A Travellerspoint blog

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Looking Back

So far so good

90 °F

I can’t believe how far I’ve come since the beginning when this whole deal was just a good idea and a bunch of talk. I’d sit and daydream while doing volunteer work out at Lands End in San Francisco about what it would be like to have packed up my life and be living in Costa Rica working on my TEFL certification. So many milestones have come and gone since then. I think back to when I was standing in my nice San Francisco apartment thinking to myself in a bit of a panic, “Do I really want to tear all this down?” “You gotta do something, dude,” has carried me a long way. Step by step I kept moving forward. Some steps were difficult. Seeing my couch hauled away by 1-800-Got-Junk as I was handing the keys back to the land lord was tough. Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge after saying goodbye to my friends not knowing how long it would be until I was back in San Francisco was tough. All of the good byes were tough.
Tearing Down San Francisco

Tearing Down San Francisco

There was so much work to do along the way. When I considered the amount of work as a whole it seemed like way too much. When I broke off little chunks and tried to get something done every day the job kept getting smaller and smaller until it was done. Now I’ve gotten so much done it’s hard for me to believe. All of the work to this point was just prep work really. I hadn’t really created anything. I had only dismantled what I had previously created in order to build something new.
Preparing in Colorado

Preparing in Colorado

When I arrived at the Wide Mouth Frog and met the girl who had just completed the class she surprised me. She said the class was tough and that I would be putting in a lot of hours. I was pretty nervous already. Switching from software engineer to ESL teacher is a pretty big change. As a software engineer I could retreat to my cubicle and focus on whatever problems I needed to solve in quiet solitude when I needed to. Sitting alone and racking my brain was a big part of the job. Teaching would be very different I thought and I wondered if I would be successful. It had been a long time since I was a student. Did I still have my student skills? Could I transition from a career that required more technical skill than social skills to a career that required the opposite?

My first few days of TEFL training put me somewhat at ease. They were throwing a lot at us and I was able to just roll with it. It all came very naturally to me. The other students in the class were great and the teachers were great. Everyone was easy and fun to be around. Everyone was in the same boat and helping eachother out. It seemed to me that the course was designed to get everyone working together as a team to ensure that everyone succeeded. It wasn’t like college where I just sat there taking notes while the professor droned on. Most of the exercises were collaborative. We reviewed homework together to make sure everyone was getting it right. The only thing I ever got a grade on (that I know about) was the grammar test. It made for a great learning environment because there was no incentive to isolate yourself and try to become valedictorian on your own.

There is a lot of work packed into the four week TEFL certification course. I wonder how long it took the TEFL folks to come up with this curriculum. It’s right on the edge of being too much but almost everyone gets through it. Maybe it’s not on the edge of being too much then. We all adapted to the work load. Maybe my whole trip thus far is right on the edge of too much. I doubt it. I wonder how much I could accomplish if I just set an “outrageous” goal and went to work, chipping away day by day. I think the possibilities are awesome. Of course the hard part is deciding what that goal is. I was 100% behind the goal of earning my TEFL certificate and so it got done.


All in all the rewards for taking on this project so far have been more than I ever hoped for. The TEFL certification is reward enough but there have been many unexpected rewards along the way. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be with while taking the course. What an incredible mix of characters. The bonds I’ve created with my fellow students and my home stay family are the kind that won’t be broken. I imagine seeing these people in ten or twenty years and spontaneously breaking into hysterical laughter.

So now what? I have found myself hanging around Quepos for the last week deflating, relaxing, writing. I have to crank it back up soon and keep moving forward. Having a TEFL Certification is great but I might want to go ahead and do something with it. A new chapter. A new opportunity to create more great stuff. It’s tough to get rolling again. I’m comfortable here. Oh well. That’s almost over now. It was nice while it lasted. You gotta do something, dude.

Posted by dfilipia 12:38 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged educational Comments (0)

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