I’m in Costa Rica, but life isn’t always paradise. Just as in the United States, life can be hard. Especially when you’re away from everything comfortable. I’ve found a lot of people have told me, “but you’re in Costa Rica; but you’re in paradise” but it’s a little different when you’re living it. This past week has been a lot of just this-hard. I’m so glad everything goes exactly according to plan, down to every last detail. Except it never does. The past two weeks or so have been full of failed plans, plan Bs, and starting over from scratch. And it hasn’t been easy. A major thing that has changed over the last 10 weeks is my attitude and perspective on things. Three months, Six months, a year ago, when things didn’t go according to plan, I would begin to stress and panic. However, now I barely bat an eye. I’ve learned that stressing out is going to get me no where. Changing this one small thing has actually changed a lot. I don’t think a single thing these past few months has went exactly according to plan. For me or some of my friends. Starting when I arrived with a miscommunication with the KU Study Abroad Office, to getting sunburned (with sunscreen and reapplying; I listened Moms), to stronger language barriers than expected, to getting lost in a random town outside of San José, to losing a good friend back home, watching a friend loose his debit card and then losing mine a week later, a friend fracturing a jaw, another friend busting open a lip, busting open my leg, petty crime, crooked taxi drivers, failed Monteverde plans, failed Nicaragua plans, and more failed plans. With every bump comes a story. And with every story I’ve learned a little, grown a little, and matured a little. Overall, my attitude has changed tremendously (I think I already said that; oops). I’ve become the person who not only says “everything is going to be okkay” but believing it too. I’ve learned to take each moment as it comes and move on to the next one. Part of me can see how every failed plan could have ruined my adventure here in Costa Rica, after all, ‘it’s the end of the world, right?’ But instead, I’ve turned the discouragement into encouragement, and I’m still moving right along. I’m so thankful to have an amazing group of friends to travel this journey with, an amazing group back home cheering me on, and an amazing God above looking out for me. So tomorrow, after changing tickets and companions, I’m headed to Nicaragua. I’m excited for an amazing week exploring a new country, even if we have to spend the night at the border.
These words have burned in my mind this month.
During my first days of my second class, a classmate was trying to talk to our Spanish professor in English, and he didn’t understand. I watched as she became frustrated and decided to talk to her during the break. She had transferred into our class after the first day, so she didn’t know he doesn’t speak English in addition to Spanish.
During the break, I explained this to her, and her response to me was, “I’m just trying to say food poisoning, how hard can it be?” How hard can it be. These words have burned in my mind this month.
They’ve reminded me that while language barriers do exist, our response to them is extremely powerful. Positive or Negative.
How hard can it be? If it wasn’t difficult, she would have been able to tell him in Spanish. If it wasn’t difficult I would always be able to communicate with my host family, people on the street, and those who speak Spanish in my home country. But it is hard.
However, just because someone doesn’t know multiple languages doesn’t lessen their worth as a person. This doesn’t deem them as unintelligent.
In that moment in class, I felt so much judgment being placed on language barriers. Just as I don’t want Costa Ricans to deem me as unintelligent based upon my Intermediate Spanish, I desire the same for those in the US, who I may interact with in the future. There is so much a person has to say, even if they can’t communicate it. I don’t ever want someone to feel they are lesser because of my reaction to their language. I don’t want to give that impression. I’ve now lived it. I’ve now seen it from the other side.