By: Krisandra Provencher
7:00 am – Wake up to your alarm, A.K.A. two German shepherds barking at the stray cats on the roof and a parrot squawking at them in encouragement from her cage in the kitchen.
7:15 am – Actually get out of bed, even though your real alarm is set to go off in half-an-hour, because you’ve already scrolled through all the interesting social media sites and figure you might as well spend a little more time practicing your Spanish with your host family.
7:30 am – Once you’re dressed and wearing some much needed humidity defenders (deodorant and an exorbitant amount of hair ties), you make your way to the kitchen table where your host mom, after hearing you get up, has an extravagant breakfast waiting for you. You go straight for the hot Costa Rican coffee before attacking your eggs, toast, rice and beans.
7:45 am – When all your food is gone and you realize you have 45 minutes before you have to leave for school, you stumble your way through the local newspaper, reading only the headlines and picture captions, as you finish up your coffee. If you can read 60% of them you consider it a successful morning. When your coffee is gone you get up to wash the dishes and brush your teeth.
8:15 am – You return to your room and pack up your homework and the essentials for the day. You triple check that you have both a raincoat and an umbrella because it will definitely be raining on your walk home from school.
8:30 am – Leave your house after wishing your host mom a good day and receiving a traditional Costa Rican kiss on the cheek. Some days you walk with your friends that live nearby, but others you walk alone, enjoying the sun, avoiding the “gringo holes” in the street, and taking in the melting pot of people on your way to school. It’s about a 20 minute walk with an additional 5 minutes tacked on for crossing the street, which is always an adventure here in Costa Rica. As you walk towards the school you wave and greet the security guard and admire the beautiful hibiscus in an array of yellows and reds lining the street.
9:00 am – The bell sounds for Spanish class to begin and you and your fellow Gappers find your way into your designated classroom. Yours is a small room on the patio with large French doors open to the sun and ICADS’ immaculately stunning garden. Halfway through class everyone takes a 15 minute coffee break and relaxes in the sun while conversing about their different classes. The great thing about classes here is that as soon as classes are over, you immediately get to go apply what you’ve learn, you don’t have to wait for class the following day to practice it all.
12:00 pm – Lunch time consists of trying the stretch your ICADS stipend of roughly $6.50/day as best you can. Some choose to go out to eat every day, while others choose to go to the grocery store and buy food for the entire week. You chose to make lunch at ICADS so your lunch time is spent on the patio soaking up the sun, doing homework, conversing with friends and casually munching on your food.
2:00 pm – Afternoon classes consist of a variety of speakers. Some talk about Costa Rican history and society while others talk about its politics, economy and indigenous people. Students spend their time taking notes, asking questions and gaining new perspectives on many controversial topics.
5:00 pm – Time to walk home, and to no one’s surprise, it’s raining. You get into ready position. Raincoat on. Backpack slung onto your front so you look oddly pregnant and overly protective of your bag. Umbrella up and covering both you and your backpack. You and your friends start out on the slow walk home, cautious of the giant puddles that have sprung up along the street, the cars zooming this way and that, their drivers trying to get home after a long day at work, and the hundreds of people trying to board the public buses, that could care less about the cars behind them every time they stop to pick up more people. It’s a mess of horns, chatter and the pitter-patter of rain on the cement.
5:30 pm – You arrive home in a rather damp state, probably resembling a drowned Chihuahua, despite your efforts to avoid the rain. You drop your stuff off in your room and greet your host mom and the three students she tutors. You join them at the dining room table and do your homework alongside them, chattering with kids here and there, and coloring with them on occasion.
6:45 pm – When the kids have left and your homework is done you help your host mom cook dinner. This entails the chopping of many vegetables and fruits, some of which you have no name for, and speaking broken Spanish with your family about your day and theirs. Later you set the table and play with the dogs while your family begins to gather for dinner.
8:00 pm – Dinner time! You and your family gather around the table passing dishes and laughing as you try to understand one another. Soon you get quiet as they turn on the t.v. to the local soccer game and begin to chatter amongst themselves in rapid, mumbling Spanish. When the meal is over you clear the table and insist on doing the dishes. Your host mom counters your efforts. You finally agree, like you do every night, that you will wash and she will dry.
9:15 pm – With the kitchen cleaned up and your family going their separate ways, you take a much needed shower, which is always a struggle. You have to turn the shower faucet just so in order to get a trickling stream of hot water. You then have to huddle under it as you attempt to wash your hair and what not. However, you don’t complain because you know many students have yet to figure out the hot water, and you remember your first two showers that consisted of only ice-cold water.
10:00 pm – You say your good nights and clamber into bed, exhausted from the day’s events and always trying to translate. You text your family and friends at home, then snuggle under the covers. You check your phone twice to make sure your alarm is set, even though you know the dogs will wake you up before your alarm is even set to go off. You smile as you hear cars go by and the karaoke bar down the street fire up. Just another day in paradise.