Nicholette L. - Costa Rica - Fall 2013
Hi all! My name is Nicholette and right now I am in Heredia, Costa Rica with IFSA-Butler studying Spanish. It is hard to believe, but I have already been here for over two months and I am over halfway done with my program. I have had so many cool opportunities since I have been here, including all the traveling to national parks and beaches nearby. I even went to Nicaragua, and even though these two countries are really close, it was a really cool to see all of the cultural differences.
I still remember the first week I was here; I was in Liberia, and towards the end of the week I was really struggling. It took me a while to get used to the differences, and the climate was a pretty big adjustment due to the humidity and the constant feeling of dehydration. Also, since this is a language immersion program, I was pretty drained at the end of each day from speaking only Spanish. This added to the shock, and it only got worse because my host family’s Wi-Fi didn’t work, I didn’t have a phone for the first night, and the road conditions were pretty bad, resulting in some pretty miserable car and bus rides. The food was good, but it felt like we were getting fed every couple hours, it was always pretty large quantities, and this culture finds it rude to not eat everything you are given or to turn down food that is offered to you. When I was at home, it was hard to just sit in my room because my host family would walk in and talk to me a lot. When Friday came, I was so ready to get on a flight and go home. However, that night after I got home from a fiesta of traditional dances that we performed for our host families, I went into my room and started to clean and organize. This was my main go-to that I established in the CPP-250 class, and after getting organized I felt a lot less stressed about everything and I was able to sleep the full night for the first time since I had arrived.
The following Sunday I came to Heredia, where I have been living ever since. I have been testing out the culture as much as I can, and every day brings a new adventure. So far I have gone to six different Pacific coast beaches, two of which were in the Nicoya Peninsula, two beaches on the Caribbean side, hiked two volcanoes and two lagoons, and I even jumped off a 50 foot waterfall. Every single weekend trip I have taken has been worth it, and I am looking forward to the last of my weekends here. Most of my weekends involve exploring the nature and going to the beaches, but I also got a chance to see some of the cities and the churches. The church in the picture was in Granada, Nicaragua, but there are also some pretty cool churches in Costa Rica. I went kayaking in mangroves while I was in Manuel Antonio; in Parque Internacional de la Amistad, which is in Costa Rica and Panama, I got to ride in the bed of a pickup truck to some hot springs; at Rincon de la Vieja, one of the volcanoes, I got to climb a Guanacaste tree, which has really big root systems in order to keep it attached to the ground when it is windy; lastly, I climbed Cerro Chato which is a lagoon in La Fortuna.
One of the best decisions I made was taking no classes Thursday afternoon or Friday because this way I have long weekends every weekend. In regards to classes, it has been an adjustment because the class structure is pretty different, and I’m sure it will be strange to adjust again when I come home. Most of my classes involve group projects that make up most of the grade, and the classes that do have tests put them in a kind of essay/short answer format that may or may not be in groups.
Any doubt or questions, I can do my best to answer and help you out, and if there is anyone who is thinking about coming to Costa Rica, please let me know and I can give you advice on what to bring, where to go, and how to navigate the country!