I love meeting inspiring people. Luckily, as a nomadic and pretty open minded person, I find it fairly easy to connect to people who I have never met in real life. That's also how many of my real life friend were once Instagram friends. But that's a topic for another day…

Today, I want you to meet Shelly, who, after graduating college, took a position at a career institute working in the Admissions Department. After 3 years and a promotion, she decided it was time to do something different. Having worked as an adjunct instructor for the same institute, she decided to intertwine her passions of travel and education.

In January 2017, she enrolled in a TEFL course and never looked back. She lives the nomad lifestyle, doing what she is passionate about in Central America, for now. Soon she will be travelling the world. We both know it.

But let Shelly tell you more about who she is and what's her life between white-sandy beaches and sweeping rainforests in Costa Rica is all about.


Hi there, please introduce yourself! Where are you from, how old are you (if I may ask :-)) and where are you currently living?

My name is Shelly, 27 years old and originally from New York City. I'm currently living in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Shelly Maximo Nivel Costa Rica

What do you do for a living? Is your job digital nomad friendly and could you potentially do this anywhere in the world?

I am an English instructor for an institute in San Jose, however I also teach online through a platform called Cambly. So yes, basically I could do this anywhere in the world, if I have a good Internet connection that is.

For me, teaching at an institute really provides the structure needed to get started as an online English teacher, and it was important for me to have that structure so I could provide online clients quality service.

Maximo Nivel Costa Rica

How did you get into this sort of work? How can others do the same?

I took a TEFL course through Maximo Nivel in Manuel Antonio. Basically, I just researched the qualifications needed to teach English, and then looked at the different companies that offered the program.

Past TEFL students raved about the Maximo Nivel program in online reviews. After speaking with the agents, I felt confident that I was making the right decision.

It's actually not hard for anyone who wants to do the same. If you are interested in getting TEFL certified, you can check out how it works here.

teaching English in Costa Rica

Did your friends/family/colleagues think you’ve gone crazy when you said you’re going to live abroad for a while? Were they supportive?

My family and friends definitely thought it was a bit strange. I have friends who after finding out what I was paying for the program, asked why I was doing it.

But apart from that, everyone was quite supportive. I think more so because they were interested in seeing how things would pan out and if I would fail. Or would I succeed? I really liked that challenge though. It made me even more determined to succeed abroad.

Have you personally benefited from this experience?

Absolutely. It’s such a huge step to say goodbye to everything and everyone you know, and then create a completely new life for yourself in a foreign land.

It's definitely a confidence booster to know you took the leap, and you didn't crash. You learn to come out of your shell a bit too, be comfortable in uncomfortable situations, and that learning is truly a lifelong process.

maximonivel costa rica tefl
Costa Rica Toucan

What is your favourite city/country/beach/mountain destination and why?

This is such a hard question. I really loved Tulum, Mexico as a beach town destination for its laid back day vibe and lively nightlife, but I also really enjoyed the city of Cusco, Peru for its beauty, architecture, and history.

There's also so much more to see, still. I'll always love New York City, though. How could I not? There's literally something for everyone in this city.

Costa Rica Natur Waterfall

What advice would you give a friend who wanted to do the same?

Stop thinking, and just do. Work hard, save about two-grand in spending money, buy your flight, and let the TEFL program take care of the logistics so you don't overburden yourself with logistics and coordination.

If you run out of money before you find a way to make more, just go back home, just make sure you have a way to get back. Whatever it is, being from a first-world country provides you privileges so rarely afforded to others. Take advantage. You've nothing to lose.

Manuel Antonio Costa Rica

What are your future travel plans?

I'm planning to do a pretty extensive tour of South America in 2018, and then I might look into teaching English in Asia thereafter.

The opportunities are endless when you can work from almost anywhere. So, we'll see. I'm just as curious about the future as you are.

sunset in costa rica

This post is brought to you by Maximo Nivel, a family-owned organisation, operating four educational institutes across three of the world’s most beautiful countries: Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. No matter, if you are looking to volunteer, do an internship, learn Spanish in a summer camp, immerse yourself in Central American culture, get TEFL certified or looking for gap year opportunities, all their programs are internationally accredited and recognised worldwide.

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