Half-Way Through Study Abroad!
Well I have officially reached and past the half-way point of my study abroad experience and I am seeing the finish line for school, which is both very exciting and very sad. It is truly amazing that I have actually been living in a foreign country (in Spanish) 12 weeks already!! It has been quite a roller coaster adventure to say the least.
This past week or so I have realized that I am finally at peace and comfortable with my new reality and lifestyle here in Costa Rica- yes, it did take that long! Things with school have finally calmed down a little and I have a better grip on just about everything here, or so I think. I still get starred out (which is not something offensive here, but actually very obnoxiously common), hissed at, and pointed at. And you would think that by now people would know that I can actually speak Spanish, they do not need to talk to me in Spanish, but of course that is not the case.
One thing I have definitely learned since I have been here is that it is okay to take a weekend for yourself! A few weeks ago all of my friends started leaving for their abroad experiences and arriving in their new countries. At first I was jealous and frustrated- they were all so excited for their new adventure and I had already been living and experiencing the challenges of that adventure that they still have yet to face and understand, especially those also going to a country that does not speak English. But now, I am more at peace with it and I know that soon enough, once they surpass the honeymoon phase, they will understand the culture shock and what going to school outside of the US really means and entails. All of my friends are out exploring and seeing new cities and countries, and I was enjoying a relaxing weekend at my host home with some snacks, some homework, and some netflix. And that’s okay! Being abroad is an amazing experience, but it is also tough. It is mentally and physically draining and there is nothing wrong with staying home for a weekend to take a breather and catch up on some reading for class. After all, the locals I live with RARELY travel during the school year- ONLY during the holidays and vacation!! So not only am I and every other study abroad student here studying, but also traveling at the same time, which is no easy task. So, friends, do not forget to take a mental health weekend every now and then!
This week I had two class giras (field trips), which are surprisingly common in Costa Rica. For my education classes I spent the weekend living in an indigenous community in Bribi, Talamanaca in Limon. This little place had no clean water, no electricity, wood floors to sleep on with ‘walls’ about the height of your waist, and trash bags help up by wooden poles for showers. Needless to say, it was quit a weekend. But, I did get practice catching a fish (archery), string palm leaves for the roof of the hut, and dance in a traditional ceremony. Despite all this fun, the best part was bonding with my classmates and seeing how close we became after just a few short days. Then two days later, I went on a gira to Sarchi with my Spanish class (all fellow IFSA students), which was absolutely gorgeous and super fun! We went to the garden and to the “fabrica de carretas” (essentially wagon factory) to learn about the carretas and paint one of our own! And on top of all this, next weekend I am off to Tortuguero for a volunteer work with the turtles!