A Macha’s Guide to Costa Rica
I started to research study abroad options during my fall semester of sophomore year. I have never been able to resist my wanderlust and urge to collect countries. Therefore, the thought of living in a different culture was so appealing. Here I am, a year later living in Costa Rica and beginning my four-month adventure! Come with me as I reflect on my first two weeks abroad!
First Few Days
Packing is not one of my best qualities so fitting four months of clothes in two suitcases was one of the toughest things I have ever done. But I did indeed conquer this task and arrived in Costa Rica with two stuffed suitcases and an optimistic attitude! After I arrived on Saturday, I met my host family and settled in to my new home! Before I knew it, I was sitting in my first class of my semester and completely lost in a Spanish conversation! I am only taking one class for the first month I am here which is a Monday- Friday, four hour Spanish class…taught entirely in Spanish!! This was intimidating at first but I quickly learned that the only way to succeed in a class like this is to be all-in. Throughout the first week I took chances with new vocabulary and participated in class as much as I could. I was astounded by how much my Spanish had improved in such a short time. I quickly began to come out of my shell and started interacting not only with my host family but also with the locals!
When it Rains, it Pours
On the second day of class I made a big mistake, I forgot my umbrella! Normally, in Pennsylvania this would not be a big deal, but in Costa Rica it is a completely different story. From December to April is the dry season and this is the most popular time for tourism. The ‘green’ season begins after this meaning that rain is always in the forecast! The plants love this season but for long walks to and from school it is not always ideal- which did not take long for me to realize. A raincoat has now become part of my every day wardrobe!
Embracing a new culture was the primary reason I decided to study abroad. Costa Rica was the perfect place to choose because the culture here is vastly different from what I am used to. Think of New York; breakfast on the go, people scrambling in all different directions, and no one interacting with each other. Costa Rica is the exact opposite, “Pura Vida” is the mantra that Costa Ricans live by. Locals are laid back, friendly, and never in a rush. “Pura Vida” also replaces common phrases like “good morning” and “thank you.” Each morning on my way to class I walk past a mechanics garage and I am always greeted with “Pura Vida” and big smiles. This has now become something I look forward to each day and makes Costa Rica feel welcoming and more like home!
One of my favorite things to do is try new restaurants, fortunately for me there is a restaurant on almost every corner of San Jose! “Sodas” or small, reasonably priced restaurants are very popular in Costa Rica. These types of places offer a variety of choices and usually cooked right by your table! At any Soda, you can get a dish called casado which consists of rice, beans, a salad, and a sweet plantain with your choice of meat. Rice nd beans are two essential sides to any meal in Central America, even for breakfast! Being abroad has opened my eyes to trying new foods, even cow intestine! My favorite part of any meal is the”fresca”, or fresh juice! The portions are very generous here but food is rarely ever wasted. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity to study abroad and step out of my comfort zone, although I may pass the next time I am offered intestine for an appetizer!
Stay tuned for more of my Costa Rican adventures!
Lindsey C. is the Fall 2017 MOJO Blogger in San José. She is currently a Junior majoring in Physician Assistant Studies at Philadelphia University.