I’m in my fourth week here in beautiful San José, about to take my Spanish final tomorrow. It’s so weird that I’m about to take a final when my friends back in Memphis, TN, USA, just started classes last Tuesday.
Anyway, I just wanted to say something that I wish I would have heard before I came for my semester abroad: “Don’t be afraid to say no, but don’t be afraid to say yes.” I’ll start by saying that I’m a pretty introverted person. I do like to hang out with people, but crowds usually aren’t my thing and I need time alone after being around people. At home, I like cooking, going to the dog park, and Netflix. I really like to spend time alone, probably because I’m an only child, so I’m used to it. But this was one of my concerns about spending a semester abroad -having to make new friends, but also not having to feel like I need to go out every other night to keep those friends -because what people back home said to me about studying abroad is that it’s a party. They never talked about much else besides the bars, clubs, and parties while studying abroad (I need new friends).
Well, I’m here to tell you what I’ve discovered. My first week here, I went out to a bar three nights and I haven’t been to one since. This month has been a lot of adjusting, homework, making friends, and hanging out with my familia tica (tica = Costa Rican). And there’s nothing wrong with that. There will be people in your classes who want to go out multiple times every week, there will be people who never set foot in a bar while they’re here, both options are fine. That first week I was telling myself: “I need to go out, I need to have fun, I should be excited about going to this bar, etc, etc.” Not that the bars aren’t fun, they are! But the cafés, malls, and getting to know your familia tica can be just as fun. Don’t feel that just to take full advantage of this amazing study abroad experience you have to go out. But don’t be afraid to say yes to an opportunity to go out as well!
Night life in San José is very diverse and fun. There are places to dance, places to eat and drink, and places to just hang out more casually. So don’t be afraid to try a few places and see what fits your style. A lot can be gained from hanging out around ticos and ticas your age here. You can learn to dance, get to know some locals, or if all goes well, find your Costa Rican love.
Try new things, whether they are bars or museums or my favorite: farmer’s markets. Get out there and immerse yourself! Like I said, this first month has been hectic for me, but I am so excited to go dancing somewhere! I’ve been looking forward to going salsa dancing because I love to dance, even though I don’t really know how.
I needed the first three weeks for adjustment. I’ve done so many new things in 24 days it’s crazy/amazing/astounding. Just be yourself. People will love you, so don’t worry. Man, I love Costa Rica. ¡Pura Vida!