Most of my friends and family back in my last homes (including Canada, Germany, Sweden, and New Zealand) think that my life is just one long vacation. Often they ask me “How did you manage to finish two degrees, live in so many countries around the world, and now end up living and working in paradise?”. I just shrug my shoulders at them and say “I think if you just follow your heart and do what feels right, you’ll end up in the right place and before you know it, you’ll be doing what you love”.
I have to say that I’m a very lucky girl because my parents have always supported me and put up with my new crazy plans and ideas. Without their support throughout my life, I would not have been able to come to Costa Rica that effortlessly. However, I never had a lot of money – I’ve always had to get stipends, jobs, and work or study hard to maintain my life.
I’ve been doing several different things in Costa Rica from studying and living with a host family (for around 6 months), working for a volunteer company (for around 5 months), to founding my own volunteer company and working as a freelance website developer and graphic designer (for the last year). I liked everything I’ve done so far, and what I’m doing right now. But my life never stands still – I’m constantly looking for new things to do, new projects to develop, and I’d love to eventually work for a conservation organization or project.
I can say, now I do know a fair bit about life in Costa Rica. I can speak Spanish on an advanced level that I can talk “business” in Spanish, and have abstract conversations. Languages always came quiet easy to me – I never had a hard time learning them. Spanish was not any different – I wanted to become fluent in it, and so I did.
In Costa Rica, you don’t even need to speak Spanish fluently to become successful though. I have plenty of expat friends who don’t even speak Spanish past the beginner level – and they run businesses, own hotels, or work in high-paid jobs. Costa Rica is made for tourists, which makes it easy to be successful for someone like me – who can speak English, and who can make websites (for example).
For the last years I’ve continuously tried to get my foot in the door of good conservation organizations. I’ve had an offer to work for a company called Frontier, but I decided against working for them. I couldn’t support working in an unpaid job for a company that made money of volunteers (and I’m talking thousands of dollars a month), and not put any cash into the actual project, research equipment, improvements of the housing situation (which consisted of tents and hammocks, no electricity, one outdoor bathroom for up to 20 people), or help for the local communities. All the money just went right to the US or England, to some rich people’s pockets.
I applied for several other jobs, but it seems that there is always someone better, with more experience, with better Spanish, and with higher qualifications. In terms of conservation work during the last two years: Story of my life. So, I’ve just been doing what I’m doing, hoping that one day a nice and honest conservation project/ organization will give me the chance to proof that I have some good ideas, and a 100% eagerness to give my best for the project / organization.
Until that happens, I’ll stay positive and try to do my best to survive in Costa Rica, and still make my small share of a difference with establishing new volunteer projects and helping conservation organizations with cheap websites and promotional material…