to expect at the school where I worked, but I was very excited to meet the kids there. I also thought a lot about what working with the children would be like, since I had also worked a lot with children here in Germany before. Would it be comparable to Germany? Or would it be completely different? What will my tasks be?
Other than that, before my trip I was busy brushing up on my Spanish and listening to the playlist of current songs in Costa Rica on Spotify.
Of course, I wrote myself a packing list early on and bought everything in time, full of anticipation for warm Costa Rica, and packed it into my backpack.
MY FIRST DAYS
The first days after my arrival went very well. After the long flight, I was in San Jose for two days with my fellow traveler. I liked it there and it was perfect to get used to everything a bit before the project start, the time change, the different food, the different climate, the different language….
On our first day there, Lisa welcomed us and showed us around the city. We went out to eat and to a museum. Everything was very interesting and relaxed.
Two days later, I went by bus to Tamarindo, where my host family welcomed me. They were very friendly, explained everything important to me and took me to their farm the next day. There I could relax for one more day and learn some Spanish before my project started the next day.
A NORMAL DAY IN THE PROJECT
On the first day of the project, the director introduced me to all the groups in the school. The students, who were between 2 and 18 years old, were divided into age groups and were supervised by different teachers. Along the way, there were also projects, such as the “girls’ club”, sports lessons or music lessons.
Together we worked out a schedule for me, which I could then follow. Since I got along very well with the sports teacher, like doing sports myself and also give sports lessons for children here in Germany, I was always assigned as a helper to the sports teacher, except for a few hours. We took the different groups to swim, to play soccer or to run.
The rest of the time I helped out if another teacher was sick, helped in the secretary’s office with handicrafts or accompanied the children on excursions to a city or to the beach.
MY FREE TIME
I spent my free time in Tamarindo doing a lot of sports. Twice a week, my host mother took me to play soccer with her women’s team. Along the way, I signed up with friends at the gym in Tamarindo and used this diligently. Not to forget surfing. Almost every day you can surf super directly in Tamarindo, especially as a beginner. In addition, there are beautiful beaches in the area, which are worth a surf trip on the weekend.
In Tamarindo, you make new friends very quickly and there is always something going on. On weekends, I often met with friends for dinner and afterward we went to one of the many beach parties. I was never bored.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE CULTURE
In my project with the children, what struck me most was the difference in culture. In Costa Rica, most people live very differently than in Germany. No one lives in a house as we know it, but most live in a self-built “tica house”.
What also shocked me is how low the salary of a Costa Rican is and how hard they have to work for it. Yet they always seem friendly, and greet each other with “Pura Vida”.
The kids at school were always full of energy, up for any fun, and joyful and grateful that I played with them. This energy has always fascinated me, pleased me, and infected me as well.
THAT’S WHY I LOVE LATIN AMERICA
The hospitality and energy of most Latin Americans is unique. They are very sociable and it is super fun to spend time with them! In addition, I am of course fascinated by the nature, rainforests, volcanoes and beaches that exist in Latin America. My personal incentive to travel there is also the Spanish. The different dialects of the countries are so exciting. I love this language and you learn so much.
MY MOST BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
On my journey there were countless beautiful moments! Very nice (of course also quite sad) were my last days in the project. I got very sweet cards, we played a lot again and I was incredibly happy to have met all the people there, to have had such a great time and so much fun with the kids!
Another very cool experience was going surfing with friends at 4:30 in the morning for sunrise. In those moments I felt very free and of course it was a great start to the day to have breakfast together after surfing.
MY FAVORITE PLACE
I really liked Playa Marbella, which is about an hour away from Tamarindo. It is very quiet there, the waves were great for surfing and we had the whole beach to ourselves.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
Latin America is great for traveling! There are beautiful places in every single country and the people are very friendly. Life is very different there and it’s worth getting to know that once. And there are such different projects that there is something for everyone! A bonus, of course, is that spending time abroad in Latin America is a great way to improve your Spanish!
THIS IS HOW THE JOURNEY HAS CHANGED ME
In my opinion, my trip has broadened me and my horizons.
For one thing, it was my first trip alone. I got to know myself in a completely different way, had to make decisions on my own and deal with the consequences.
On the other hand, I got to know life in another country like never before. Of course, this broadens my horizons and my view of things, including, for example, myself, my family and my life in Germany.