Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Bidding goodbye to my home, and a couple of reflections

Nov. 15, 2013

Tomorrow I’ll be on a plane to Miami, and from there, to Newark, N.J.

And that’s that. That will be the end of my 4-month life in Costa Rica. No more Spanish, no more amazing mountains, jungles and beaches, no more delicious tico food.

No more hometown. No more host family.

No more study abroad.

It’s all a memory. And I’m OK with that.

Costa Rica was never exactly what I imagined it would be. A friend of mine described it as a de facto American colony, and he’s not far off. There are American brands, fast-food restaruants, everywhere.

Most obvious was the music. While I’ve been here, I’ve heard, either on the radio in the bars:

  • Kool & The Gang
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • AC/DC
  • The “Friends” theme song
  • Cover remix of Beatles, “Satisfaction,” Beach Boys
  • Phil Collins in Spanish “Mi corazón/you’ll be in my heart”
  • AC/DC
  • Rolling Stones
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Cover of “Fantasy” by the Bee Gees
  • Maroon 5
  • Bon Jovi
  • Tom Petty
  • “Free Bird”
  • Mackelmore
  • “Somebody That I Used to Know”
  • And many, many other English-language songs I just didn’t recognize.

It’s as if most radio stations in Costa Rica have a belated obsession with American pop and rock from the 80’s and 90’s.

Because of that, I never really felt like I left the states. A lot of what I’m familiar with stayed the same (not just the music), reducing the amount of culture shock.

What was different was so close by that I had no problem getting there.

Costa Rica is a really, really tiny. It’s only about 0.03 percent of the world’s land mass with 50,660 square kilometers of land, according to the CIA World Factbook.

To drive across it, from coast to cost, from Limon on the Caribbean side to Puntarenas on the Pacific, takes about four hours, according to Google Maps.

View Larger Map

But that’s only part of the picture.

Every other word, it seems, has been appended with the suffix -ito, -illo, -ico, all giving the associated word a diminutive or affectionate connotation. For example:

  • chiquillo
  • poquito
  • momentito
  • gringito
  • tico
  • ahorita

There’s more!

img_4745 For example, this is a regular-size coffee at the soda comedor on campus. That is my actual hand, not a doll hand.

And this picture is of the biggest parking lot I’ve seen on campus so far.


And anecdotally speaking, it seems people tend to be a bit shorter here than those in the United States. For example, these statues we found in San José are the average height of Costa Rican farmers, and we’re about a head taller than most of them.


But I digress. What’s important is that the tiny size of the country allowed me to see so much, more than I had expected. I got to see so much of the country, usually only on weekends. That has been my favorite part. All of the animals, plants and views have been phenomenal, and all the photos I’ve taken barely do this experience justice.

But the best part was always hanging out with my friends. We spent our last weekend together in Jacó (pinned on the map below), a crummy beach town to tan and enjoy the night life.

I’ll miss those guys. I’ll miss calling Costa Rica home. I’ll miss my host family.

I wish I could be more lucid about this time in my life. A chapter is closing, yet I feel very satisfied with what I’ve done and who I’ve become. I don’t know how I’ve changed (or if I have), but I imagine landing in the states tomorrow will help me come to terms with this major transition. I can’t imagine this semester hasn’t changed me. The process has probably been so gradual that the shock of my return will enlighten me. At least, I hope that’s true.

Until then, I should get back to packing. That’s all there’s left to do.


Check out the rest of my adventure throughout Costa Rica here at IFSA-Butler’s blog, at my blog, on Twitter or even on Facebook.


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