¡Pura Vida! ICDS in Costa Rica

¡Buenas! Today marks day 8/90 of my time here in San Jose, Costa Rica. In the last week, I met my host family and settled into our home in Sabanilla, attended the program orientation, visited some of Cartago’s famous (dormant) volcanoes, spent a day in downtown San Jose, and started our courses this past Monday.

I was, fortunately, able to spend a few days in Puerto Rico before arriving in Costa Rica; my intention behind this was to lessen the shock of transitioning from my home in Philadelphia to a Spanish-speaking country and it definitely worked. I felt more prepared to make casual conversation with new people, especially my host family, and it made the first few days less overwhelming and nerve-wracking than I think they otherwise would have been.

I study Spanish at Drexel and am lucky to have many native speakers in my life, but my host family also speaks a good amount of English so we can switch languages where necessary. I do my best to always speak in Spanish, but there are some matters that are too important to risk misunderstandings, such as COVID testing and protocols, home responsibilities, navigating Sabanilla, etc.

You don’t realize how much of a language you speak until you’re truly immersed- I came to realize my Spanish is actually much better than I thought, but I still need a lot of work! My host family is very kind and always gently corrects me and makes sure I understand our conversations. It’s also been interesting to learn some colloquial Costa Rican speech patterns. For example, it’s more common to say ¡Que rico! instead of ¡Que delicioso! here. The majority of my friends are from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Peru, so it’s always fascinating learning more about their similarities and differences especially among the language.

Aside from that, our program staff has facilitated some amazing trips for the students. On the second day, we visited El Volcan Irazu. Although I was a bit light-headed for most of it, it was beautiful to see the clouds from so high up without being in a plane. I was surprised to see so much rich vegetation in the craters of a dormant volcano!

This past weekend, my friend Maritza’s host sister, Sara, took us to downtown San Jose where we visited El Teatro Nacional. I along with my two other friends, Lennie and Alexa, took the tour in Spanish and I was happy to find I followed along very well. I love historical sites, so it was a pleasure to visit.

Classes have started this week, and with Global Studies being such a broad major I really look forward to learning more about my interests so I can hopefully have a clearer focus and declare a minor upon my return to Drexel in the Spring. I also look forward to advancing my Spanish-speaking skills as well as my dancing… my friends back home will be accepting nothing less, and neither will I!

Host mom (left): Viria; Host sister (right): Camilla; Host dog 1: Nena; Host dog 2 (not pictured): Luna

A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:

The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.

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