It is day five in San Jose, Costa Rica and I am so glad. I feel excited, relaxed, relieved, comfortable, happy, pura vida—finally. Honestly, it took some time for me to acclimate and adjust to my new Costa Rican lifestyle. I arrived on the 23rd of May in the afternoon and went through the motions of travelling to San Jose, meeting my host mom, unpacking, and waiting for my roommates to arrive. Much to my surprise, I was assaulted by culture shock almost immediately upon arriving in San Jose. Unfortunately, I was in a whirlwind of discomfort: I have poor conversational Spanish skills, my host mom speaks no English, you can’t flush the toilet paper here, lunch was a plate of carbs, dinner was another plate of carbs from a Chinese place, gringas are not safe here, Skype doesn’t work, my bed is hard as a rock—ay yay yay!
It was very frustrating to take everything in and still be excited and optimistic about embarking on such an incredible opportunity. Luckily, little by little everything began to fall into place and I am now comfortable in my new home-to-be for the next five weeks. My roommates are lovely; we get along well with Mama Tica. My Spanish is coming back to me quickly and I feel more confident with the language. I purchased a gym membership and have worked out every day and feel immensely better. I spoke with Mama Tica about the meals and my healthy preferences. After adjusting to the initial differences and idiosyncrasies of a foreigner in Costa Rica, I experienced some of the more fun and enjoyable aspects of my study abroad experience right off the bat.
I forged a lot of fast friendships with other students in my program and we began exploring San Jose. We went to El Mercado de Artesanias and bought souvenirs for our families and friends, we walked to Multiplaza and saw what a Costa Rican mall is like, we toured downtown San Jose and witnessed the crowds, vendors, pigeons, and daily life, we took our first tropical dance class, we went out to a bar and drank mojitos while listening to the band, we met Mama Tica’s daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter and practiced our Spanish with them, we went to a club and danced with the ticos, and we are travelling to Arenal this weekend to see the volcano and enjoy the resort. I feel so much more at home now and I am thrilled to be here. The people, Costa Ricans and Americans alike, are all very friendly and welcoming. I am excited to learn and improve my Spanish language as well as my knowledge of the culture, customs, and natural beauty of this pura vida lifestyle here in Costa Rica.