I don’t think I can adequately express how this past week has been–in either language.
Overwhelming. Divertido. Unpredictable. Alegre. Motivating. Vergüenza. Awkward. Adventurero. Beautiful. Lindo. Treasured. Simpático. Rewarding. Apasionado. Humbling. Real.
This past week has been real. I spent my first few days in Sa
n José shocked that I’m here. Everything was as real as real gets when I enrolled in class last Monday. I’m not a tourist (well, not completely). I’m a student. At the Universidad of Costa Rica.
Monday was also the day:
- I thought the world was going to end.
- I believed I would be okkay.
- I walked around San José extremely overwhelmed.
- I laughed with classmates as another Costa Rican student joked with us and we didn’t understand.
- I realized my entire life in San José is in español.
- I wanted to just hop on a plane and go home.
- I felt at home here.
I’ve thought a lot about those who come to the United States, for various reasons, whose first language is not English. Although I have a taste, I cannot imagine how overwhelmed they may feel. In my experiences, I have not seen them welcomed into the country and supported while they do their best to survive.
Costarricenses have definitely welcomed us with open arms. Prior to coming here, I had been told how friendly the people are. This couldn’t be more true. Even with a language barrier, people have done so much to help us in any way we need.
I am extremely grateful for my host family. They are wonderful people who are extremely patient with me day in and day out. My second morning here, It took me almost an hour to work up the energy and motivation to get out of bed and jump in to the day. Spending every moment of the day immersed in another language is exhausting. It is so difficult. But, it is also rewarding. In one week, I have seen improvements in my communication (which is the area for me that needs the most improvement), along with my vocabulary and written language. Other aspects of my host family have been extremely rich as well. We have all our meals together (which is yet another opportunity to speak and hear spanish) and have our lunches sent to school with us. I live with one other student from KU, Allison, who will be here until the end of June. I enjoy the family dynamics and my Papá Tica usually spends time every evening patiently talking with me As each day goes by, I notice our conversations go a little deeper in content and my language comes out a little more fluid. As someone who likes to talk, there are times that are difficult. If I can’t say it in español, I can’t say it at all. I struggled in the beginning because my conversations went from being rather complex and detailed to very surface-level and simple. Those of us from Kansas and some of our classmates traveled to Manuel Antonio this past weekend. It was nice to spend a lot of time with friends and see the beauty of Costa Rica outside of the city. During this trip, I realized when there is a need for spanish, I’m able to make it work and communicate. We had a few bumps in the road, which were all worked out, but I further grew in my confience of navigating the world. Las montañas outside our hostel. La playa de Manuel Antonio. All I wanted was to climb this rock and get a picture. And the daily downpour begins midway. Fam Din! The National Park was really beautiful. I love nature.
We saw many monos y bebés!
Can you spot the cangrejo? These were some of the biggest palm trees I have ever seen. Our iguana friend also wanted some sun at Las Gemalas. We always find the best places to eat with great food and smoothies too! I absolutely do not like spiders. But this big guy was pretty cool. He was almost the size of my hand. San José at night. Returning home.
This week I have learned a lot. I’ve grown each day. I am so extremely thankful I’m here and excited for the rest of the summer!