Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First Impressions

My first impression impressions weren’t those of great cultural shock as I walked off the plane to see Burger King staring back at me, but as my knowledge grew I broadened my horizons. The first night we stepped into the pouring rain we were taken to our new homes of our Tica families. I was too dazed and tired to fully understand what I had gotten myself into. This trip will be amazing, but by no means easy. Over the last few days the gravity of this experience is actually setting in. It is one thing to expect a study-abroad to be challenging but the realization of this fact has now set in.
My Tica family is great; exactly what I hoped for. My Tica mom has been welcoming and cares for me. She is a hair-stylist and works at home, which is something I am not used to. No one speaks fluent English at home which forces me to improve my Spanish for which I am thankful. The family appears to be close knit. Oppose to the typical Costa Rican family, my Tica mother and father have a very loving relationship, referring to one-another as “mi amor.”
I enjoy the company of my Tica family but it is difficult to communicate with them. I probably understand about 40% of what they are saying but responding is much harder. This is the main source of my frustration. I have to keep reminding myself that it is only the first week and that I cannot expect too much, too fast. It is especially frustrating when I am out with my peers and they are far superior at communicating than I am. When I hear about previous students who came without knowing Spanish and left without learning any either, it makes me think their semester was a waste of time. I am making an active effort to learn as much as I can.
This is not only true for the language. I love all the cultural differences between Ticos and North Americans. I have only experienced a few cultural differences during my short stay. The first being the fact that Ticos rarely walk on the floor with bare feet, be it for health or warmth reasons I am unsure, but they always wear shoes or slippers. Ticos also always adhere to “quedar bien,” constantly ensuring others are happy. Ticos will avoid saying something that would upset another. I have found this to be true. Most of the people I have met have been nice, welcoming and very helpful.
As for a first impression, Costa Rica has made a very good one. The situation is difficult, being in a foreign country in which I don’t speak the language well and living with a host family, but I am trying my best. The people and the atmosphere have made it easier. Costa Rica is perhaps one of; if not the most beautiful country I have ever been to. Our walk to school is surrounded by mountains and the streets are lined with palm trees. The people are friendly and willing to help and I am so excited about getting to know my surroundings and explore the Costa Rican environment.
-Maggie Owner

1 comment:

The Llewellyn's said...

Hi, I hope you have a great stay in Costa Rica. My wife, 2 year old son, and myself are coming down in Oct. for about 12 weeks, then returning to live there in Jan. I just started my own blog, check it out if you have time. Shaun www.Llewellynsadventure.blogspot.com