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Aftershock in America

Time December 16th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

its been a week and a half since ive been home. im still not used to home! I can snack, and there are SO many food options! i come home and look at my closet, i have SO MUCH clothes. ive been putting stuff in bags to give to the salvation army for christmas because i realize i really dont need it all and can live with out it :)

So weird being home. Everything is strange. My first reaction was , ‘ omg the hot water works! Theres hot water in the sink!’.  Also, I can put toilet paper in the toilet now instead of the trashcan next to the toilet! And modern cars- the majority of cars here are 2005 or newer where as in Costa Rica it is all 2000 or older. Maybe even 1995 or older. its just strange being back in a first world country where everything is so modernized, especially in New Jersey or Washington DC (where i currently am). i drove the other day, traffic laws are soo much stricter here, yet some reason i was still a little nervous at intersections or turning at lights because in Costa Rica they seem to think those are optional haha. my cat remembers me! she is on my bed right now. and i was in Washington DC for a week and it was so great to see all my freinds! i missed them and home so much but so strange to see everyone stressed in final when i was already done/ i wasnt even that stressed for finals in Costa Rica. its strange seeing how stressed everyone is here about EVERYTHING! especially christmas, it shouldnt be stressful, it should be fun! oh my gosh though, COMMERCIALS!! i hate them. so annoying. i miss how in Costa Rica i didnt have to worry about all this commercialization on TV, on websites, on street corners, in every store- much much much less advertizing in Costa Rica and here in the US its EVERYWHERE. im watching  a movie here versus in Costa Rica and here, commerical break means 5 min of 15 commercials. in Costa Rica, it was 3 commercials and then the show would continue. im so grateful of all the options though on television, and food, and places to shop. I went to Kohls the other day and it was cool to see how cheap everything was, because of sales and holiday specials, i got awesome boots for $30 that i could never find in Costa Rica. and most of all, it might be strange to me of course because for the first time in years, im actually celebrating the christmas season. last year i was stuck in Europe because of a snow storm until Dec 23, and the years before that I was busy training for track at American University so id be home after finals just wanting to sleep. this year, i have all of December. ! the house looks great, im really helping out and putting up so much decoration and just stress free:)

its good to be home. i dont miss Costa Rica yet, just my host family. im most happy to be home though because I feel as though ive gained a new appreciation for things. and an annoyance for wasteful consumerism that i used to take advantage of. happy holidays:)

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What I miss about home/ appreciate more

Time December 16th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

–       Being a social butterfly with everyone/ my friends

–       Good clubs/discotecas and DJs or electronica music

–       Getting ready together or having friends over in general

–       Autumnfestivities

–       Hummus and Balsamic Vinegar

–       Sales/Shopping at Brand stores

–       Modern Fashion

–       Running/training hardcore and being able to run through trails or around the lake

–       Punctuality-especially of teachers and people in higher positions that keep their schedules prompt

–       Resources!Having the resource of awesome research databases and teachers with a lot of knowledge in their field of teaching. The resource of having good guidance from counselors or directors. The resource of having a lot of clubs on campus and being able to be involved in a lot of different activities on campus- seminars, special speakers, workshops, Greek life, clubs- I miss being able to meet other students really easily through these resources

–       Really open minded, liberal, free-spirited, and ambitious attitudes. Here everyone is just getting through life and don’t have great ambitions to be the best they can be. They don’t have huge competition or motivation to get straight A’s because it’s okay to just pass. They aren’t trying to be government officials and change things- just trying to get the gringos to give them more money. They don’t pay attention much to the news. They’re attitude is that they will do it ‘eventually’ instead of getting things done.

–       The easiness of calling someone and talking on the phone for however long- not worrying about prepaid minutes

–       The modernity of things- modern cars and traffic laws! (like more two way streets,cross walks, stop signs, speed laws, taxi stops), modern fashion, modern and up-to-date research and lectures to read, that everyone has internet at home and its reliable, modern styles of architecture and appliances, etc

–       People not obsessed with saving money. Not to sound like a spendthrift but I mean obsessed. I save. Im not rich but LIVE A LITTLE!! Come get coffee with me!!! Come have a drink at happy hour!! Don’t be cheap and not want to speak 1 dollar to take the bus, and then 1 dollar on coffee or 2 dollars on beer. Come to the beach that’s a 5 dollar bus ride. I miss people taking advantage of opportunities with me and making that a priority, not money.

–       People who have my sense of humor

–       Safety and independence. Especially at night. I miss the ability to walk around my block at 3 am without being worried that someone might rob me. I miss just having freedom to do whatever and not get judged or discriminated because I am a gringa. I miss being able to do things alone or in solitude without worrying about my safety.

–       A 24/7open library or CVS

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What I’ll miss most about Costa Rica :(

Time December 16th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

–       Being late and no one caring.. I’ll miss that no one is in a rush and I can just take my time

–       My host mom’s AMAZing cooking. I’ll miss not worrying about my diet or meals or food

–       My host family. I really learned new meanings to ‘family’ and was able to see a functional one

–       DEFINITELY going to miss speaking Spanish all the time, hearing it all the time and practicing

–       Im going to miss the weather. Although it was rain season this semester, I’m going to miss the easy and cheap access to the beach or parks on the weekends and the warm weather and being in the tropical climate

–       Im going to miss fresh fruit (papaya pineapple and bananas all the time) and the fresh juices

–       The reggae culture in all the clubs, bars, radios, etc… plus dreads and feathers style

–       Getting tan

–       Cheap shoes, cheap transportation, cheap drinks, cheap GOOD coffee

–       Café dates.. musmani’s, spoon, or the Frap place by Universidad Nacional!

–       How easy it was to hang out every day with Abe and Chris

–       Beach towns!

–       My fat host cat ‘SiSi’

–       Watching “Cafe con sabor de mujer’ Spanish soap opera with my host family at night

–       having time to sleep and no pressure to have to be busy and doing something 24/7. taking time to read, write and paint finally!

<3 and songs like this

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2 weeks of bad luck (October, height of rain season) ‘we’re on edge here’.

Time December 16th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Got a cold. My laptop crashed. Everything gets disorganized with school because my
laptop crashed and I have to be at the library every day. I don’t talk to my
friends at home as much anymore for three weeks because of the laptop crashing
and I get homesick. I fall behind in work because the hours the library is open
is not compatible with my schedule. I am not able to run my stress off. My
advisor forgets that I am blocked to register for Spring classes and I am on
the waitlist for three classes (will I graduate now?). Professor this semester
gives me an unfair final grade because she doesn’t like me. Get ripped off by a
taxi. Brother-cousin gets into a serious car accident and my aunt has a tumor.
Lose my wallet in a taxi aka my credit card, my visa, my license, my school ID,
and 60 dollars. Lose my house keys AGAIN in a taxi on top of everything.

But hey, bad luck happens to everyone I guess right? It can only get better from here. ! Having this all happen to me in Costa Rica really proved to me that sometimes in America, i feel like people make stressful situations for themselves- freaking out over things that arent a big deal or a stressful situation. for example, if the dishes are dirty in the sink and my mom is freaking out, i sincerely think now that hey, thats NOT a stressful situation, RELAX! Or if I’m late to class or if i have to stay up all night for a final exam, i feel like after these past two weeks of literally so much going wrong, that kind of pressure isnt nearly at the same level as these past two weeks :) so even if it sounds really tough, im kinda greatful it happened because its a good 1. reality check to how good i have it 2. and a good life lesson.

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Costa Rican Cat Calls

Time November 16th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Since my last three weeks of hell are over, thought i’d leave my readers with some fun blogs from Costa Rica! :)

Everyday I have to walk about 20 minutes to the university here. Most of the time, I stand out because I am a gringa aka a very blonde girl. Sometimes the men here are very creepy or come off agressive.. as most latino countries. However, instead of being creeped out getting uncomfortable, I find it quite entertaining. Not to sound cocky, but sometimes I count how many cat calls Ill get in a span of 20 min at 8am in the morning lol. my record is 9.

Id like to share some with you that I can remember:

  • ‘omgahh look at herrrr heyy babyy!’
  • ‘where are you going my little bird!’
  • ‘baby come back, i love you!’
  • ‘wooww machita’
  • ‘hey rodolpho ven aqui, mira mira! (come here look, look!)’  [come outside store and stand in a group] ‘…wooww, hola bonita woww’
  • ‘marry me!’
  • ‘wow i love you’
  • ‘blondie’
  • ‘sexy grl come back!’
  • car driving.. stops.. goes in reverse… pulls down window… ‘holaa guapa’
  • hanging out of truck/van/ or car windows yelling non-understandable sounds
  • sitting in the park… drunk homeless man comes over yelling at me:.. “you robbed my heart! you took it!” [me]: ‘you can have it back!!’
  • some form of whistling, chi-chi-chi, or hiss sound you would make to get the attention of a cat or dog

those are some of the few fun ones i can remember haha. sometimes they can get REAL creative.

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unlucky duckling who lost his way

Time November 8th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

the past two weeks have been tough for me I must say- more tough than the constant up and down that i had already experienced with this program. not only did my laptop crash ( and really, being cut off from the world and limited to a 9-5pm library is very inconvenient!) but i had lost my keys, then I was sick, i lost a few documents for school on that laptop and was super stressed, and when my mom had come to visit from the US, we were having our usual mother-daughter argument and somehow i had managed to lose or get pick pocketed in San Jose in a 20 min time span from the time i got out of the taxi, to the time we got onto the bus to Heredia. Therefore, 60 dollars, a credit card, my drivers license, my student ID and my visa card are now added to the list of things i have lost this semester! and the funny thing is that i have never lost anything or seemed so ‘irresponsible’ until this semster. EVER! hah.

well i went for a long run yesterday and today to cool off and I really dont care anymore. Unfortunately, I cant figure out why I seem to be a bit different here as a person adapting to this way of life and I cant figure out why it seems things went up and down so much, but on a bright note i have learned a great amount of Spanish, met a few great people, had a few great adventures, have a great host family, and at least i havent had anything traumatic actually happen. I have three weeks left and I want to end on a FANTASTIC note. Hence, i am taking a bus by myself to Granada, Nicaragua in 3 hours actually. I am finishing a 15 page paper on transexuality in terms of bioethics for bioethics class in Spanish and heading to the bus station:)

I posted a few pictures from Manuel Antonio park!

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Random Thoughts and Costa Rica

Time October 24th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Yesterday I was at the gym changing in the locker room, a pretty Americanized gym, and a prostitute walked in. I was like. WOAH. haha. not judging but I had never been that close to one before. they walk around Heredia at night, along with the transvestites, but I had never been next to one, up close and person, at 3pm in the afternoon.

then I was biking and I wasnt sure if I should tell the old lady next to me who was biking quite slowly that her machine wasnt on lol. Gosh I should really get my personal training license when I get back to the states.

and then I was talking to my host sister this morning. she was venting to me about how she went out last night and this crazy girl she was with was driving her nuts. then she began to elaborate how all her tica friends have been nuts and how her personality doesnt fit in with those of the ticas (ticas = costa rican latinas).  she explained how theyve gone behind her back and told lies that her dad was a drug dealer, that she was sleeping with all these people, etc etc. very childish stuff that we all go through in middle school that she continues to go through today as a 24 yr old. it made me think. hm. thats why i feel like I dont belong here in the Costa Rica culture. I’d like to think of myself as open, very friendly, and quite the social butterfly with many different groups of freinds back at home. I love the party scene, I also love the academic scene and the athletic scene, hence I always had different groups to relate to. here, the ticos are distant. they will be nice and help you to an extent; homework, directions, get you a drink for you birthday, give you advice on where to travel. but any closer than that is weird for them. in terms as my sister put it, ‘ costa ricans are repugnant, and the most snooty of all the latina countries in Latin America’. thats why i felt strange here. lik that minority in an all white, private, rich school where you got there luckily. like that new grl from a huge city that comes to a rural town in South Dakota. its different. different dynamic. I miss being a social butterfly. my close freinds are all in my exchange program. ive made tico friends, dont get me wrong, but no body significant. oh well. I think we all know from my first post ever from Costa Rica that I will be returning to Spain lol.

on another note. I do love my family though. they are amazing. they have shown me and demostrated that functional families are possible! haha. its great really. they care so much. and i am going to miss my host mom´s cooking SO much. she is literally the best chef ever. taking all of her recipes. fo sho.

6 weeks left in Costa Rica!

expect some adventure stories :)

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A long time since. UPDATES FINALLY!

Time October 21st, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I think me avoiding this blog was my form of culture shock.  I wanted to avoid all the negative thoughts I had and try to make the best of my adaptation to this wonderful land called Costa Rica. To sparknote the main points of the few months, I have travelled to awesome beaches, bonded with many people in my group, struggled with school, become totally part of the tico family I am staying with, discovered some awesome music, lost my phone(at a bar), lost my keys (in a taxi), broke my camera(sand), broke my laptop (virus) and got a laidback internship with the Costa Rican government!(which proves they really just dont do anything for the people, say what they will do and never follow through!)

But I dont want to cut short my adventures to any readers at there; although Ive struggled to adapt here as easily as I did in Madrid ( I think part of it is that I am used to being a city girl) I DO have some awesome great stories that I will gladly update here the rest of the week and post some awesome pictures once I get my laptop back.  for now I´d like to leave you all with an awesome song Ive discovered this semester, a bachata genre that is by a popular latino artist- Juan Luis Guerra! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5E87B3t9cnY

 

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First Impressions in Costa Rica

Time July 13th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | Comments Off on First Impressions in Costa Rica by

It’s only been three days and not that I came to Costa Rica with any expectations but I definitely had a different image in my head of what everything would be like. To start off, its alot poorer than I thought.Not that I thought it would be all resorts and stuff but definitely more access to hot water or airconditioning, and safe to carry your laptop around but definitely not. Costa Rica may be the richest country in Central America but it still sure is poor. The airport wasnt much of an airport. it looked like a renovated building that was about the size of most upper class american houses with two posts for immigration, two posts for security where they dump your luggage out, toss around your stuff and mess up all your neatly folded things, one conveyer belt for baggage claim and one post for customer service. oh and two big fans. No air conditioning here lol. they lost my luggage so now on day three, i have finally been reunited (really the one thing i was worried about was my running shoes but now its all good).

Upon our arrival, while flying in, I got a glimpse of the landscape. ITS SO GREEN! by that I mean, farms, not alot of realestate- and of course this is all a description of the city of Liberia, Costa Rica. Coming from Washington DC and New Jersey/NYC area, I guess my initial reaction would have to be culture shock to the fact that I am not in a crazy, capitalist, materialist, culturally diverse city. And this is great for me! I’m happy- I know by the end of these five months, I am really going to apreciate Central America.

However, I find myself comparing everything to my experience in Spain. Maybe I expected more similarities, but there are many more differences than I expected. For one, besides a different accent, they are much more conservative here in Costa Rica. The Spaniards liked to celebrate holidays and religious festivals by drinking and having fiestas, they also cursed alot as part of their normal slang and had different dishes and people arent as…chubby. Costa Ricans drink but not like the Spaniards. nor do they curse ever- and the food here is SOO rich and fatty- lots of people here are fatter than I thought! I guess its like comparing the USA with the Irish/Brits, or NYC with somewhere like Alabama or Texas.  (no offense to my fellow Americans). I guess my heart will always be with Spain. (VAMOS REAL MADRID! ;p ).

One really cool observation though about Costa Rica immediately is the wild life! :) In our hotel the first night, I already made friends with the lizard living in my shower who I named Enrique. And there’s iguanas here! they just hang out in the trees or side walks. and the squirrels here have black heads, gray bodies, and white tails. and there’s mango and coconut trees everywhere! there are colorful plants and flowers blooming all around and the butterflies- they flutter about in different colors. and in my first host family’s house in Liberia, I think there’s a bird living in my wall. or some rodent im not sure. its still churping as I write and its 11:30pm here. interesting..

As for my host family, they are great! soooo much better than the one I was with in Spain. I have a 19yr old brother who has just treated me like a princess, and a 9yr old brother. I have a mom and dad, uncles, aunts, etc etc, family seems to be just so important here ( a bit of a change from what I am used to at home :) ). I was picked up in their car the first day on Monday and the first thing the older brother, Javier, and the Father ask me is : ” te gustan fiestas?” ( do you like parties?), and being on my guard and thinking it was a trick question, I answered with a question: “ustedes les gusta beber?” (do you guys like to drink?) and they answered yes yes of course, so I thought it was safe to tell them I like to go out haha. Then I told them my camera was stolen- (this was part of my string of bad luck when I lost my luggage too)- and Javier took me to 4 different electronic stores to compare prices- he said we must get you the best price! haha I was like wow, he shops like a girl! awesome!. well I definitely got my moneys worth and afterwards we went to get coffee and watched the Argentina v Costa Rica soccer game- he said there are three things they dont talk about in Costa Rica ever ( same in Spain!).. Soccer, Religion, and Politics. Well, tomorrow they are taking me to a local track here ( SO EXCITED TO FINALLY RUN!) but he has been driving me everywhere! I feel that my gift of nice chocolates from NYC isnt enough for this family- they are just so sweet and eager to help me :).

Also, I meant to talk about the weather here. 80 degrees everyday and HUMID!! just like one would expect in the tropics. except we are in rain season right now so its more humid. its sunny until about 1pm and then it rains the rest of the evening. OH! and I experienced my first earthquake today! It was 5 on that Earthquake scale- http://www.ticotimes.net/Current-Edition/News-Briefs/5.3-magnitude-earthquake-in-northern-Costa-Rica_Tuesday-July-12-2011

my host family explained to me how we are right near a volcano and on top of the tectonic plates that shift often. so cool! they said its normal and not to worry. so although it sounds scary it further enforces that yay im on an adventure here in Central America! Manos Arriba!

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