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

Reality Show Recap

This blog is a lot different than previous blogs that I have written. The creative juices were flowing and I went with it…enjoy!

During the last few weeks the IFSA-Butler program of productions has launched a new season of the hit reality show “Gringos in Costa Rica.” The original cast has been completely revamped, with guest appearances by Carli Trail and Jerusha Hawkins (myself) who were participants in last season’s show. However, rumor has it that these two plan to be regular participants in the show. Modern viewers (those of you reading this blog) have reported that this is a much better picture of living and surviving in another country. Participants in the reality show say that it is a truly remarkable and eye-opening experience, often scoffing at the ever-popular Survivor TV show and its failure to bring realistic experiences to its viewers.

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While the outline of the series remains the same, the challenges, experiences, and adventures are sure to be different. Already, there have been changes in the location of the IFSA-Butler Orientation. This season it was held in Monteverde with the participants (students) arriving on the 22 of January. Orientation commenced with the traditional lectures on Costa Rica etiquette, study habits, language learning, and several need-to-know tips on banking, visas, embassy registration and so forth.

The weekend excursion this season was a trip to Fortuna, a town near the Arenal Volcano. It was during this episode (January 28-30) that Jerusha Hawkins made her first appearance on the show alongside the new participants, but Carli Trail, due to scheduling conflicts, unfortunately wasn’t able to make an appearance at that time. The students spent an afternoon in the town shopping, sight-seeing, and chatting. Later that evening the participants relaxed at a “big Jacuzzi”—a large man-made pool naturally heated by the many thermal vents in the area around the Arenal Volcano. The following day, the participants tested their strength and stamina in a hike to a waterfall (a short and relatively easy hike in reality).

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Back in Heredia, the new participants to the show continued their orientation, while Jerusha and Carli were content to pass the time amongst themselves, only appearing with the other students to take part in registration—a challenge of often bitter memories amongst foreign exchange students. At the end of the week, Carli and Jerusha presented a slideshow and gave a short presentation of general advice to the other participants. There have been reports that the new participants are asking Jerusha and Carli lots of questions about the previous season and what they can expect from this season’s show.  

During the most recent episode, the participants face their biggest challenge yet—university classes. This challenge is expected to last a total of 18 weeks, by the end of which the participants are hoping to be able to handle the Spanish language with relative ease. Of course, throughout the season there will be other challenges as well, but those are not on the forefront of the students’ minds right now.

We recently caught up with Jerusha, in order to hear her thoughts as she starts a new season and continues the brutal challenge of university classes in a foreign language.

Are you excited to start a new semester in the university?

“I am very excited for this semester. It is still a challenge for me sometimes. I feel like there is still a lot to learn about the Spanish language and the Costa Rican culture. ”

Why did you choose to stay for another season?

“Originally, when I was deciding whether or not I wanted to study abroad, I asked the IFSA-Butler Costa Rica Program Advisor if it would be worthwhile to spend two semesters studying abroad. She said that many who had only gone for one semester wished that they had stayed for two and those that had stayed for two were glad that they did. So I decided to stay for two semesters.”

How are you feeling about the new group?

“One should never judge a new group by the old group. It is not fair to the new students. I was blessed to know the participants of last season’s show and I am working hard to get to know this group.”

How do you think the new participants are handling the show’s challenges?

“I think they are doing quite well. They are a very diligent group and try to speak in Spanish all the time. I think they will be able to look back on this experience with many memories and lots of pride in their accomplishments.”

What are your hopes for this season?

“I am excited to have already experienced and succeeded in those daily cultural challenges, which were so overwhelming last semester, allowing me to focus on Spanish even more this semester. I really want to increase my vocabulary and speaking ability during this season.”

We wish the best of luck to the new participants and as well as Jerusha and Carli during this season’s show. Tune in to this blog as often as you want to get up-to-date information about “Gringos in Costa Rica” right here on the IFSA-Butler website!

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