Before moving to Costa Rica I read a book called Happier than a Billionaire. Basically, the author and her husband left behind their very busy North American lives and came to Costa Rica for a fresh start. I read that book at a time when I had more money than I will probably ever see again and yet, I find the title fitting to what I am experiencing now.

People always ask me if I liked the UAE and like most things it is a complicated answer. But the truth is, even after only two months here in Costa Rica, I am much happier than I ever was in the UAE. So you see, I too am happier (now) than when I was a thousands-aire (not quite a billionaire) in the UAE. There are some really wonderful and amazing things about living in the UAE, wonderful people, great travel opportunities, less responsibilities, more resources, good infrastructure, etc. But sometimes these things aren’t enough.

What I’ve realized here is that I enjoy the challenge of living. Now, don’t get me wrong some challenges I would prefer to not live with (cockroaches and massive amounts of ants to begin with) but generally speaking I feel like my brain needs more day-to-day challenges. I often joke with my students that I “haven’t worked this hard it two years” but it isn’t really a joke. The truth is in the UAE, at my particular school, by job was more about checking boxes and being where I was supposed to be. Due to lack of school-wide discipline procedures and an overall disinterest by both students and staff my days were generally long and boring with a few gems thrown in here and there.

However, here at UWC Costa Rica I enjoy a nice leisurely three minute walk from my house to my classroom (only problematic on heavy rain days or when iguanas get in my way). The students want to learn, want to participate and they understand their role. For the first time, in a while, I am doing the real work of an educator, facilitating learning instead of directing it. It is a change for me, I’m having to dig deep into my teaching skills to find the right things for these students. But, after two years of being told “no Miss, no learn today” it is amazing to have students saying “thank you” at the end of a lesson.

These are some things I’ve been thinking about. I am happy to say that I’m starting to put my time in the UAE into perspective (a little bit) and I know it will take me a while to do this but I’m glad to be able to articulate some of how I’m feeling.

In other news, my slow recovery and re-entry into the the world of running is off to a good start. In 2005-6 I got into running and was enjoying it. But something happened and I started getting really bad pain on my left side. After some time and finally zeroing in on the problem (leg length difference) I have been slowly trying to run again. Not having my bike for the past two years has helped fuel this. Anyway, today I completed my first road race (no swimming involved) and it was great!

Costa Rica has a race nearly every weekend during the month of October for breast cancer awareness, today I joined some co-workers and participated in Corre por Mi (Run for Me). When I signed up for the race I registered for a 4K, and later I found out that my co-workers were going to be doing the 8K. So, not wanting to be left out of the “fun” I decided to give it a try. I have only, up until this morning, ran 4K. My goal was to finish under an hour and try to limit my walking. Unfortunately, the last stretch of the race was uphill! I made it about 6K before I had to walk, but I powered on and finished in 54min 45sec (my watch)! Goal achieved!

Running Buddies!

Running Buddies!


About Andrea

I am teacher and traveler blogging my experiences living as an expat from the USA. From 2007-2012 I lived and worked in Oregon, USA. From 2012 (when I started blogging) to 2014, I lived and worked in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. In August 2014 I begin living and working in Santa Ana, Costa Rica.
This entry was posted in Costa Rica, Expat Life, UAE, Work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Happier

  1. heatheryoder says:

    I like you are happy. I also like that you are up for a challenge, laugh your way through our crazy life on this crazy earth, work hard, and always have something good to share with the rest of us! Keep doing you.

  2. Kristen Hobie says:

    Sounds like you are enjoying your time in Costa Rica, and I ‘m so glad that you feel happy there. You’re awesome and will do great wherever you go!! Someday I will renew my passport, and then come too 😉

  3. Mom says:

    Excellent accomplishment. Looks like a fun group you are with.

  4. Love it andrea, thank you for your honesty and insight!

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