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

Quiz Question: Does water flow in or out of drain pipes?

My last few posts have been mostly about what I have done—I went here, I hiked there, I did that and so on. I think it would cool if I write a little about the crazy, random, and often humorous things that happen too.

First let’s start with the food, since I feel as though my days revolve around mealtimes here. I am fed so much by my family here, and despite the fact that they stuff me for every meal I find that I am hungry for the next when it rolls around. We students have often joked about the Tico quince, a variation of the freshman fifteen. And it just might happen.

Common foods here are gallo pinto (rice and black beans), lots of fruit and fruit juices, cheese (we IFSA-Butler students like to call it “squeaky cheese” because of the sound it makes between your teeth when you eat it), yucca (a root similar to a potato but denser) and other potato-like vegetables, bread, bananas and plantains (another type of banana) and coffee. (Apparently there are laws in Costa Rica about the caffeine content though, so the coffee here doesn’t quite have the same desired effect as the coffee in the States.)

Next let’s talk about the weather. Boring, I know, but it has a way of permeating everything. Literally. Water is water; good ol’ H2O. But I really think the chemical make-up of this very common substance is different here. I think it is wetter. I’m from a pretty wet State originally—Oregon—so I am used to rain and can usually get by with just a good water-proof coat. But here, umbrellas are a necessity and coats are often too warm to wear. I’m a very anti-umbrella person, but I eventually caved. My coat may be waterproof, but my backpack isn’t, and neither are my textbooks. Oops!

Apparently this year Costa Rica has had much more rain than usual. This has caused several floods and mudslides in almost every region of the country and several roads and highways have been washed out too, making travel difficult. Recently conditions have been so severe that Costa Rica has declared itself to be in a current state of emergency. So while I sometimes joke about the rain, it is important to know that conditions are very serious right now and many people have lost their homes and sadly some have lost their lives. We are still in the wet season, but moving into the dry season, so hopefully we have seen the worst for this year.

Thunderstorms occur quite often, especially during the wet season. And it rains quite heavily. But the drain pipes here don’t appear to handle the copious amounts of water too well. I didn’t read the instruction manual on drain pipes, their use, and function, but I am pretty sure water is supposed to flow into them. However, most here in Costa Rica do not follow what I thought was a basic principle. Water flows out of the drains, not into the drains. One completely sunny morning I forded a near-river of water that was flowing out of a drain and into the street.

I was told that if you are lost, try not to look like you’re lost. Great advice, but I don’t think it is physically possible, especially for gringos. And if you have walked down the same block three times, no matter how good your “I’m not lost” face is, you’re going to look lost to those standing in the shops on the street. And yes, I am speaking from personal experience and I have received some very humorous stares at times.

Showering is absolutely necessary; the climate here requires a shower at least once a day, sometimes twice a day. However, I can’t help thinking sometimes that it is completely pointless. By the time I have walked to the university in the morning I have streaks of sweat running down my face just due to the heat and humidity. Feeling sticky all day isn’t the most fun thing in the world.

Crossing the street is always an adventure. It takes a lot of skill, agility, and accurate timing. There can be no hesitation and you have to be quick, because pedestrians do not have the right-away here. We students joke that if you get hit by a car, you win. What you win is still yet to be determined—crutches most likely. And if you get hit by a bike, you get bonus points.

You also win if you get Dengue. That is a crowning achievement. For some reason, this very serious disease has become a joke among us IFSA-Butler students. If someone shows up to school feeling just the slight bit sick we automatically attribute it to Dengue and tease the individual about how miserable he/she is going to feel over the next few weeks. Luckily, no one has won that game yet either.

There are numerous other oddities here. These are the most common. I hope one or two of them made you giggle.


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