Sari in the Youth Development Project Costa Rica
“I would describe Latin America in general as very diverse, open and exciting. You can experience new things everywhere and get in touch with new people, gain experience and have adventures.”
Sari decided to go to Costa Rica with WanderWorld to the Youth Development Project in Sámara after her high school graduation. At the beginning of her preparation, she didn’t know that much about Costa Rica and became more excited to learn about the country as she did her research. During her time at the project, she really enjoyed playing with and teaching the children and also felt very comfortable with her host family.
After I graduated from high school, I wanted to use my free time to travel to a foreign country. Since I already had Spanish in school, I wanted to travel to a country where the language is spoken and came to Latin America and Costa Rica. In the three months leading up to my departure, I found it particularly exciting to learn more about the country, as I knew very little about it beforehand. Then, after learning more about Costa Rica, I was even more excited to experience the country and culture, taste traditional foods, and interact with the people there, and I couldn’t wait for the trip to begin.
MY FIRST DAYS
Once we arrived in Costa Rica, we were able to get our first impressions of the country at the introductory event. We visited San José together in bright sunshine and learned a lot about Costa Rica, as well as tasted the first traditional food. After the introductory days, I took the bus to the project location and was warmly welcomed by my host family and roommates. Because everyone was so open and friendly, I was able to settle in quickly and always felt very comfortable.
A NORMAL DAY IN THE PROJECT
In my project in Sámara, I helped out from 11 am to 4 pm. The time before 2 p.m. was used to plan lessons and prepare materials. In addition, my tasks included creating social media posts, collecting donations in kind and writing reports about my time in the organization and especially teaching the children.
Starting at 2pm, after a communal lunch break, classes began for the children. There are two communities where one teacher teaches every day. The lessons alternate between English and art. As a volunteer you help with teaching simple vocabulary, answering questions, providing the necessary handicraft materials and much more. The breaks, as well as the time before and after class, were especially fun, as they were used for playing and running around together. The children taught me typical games from their country and I also showed them games from Germany. But also like in our playgrounds, jumping rope, playing soccer and swinging are not to be missed.
MY FREE TIME
The project site is right on the beach, so we spent a lot of our free time there. There are beach volleyball and soccer fields, surf schools and bars right on the beach. There are also small souvenir stands, boutiques, food trucks, restaurants and a local market in the village. The surrounding beaches and towns are also good for an excursion and there are some tours offered, for example to the nearby reserve, horseback riding, ziplining, snorkeling or boat trips.
My most beautiful excursion was dolphin watching, where we saw, besides flying rays and dolphins, a humpback whale jumping out of the water. That was incredibly impressive. Equally nice was to visit a local traditional festival, which took place because of Easter. There were some food stalls, carousels and shows like a rodeo.
During my time in Costa Rica, I lived with a host family on the outskirts of Sámara, about 10 minutes by bike from the town center. My host family consisted of my host mother, who took care of us, and her husband. There were also two other guest rooms in the house that shared a bathroom. Since these rooms were already occupied by nice roommates when I arrived, I was lucky enough to move into my own apartment. There I had a bathroom, as well as seating and a refrigerator to myself and still had direct connection to the main residence. I felt comfortable there right from the first second, because everyone was super warm and open.
SAFETY ON SITE
On site I felt very safe. You could go around by bike alone both during the day and at night, because the place is considered very touristy and safe. Of course, at night you should still be more attentive and avoid deserted places.
I was lucky that I was often accompanied, because the neighbors of my host family also all had guests with whom I spent a lot of time and so we were together on the road, but even alone or on the way to the project I never had any problems. It’s no problem there to meet nice people and gain experience together.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
I can definitely recommend a stay in Latin America, because the mentality and the way of life of the people is open, friendly and always helpful. The landscapes in Costa Rica were also impressive, especially the rainforest with the many animals, the sea with dreamlike sandy beaches and palm trees, as well as breathtaking waterfalls.
I would describe Latin America in general as very diverse, open and exciting. You can experience new things everywhere and get in touch with new people, gain experience and have adventures.
Besides Costa Rica, I would definitely like to visit Panama in the future, as I have only heard and seen good things about it so far. I would especially like to visit Panama City and the islands of Bocas del Toro.