Developing Language Skills Abroad

This past weekend ICDS took all of the students on a trip to Punta Leona, Jaco. This was my second time visiting Jaco, but last time my best friend, Remiah, wasn’t with me. So, this time was a lot more fun!

We started off doing a group hike/tour through Carara National Park. Carara is an indigenous word from the Huetar people (we learned about them last week during our indigenous site visit), and it means “river of lizards”. It is an extreme biodiverse national park, containing almost 80 of the hundreds of birds species that live in Costa Rica as well as many lizards, per the name. It was hot as always in Jaco, but walking through the rich population of trees provided a lot of shade and nice breezes!

We stayed at Hotel Punta Leona and enjoyed some time to relax between the pool and the adjacent ocean. I looked through the activities beforehand and saw that tennis was available for just 5.00 an hour, so after allowing myself to relax for a bit I sought out my mission. I truly had to put my spanish to the test, because I had to speak to almost 8 different employees to finally get everything I needed: some were able to tell me where the court was but didn’t mention I had to go to the members office to pay, but others were able to tell me where the office was. Once I found the office I spoke with the employees there and bought my ticket, but I didn’t realize I also had to pay for a racket and balls in the office- I thought they would be at the court. So, I had to ask an employee I found in the parking lot if rackets were available or if I needed to bring my own, and once she clarified you could buy them in the office I walked back and finally had everything I needed. The women in the office felt bad that I was playing alone, but I explained to them that I grew up an only child and I like to do things alone a lot! They were very sweet.

View from the beach during sunset.

One of our dinners from the weekend.

Once I made it back to the court with all my belongings, I was playing for a few minutes before a security guard checked on me to make sure I was okay since I was alone, and then him and I ended up talking for a while as well.

You can really tell how good you are at speaking a language outside of your first through the “unscripted conversations”- many times, we have scripts and dialogues prepared in our heads when we know we have to speak in a different language. But, when you have to speak with someone on the spot and you can carry yourself well in the conversation, that’s true development. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on my spanish speaking lately, and I’m very proud of myself because I’ve been able to put my perfectionist tendencies to the side and allow myself to feel embarrassed or nervous at times and it’s allowed me to grow a lot! I still have four weeks left, so I fully intend to keep building these skills.

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.