Livin’ la vida tica
Hello again! Today marks week EIGHT! It’s seriously insane how fast time passes here! We are approaching the halfway point in two weeks and it’s freaking me out! I wish there was a pause button in life at times because Costa Rica is extremely beautiful and I want to make sure I have enough time to fully appreciate everything this tiny country has to offer!
Over the past few weeks, life has been passing normally. I’ve settled into a routine and really feel accustomed to the culture. I experienced a brief moment of culture shock a few weeks ago. We are still in the process of receiving our student visas, which is a long process, and I made a lot of mistakes trying to get it done. I went by myself to do it which was a mistake to begin with since the language barrier definitely played a role. I recommend going with someone who speaks Spanish pretty well or a Tico. That was really the only moment where I really felt out of place and confused. I don’t want to jinx myself because we are only just about halfway but so far culture shock hasn’t really affected me too much. There are definitely times when I miss home, but living here is so awesome and I’ve seen so much that it’s hard to miss the blistery cold of the midwest.
My friends and I have traveled a BUNCH during our time here, almost every weekend we have gone somewhere new! We went white water rafting in Turrialba at the Pacuare and Reventazón Rivers which are two of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, went on an IFSA led excursion to archeological sites of Guayabo and Valle de Orosí and saw the oldest church in Costa Rica! IFSA also hosted another excursion to Bahía Drake. This experience was probably my favorite thing to have done thus far. The trip up there alone we had to take a 4 hour bus ride and then almost a 2 hour boat ride to a remote, desolate, but BREATHTAKING part of the peninsula where we stayed at a biocurso reserve. The reserve didn’t have electricity and was completely away from anything touristy! We went whale watching, hiked, saw bats, snorkeled, and hung out at the beach! It was an exhausting weekend but worth every woe. The weekend after that we went to Volcán Arenal. We were really lucky and stayed at and amazing hostel called Gringo Pete’s. The owner, Juan Carlos, was great! He took us to free hotsprings, took us on a tour of the volcano, and took us to a swimming hole where we swung off of a rope into the water. The hostel super cute and we grilled burgers one night for dinner and cooked breakfast in the morning. (check out the hostels you want to stay at to see if they have a kitchen because cooking your own food is a great way to save money if on a budget like us!) This weekend we stayed back in Heredia and went to an art festival in San José. It was really cool and there were many stations of people selling beautiful hand-crafted treasures. There was a Calle 13 concert that was fun too, until someone was pick-pocketed and lost their entire wallet!
Classes at UNA thus far haven’t been too terrible either. Most professors are willing to help us gringos but they can definitely be challenging. My class on the history of Costa Rica is very difficult. There is a lot of reading and it’s really hard to pay attention during the lectures because tuning out Spanish is really easy. I also found out that most of my classes aren’t going to transfer back to my home university which stinks, but takes off some pressure. My host family here is super amazing as well. They are always willing to help me with homework and figure things out. They understand that sometimes I need my own time so I don’t feel pressured to always be around them but when I am we always have great conversations and I learn a lot!
So far, Costa Rica continues to surprise me every day. It’s beauty never ceases to amaze me and the adventures I have are unforgettable. I’ve become such great friends with the other students in the program and see them all the time! I was really worried that in Heredia I wasn’t going to see them as much, but I definitely do!
View from our hike up Arenal!
Everyone cooking in the hostel!
The girls, including the AMAZING IFSA directors Tracy and Teresita!!
Those of us who went to Arenal enjoying the view!