As a person who gets homesick easily, I knew before traveling to Costa Rica that I would need to adopt just the right outlook in order to not only survive, but thrive in my five short weeks here. After talking to various friends who have studied abroad, I decided that the best approach would be to view my trip as a series of little moments instead of one large adventure. What I did not realize was that this mentality would coincide perfectly with the “Pura Vida” mindset here in Costa Rica.
In my two weeks here, “Pura Vida” has transformed from a cute t-shirt slogan to an actual way of life. It has become my way of facing the new and rapid changes that accompany studying abroad. My flight was cancelled because Turrialba Volcano is erupting? Pura Vida! I can’t figure out how to get hot water in my host family’s shower? Pura Vida!
Every little obstacle that would typically leave me on the phone with my Mom in tears in the USA has become small, because every little difficult moment is surrounded by 5 little amazing moments. The shower may be cold, but the 5-year-old living in my house and I just played 26 games of tic-tac-toe in a row. It is pouring on my walk to Veritas, but I just drank the best coffee I’ve ever had and I can definitely take on this day.
I saw a frog (my favorite animal) in Arenal. I rode a horse for the first time. I took the bus downtown without getting lost. My host mom made the most amazing fried plantains. These are the moments that add up.
In all honesty, I did not think 5 weeks was long enough to experience such changes in lifestyle and cultural appreciation. After 2 weeks here, I know I was wrong. Anyone can live this strange “Pura Vida” thing in a culture that is so welcoming to share it. Even though I only have 3 weeks left, I plan to pack these weeks with a few big adventures, such as trips to Playa Tamarindo and Monteverde, and countless little happy moments with my new friends and host family.