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This is a guest submission by Julia from JuliaTarquinio.com

There are many things I could say about why I decided to up and leave a job, an apartment, bills and family in New York City to experience life in Costa Rica.

I was tired of working 10 hour days as a teacher who was making more money than most, but starting to hate every minute of it. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of work that I had on my plate and I felt like my every move was studied, reviewed and noted.

The school day was already 2 hours longer than regular public school and with the press always walking through the halls, there was no opportunity for downtime while I got my things situated between lessons or during lunch.

I had to be ‘on point’ from 7:45am to 5pm every day. By the end of the school year, I was forced to work Saturdays with kids who were “below” on the practice state tests.

There were certainly times where I absolutely loved it. I thrived on learning new ways of teaching and collaborating with the most talented people I have ever worked with, but when I stepped back and realized my entire life revolved around it, I started to resent it.

I felt like I was really making a difference in the lives of children, but slowly killing myself. I knew there had to be a better way of achieving what we did without driving ourselves insane.

I Wanted More

Working in Harlem was a constant reminder how badly I wanted to learn to speak Spanish. For years I tried but never got past one or two lessons in Rosetta Stone.

I was fascinated by those who could hold entire conversations in a second language.  I wanted to be able to make my brain work in a way that it never had before. When I first started learning, I felt it was going to be impossible.

There was no one to practice with or to explain to me why certain words were used in certain situations. I put Rosetta Stone back in the closet and didn’t even bring it with me when I moved to NYC.

My Environment Influences Me A Lot

Living in a place where 9 months out of the year I leave and return from work in the dark made me fantasize about living at the beach where I could enjoy watching the sun sink into the horizon.

I never felt as depressed as I did during the months of December and March. The start of a school year was also depressing. I hated fall and I hated the feeling I got when it started to get crisp outside.

Everyone around me would be so excited for the trees to start changing colors, the weather to turn cooler but I just felt sick in the pit of my stomach because I knew that soon winter would be arriving. I do not like changes in weather.

I thought if I could be in a place where it is hot and dry all of the time, then that would solve most of my problems. I would have more energy and be able to enjoy being outside.

An Opportunity That Changed My Life

I was sick of work and sick of not seeing the light of day. I did value everything I did with the children, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy everything I needed. My need to have fun again, my need to have a life outside of work, my need to feel free during the week and not have a huge anxiety attack on Sunday nights if I didn’t spend my weekend checking emails and planning.

I needed to not feel guilty if I wanted to spend a week night out at the movies instead of in the classroom or at home answering emails and making phone calls to parents on a phone that was given to me to make sure I returned messages within 24 hours.

I also wanted to start enjoying activities outside again. Being able to run along the Hudson for only about 10 weeks out of the year (without getting frost bitten) was not enough for me.

And then it all changed…

Tropical-Beach

During lunch one afternoon with my sister, I was expressing my frustrations with my job. She suggested I check the Craigslist job boards. I went home that night and lo and behold, there was my dream job sitting there in the Craigslist ads!

When I saw the opportunity to teach in Costa Rica, right next to the beach, I knew I had to go. This is what I had been looking for for so long. A simpler life, where I could teach and enjoy being outside every day of the year.

What It Took to Actually Take the Plunge and Go For It

When I was actually faced with the offer of a job and the chance to move to Costa Rica, I did something so simple that it made my decision to leave an opportunity I was able to commit to in a matter of minutes.

After being offered a position to teach in Costa Rica, I sat in my apartment, looked around and thought “Ok, now, what if I didn’t do this? How would I feel 6 months from now, in the dead of winter, right before all of the craziness of state-testing? Would I regret not going to Costa Rica or would I be wishing I was back in NYC?

Within seconds, I was able to answer that question. It was obvious. Why would I give up a chance to fulfill something I had been wanting for years?

10 Months Later

I am still in Costa Rica and loving it more now than I did when I first arrived. There were some ups and downs, but in the end, I am so happy I came here. I have met some amazing people, traveled to Nicaragua and different parts of Costa Rica.

I swam under waterfalls, hiked up mountains, surfed amazing beaches, zip-lined through a forest and even painted my entire body with mud! All the while still working as a teacher. I am able to hold conversations with people in Spanish now and learn more about the Costa Rican culture every day.

When I look back at this journey, I am thankful that I didn’t give in to the “security” of a job and the routine of my life. In the end of it all, we have only ourselves to answer to.

I didn’t want to wake up 5, 10, 20 years from then and wonder what the hell happened. I want to look back 50 years from now, smile and tell myself “Hell yeah! That was exciting!”

My name is Julia and I decided last year to move to Costa Rica after an opportunity to teach was offered to me. I am learning all about Costa Rican culture, the Spanish language and more about myself than I ever imagined – another lesson learned to follow my heart and go with my instinct.

You can find me on my blog at JuliaTarquinio.com or on Twitter and Facebook.

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