Before I came to Costa Rica, about a million and one things were running through my mind. I had read through all the information I could find about Costa Rica online (and of course scared myself half to death), I had read the testimonials from other students, I had asked the program managers every question I could think of and a few thought of by monkeys, I packed and repacked my suitcase at least three times, printed my flight itinerary, looked on Pinterest for vacation destinations, and prayed to God that my trip would go well. In between the times I was preparing, I was dreaming—dreaming of all the grand adventures I was going to have.
I don’t know how it is for other students, and I’m definitely not going to pretend to be an expert, but somewhere about a week into the trip, the new wears off, and you think, “Hey, I’m about a thousand miles from home.” “Hey, I kind of miss hanging out with my parents.” And, the most common, “Hey, I REALLY want to go to Sonic and have a milkshake.” These thoughts lead to another thought. Some people call it “culture shock,” but I think it’s just a fancy word for homesick.
I started to think how great it would be not to struggle to ask someone for directions, or how nice it would be to see the wide open spaces of Kansas, or how wonderful it would feel to pull into the Sonic Drive In and have one of those delicious milkshakes. Now, as my time in Costa Rica is drawing to an end, my thoughts have taken a different turn.
I have read through all of my information about reverse culture shock. I have emailed people from my home university a million and one questions about the process of going back. I have started packing my suitcase. I’ve printed my flight itinerary. I have looked on Pinterest for Tico recipes to share with my family, and I’ve prayed to God thanking him for such a wonderful trip.
I don’t know how it is for other students, and I’m definitely not going to pretend to be an expert, but somewhere in my last week, I started to think, “Hey, I really like hanging out with my host parents every night.” “Hey, the food here is SO good!” “Hey, it’s nice to be able to take a taxi anywhere now that I can give directions.” And, I’m beginning to think that “reverse culture shock” will be a fancy word for “reverse home sickness” because somewhere between the planning, excitement, the nervousness, and the learning, I’ve fallen in love with these “tranquilo” people and this “pura vida” lifestyle.