Volunteer Costa Rica: I was lucky enough to volunteer at a hospital where I would help care for the babies or kids whose parents could not always be with them. There are not enough nurses to care for all of the kids and the parents need to eat or sleep at some point and that is where the rest of the volunteers and I come in. We would help take care of the children.
How was the local ABV Coordinator/staff and the support provided in-country (airport, orientation day, follow up, communication, emergencies)?
The local staff and support in country was great. After making my way through immigration, grabbing my bags, and making my way through customs, it was a little daunting trying to find my way, but the local staff was easy to locate and they got me to where I was supposed to go. The orientation by the coordinator was also great. It definitely prepared me for the project and gave me a better idea of my duties. Overall, it has been a great experience.
What was the most positive surprising thing you experienced?
a.- Volunteer Program: was most likely just how happy many of the children are. They are in a hospital, and yet most of them are able to offer up a smile. They are happy to have someone with them, and the look on their faces when their parents arrive is just awesome. Many of the kids manage to stay positive and happy which is just awesome to see.
b.- Host Family: was probably how welcoming and friendly they are. They were so kind to me and showed me around their neighborhood the first day I was there. They definitely made me feel right at home, and it definitely does not hurt that my host mom is a fantastic cook.
c.- Country: The most positive surprising thing that I experienced in Costa Rica is definitely how friendly most of the people are. My Spanish is mediocre, and yet most people are so patient and try to help figure things out. They don’t get super frustrated and try to work with me, which is definitely a great thing.
3- What was the most challenging thing you experienced?
a.- Volunteer Program: The most challenging thing I experienced in regards to my work at the hospital is most likely realizing that sometimes you can’t fix all the kid’s problems. Sometimes the kids would be upset and nothing you could do would make them feel better. Some would only be okay when their parents were with them. I just had to realize that even though they were upset and would not stop crying, at least they knew that they were not alone and that someone would stay with them until their parents arrived.
b.- Host Family: The most challenging thing I experienced with the host family is probably communication. My Spanish is so-so, and while I can understand a little more than I can speak, it was still tough at first. The pace that people speak at here is so fast, and it took some getting used to, but with time and practice I have gotten much better.
c.- Country: The most challenging thing in Costa Rica for me is navigating. I am used to places having numbers in their addresses, however that is not the case here. It definitely made navigating hard for me because the addresses of places I was going were sometimes hard to interpret, but you get used to it.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (clothing, travel, personal items, donations, gift for the host family)
1. If you are traveling during the rainy season, a rain jacket or an umbrella is a must. It often rains in the afternoons when I finish at the hospital and if I did not have an umbrella, I would be drenched by the time I reached home.
2. Be ready to use public transportation. Buses are a great way to get around here, and they run from all over the city. They can also be used to travel to other cities.
3. Try to make friends to travel with. It is much easier to sightsee on the weekends if you have a friend, so don’t be afraid to approach someone at your program to see what they are doing. Certain tours have a minimum of two people and you don’t want to miss out on certain things.
4. Definitely sightsee if you have the time. There are so many cool things to explore so you should definitely take the opportunity to do so. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but try new things.
Volunteer Costa Rica
5- Other things volunteers should know before coming here:
a. You may have to use public transportation to get places, which is a lot cheaper than getting a taxi.
b. Uber is definitely an option to get places.
c. The trip to and from the hospital takes about 45 minutes, but it is pretty easy and painless.
d. Don’t be discouraged if it’s not what you expect, merely take the experience for what it is and you will get enjoyment from that.
6- Personal Paragraph about the entire experience (ABV Program Testimonial) give as much detail as you can:
The ABV program that I have been a part of here in Costa Rica has been an awesome experience. I was lucky enough to volunteer at a hospital where I would help care for the babies or kids whose parents could not always be with them.
There are not enough nurses to care for all of the kids and the parents need to eat or sleep at some point and that is where the rest of the volunteers and I come in. We would help take care of the children. This could be as simple as sitting there and letting them play, or helping feed them. What has been amazing to see is how happy many of the kids are even though they are in the hospital. Just playing with them for a few minutes is enough to see a big smile, which has been great. It has been so rewarding. Also, the family I have been staying with has been amazing.
Alice is the greatest cook, and she has been so welcoming. She helped to show me around my first day in the country and has been such a great help since then. The weekends are also a great time to explore the country of Costa Rica. I was lucky enough to explore the Arenal area through zip lining and a trip to the hot springs. It is definitely something that everyone should do. Honestly, this program has been a blast and great in every area.
7- How would you describe: your accommodation, what meal did you enjoy the most, security in the house/neighborhood, friendliness, quality others:
My accommodation was great, Alice and her family are the best. When I first got there, another volunteer working at the same hospital was also staying there which was nice. She and Alice and her family were so welcoming and glad to have me there.
Alice is also a fantastic cook and so every meal has been an enjoyable experience. However my favorite meal that she has made would have to be either empanada or the tamale that she made. Alice has been so friendly and welcoming, and her house is very nice as well.
It is in a nice neighborhood and the bus stop to the hospital is no more than a three minute walk away which is super convenient. Ultimately, staying with Alice and her family has been a great experience.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?:
a.- Volunteer Program: My favorite memory of the program is not really one particular moment or memory. Rather it is different moments of the same thing. What I really enjoyed is when I would come in, and a kid would no longer be there because they got to go home. I was sad that I would not get to play with them anymore, but also I was so happy that they were healthy enough to go home.
b.- Host Family: My favorite memory of the host family would definitely have to be watching soccer games with them. They are being Real Madrid fans so they would make sure to watch all of their games. I was told that Real Madrid is the best team in the world, and I could tell they were really big fans, which was nice to see.
c.- Country: My favorite memory of the trip was definitely when I went zip lining and visited the hot springs with another volunteer. We were able to be picked up at a nearby hotel and were taken to the Arenal volcano area. There we were able to go zip lining and even go on a Tarzan swing which was so much fun.
Then we were taken to a nearby hot springs that was just amazing. I definitely would recommend it to someone if they were looking for something to do.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
The ABV USA support prior to traveling was good. The emails were very helpful and keep me up to date on what I needed to do. I did not really have very many questions, so I never needed to chat online or make any phone calls.
9.1- What do you think about the reservation system online?
I thought the online reservation system was really good. The online system clearly had the steps that I needed to follow listed out, and it was easy to keep track of what I was supposed to be doing or needed. The different tabs kept the system really organized which was a lot better than looking at one massive page with everything on it.
9.2- Who did you find Abroaderview website
I found Abroaderview first by looking at a site that listed reviews for different volunteer abroad services. There were several different services that had reviews, and I really liked what people had to say about ABV. That is how I ended up finding the site.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Yes, I would be willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers.