Volunteer Costa Rica: From beginning to end though, you are taken care of. Someone picks you up from the airport, our host was always there for us and very helpful, and we were only ever on our own on the weekends when we decided to do excursions, which was our own choice.
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The woman we stayed with, Jenny was amazing. She is the perfect host and will make you feel right at home. She always made sure we were happy, fed and taken care of.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
I was surprised to see how different the various areas in Costa Rica are. We visited two dental clinics, one in a better side of town than the other. Regardless, the people were all extremely nice, welcoming and very curious about us being from the United States. The clinics were much smaller than back home and help is definitely needed there.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
Our host mom made things very simple and safe for us, but the most difficult thing is just the adjustment which takes a few days. I am not entirely fluent in Spanish, but I do understand it pretty well. Sometimes though, communicating or understanding certain things was a bit difficult but doable.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
I would definitely recommend bringing a rain jacket, poncho and insect repellant because it does rain every day without fail. Also, always bring more money than you think you will need because things do come up and you may not account for certain expenses like transportation or excursions on the weekend.
5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
You have to go into your program very open-minded and with patience. There will be difficult situations, you will be tired, but it is all worth it.
6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
I was very nervous going into my international volunteering trip to Costa Rica. I was scared for my safety and really did not know what to expect. From beginning to end though, you are taken care of. The ABV driver picks you up from the airport, our host was always there for us and very helpful, and we were only ever on our own on the weekends when we decided to do excursions, which was our own choice.
You learn so much working in the clinic, and being out of your comfort zone around different people and places really opens your eyes and helps you grow. The main dentist, Jessica is one of the most humble and driven people I have ever met. I would go back to Costa Rica just to see her and Jenny again. The weekends off were also very fun because there is so much to see and do in Costa Rica. I highly recommend visiting La Fortuna for a hike around the Arenal Volcano, waterfalls, hot springs, zip lining and hikes with hanging bridges.
7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
Our host mom was excellent. We would always clean up after ourselves, but she would insist on washing our clothes and dishes whenever we tried to do it ourselves. She would always freshen up our beds and make sure everything was tidy. She made us meals whenever we were hungry, and it was nice having some traditional Costa Rican meals. Jenny’s house is very safe because outside of her house there is a gate, another gate in front of her door, and then the lock on her door itself as well. The two dogs she has, Rusty and Whiskey are great too!
8- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
My favorite memory from my trip was simply interacting with the great people and learning in the clinic. Our weekend in La Fortuna was full of fun too!
9 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
They were always helpful and would answer any questions we had quickly. They made the process easy.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
I would speak to others about these programs because they really are extremely beneficial for whatever your interests are.