You know, after being immersed in Spanish at home, in class, on the street, and at restaurants, you’d think I’d be grateful for the few bursts of English I get with other classmates and online. But no! It’s a weird (new) sensation, but I feel like I’m craving to be immersed even further. Partially, it’s probably because my Spanish class is finishing in two days and I feel like there is still so much to learn – and there totally is more. Spanish is complex, but beautiful language with many intricacies and history. It’s a language I really have created a love for.
Lately, I’ve been absolutely aggravated that accessing typical US music sites like Pandora and Spotify aren’t accessible here in Costa Rica. Listening to music is one of the best ways to practice understanding Spanish because it’s chock full of idioms and varying levels of pronunciation and speed. I can understand my host mom really well, but it’s mainly because after four years of hosting students, she’s been able to slow down her speech and explain things well. My Papa Tico and his cousin are another story though. Their Spanish is faster and not always as clear. I have to embarrassingly ask for them to repeat it again and often it results in a shorter retelling.
On those sites, I was able to pick and choose Spanish music of my liking and discover new ones. At least though, I have been able to listen to online radio. A quick google search of “Costa Rica Radio” will bring up many sites with links and frequencies of local radio stations. Sometimes the online radios aren’t the highest quality and often throw in a lot of English music, but they’re definitely enough to satisfy my craving.
Since discovering radio sites, I’ve also found other outlets to be further immerse myself in Spanish. Here are my tips on getting all you can out of your time in Costa Rica and its beautiful language!
My tips to getting immersed:
1) Get to know Spanish music (i.e.: Salsa, Bachata, Merengue) and download some before you leave!
2) Bring a radio! While you can get most stations online, you may get better quality from a radio. Plus, it’s more fun discovering channels you like.
3) Watch Spanish TV with your host family.
4) Read the national newspaper “La Nacion.” It’s an incredible resource and I have had a great time developing my Spanish with it.
5) Keep a journal/notebook! While it is a fantastic place to record all your fantastic experiences here, it’s also a great place to write in vocabulary words and new fruits and foods! Costa Rica has many fruits I had never heard of before, but definitely have written down in my journal to find back in the states.
6) Take a Spanish class! If this wasn’t already a given, Veritas has intensive Spanish classes that are well worth the commitment. The teachers are great and only speak in Spanish. I have learned so much about the intricacies of the language and Costa Rican culture. The teachers make it fun and make sure you practice speaking! Already took Spanish? Take it again. There’s surely more to learn and there are classes at all levels, including electives taught in Spanish.
7) Don’t jam pack your time in Costa Rica! While taking classes at Veritas is a fantastic, well worth it experience, don’t jam pack your schedule so much that you don’t have time to explore and experience the unexpected! While it was fun visiting beaches, some of my favorite moments were at home with my host family. We went to a farmers market and visited the center. My family’s 8 year old granddaughter comes most days and it’s great practicing my Spanish with her!
8) Spend a few extra days! I can’t speak for everyone, but I definitely feel like it would be worth it to spend a few extra days with my host family if I could. I will be packing up the morning after my last class and I am truly sad to not have a great one last dinner with my family. It is pretty inexpensive to stay another night or two (or week!) with a host family, so if you can, book your flight back at a later date! Explore the area a little more and take some time to say goodbye to your family.