Host Living in Costa Rica

My family and I the night I arrived (Top to Bottom: Tamara, Magaly, Vivian, Melina, Me, and Johanna)

Hola mi gente! Before coming, one of the biggest questions I was asked was, “So where are you staying?”. As for this program, instead of living in dorms or in solo apartments, we lived with host families. Every student had their own separate family to live with, but we were all in the same general neighborhood. A lot of the time, which I thought was interesting, is that extended families would often host together. Like in my case, my host mom’s mother also hosted a student and lived next door. Other families had aunts, nieces, grandmothers and mothers all hosting separate students.

The family I lived with consisted of 5 women, a mother, Vivian, her three daughters, and the girls’ aunt, Magaly. The three daughter’s names and ages were Melina, 20, Tamara, 14, and Johanna 11. Vivian is a school psychologist but also offers international counseling services, and would oftentimes have a client over to the house in the evenings. Magaly, from what I understood, is a business consultant and works from home. In the evenings, Maga also took online classes and offered math tutoring to local high school kids. Melina went to beauty school to become a manicurist, but currently works full time as a barista and does nails at the house. When I was leaving, she was interviewing with a bunch of salons, so I really hope she gets a job soon! Both Tamara and Johanna are still in school. I’m not entirely sure how the school system is structured, but I think Tamara would be the equivalent of a high school freshman and Johanna would be in 5th grade because she just turned 11 in February. 

The role of the host family is to provide a loving and supporting home while staying in the country of your program. It is also a great way to experience authentic culture on a day to day level. The families provided 3 meals a day during the week and 1 or 2 on weekends, I’m not sure which though because I was gone most weekends. I ate dinner with my host family most nights, but when my class schedule didn’t allow this, someone would sit with me while I ate, which was really nice. Most nights it was Tamara, so I got to learn all about the school drama. Boy do I not miss being a teenager, but I was also able to get really close to her in the process. 

Overall, I had a really good experience living with my host family, but I’m not going to lie, living in another family’s home was very weird. I say weird in the way that I couldn’t cook for myself or contribute to any cleaning of the house. I felt like a free-loader, especially when I saw the 11 year old washing dishes regularly! So just be forewarned that you will not be able to lift a finger to help with household chores. This is very cultural as you are a guest in their house for those 3 months.

Ciao, Hanna

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