andevries' Travel Journals


What was the strangest food you ate while traveling?

I believe they said it was cow intestines.

  • 28 years old
  • From Pennsylvania, United States
  • Currently in South Carolina, United States

Costa Rica Adventures

I am studying abroad in Costa Rica doing an Intensive Spanish Language Program and living with a host family. This journal serves to keep others informed about my experience as well as to remain a record of my adventure for future reference or reflection.

Christmas Already!

Costa Rica San Jose, Costa Rica  |  Nov 08, 2010
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 "...I'm not sure if heaters even exist here." 

The past two weeks have been a little less eventful for me, but I still have much to share. I have not gone on any new excursions since the last time I blogged. Instead, I have had the pleasure of staying at home the past two weekends - enjoying my host family and the surrounding area as well as relaxing a bit.

I went to visit the school I had hoped to volunteer at, Glory Christian School. It was a lot longer of a trip than I had planned or hoped, but it was really nice to see the school and meet Katy, the contact person I had emailed. I went again this past week, on Monday, along with 2 of my friends here and we helped organize the library a little. Unfortunately, because the trip to get there and back is so long we were only there for about an hour and a half, but they were still very grateful for the help. The bus ride home, well actually it takes 3 buses to get home, but on the longest one, a baby first pooped in its diaper, which stank, and then it got sick and threw up, which stank even more (especially since it was raining so the windows were mostly closed). In addition, there was a ton of traffic so the bus was going nowhere and the trip that should have been about 30 min. ended up being over an hour. It was a miserable trip and was very dark by the time we got back. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to make it out there since the journey is so long, and I have class everyday 8-12, but I’m glad I got to at least see the school and learn a little more about it. I got home a little after 7 and knew I had a ton of homework to do yet, including a poster and preparation for a presentation (all in Spanish of course) the next day. However, one of my roommates came and told me that our host parents had invited all 4 of us girls to go out with them that night to a special event with dancing, music, and such. They had already gotten me a ticket. I was torn. I wanted to go, but I knew I had a lot of schoolwork to do yet. I began to do my homework as fast as I could. I got ready to go, did my homework while eating dinner quickly, and decided I’d do all my presentation work after I got back.

It was a fun night. The event was in a big and rather nice bar not too far away. There were some comedians (though it was hard to understand what they were saying since it was all in Spanish) and then live music and dancing. Our host dad danced with each of us girls, which was really neat. Watching our host parents dance together was special too. They are fabulous dancers! I was glad I went, but then we didn’t get back until after 1am, and I still had to get more information for my presentation, make my poster, and prepare my presentation, so I didn’t get to bed until about 2:45. Thankfully, with strength and energy that only God can supply, I survived my presentation and 4 hours of Spanish class the next morning after only getting 4 hours of sleep. Furthermore, my teacher told me at the end of class that my presentation was really good, so that made me feel good.

I am a little over halfway through my Intermediate 2 class. It’s difficult at times, but the challenge is good for me. I have more homework for this class than the last class, but it is nowhere near the homework load that I have at GCC. My teacher is a Christian, which I enjoy immensely. There are only 5 students in my class, which is super small, but it allows for more participation. I had my midterm last Friday. The first page of the test was awful. Honestly, I don’t think I would have even known what to do had it been in English. We had a story with 31 blanks and a word bank of 31 words to fill in the blanks with the correct verb and correct conjugation of the verb. It started out okay, but towards the end there were so many blanks close together the story could vary so much. Also, I got to the end and the verbs I had left didn’t make sense to use so then I’d have to go back and review everything. I spent at least an hour, probably more, on this one part, and eventually got tired of thinking about it. It bothered me a bit the rest of the day, but I knew there was really nothing more I could have done. I kept telling myself too, that the grade doesn’t really matter - it’s the skill of being able to speak Spanish that will be useful. I had studied for the test, and I don’t think studying more would have helped much, if at all. We got our tests back today then, and I was pleasantly surprised with my grade. I appreciated too how the teacher sat down one-on-one with each of us to discuss our tests. She has been very encouraging to me, and I am thankful to have her as my teacher. This Friday, we are going on a field trip to the wood factory, which I’m excited for.

On a different note, there has been a ton of rain here lately, which has caused some serious problems in certain areas of the country. Last Thursday, Costa Rica declared a “red alert” and is currently under a national state of emergency due to landslides and flooding. Some roads now look like rivers. It’s crazy. Over 20 people have died and many are still missing. I even received an email from the U.S. Embassy about the whole situation. I was originally planning to go to a beach on the Pacific Coast called Manual Antonio this past weekend, but the road to get there was closed (and supposedly will be for quite some time) so we were not able to go then. I enjoy relaxing and chilling at home though, so I didn’t mind it.

On Saturday, I actually went with my roommates and my friend, Trista, to the movie theater in a nearby mall. It was so cheap, only $3. We saw “Life as We Know It”, which in Spanish is called “Under the Same Roof”, which I found interesting. I was also shocked to find out that the movie was in English with Spanish subtitles. Apparently, most of their movies in the theaters are this way, which seems a bit odd to me. Imagine going to the theater in the U.S. and every movie being in Spanish with English subtitles.  Maybe this is why it is so cheap to go here. It is certainly nice for those of us who know English.

I went to the nearby church, just down the street from where I live, the past 2 weekends. I love it! It’s fairly big and really nice. The worship is my favorite part. I love the energy in the church. It’s also the easiest part of the service to follow along and understand since the words are on the screen. I can’t understand a lot of what the speaker or pastor says, but it is fun and interesting to pick out what I can.

Yesterday afternoon, my host family, all my roommates, and I decorated the house (or houses). My host dad went and got a Christmas tree, which he brought home on his motorcycle. We put lights up, ribbons on the stairways, Santa hats on our room doors, and decorated the tree. It was very exciting and lots of fun. We listened to some Christmas music while decorating, and it reminded me a lot of decorating for Christmas at home. It’s crazy though how early they start decorating here. Even the mall has a huge Christmas tree in the center and many other decorations around. Amidst our host family, we are doing a Secret Santa gift exchange, which we plan to do the weekend before we leave, so I am looking forward to that. I posted some pictures of our Christmas decorating process for you to enjoy, even though it may be a bit early for many of you to be thinking about Christmas.

Lastly, I will say that it has gotten much cooler here the past few days and even though it is only around 70, or maybe at times down into the high 60’s, it feels cold. I really can’t imagine how cold it’s going to feel when I return to PA in mid-Dec. Some people are complaining about how cold it is here now, but I rather enjoy the sweatshirt weather. It did bother me though how cold our classroom was this morning. Unfortunately, we couldn’t shut the door because the knob was broken and we would be locked in (we learned from experience), so there was a constant draft pouring into the room. Come to think of it, I’m not sure if heaters even exist here.  The rainy season is supposed to end soon, and then it should get warmer and sunnier.

This was a bit of a different update since I didn’t go on any big and exciting excursions to talk about, but I hope you still enjoyed reading up on the latest happenings in my life. Again, I’d love to hear from each of you as to how you’re doing. I hope you all enjoyed the extra hour you gained this weekend. Costa Rica never does daylight savings time, so now I’m actually only an hour behind PA time.

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