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Heredia and Intercultura
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papergirl



Joined: 13 Dec 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Up in the air

PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:21 pm    Post subject: Heredia and Intercultura Reply with quote

Hello there! I was just researching a school in Heredia that looks lovely, called Intercultura. I'm curious whether any of you know anything about the school, ever worked there, know anyone who has worked there, etc.?

Likewise, I saw some posts on Heredia, and overall it seems like a cleaner, less hectic city than San Jose. Is that true? How's the crime in comparison? Are muggings a problem? What about apartments getting broken into? Of course I understand that moving to any city has its risks, and I'm no stranger to city life, but this will be my first time living abroad and I'll be doing it alone, so I'm a tad nervous.

Thanks in advance for any information you may be able to provide! It's much appreciated.
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ambitiouspear



Joined: 02 Feb 2006
Posts: 10
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:08 am    Post subject: Heredia Reply with quote

I lived in Heredia for 5 months from March 06-August 06. It's a great place and home to one of the more prestigious universities in CR (lots of young people). Good nightlife options and not as crazy as SJ. But at the same time, its proximity to SJ (25km or so, reg buses go back and forth for a dollar or so) makes traveling easy. I taught at OBM. Pay was as low as it gets, but it was far less stressful than other English teaching positions.
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ambitiouspear



Joined: 02 Feb 2006
Posts: 10
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:11 am    Post subject: Intercultura Reply with quote

Oh yes, in regard to Intercultura, the school probably offers the best job in Heredia. The pay is nothing special, but the school is happening and you get to take part in free spanish and cultural (cooking, dance) classes if you're there. I would email in advance to see what their hiring needs are. They get lots of emails so they won't hire you through email but it's good info for you to know.
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Seibu



Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Posts: 64

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Pear....

Is it true OBM only pays $2 an hour????

What's the catch? How can they get away with such low pay? Is there any 'teaching' involved?
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ambitiouspear



Joined: 02 Feb 2006
Posts: 10
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:16 pm    Post subject: OBM Reply with quote

OBM does only pay about $2 but I actually liked the experience because I never had to do lesson planning and I was able to meet tons of people. At OBM you work in conversation classes and the computer lab (which is very chill). You can always work somewhere else for $6/hour but have to do lesson planning and you may not get many hours whereas OBM could provide as many hours as you were willing to take on.
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Seibu



Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Posts: 64

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pear...

Thanks for the response. This is interesting.

May I ask...how were you able to make ends meet? How many hours did you typically work a week?

I'm assuming you had to come to Costa Rica and live off of savings with earnings basically paying for entertainment.
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ambitiouspear



Joined: 02 Feb 2006
Posts: 10
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 9:09 pm    Post subject: hi Reply with quote

hi,

I definitely lost money on the Costa Rican experience. The money I made from teaching mostly paid for incidentals. I went more for fun and knew in advance that my time was limited. I viewed teaching as a fun way to meet people and keep myself busy.
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kruegs4



Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 29
Location: Heredia, Costa Rica

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey,

I worked at Intercultura for 2 years ending this last June. It is a great place to work. Although you won't save any money the pay is enough to travel occasionally and go out to bars and movies. I would highly recommend working there. I miss it.
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Chiller



Joined: 19 Feb 2008
Posts: 12
Location: Washington

PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 12:41 am    Post subject: OBM Reply with quote

What does OBM stand for?
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porlaraza



Joined: 18 Mar 2006
Posts: 1
Location: Costa Rica y San Francisco, CA.

PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:28 pm    Post subject: Intercultura Reply with quote

I am also looking into Intercultura. If I were to head down in Oct. would that allow enough time to be interviewed and hired before the new semester in Nov? Also, for those who worked for Intercultura, did you communicate with anyone before arrival in country.
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Chiller



Joined: 19 Feb 2008
Posts: 12
Location: Washington

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 8:26 pm    Post subject: Intercultura and Heredia Reply with quote

I am working at Intercultura right now. I really like the job and the people are great! If you are thinking of applying, send in your resume, etc before November. The semester actually starts in January but it seems like they hire early. Most of my coworkers were hired without being here but I would double check that when you email. They do get hundreds of applications from all over the world so you may have to be patient when waiting for a reply.
As for Heredia itself, I like it. It definitely feels safer that San Jose and I haven't heard of too much crime. You just need to be smart.
Good luck!
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epiclady



Joined: 19 Feb 2009
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would highly advise against working at Intercultura right now, as it is under completely incompetent management. I, too, researched the school on the internet, and got a job there before I arrived in Costa Rica. Due to positive accounts, I expected a lovely, functioning school...which it was, until the old director left a few months ago.

There is a broken photocopier for which there are no plans to fix or repair; there is a cramped, dysfunctional "staffroom" with outdated materials and cockroaches; there is low pay; there is no opportunity for cooking classes, as they actually conflict with teaching hours; if you want Spanish lessons, you have to show up at 8 am on a Monday morning and hope there's something available; there was no effort made to integrate us new teachers into the culture or system.

When I gave two weeks' notice after finding a better job, the new director abused his position by threatening my pay (which was the next day, and which I had to directly address the owners to receive) and my bank account, as well as basically demoralizing me. Stay away. Many of the teachers are just there to surf and they don't care, but it was the worst experience of my entire six years of teaching.
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Chiller



Joined: 19 Feb 2008
Posts: 12
Location: Washington

PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a different perspective from a current Intercultura employee:

First of all, some the facts in the above post are incorrect. The current director of the English department has been at the school for 5 years and started as director of the English department about a year ago, not “a few months ago”.

The copy machine broke at the beginning of the semester. It has since been replaced with a different system of copying.

The staffroom has hundreds of books on a variety of topics including, teaching children, methodology, conversation ideas, business class ideas, etc. Yes, it is a bit cramped, and yes it has cockroaches. Cockroaches are very common in Costa Rica. If you don’t want to see them, don’t come to Costa Rica.

Yes, cooking classes usually conflict with English teacher’s schedules. If you really want to take cooking classes, and that’s a priority, then Intercultura is not for. The cooking classes are designed for students taking Spanish classes and I have never known an English teacher to complain about not having the opportunity to take cooking class. When you live here you can learn to cook from your home stay family, Tico friends or students. You have access to the kitchen to use with your English class and that’s actually a great way to share your culture with students and learn about Costa Rican food.

I have made many friends at the school from many countries. I guess the amount of “ integration” you experiences is up to you and how much effort you put into getting to know your coworkers.

Spanish classes are available on an availability system. If there is a class at your level, you can take the class. If not, you try again the next week. Sometimes you have to try several weeks to get into class, but that’s mostly due to the lower number of Spanish students (because of the financial crisis).

When you work at Intercultura you usually sign a year-long contract. This is a binding contract according to Costa Rican law. When a person breaks a contract, the school can legally garnish their wages. This is Costa Rican law, not a supervisor “abusing his position”.

The last thing I want to say is in reference to the comment that “Many of the teachers are just there to surf and they don't care”. I take personal offence to this comment. I am a certified teacher from the United States. I have 3 years teaching experience and I take my job very seriously. I give all that I can to my students and I enjoy my job.

I care, as do all my coworkers… and I don’t surf.
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epiclady



Joined: 19 Feb 2009
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's great that you are having / had have a positive experience at the school, but from the day I began, for me, it was awful, and I have omitted many small details. Many of the teachers there are content--and when I was told "I know the place is kind of a joke, but I just want to surf on the weekends" by many of them, it stands to reason that they in fact don't care about some of the conditions, which supports my comment.

There are great teachers there--you included, I'm sure--and there are greater teachers to come. I just feel that they deserve the respect and acknowledgement and professionalism that they have earned through hard work, preparation, and dedication to students. This isn't the first time I've seen a school that has basically been propped up by good teachers, as opposed to management.

Maybe I had a stroke of bad luck and it's actually a swell joint; who knows. But thank goodness for free forums such as this one, where we can share information with other teachers.
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thebigguy



Joined: 11 Mar 2009
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:42 pm    Post subject: The real Intercultura Reply with quote

Recent postings on this discussion board about Intercultura have been troubling to me. When I first saw them everyone in our department knew who this so-called “epiclady” was. She spent five weeks employed here and left amid quite a fuss and a lot of anger on her part. She expressed that the school was below her standards and full of incompetent people and pointless policies. We are all entitled to our opinions but the Intercultura I know and have come to love is very different.
Our department consists of trained professionals from the U.S, Canada, England, and Australia. We have credentialed teachers and PhD’s, two married couples, grandmothers, teachers with more than 20 years experience and recent college graduates all of whom are TEFL or Celta certified.
It is low class and baseless to call these people simply “partiers and surfers”. Now it is true we have many teachers who surf (a fact I think is kind of cool) but all of these surfers are college graduates with TEFL or Celta certificates. As for parties, we do get together and enjoy a cold one or two after work. But never before. We don’t apologize for knowing how to have a good time.
We do require that all our teachers plan for every class and present a lessen plan to that end. Any real teacher would know this is a necessity for any good class, and different than epiclady has said, demonstrates our high commitment to professionally and dedication to our students.
For a true picture of our school I recommend contacting someone who actually spent more than 5 weeks here. I think that would give a more full and complete picture of our institution.
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