La Primera Semana – An Overview

¡ Bienvenidos a Costa Rica!

Unlike most students studying abroad, I felt a huge sense of anxiety as I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica. I mean of course I was extremely excited to finally be in Costa Rica but I was extremely anxious as well. I was anxious for one reason, meeting my new host family. Most students who study abroad tend to live with other students and not with a host family. With that being said, many people wondered why I chose a host family and why I even chose Costa Rica.

I chose to live with a host family because I really wanted to become immersed in the culture rather than just be a fly on the wall for the three months that I’m here. Additionally, I chose Costa Rica because it was different to the European countries that many students chose to study abroad in. Costa Rica was also the perfect fit for me because I’m an island girl at heart and this is also a country that is still considered to be a developing country. Being a developing country, I hope to gain a greater appreciation for the things that I take advantage of as well as life in general.

I’ve only been here for a week and I’ve already started appreciating my of the “luxuries” I have back in the United States. Here, I’ll list a few:

  • Hot water isn’t accessed by just turning the handle to the left. Well … it is but you need a special heater that goes over the shower head. I remember being in orientation and asking our counselor if it’s safe to shower with this heater in the shower when it’s raining with lighting outside (it’s always raining in Costa Rica during rainy season – May to November). Apparently ticos (Costa Ricans) do it all the time, so why not.photo (2)
  • Toilet paper is not meant to go in the toilet. Ironic name then huh? Well apparently because the sewer system in Costa Rica is very poor, you aren’t allowed to throw toilet paper in the toilet. Instead, toilet paper goes in a garbage bin found next to the toilet.
  • Classrooms here (I’m currently studying at Universidad Latina) are full of distractions from outside noise such as traffic and a train that runs through the middle of campus.
  • Personal space. Someone please remind me again what that is. I’ve only been here for a week and I’ve already forgotten what personal space is since it’s not a common thing here. Even on a line at the bank people are so close that you can hear them breathing over your shoulder.
  • Some people may not consider cheese to be a luxury but for me it is – at least now it is. Here in Costa Rica, the cheese of chose is queso fresco which is a fresh cheese that does not melt. I like it when my cheese is melted and oozing.  photo (3)
  • Sidenote: The bathrooms at my school all have Listerine dispensers. Ticos love brushing their teeth after every meal.photo (4)

Back to more important things about my week abroad so far (aside from my queso rant). In retrospect, I am happy that I decided to live with a host family. My host family has been nothing short of welcoming since I’ve arrived. My host family consists of a mom, her son, her grandson, and her boyfriend who visits on the weekends. Since my host mom and I are the only chicas in the house we’ve been bonding and laughing at all the silly things the guys do around the house. With that being said, I’m having a fantastic time in Costa Rica so far. Below are some photos of Costa Rica for your viewing pleasure. ¡Pura Vida!

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