Why did you decide to get TEFL certified with International TEFL Academy?
Natalie: I got TEFL certified because I wanted to get the best job possible abroad. I got TEFL certified specifically with International TEFL Academy because their program worked best with my budget, schedule and priorities.
First, the program was affordable and my adviser worked with me on a payment plan to better suit my budget.
Secondly, I worked full time and wanted to complete an online course, which International TEFL Academy offered, but it also fulfilled in-class practice instruction known as the practicum. I think that the practicum was the most important part of the certification and the balance between that practice with the online courses was why I liked the program: it offered what I felt was the most effective training.
The staff at International TEFL Academy was always accessible if I had any questions and were happy to share resources and personal experiences that helped me along the way in my decision.
I have maintained a great relationship with the staff at International TEFL Academy, have attended an "Alumni Meet-Up" abroad here in Costa Rica and met some fellow teachers.
I enjoy the networking aspect of the group and know it will be valuable down the road.
What made this teach abroad experience unique and special?
Natalie: While this is not my first time abroad, it is my first time living and working abroad. I am still trying to find the words to explain how amazing the experience has been for me. I have gained confidence in the classroom and speaking a foreign language. I have met so many admirable people through working and traveling, from more countries than I can count. I have learned to live with less, from money to clothes to cooking appliances.
Costa Rica, specifically, has taught me to slow down. Ticos are some of the nicest and most generous people I've ever met. Things here run at a slower pace than the United States where I am from (and I'm even from the South!) and I have embraced it fully. The most important part of this experience to me is the amount of time I have been able to spend getting to know certain areas of this beautiful country and its people. Working abroad allows you a more authentic understanding of a place; something much more special to me than just passing through with a backpack to all of the popular tourist destinations (which is still fun and I do it often on the weekends!). Teaching, even more so, has brought a whole different level of interpersonal experience to my journey here through relationships with my students.
How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, academically, etc.)
Natalie: To be honest, I don't know how this experience has affected my future professionally, but I can tell you with complete certainty that I've never been more satisfied with my job.
I am confident that my educational background, specific training and global experience will always appeal to the types of employers that I want to work for.
I may not teach abroad forever, but I want to help other people get abroad. I love to research and I love to travel. I love to help people and I love to learn languages, recipes and traditions.
Teaching abroad has helped me set some goals that are more aligned with my own passions in life. It has also shown me that I am capable of much more than I think at times.
What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering teaching abroad in Costa Rica?
Natalie: My one piece of advice to someone considering teaching in Costa Rica would be DO IT NOW! Or set a date and buy a ticket, or something that will make the commitment real to you. It's easy to get wrapped up in other things while you are working on that next goal and put it on the back burner. But I think it is important to act on some impulses, especially the ones that will lead to some of the most enriching experiences of your life.
It may seem daunting to drop everything and move to another country, or you may think you can't hack it, or afford it, or emotionally withstand it - but like I said earlier about this experience and its impact on my life, if I've learned anything over the past 6 months, it is that I am capable of much more than I thought, and I am reassuring myself of that every day. If you are here, reading these testimonies and doing the research, you are well on your way to the best time of your life.