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

Home? Where is Home?

Time July 15th, 2009 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So the time has come and I am headed back to the US, it is kinda strange how things work out because in a way, I feel much like I did the day I came to study in Costa Rica, excited but yet uncertain. I’ve lived just about 5 months here and its become a second home to me, I am going to miss this country, beautiful Costa Rica. I am going to miss my brother Matias, my parents, my friends, the university, beaches, jungles, city and…the ticos. I am going to miss the little things, the sayings like “Pura Vida,” “Por dicha,” “Mae”…etc, my bus stop, in Vargas Araya, the gallo pinto, casados and all the other delectibles the country has to offer. I am gonna miss the stunning landscapes, from the country in Monteverde, the beaches of Puerto Viejo, Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo, to the big city, the urban jungle, San Jose. As I wandered around campus my last day, it hit me that everything I did and everywhere I went, might be the last time I do and see it all.
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The whole week I had been trying to prepare myself for the trip home and finish up all the study abroad Costa Rica program activities and projects I was involved in. I had the final Championship Tournament for the Soccer class I gave, Futbol 5, at Dante Alighieri elementry school. It was amazing, we managed to organize it all so everyone paid under a dollar and we rented out a synthetic field around the block so these children would have the opportunity that many had never had and that most dreamed of, playing the championship tournament on the indoor synthetic field. In just an hour, we organized a total of 7 games for 6 different teams that I made up of the 30 some children involved. After the 6 games had finished, there were ties, wins, loses, goals, fouls, anger, frustration, joy, cheering…it was a beautiful thing. At the end of it all, we had all the 3rd graders play all the 4th graders and it was amazing, the championship team had a win and a tie, they got a trophy to put up in the office at the school and everyone got trophies for participation.
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My last Thai Boxing session is definitely something to talk about, there were only three of us and the trainer- two young men training to compete and little ol me! We started off with high knees for about 10 min to get warmed up, we stretched and then went straight into shadowboxing. After about 8 min of shadowboxing with and without weights, I could already feel that my arms were getting heavy. Then we did 3 circuits of 2 min, 30 sec rest at one station and then moved to the next-the three stations were the boxing ball bag, the ring with Danny (the trainer) and the tire. After a tiring 7 and a half minutes with the boxing ball, I was ready to go into the ring and try out my combinations: punches, hooks, kicks, knees, elbows and push-kicks. What I was not ready for was the tire, 7 and a half minutes without breaking on that tire was dreadful! After some more high-energy stations and intermittent water-breaks, I saw we had about 20 minutes left which is a lifetime for Thai Boxing, that’s when he called me into the ring. We paired up, the two young men training to fight and me and the trainer- we were training clenches. What ended up happening in a matter of 15 minutes was after about 100 different attempts to clench his head in a hold, I got dropped onto the mat in at least 20 different ways. I got pulled and dropped, pushed and dropped, lifted and dropped, twisted and turned and dropped, you name it! There is no better way to say your goodbyes to your Boxing gym, my neck, back, arms and legs might be beaten to the bone, but my spirit soars sky high!
Boom Boom Powwwwwwwwwwwwww
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What will I miss the most? Rather, who? Matias, my host brother, one of the nicest, cutest, sweetest and most intelligent kids I’ve met. The day before I left, he woke up in a bad mood and angry at the world. I just thought it was just one of those days but after talking to my host mom, she told me that he had told his dad that he was angry with me because he had seen me packing my luggage and did not want me to leave. That was the cutest thing I had ever heard, he was going to miss me just as much as I would miss him. The fact that my little brother would be missing me so much upset me, I love my little tico brother. I was going to miss hearing him sing his own rendition of Vincente Fernandez’s songs, I was going to miss playing “Pulperia” with him, I was going to miss him running around the house when I chased him, I was even going to miss him slamming down the door at 7 am on Saturdays to see if I was awake yet!
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I know I will be back, I just have to come back…Goodbyes are the worst! So I guess this is goodbye…goodbye Costa Rica, or rather, I’ll see you later!

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Tropical Tamarindo Tales

Time June 2nd, 2009 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

At the beginning of April this year, a huge religious festival took place, Semana Santa or Holy Week. Its full of parades, masses, pastries and most of all travelling. Everything closes their doors for the last few days of the week and people are encouraged to make their ways to the famous beaches of Costa Rica. People travel from all over the world to relax, surf and go out at the beaches in Tamarindo. I went with a group of three others from IFSA-Butler Costa Rica study abroad program and we headed out Friday afternoon for the six hour trip to Guanacaste. The trip was not nearly as bad as it sounds, the six hours go by in a flash when everything you see on the road is new and exotic.
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We had reservations at a charming little hostel named La Botella de Leche, five minute walk from the beach. There were tables and hammocks that opened up into a mini courtyard, an internet station with two computers, a shared kitchen for cooking and a t.v. with cable and tons of seating around it.
As soon as we arrived and dropped all of our stuff of, it was just after sunset, so we walked to the beach to feel the sand and water between our toes. The water had to be the absolutely perfect temperature, I could just imagine what the next day would be like. We headed back towards the hostel and stopped at the Super Compro to pick up something for dinner. We ended up deciding on spaghetti and managed to buy it and breakfast necesities for all of us for just about 5 bucks each. What a deal! The next morning we woke up around 9 and fixed breakfast before heading out to the beach. When we got to the beach, the sun was blazing hot and its almost as if you could feel your skin frying! We were out at the beach from about 11 to 2 and then made our way back for lunch and to relax. As soon as I stepped in for a shower, I realized that I was head to toe burnt. It was a fiery red and I was scared for how it would feel the next day.
When I woke up Sunday I relaxed for the first half of the day and decided not to go out to the beach until around 4 when the sun was setting. That turned out to be the perfect time of the day to go for beach soccer. I saw a group of ticos playing some pick up soccer on the beach with sticks for goals and I went over and invited myself into the game. I ended up playing an hour and a half and had so much fun. They played me the ball and looked for me just about everytime. Every other time I saw any of those guys playing soccer on the beach or selling beach chairs and umbrellas, I had some friends to talk to!
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Who would have thought that just after about three days of heading to the beach around 3 or 4, that all that burn of mine, would bronze out into a beautifully even tan? I know that I was sure surprised! So I had been really excited about going to Tamarindo because its a surf town and there are tons of places to rent boards and I was dying to try and learn to surf. It took me about four days to muster up the courage to rent a board and go out there, do or die! I needed the first two days to relax and soak up the sun, then another two to scope out the waves and the surf scene. Wednesday rolled around and I rented a board with one of my IFSA-Butler Study in Costa Rica program friends, only 10 bucks the whole day, split between the two of us. Once I get excited about something like surfing, Im completely captivated and engulfed in it. That first day I spent about 4 hours in the water, 3 from when that board first hit the water and then another after lunch! I tried and tried and tried until I finally started to get it at the end of the 3rd hour, so after lunch, I was ready to get back on that board and stay on! The last hour was amazing and it actually gave me hope for picking up surfing as a hobby in the future. Thursday and Friday I rented boards from two different places, looking for the best price and the complete deal. After a few hours on the board and no rash guard, you learn the hard way what those cool looking, fitted shirts are for.
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All in all, I had an amazing time. If it weren’t for the 6 hour bus ride, I would be out there every weekend or every other weekend. Beautiful beach, amazing surf, soccer on the beach and hot, blazing, frying sun- what more could I ask for?

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