The decision to change careers is never a simple one, especially when it means uprooting not just oneself but an entire family.
Cyndi Jurkowski, originally from Western New York and a resident of Colorado for over a decade, found herself at such a crossroads. Seeking a profession offering flexibility and balance between work and personal life, she discovered her answer in massage therapy.
But her journey took an even more adventurous turn when she chose to study abroad at the Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy (CRSMT) in the serene setting of Samara. With her family by her side, she embarked on an experience that was as much about personal growth as it was about professional development.
Tell us who you are and where you’re from.
I'm Cindy and I originally am from Western New York, but I've been living out West for several years and I have been in Colorado for the last 15.
How did you decide that massage therapy was the career change you were looking for?
I was looking for a profession where I'd have flexibility in location, where I work as well as timing of the day and able to still give energy to my own self and my own children. And massage was my answer.
And, what drew you to CRSMT?
I was looking for accelerated programs. I originally started looking in the US only, and then something made me search the world and CRSMT popped up almost immediately and it was an instant attraction. And no regrets. I couldn't be happier.
What was it like going through a study abroad program for someone traveling with a family?
One of my hesitations about coming here was bringing my family, which meant it wasn't just going to affect me, it was going to affect all of them as well. My husband was very supportive of the idea. My kids were excited. I actually enrolled them in school here, so they had their own school experience as well. And although I was intimidated and a little overwhelmed by it at first, everything worked out and I couldn't encourage someone enough to make the decision to come with a family if it's if that's what's holding you back because it's totally doable.
Can you talk about what the academic experience was like for you?
The curriculum, the teachers, the school, everything is amazing, super well organized. And I feel like the instructors and all of the office staff and everyone know what we need and they give it to us in the way that they can, in the way they know how.
The motto of the school is 'trust the process.' And although the first, second, third, fourth quarter schedules are a little intimidating and overwhelming at first, literally one day, one breath at a time, it all fell into place. And I went from knowing nothing about massage to feeling like I can start massaging my own clients tomorrow. And it's a really amazing feeling.
What are your impressions of the CRSMT Campus?
The campus is an Oasis, a magical place, and I was just blown away by how incredible it is, how well maintained it is. It's just an Immaculate Oasis that we get to experience. Being in class outside was really cool. Just sitting in the fresh air while learning, hearing the mangoes drop on the roof, watching the iguanas or lizards run by.
Many people talk about the relationships they’ve made during massage school. What was your experience like?
It's been a long time since I've been in a group setting where I'm able to connect with so many like-minded people and whenever I would look at a pair or a partnership or a group, everyone always just seemed right together.
We always love to ask about Craniosacral therapy because it seems to leave such an impact…
We did Craniosacral work in class for a couple weeks and also incredible, just really feeling these small movements and how much of a big impact they can make physically, as well as the energy shared between the client and the practitioner. It was an incredible experience. And then we ended our grand finale with a craniosacral experience in the ocean. We all took turns being a therapist. We all took turns being a client and I was in a group with someone who doesn't know how to swim and she was really hesitant and and scared about the whole experience. But not only did she float and trust us, but she also was able to let go and release and just being a part of that was something it's hard to put words on and I'll never forget. It was incredible.
What is Samara, Costa Rica like?
The town of Samara is one of my favorite places on earth. The people here are authentic and genuine and and just real and friendly. Being by the beach and being able to go to the ocean when I needed a break is a memory that I'll hold on to forever.
Did you do any traveling around Costa Rica?
You're going to be given a couple weekends where you have some leeway to go do something else and leave Samara. I highly recommend it. My family and I went to La Fortuna and Arenal, so experiencing a different ecosystem, a different environment in Costa Rica was also really memorable and totally worth it. And I couldn't wait to experience other places, but I also couldn't wait to come back here because I love it here so much.
What's a piece of advice you would give to someone thinking of coming to to Costa Rica to study massage therapy?
Cyndi Jurkowski's transformative journey at the Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy is a testament to the incredible potential of embracing change, pursuing passion, and integrating personal and professional life. Her story serves as an inspiration for anyone standing at the cusp of a career change, especially for those hesitant about making a move because of familial responsibilities. Whether it's the enthralling experience of Craniosacral therapy in the ocean or the simple joy of hearing mangoes drop during an outdoor class, the CRSMT has given Cyndi a treasure trove of memories. Her advice to those considering this journey? In her own words, "Do it. No regrets. And you got this."
The Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy is the world’s premier study abroad program for massage therapy. We offer a 600 to 750 hour COMTA Accredited Massage Therapy course which satisfies the licensing requirements for massage therapy in most of the United States. Additionally, we offer continuing education for massage therapists.