I’ve been in Costa Rica for almost a month now and I love it! It’s such an exciting new experience! I live in Birri, which is about 30 minutes out of the capitol city, San Jose. I have an absolutely amazing host family! I have 4 brothers, 1 sister and one host niece. She is absolutely adorable! My host brother, Pieter, is actually about to leave for an exchange trip of his own to Japan in two weeks! We also have 2 cats and 3 dogs! Its weird not having younger siblings and the house is a lot quieter than i’m use to! I miss the craziness sometimes! My family owns a flower company, Expo Flora Costa Rica. So we have fields of flowers next to our house!
My first two nights in Costa Rica were spent at Casa San Benito, a catholic hostel just outside of San Jose. I stayed there with 82 other students from all over the world going to Costa Rica with AFS! It was really to fun to meet everyone, and I made some really good friends in the two short days of orientation! After a fun but anxious two days were then split into groups by our area and sent to our cities to meet our families. I think the 15 minute drive to Heredia was one of the most nerve racking drives of my life!! We finally got to meet our host families, it was amazing! We then went to the mall and the super market (thankfully not Walmart, even though there are Walmarts here.) I got a Costa Rican cell phone, it’s in Spanish so it takes me a while to figure out how to to do anything on it. We then headed to our gorgeous house! I was able to get all settled in for a few days before it was time to go to school!
School was possibly the scariest moment of my life so far. We went to the school a day before I actually started to registered and I was freaking out! I was shaking the whole time and couldn’t sit still. I didn’t sleep very well that night! The next day my host mom, Silvia, drove me to school. A gorgeous green windy drive through the hills. My first day wasn’t that bad! I almost passed out walking in but I made it! I was passed from person to person on the first day, my friend later told me as I was being passed off a classmate of mine said, “Want to watch her now?” I quickly made good friends though and i’m so lucky that I did! Adjusting to Costa Rican school had been weird. It’s so much more relaxed, some days at school I’ll spend as little as one hour in actual class time. There is really no such thing as substitute teachers here. If a teacher is sick or just doesn’t feel like teaching they just cancel class. I don’t mind it! I’m starting to understand more and more of what the teachers say everyday. I do not like it when the teachers call on me though, I suddenly blank and can’t think of a single Spanish word. My friends are very patient with my Spanish though and have learned that I generally understand what you’re saying as long as you talk really slowly. I stay with the same group of people everyday as we go to our different classes, its nice because I’m able to get to know everyone and everyone has been very nice to me! I look forward to going to school after the weekend! It’s different having a uniform, it is nice though not having to pick an outfit out everyday! Most of the exchange students I have met have all noticed the same thing, then English teachers can’t speak correctly! It’s frustrating and I constantly want to correct our teacher. My host mom doesn’t love that I am in public school, she says the education is horrible, but almost no one speaks English so I will learn faster!
Costa Rica is a beautiful country and I can’t wait to see more of it. The “Ticos” are all very nice, happy and chill. My family and I have only done a little bit of traveling so far but it has been great! We visited Cartago for lunch, it was beautiful and we also made a weekend trip to the beach! My bathing suit had been haunting me ever since the first day I landed in San Jose, so when my host mom told me we were going to the beach in a week I could hardly contain my excitement. I made a count down just for that week. Every night I was like a little kid, “The faster you go to sleep the faster the beach will come!” I skipped school that Friday, we packed up and drove the 3 or so hours to a friends beach house near Manuel Antonio National Park. The closer we got to the ocean the more excited I got and the hotter it got. By the time we were on the coast it was close to 95 degrees or 34 or so celcius. (I’m trying to get use to using celcius cause everyone else uses it!) It felt like Cambodia and all I could think about was jumping in the ocean. We arrived at the most gorgeous beach house secluded and surrounded by palm trees. I had my bathing suit and sunscreen on within 10 minutes of arriving. The ocean is so warm and I swam for over an hour before I then got in the pool. Watched the most amazing sunset from the water the night and took about 40 pictures of it. The rest of the weekend was perfect! Before the beach everyone kept telling me, “You’re REALLY white, so lots of sunscreen when you go to the beach!” I told everyone I was fine and I knew how to take care of my skin. Well, I got fried. Like a tomato! I even put 60 sunscreen on twice in one day! It was still an amazing weekend, we went on a boat tour of the river, saw the national park, saw some amazing wildlife including monkeys, bird and giant iguanas, we also swam and swam! I can’t wait till the next trip to the beach!
I’m getting use to the food here, it isn’t much different from anything you could get in the US, but it’s just not what I use to eat. I honestly miss my freezer pizza twice a week and pasta. My family eats a lot of meat which I am definitely not use to doing. I don’t mind eating rice every night though and I can see how AFS standing for Another Fat Student. I just might come back a few pounds heavier.. We always eat dinner together which I really enjoy. I miss having cereal for breakfast, generally I have a ham and cheese sandwich or Gallo pinto (A traditional rice and beans dish) for breakfast. My family isn’t big on sugary desserts or anything so I have been experiencing cookie withdrawals. I use to have cookies at least once a week! I’ve attempted to make them but it’s practically impossible to find the exact correct ingredients. I’ll be able to make them when the missing ingredients are shipped to me, thanks mom :).Costa Rica has lots of delicious fruits, I’m still hunting down the dragon fruit but in the meantime I will just enjoy what we have in our area. The pineapple here is my favorite, it’s so fresh and delicious! I love trying all of the new food! At school since I have no idea what anything is called, I just point to a general area and whatever they hand to me I take. I really love soda in a bag and the arrangement of meat calzone things the school offers! It freaks me out a little they don’t refrigerate their eggs or milk though.
I’m getting use to all of different and odd bugs here. I’m not a fan of the giant cockroaches and freak out when anyone says, “Cucaracha!” I took a shower with one for about a week, and named him Fred. Sometimes I will pick something up off the floor and a giant cockroach will crawl across my hand. Scares me every time! I’m getting use to find random bites from who know what all over my body. The bites itch like crazy and drive me nuts. Sadly I didn’t pack bug spray or itch cream. Last night as I was almost asleep- which doesn’t take long- a giant flying bug flew in my face making me scream and jump out of bed. I slept with the covers over my head after remaking my bed.
My Spanish is coming along slowly. It’s absolutely exhausting learning a new language. I am very good at Spanglish though. I can easily fall asleep at 8 and not wake up till 10 the next morning. Then still be able to take a two hour nap. I love using the bus here, the exact opposite of Utah! I’m getting use to the culture and enjoying every minute of it! I love it here and am so glad that I decided to do this! I miss everyone but am loving everything about this trip! A few days ago I was talking to another exchange student and thought, “I wish I could so something as cool as her!” Then I realized that’s exactly what I’m doing. I think I was really tired that day!
Well I’ll try to keep the other posts shorter than this one! Hope you’re all doing well!