Alumni Spotlight: Elissa Tauscher

Elissa is a 22-year-old student studying at San Diego State University. She recently went to San Jose, Costa Rica to teach English.

Why did you choose this program?

I choose IVHQ because it was endorsed by San Diego State University so I knew that it was not only a reputable program, but it was also safe. I choose to teach English abroad because I wanted to take myself out of my comfort zone and try something radically different than the previous teaching experience I had.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I had to organize my flight and transportation to the airport. IVHQ provided transportation from the airport to the homestay, and the homestay, which includes breakfast and dinner.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Immersion is key. Being abroad is a decision on your part on how the trip will go because you can either choose to jump in with both feet and try to make the most out of your experience, or it could be a miserable experience by deciding to not immerse yourself in the culture and the people who are participating.

If you're on the fence about going abroad to volunteer, just go. Don't overthink it, and take what you know about the country with a grain of salt. People will throw a lot of information at you about what the country is like, and some of it is definitely true and you should always be aware of your surroundings, but take the time while you're there to form your own opinions on the country.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

There are two shifts for volunteering, either morning which begins around 9 am or afternoon which begins around 2 pm. Depending on which shift you have, there is an option to participate in Spanish lessons either in the morning or after the placement concludes in the afternoon.

Depending on where the placement is, people can bus or walk to volunteering, and then return to the host family's house for dinner, or go out for dinner somewhere. Volunteering shifts typically last two hours.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Going abroad, my biggest fear was inadvertently offending someone. People in Costa Rica are very understanding and accommodating but just being kind and trying to understand their culture and point of view is important and people do appreciate the effort of trying to understand.