andevries' Travel Journals


What is your traveling philosophy?

Be open minded and ready to try new things, learn new things, and be stretched in a variety of ways. Traveling is a growing experience for all to enjoy.

  • 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.

Ups and Downs

Costa Rica San Jose, Costa Rica  |  Oct 11, 2010
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 I know through it all that God has a marvelous plan for me while I'm here. 

I have been here 17 days now, which is the longest I’ve ever been out of the U.S. There have been many ups and downs already. Some moments I can’t believe I’m really here while other times I ask myself “why did I decide to come here?” I know through it all though that God has a marvelous plan for me while I’m here. Last week my biggest low was losing my second debit card in the ATM machine on campus. I didn’t get my card out in time and then the machine ate it. In my first 10 days of being here I had already lost both debit cards that I brought with me. At the time it was frustrating and made me worry about what I was going to do, but there was still one ray of hope. There was a chance that I would be able to get my card back the next day when the bank came to refill the ATM and take out any lost cards as long as I was there with my passport. However, the way I arranged it was that the security guard was going to call Esteban, who works in the International Program Office, who was then going to come find me in my classroom so I could come down and hopefully get my card back. Communication is never very smooth here in Costa Rica plus the language barrier makes it even worse, so I knew it would be a miracle if I actually got my card back. The next morning I was walking to school by myself and noticed some people dressed in a rather official manner hanging around the ATM machine. I didn’t know if they were the bank, but I had also noted that it was a different security guard at the front desk, so I got up the guts, turned around, and approached the security guard to be sure he knew to call Esteban whenever the bank came. At this point the guys who were around the ATM were now getting into a car across the street labeled “USO Official”. As soon as I told the security guard that I had lost my debit card in the ATM machine yesterday he rushed over to the car talked to the driver briefly and then motioned for me to come. He asked if I had I.D. with me so I presented my passport to the driver and sure enough they gave me back my card right then and there. It truly was a miracle for it took my roommate a week to get her debit card back after she lost it in the ATM on campus. I was extremely thankful for God’s hand in the entire situation.My high of the week was concerning a possible volunteering opportunity for me here in Costa Rica. I received an email from the education career services at Grove City College listing a few recruiters coming to campus. Generally, I ignore these emails since I cannot attend anything on campus this semester. However, I glanced at it and saw that one of the organizations listed was located in Costa Rica. This of course sparked my interest. It was for Glory Christian School in Heredia, Costa Rica (which I believe is about 30 min. from San Jose).  I checked out the website and found that this school is mostly for children of pastors and missionaries and most classes are taught in English. A lot of the teaching staff come from the U.S. to teach for a year or two, which is something I am interested in possibly doing after graduating. So I emailed the contact person for 2 reasons: 1) To display my interest in the school and desire to maybe teach math in a Spanish country for a year or two upon graduation and 2) To inquire about any possible volunteer opportunities for me to get involved in while I’m here in Costa Rica now. The lady emailed me back the same day and it just so happens that she, Katie Duffy, is a Grove City College 2009! She said they had been praying for more people to come and help them out and that they would love for me to come volunteer there. She actually works at a location, different from the school itself, closer to where I am. I have been trying to call her to talk to her but have not had success yet since our internet connection at my host home is very unreliable. She leaves for GCC tomorrow to recruit at the Career Fair on Wednesday, so she had hoped to talk to me before leaving but that doesn’t seem to be working out so I will probably have to wait until she returns to figure out what I can do and when, but this definitely seems like a God send and I am very excited about it. I am especially looking forward to being in a Christian environment a little bit each week, since I currently feel incredibly secluded here. I am simply amazed though at how I discovered this and how wonderful of an opportunity it seems to be.Besides my low and high of the week, I also experienced a lot of in between moments. I had my midterm exam for my Spanish class last Friday, which I received back today and was fairly pleased with. Over the weekend I went to Puerto Viejo on a planned group excursion. It was more relaxing than last weekend which was nice. We were supposed to go snorkeling Sat. morning but did not because the ocean was too rough. However, we all thought we were going snorkeling and were told by the bus driver not to bring cameras, towels, or anything with us off the bus, but instead we ended up going on a long hike around the coastline in just our swimsuits and flip flops. It was a little irritating, especially because I didn’t have my camera with me and we saw monkeys and a sloth during the hike. Just goes to show how clueless we constantly are of what is going on or where we are. I was able to collect some coral at the end of our hike though which was neat. The guide told us that approx. 35 of the 100 different kinds of coral existed right there along the Costa Rican coast. At the end of our hike we also ate some fresh fruit and I must say that I never liked pineapple before coming to Costa Rica, but it tastes amazing here. I’m also surprised that eating so much rice and beans is actually rather appealing for me.On Sunday morning a group of us got up super early to watch the sunrise since our hotel was right by the beach. We figured since we were on the East coast that the sun would rise over the ocean, but sadly it rose on the complete opposite side behind trees and buildings so we were unable to see anything spectacular. It was very disappointing and we just went back to sleep. Later in the morning while most of my friends were tanning on the beach (which of course I did not do knowing I would easily become a cherry) I hung out in a super sweet tree right on the shoreline. It was easy to climb, comfortable to sit in, and there was an awesome view from it. I loved it! I wrote in my journal, read some of my book, listened to my ipod a bit, and reflected on a lot of things. It was a very refreshing and relaxing time. I also walked down the beach a bit to the playa negra where there was black sand, which was cool. Oh, and I had an amazing banana split while in Puerto Viejo which I had been craving since last weekend! I wasn’t able to get one last weekend because the restaurant we went to was out of ice cream and then the next day we went to the ice cream shop and they were out of bananas, so I was pleased to finally get a banana split. I shared a hotel room with a really sweet girl named Trista who is also from a Christian College. We wanted to room together because everyone else loves to go out and party and drink each night but that doesn’t appeal to us. I am so glad she is here so that I don’t feel totally alone. Right outside our room was a hammock which I enjoyed lounging in a few times. It wasn’t the nicest hotel, and the food around Puerto Viejo was a little pricy, but it was still an enjoyable weekend.Now it’s back to classes. For the most part I am enjoying my class, besides the busy work. I have a lot more free time than I am used to so I really hope I can start volunteering soon to get involved and meet more people. One of my other roommates and I are both going to cook with our host mom tonight which should be fun. I am slowly but surely getting more acclimated to my surroundings and used to my new life here for 10 more weeks. I miss home and GCC a lot and think of everyone constantly, but I trust that this is where God wants me to be and from all that I’ve already been learning, I know that this is going to be a huge growing experience for me. Again, I thank you all for your love and support and hope you enjoy the new pictures I’ve added.

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