Costa Rica: week 1

After arriving in Miami for our lay-over, I started to get extremely nervous.  I was not sure what my host family was going to be like and if I would be able to get along with them. At first, the daughter of my host mom picked me up and we picked her two sons up from school. As soon as we arrived home, however, I knew I was going to get along with them. They were very inviting and happy to have me. I felt like they wanted me to be there which was exceptionally encouraging to stay. In addition, the food and housing was very good which made me feel even more welcomed. It was a great start to my six weeks here in Costa Rica and I am really glad with my situation. Mesoamerica, my house, and the neighborhood is great.  It will allow me to experience the culture in Costa Rica and also learn Spanish and do well my classes.

I stand there nervously, what’s my family going to be like? Will they like me? A million thoughts run through my head and then I hear, “Your family is here to see you”. I grab my bags which of course have never felt as heavy and I walk into the room and see my new host mother and sister for the next 6 weeks. They are holding flowers for me and they look just as nervous as I am. I introduce myself a complete American accent. Paula and Arecelia are their names and they excitedly escorted me to their car. Trying to remember all of the Spanish I have learned over the last 5 years, and I panic and my mind goes blank. Oh god how am I going to speak Spanish for the next 6 weeks I don’t remember any! I then hear the beautiful words from Arcelia saying, “Don’t worry today we will speak English to get you settled in” From that moment on I knew everything was going to be alright.

Costa Rica! Wow, we are finally here. We went to Café Britt yesterday – what a lovely place. The people in this country are so friendly and everyone seems so happy to be doing whatever it is that they are doing – what a refreshing environment. My family here is very  loving and we have already laughed a lot together and shared some stories. I anticipate a lot of growth here, both individually and as a group. I also anticipate a lot more rice and beans ¡Pura Vida!

The first week in Costa Rica was amazing down to every last minute.  I really enjoyed seeing what I remember from the last time I came to Costa Rica exactly two years ago before Halloween.  In the mornings we trade off between Spanish classes in small groups and Society and Culture class all together.  Taking a class in a foreign country really interested me because I was interested in seeing the different way they taught.  Classes are more interactive and less lecture like they were in high school.  In the afternoons our group meets up and we all go on a half-day trip to various places like zoos, different monuments, churches, etc.  My personal favorite day trip was to La Paz waterfall garden and their animal exhibits. I really enjoyed the variety and abundance of animals ranging from monkeys to a butterfly garden! The tour guide we had was extremely nice and knew such a variety of information about the various animals. After our tour we went to a lunch buffet at the resort and gorged on fresh food and delicious traditional foods. The fresh fruit drinks here are so flavorful and hard to find anywhere else. I really like them.  Lastly but definitely not least was the beautiful series of waterfalls dispersed throughout the forest.  They ranged from tiny falls to more than 100-foot drops! I’ve never seen so many waterfalls in one place at the same time; it was truly a great sight.  To make the day even better they had a gift shop with a huge selection of souvenirs like coffee, jewelry, and clothes.  I picked up some chocolate and a travels journal.  Hopefully I can fill it up with all the awesome adventures that are to come!

Apparently, the deer in Costa Rica are extremely small. One of the other students fist-bumped one of them. So, also apparently, they are fairly accustomed to the presence of humans, at least in the InBio Park’s dry forest. InBio is a research center in San José that is studying the effects of climate change on the flora and fauna of their home country. We toured one afternoon to learn about some of these effects in correlation with the material presented in our culture class, but our tour guide ended up just identifying plants and animals we saw (still fun; like I said, someone fist-bumped a deer). I am looking forward to getting more in depth with my studies, and especially of the ecology of Costa Rica. I am sure that all of my fellow classmates on campus in NC are just as excited to be pursuing their individual passions, and I am getting pretty excited to find out what they are. Class of 2016: I can’t wait to meet you all! You people sound awesome! $5 to the first person to fist-bump a deer in NC! Seriously.



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