STUDIUM & FREIZEIT
I studied English and Mathematics at RUB. It was in November 2017 that I realized if I finished all my University courses and my last oral exam and paper in October, I would be left with nothing between me and my M.Ed. degree but my master thesis. I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it in time to start my Referendariat in November, so I would have nothing else to do until May. Moreover, I got an invitation to a wedding in Costa Rica for November and I am the kind of person that hates “wasting” time at home when there is an opportunity to travel and explore. So, I guess no one was surprised when I decided to go attend that wedding and extend my stay dramatically in spite of my thesis. I was determined to just somehow write it over there.
Of course, it wasn’t as easy as that might sound. Great adventures demand great preparation! I had to save up money, decide what to do with my apartment, figure out where to go and what to do in Costa Rica, find out what kind of paperwork I needed to go, find out the exact steps to finish my masters and figure out a way to do most of them in advance or to prepare everything so that friends and family could do stuff for me.
It felt very overwhelming, but spoiler alert, it worked out fine. If you make a plan and just follow along step by step you will eventually get everything done. As my first step I went online on a platform called workaway.com and found a Canadian family living in Puerto Jimenez who was looking for a teacher to homeschool their kids. The workaway principle works as follows: the host provides shelter and food and you dedicate four to hours a day to whatever work they ask for. In my case: teaching. This way, I thought, I would still have plenty of time to work on my thesis. I wrote to the family and luckily, they agreed to host me from December to end of January.
The wedding was scheduled for mid-November so I still had time to travel the country. Obviously, the timing wasn’t perfect as the road trip would fall into my 12 week writing period and wouldn’t allow for enough peace and quiet to actually get work done, but I thought I’d write my bachelor thesis in three weeks rather than six, why shouldn’t I be able to write my master thesis in six instead of 12? Sounds legit, right? Once that was settled, step two was booking flight tickets and step three was renting out my apartment. Next were steps four and five: doing the necessary paperwork (including visa, passports, insurances, vaccinations, etc.) and sorting everything out at Uni. Turns out, once you officially registered your thesis and your 12 weeks of writing start you don’t have to do anything in person anymore.
When the day of my flight came, I felt confident I was well prepared and ready to do this. The wedding took place in a five-star all-inclusive resort that was so perfect that it almost felt surreal and it was just awesome. The road trip lead us to the most beautiful beaches and right into the rainforest. We got to walk hanging bridges as high as the tree tops that brought us face to face with a family of howler monkeys, had an encounter with a particularly photogenic coati, got to see a sloth mother and her baby and were entertained by a gang of squirrel monkeys stealing inattentive tourists belongings at a particularly popular beach at Manual Antonio National Park. However, when the first three weeks had passed and I finally made it to Puerto Jimenez, I hadn’t written a single page.
Did I have a couple of mental meltdowns? Of course! Would I do it again? Anytime!
I started getting a little worried, but meeting my host family, settling in in this amazingly open house in the midst of the jungle and yet right by the beach surrounded by iguanas, monkeys, hummingbirds and a crocodile living in the river nearby as well as my new teaching responsibility made it easy to push those worries away until my deadline came so close, I was no longer worried if I would write a good thesis. Instead, I was now wondering if I could manage to write 60 pages to hand in at all. Not having Wifi, but only slow and expensive mobile data to work with didn’t help either.
However, thanks to my emotionally supportive family and friends who basically proofread the entire thing over night and printed and handed it in last minute, I made it. Was it stressful? Yes! Did I have a couple of mental meltdowns? Of course! Would I do it again? Anytime! I don’t know a single person who did not stress out about their master thesis at one point or another and although writing it abroad comes along with some unexpected obstacles, it also allows for unique experiences such as dipping into the ocean to clear your head from a writer’s block or easily waking up at 5 a.m. because of the sun rising and the howler monkey’s wake-up call.