People and Untold Stories

Experiences Living Abroad and How They Changed Me.

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Moving Abroad is a scary and exciting experience. You don’t know what to expect because anything could happen. Before I share some of the unexpected situations that could happen living abroad, I want to tell you how living abroad happened for me.

I decided to take that step about 2 years ago. I quit my job and left my life in the US to teach English in Costa Rica. Just before I quit my job, my health was not good. I was dealing with stomach issues that stemmed from a huge amount of stress with my work. I knew life had to offer something more. I had questions I wanted answers to and traveling to Costa Rica had those answers.

I spoke to my fiance at the time about making the move. He and I were set to get married a year and half later. It was important that we make this life changing decision together. We made a plan for what was to happen for the next year and half. Life would be different for us yet we had been through worse and survived. After the decision was made, I left for Costa Rica 2 months later.

I took a TEFL course* near the capital of Costa Rica for a month to prepare me for teaching non-native English speakers. I excelled and passed the course with flying colors. During the course, I had my mind set on teaching in Monteverde, a town in the cloud forest. I contacted a local school in the little mountain town and began the interview process. As soon as the course ended, I spent 3 days in Monteverde interviewing and getting to know the school and administrators. It was a renewing experience to be able to spend some time in the forest. It was tranquil, relaxing, and peaceful. However, I knew in my heart that was not the place my soul wanted to be.

As I continued my job hunt traveling the pacific coast of Costa Rica, I fell in love with a small, beach town called Brasilito. I found a local school that was within a 10 minute drive from the town I knew would be home. After calling and interviewing with the school, I got offered a full time, 2nd grade teaching position. I was thrilled and excited to make this area my home.

The Transition

To prepare for the transition a little better, I went back to the states for a month. During the month, I visited family and friends. There were papers I needed to apply for my work visa in Costa Rica, so I started the process of acquiring those papers. It was such an exciting time. I could feel in my heart the best year of my life was about to begin. I knew changes within me would happen that I would never believe.

The month flew by fast, I had all my bags packed, and an apartment waiting for me once I landed. This would be the first time I lived on my own with no roommates. I would be in a Spanish country, I know little Spanish.

I bought some things at the local WalMart so I could make the apartment feel a little more like home. The apartment was a 15 minute walk to the local beach. It was surrounded by mango and cas trees. I was right on the main road so access to transit was perfect. The local store was a 5 minute drive.

The Perfect Location

It was the perfect location.

It was home.

Teaching the students was a breeze. They were amazing and receptive. I was able to teach the way I wanted to teach. No one came into the classroom. It was the perfect class. I had no trouble teaching the students the topics they needed to know. I had access to so many wonderful ideas on Pinterest. I had games from my TEFL course, I was able to implement into the classroom. I truly loved my job (I still love this job, as I am still here).

Even with my job so amazing, there were trials and experiences I had to go through alone. Some experiences I chose on my own, others were thrown at me. Here are two of the experiences I had chosen and two things I didn’t.

Lasik surgery.

I have always had glasses or contacts. Living at the beach, it was not always conducive to have glasses. Lasik is half the price here and the doctors are a little better than in the states. I went to San Jose, which is in the central valley, about 6 hours away. I went for the first consultation and planned to schedule my surgery for December when someone could be with me. The exams went well. They gave me the go ahead for the surgery. We talked about the date that would work for me. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for the doctor.

So, I had the surgery that day, 2 hours later. I was terrified because I knew I wouldn’t be able to see and had to make the 6 hour trip home basically blind. The surgery went perfect and I made it home just fine. (I couldn’t see anything the drive home)

Leaving my fiance.

After being in Costa Rica on my own for 8 months, I decided he wasn’t the man for me. The situations I experienced while living alone showed me I deserved better than what I had with him.

There were many things I doubted that I thought would change once I left. It only got worse. We were drifting apart. I was here learning how to be independent and open. He was there doing the same things he did before. I had been married before and knew what I didn’t want.

Being abroad showed me those things I didn’t want, that he did, clear as day. It took me a good two months to finally make the breakup happen. It was hard. And it was worth it.

Medical Issues.

I have more medical issues here than I ever did in the states. Some of the medical issues I had in the states (I had no diagnoses), got amplified here. I found out I have endometriosis and irritable bowel syndrome. I had issues with my periods and bowels for a long time. I had seen numerous doctors in the states and no answers. After moving abroad the symptoms got worse.

I searched out doctors to help me deal with the pain. They were able to diagnose me so that I could get the treatment I needed. I live with these two everyday and there is no cure. I am learning to manage the pain and symptoms.

Being Robbed.

A close mentor of mine passed away in Chile. I took some time off from work to travel there for the ceremonies they had for him. I knew it was going to be a life changer. I had a feeling something huge was going to happen. I just didn’t know what.

Within 6 hours of being in Chile, I got robbed. I was eating lunch with a friend. Right in front our faces, a man came in and grabbed my bag off my chair. (I made the mistake of putting my bag on the back of the chair.) We didn’t notice until we were going to pay. I was calm as could be. I told my friend my bag was missing. She was in shock.

I just remained calm and collected like nothing happened. We got video of the man and went to the police station. My money, passport, and a few electronics were in the bag. I was left with only my cell phone. I had meeting and ceremonies to attend with no time to think about what needed to be done about my passport. Since it was Friday after 5:30pm, I knew the embassy would be closed until Monday morning. I focused on why I was there and did what I could when I had time. I had over 300 friends and acquaintances that would take care of me. In the end, I was able to get a new passport and travel back to Costa Rica safely.

Once back in Costa Rica, I was unable to get a new debit card for a week and half due to the banks being closed for Easter week. My dad had to transfer money to a friend so I could have money to survive on. It was the worst feeling having money with no access to it. I went through some fear and came out on top.

All of these things have shown me how strong and courageous I am as a woman. I had never known I could react the ways I did. In the past, these things would have broken me. Living abroad has challenged me in ways I never expected. I appreciate and love the journey I am on here in this beautiful land, I now call home.

Experiences Living Abroad and How They Changed Me.

About the Guest Contributor

Experiences Living Abroad

Ashley Sprinkel currently lives and teaches English in Costa Rica. She started writing her blog when she decided to move abroad, 2 years ago. It has been an amazing adventure full of strength and courage.  She wanted to share her experiences with others to inspire them. She loves inspiring people to live out their dreams. The best way she knows how is by writing. She enjoys writing about things she is passionate about. It makes life more enjoyable and worthwhile. 

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This post may contain affiliate links. This means that we may earn small commission on item sold through these links. There is NO additional cost to you from the sale but this will help me maintain the website. 

12 thoughts on “Experiences Living Abroad and How They Changed Me.

  1. This was a truly inspiring post! Wow, this move to Costa Rica changed your life in so many ways. Just you realizing being in Costa Rica that the man you were intending on marrying back here in the States was not the one for you! Amazing.

  2. Great story, I had the same issue like you, IBS and endometriosis. I manage very well today on my own , no more medic, just the right food and no more pain:) You are indeed very courageous to live abroad, like that on your own:)

  3. Wow, that must be an amazing experience! I’ve been to Costa Rica twice and loved it. I love the range of environments (both Monteverde and the beach) and the people are so warm and friendly.

  4. How fantastic this is – what an amazing experience! You have certainly had your challenges along the way, but I bet the positives truly outweigh them!

  5. Wow, what a journey! So inspiring, love your honesty and your openness. Just such a beautiful example that everything happens for a reason, always Xxx

  6. Wow, what an amazing experience. It really seems like your whole life changes and you must have been so brave to leave your finance so well done for that. Living abroad really does make you realise what is important, I experienced a similar feeling. TEFL sounds like a great opportunity, I’m going to look into it!

    Jenny |

  7. Sounds like an adventure for sure! I would love to be able to move abroad one day and experience different cultures!

  8. Costa Rica is such an amazing country, I’ve been there 3 times, and if I had to pick a place to relocate to, Costa Rica would be among my top choices! I too have spent time on the local beach towns along the Pacific, my favorite being Nosara.

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