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Monday, October 16, 2006

Why Costa Rica & why teach ESL?

By: Bruce It seems to me that there are a number of people out there that definitely want to live abroad and teach English, but they aren't exactly sure where they'd like to live. Maybe they have narrowed it down to Latin America, maybe to Central America. Either way, I'm not here to persuade or dissuade you, but I would like to tell you why I have chosen to live in Costa Rica and teach English.

The easiest answer, I suppose, is, why NOT Costa Rica? It's beautiful, tropical, (relatively) safe and stable, it has beaches, and rainforests, and volcanoes, and the quality of life is very good compared to other Latin American countries, etc etc. I really could go on and on, but really, those were only a few of the MANY variables that contributed to my decision to make the move to Costa Rica. So, let me start by giving you my background. I first came to Costa Rica just like the millions of others who have come - as a tourist. I came 2 and a half years ago with my family, and we did the basic tourist trip: fly into Liberia, drive to Arenal Volcano (go to Tabicon Hot Springs), drive to Monteverde (do a canopy tour, hike around with a guide, see wildlife, etc), then head to the beach to round out the trip. This vacation, needless to say, was absolutely amazing; so much so that it truly piqued my interest in the country of Costa Rica.

Feeding off the interest that my vacation generated, I began to study and write about Costa Rica in school. My major at Wake Forest was Political Science and I minored in Spanish and Latin American Studies. Clearly the region, and specifically Costa Rica interested me. Within those concentrations, I focused on the development of Latin America. Specifically, I wrote my senior honors thesis on Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America, and Costa Rica is perhaps one of the most dynamic countries in Latin America in that respect. I wrote about Costa Rica many times, and the more I researched, read, and wrote about Costa Rica, the more I thought I would (or HAD) to spend a real amount of time here - not as a tourist, but as a tenant. Only then, I figured, would I really be able to understand the culture around all the things that I had read and written about.

So that's my background - how and why I became interested in Costa Rica, and where that interest took me. Now I'd like to talk a little bit about where I hope this experience will take me. Like I mentioned before, I was a Poly Sci major in college with a specific concentration on Latin America. Furthermore, as my thesis paper would suggest, I am very much interested in development, and more specifically, how private foreign direct investment can aid (if not fuel) such development. That said, I would very much like to eventually enter the private sector working for a multinational corporation or consulting firm that deals with or in Latin America. Perhaps I'll wind up in sales, maybe business development, or possibly developmental consulting. At this point I don't really know for sure, but what I do know is that I cherish this opportunity that I have given myself to truly experience the region that I want to eventually do business with.

So essentially, by coming to Costa Rica to teach English, I have afforded myself the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture that I would very much like to know inside and out for the future. Do I plan to teach (English or any other subject) as my long term career? No. I am loving it, and depending on how I like the work a number of months from now, perhaps I'll use teaching ESL as way to take me to other countries inside Latin America and around the world. But really what I want everyone to understand is that teaching ESL is a ticket to living in and experiencing just about any culture in any country throughout the world.

Hopefully now you understand not only why I'm teaching ESL, but also why I have chosen Costa Rica. I don't know, perhaps the short answer to why I have decided to move to CR to teach English is "because I can - because I'm young, I have few responsibilities, and I want to see the world" but the reality is that there are so many variables that contribute to why one makes a decision like this. So, to anyone reading this blog and perhaps toying with the idea of moving to Costa Rica or anywhere else in the world, consider the value of the EXPERIENCE. I know that personally, for better or for worse, this experience is something that I will be able to use and talk about the rest of my life.

Oh, and I apologize for this long, perhaps non-cohesive post. I think I may have done it more for me than anything.