Well, I have officially lived in Costa Rica for a month now! Two weeks of which were orientation, and two weeks in school! This past month has been a roller coaster ride to say the least! However, despite this, I truly am living the “Pura Vida” (life life) lifestyle of the Ticos. There is something so peaceful about living in a foreign country, completely away from home life in the US. But it certainly has not been easy. Everyday is a new adventure and a new challenge.
The biggest thing anyone will tell you about going abroad is- beware of the culture shock! Everything I heard this word, I cringed and thought to myself it would never be a big deal. But, of course, it is.
The one thing no one tells you before going abroad though, is that culture shock isn’t eating new exotic foods, or adjusting to a new climate (even though for me, living with humidity is quite a shock!), or even being amazed that iPhones are rare in Costa Rica. Culture shock is the overwhelmingness of living in a new language. It’s the constant mood swings, good and bad moments, and questioning of why in the world you chose to study abroad, that happen every single day (yes, every day). It’s the excitement you get when a native from a class says hello or goodbye. Culture shock is getting used to living with a family that’s not your own, but right now they are. It’s the hours of homework and reading where you become best friends with google translate and spanish dictionary. Culture shock is the sense of relief and accomplishment when you walk out of class knowing what happened (or at least most of it), and the disappointment and frustration when you walk out confused and understanding nothing from the past 2-4 hours. But, culture shock is what it means to live abroad, and even though it will be the most difficult semester of your life, it will also be the most exciting, valuable, emotional, and best semester as well.
I have completed 1 out of my 5 months here as a student in Costa Rica, and it’s already bittersweet, but ¡vale la pena! (it’s totally worth it)!