Bienvenidos! Hello everyone! My name is Elsa López, and I am an undergraduate from Las Vegas, studying Elementary Education and French. I was given the fantastic opportunity of interning in San Ramon, Costa Rica! I am representing my school as the first primary teacher from Las Vegas, and subsequently testing the waters for future international teachers to come.
My semester in Costa Rica will be experienced on my terms, which is pretty exhilarating! My facilitators do not have a syllabus for me to follow, and my international study advisor does not have information regarding teaching abroad. In the face of uncertainty, there is nothing that thrills me more than a good plan—which is why checklists are imperative! Here is a teeny glimpse of what was my preparation process.
As an intern, I needed to bring twice as much for this trip. I was in full teacher mode as I packed a second suitcase full of books, a pair of foam dice, multiple sticker sheets, and more. I also spent weeks filling my google drive with pre-written lesson plans. My wardrobe consisted of business-casual wear, as expected for a teacher, and memory-foam trainers for obvious reasons. Aside from planning for my teaching duties, I delegated some of my personal tasks to beloved family members who were willing to help. My parents tend to my houseplants, and my dogs are cared for by my partner. Speaking of, it was my first time sustaining a long-distance relationship. I googled “Long-Distance Relationships” for ideas, and I came across the craft pictured here. Whenever your partner misses you, they can read a note from the jar! Do I consider spending an afternoon writing love notes on heart-shaped post-its to be worthwhile? Without a doubt! Preparing my relationship for the challenges of long-distance was a major priority.
I want to finish this post off with a bit of vulnerability and emphasize how the preparation process goes beyond a packing list. My road to interning abroad actually started with a failure. In my sophomore year of college, I intended to study abroad in France. I had been saving forever and could finally afford the tuition. During this time, I was struggling with severe anxiety that seemed to worsen as the study abroad date approached. Ultimately, I canceled my dream trip and struggled with the impending feelings of incompetence. This was a difficult period in my life, but I believe it was necessary because it led to a lot of positive changes. Staying home meant I was prioritizing my wellbeing. I spent the next couple of years investing heavily in my mental health. This time around, I received the opportunity to intern in Costa Rica, and you better believe I was ready! Remember that the most important part of interning abroad is your emotional wellbeing. Interning abroad is undoubtedly stressful, but you’ll know you’re ready when the feelings of excitement and curiosity are what prevail!