CENet Scholarship Blog: Hello from Costa Rica
I have been in Costa Rica two weeks now. Time is flying and so much has happened already. I was fortunate enough to spend my first two days with some family friends from North Carolina who are now retired in San José. As soon as they dropped me off in my new Costa Rican home, I was embraced by my host family with hugs and warm welcomes. Before I could even unpack, I spent two hours talking to and getting to know my host mom. She loves to talk, and very fast at that. The first day I could only grasp about 25% of what she was saying, but as time goes by I can feel my Spanish developing more and more. I love my new room. I wake up every morning to clear skies and a clear view of the mountains. I spend evenings watching a beautiful sunset and then little lights spark up along the side of the mountain.
The weather here is phenomenal as are the people. No matter how poor, how much trash, and how many problems there may be, somehow the people seem to maintain an optimistic outlook on life and always look for solutions rather than harp on problems. Every thank you is met with the words “con gusto” (“with pleasure”) or “pura vida” (which means a lot of things but in this case “no problem” or “good luck”). It is amazing to think about how much word choice can affect a human being’s outlook on life. I feel their positivity reflected in myself and find myself to feel much more calm and relaxed even in very stressful situations (like when international students are told to forget about any amount effort they put into their visa process because the one in Costa Rica is completely different, or that classes they signed up for do not exist, etc.) While no place in the world is perfect, not even this one, Costa Rica is still by far the happiest and most relaxed country I have ever been in.
I have met many interesting, fun, and unique personalities since orientation and look forward to spending more time with other students. There are about 80 international students at UCR, all from places like Chile, Germany, Brazil, France, China, Venezuela, South Korea, the Netherlands, Japan, Mexico, Spain (…the list goes on). I have taken two trips with some friends so far – to Jacó, a beach town on the Pacific Coast where many Americans and surfers travel to, and Volcán Irazu, a volcano about 1.5 hours away from San José. What is so great about living in San José, located in the center of the very small Costa Rica, is that you can get to either coast within 1.5 – 3 hours. Therefore, both trips I have taken were completed within a day. In general buses here are very cheap. They are the main method of transportation within and outside of the city. Classes start tomorrow, so as soon as I tackle those and my orientation of things progresses, I look forward to many more adventures!