Volunteer Name: Megan Lacombe
Project Location: San Jose Costa Rica
Program Dates: June 27 – July 18, 2015
Volunteered at: Guarderia daycare
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator/staff and the support provided in-country?
The coordinator was really great and helpful. I felt like I had support the entire time I was in San Jose and there was never a time where I felt insecure in the project or my homestay. He also suggested good places to visit over the weekends.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
Program: I was surprised by how calm the daycare was for the amount of children we were watching and I was surprised at how open and welcoming the staff was. Estrella, the woman who runs the daycare, is incredible and she really contributed to my experience.
Host Family: My host family was amazing. I was surprised by how incredible the food was in my homestay. I was also surprised by the copious amount of football (soccer) I ended up watching. If you walk down the street while Costa Rica is playing soccer, you can tell who is winning by the cheering coming from all of the houses. I was very nervous to stay with a host family so I was surprised how quickly I adjusted to living with another family.
Country: One of the most surprising things about Costa Rica was how friendly and helpful everyone is. From the time I got off the plane everyone was super friendly and open.
3- What was the most challenging thing you experienced?
Program: Not speaking Spanish was really hard at the beginning of the trip.
Host Family: There was not really anything specifically challenging in my homestay but it was sometimes challenging to communicate.
Country: Again, not speaking Spanish fluently was really hard for me.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
1. Bring lots of bug spray.
2. Exchange money at the airport or use an ATM. There is often an extra charge if you pay for things like hostels with dollars, but if there is not an extra charge you should use dollars to avoid losing money to the exchange rate.
3. Hostels are a really good place to stay during the weekend. Defiantly travel on the weekend, busses cost around ten dollars if you want to go to Manuel Antonio or Jaco (beaches).
4. Be open to meeting lots of really cool people and try to connect with volunteers and local people.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know before coming here:
(thats not in the orientation guide)
a. Everyone is extremely kind and welcoming.
b. I would suggest learning at least a little conversational Spanish before you come because the language barrier can be very isolating.
c. It is really easy to plan trips for the weekend.
6- Personal Paragraph about the experience (ABV Program Testimonial):
I took the Spanish Immersion classes the entire time I was here. Be willing to engage with the kids and come prepared with a ton of energy. The kids here are incredibly sweet and loving. I would recommend learning basic commands in Spanish like sit down, put that away, and stop. I had an amazing experience in Costa Rica and I would recommend it to anyone.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security, friendliness, quality others:
The accommodation was very nice and the meals were incredible and very filling. There was never a time where I felt unsafe and my host family cared about my safety and were always looking out for me.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?:
Program: All the kids. They were incredibly loving and fun.
Host Family: I loved the food and hanging out with my host family after dinner. One of my favorite memories is of cooking Colombian food with my roommate, my home stay mother, and her six year old granddaughter.
Country: The beaches are beautiful and the culture is incredible and vibrant.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
I didn't really talk to ABV before traveling to Costa Rica, because all was set so easy in the application, travel guide, orientation paperwork
9.1- What do you think about the reservation system online?
It was very self explanatory and easy to complete.
9.2- Who did you find Abroaderview website
I found the website online by searching for volunteer programs.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?