During the week leading up to Easter Sunday, Costa Rica has a national holiday called “Semana Santa.” School is closed for this week and most businesses don’t operate on Thursday or Friday. Usually Ticos and student’s travel during Holy Week, but my roommate and I decided we would stay back and work at our internships. We had been so busy the previous weekend traveling to Arenal Volcano, studying, and learning our way around the city, that we wanted to take some time for ourselves to both serve and to rest.

At first, this idea of rest was a hard concept for me to appreciate. I am one of those people who loves to get things done. I like having my days full of activities and I like to know what I’m going to be doing ahead of time. Days when I have nothing else going on scares me because I feel like I’m wasting my life.

But this week, I learned from my host family how to slow down and enjoy being present in the moment. These last few days of Semana Santa was the first time in months that I did not have to write a paper, finish a homework assignment, or attend classes. And instead of resorting to my usual default mode, which includes trying to get ahead, I rested.

When my roommate, Diamond, napped on Friday afternoon, I took a nap, too. And then I did the same thing on Saturday afternoon. When the weather was nice, rather than go on a run, I decided to enjoy the day and walk—slowly—around the neighborhood and down to the park.

But, of course, I didn’t just sleep. I also spent a lot of time enjoying time with my family here. When our friends went out on a Friday night, my roommate and I stayed back to enjoy time at the park with our host sister, Ingrid, and her eleven year old daughter, Camila. We played basketball with a soccer ball, taught Camila how to shoot a free throw and kicked soccer balls back and forth.

The next day we ate empanadas and pancakes drenched in syrup, played Uno and Jenga, and pasted soccer players pictures into Camila’s world cup sticker book. The neighbors came over and we played music and chatted about the best places to hang out in town. We laughed and played with the dogs, meanwhile Halle played guitar as we all sang along. In that moment, I really felt a part of our Costa Rican family.

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Looking back on the week I realize I needed to slow down. I spend a lot of time moving, going, working, pushing. I needed to pull back and remember that I can’t do it all. My life is not a race. It is about relationships with those I love.

And in order to cultivate those relationships, it’s crucial to just slow down and go with the flow. Sometimes that means accepting that you’re not leaving the city for a few days, and instead, are going to spend time together with new family and friends. At the end of the day, that’s what counts most.  

Written by Abigail Reese, Social Media Journalist

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