There is no replacement for living and studying in a foreign country if you want to gain profound knowledge of another culture’s customs, people, and language. Adjusting to life and learning in a foreign environment will have its stressful moments. You will begin to appreciate the little things in the U. S and gain a broader knowledge of first hand intercultural experience. Being uncomfortable is what makes you step out of your comfort zone and expand into a whole new world of satisfying cultural experiences. Experiencing a huge cultural difference in Costa Rica is what made this experience become more refreshing to me. Already being bi-cultural myself, I understand the major difference in cultures and appreciate everything about it.
One thing that definitely stood out to me the most regarding the American and Costa Rican differences is time orientation. No matter where I go in Costa Rica, I am never able to come across a clock. Clocks in Costa Rica are not seen in restaurants, streets, classes and not even my own host family’s home. I came to realize later that the Costa Rican is a polychronic time society where time is less tangible, schedules are unimportant and relationship takes priority over schedules. Whereas the America culture is a monochronic society, American emphasizes on schedules likewise time in America is treated like money.
Professors in Costa Rica prefer to be called by their first name. That was different from what I was used to back in the States. It is extremely important for me to call all my professors either in a formal way or direct them by professor. My Costa Rican professor said that proper name does not matter to them. They always go by their first name. I was not use to it but it’s was something I quickly adjust to.
Costa Ricans are a collectivism group of people. They are a wholesome group of people, full of harmony, and working together. Most Tico’s I’ve meet and observed are non-judgmental. Here in Costa Rica, nobody seems to care how much money you make, what you drive, or the size of your house. Tico’s seem to accept anyone for who they are, not what they have. In Costa Rica you will discover what life is really all about and that is Pura Vida. Live for yourself and who you are, not what you need to convince other people about whom you are and what you have. Ticos live in a slow paced environment which is completely different in America. Costa Ricans values harmony with others and spending their time with others. Through this observation, I have come to learn that the American culture values personal want and not relationship. The more one have, the more powerful one is.
Learning a new culture has been a life enriching exercise and I think that it has grown in me to understand myself a little better as well. Actually, when I visit the States, I find being back among my own kind to be refreshing and that is enjoying my privacy and personal space. I think that the Tico’s really appreciate seeing our American efforts to learn how they live and to make adjustments to ourselves.
Since classes are over, I’m looking forward to volunteer with little kids at a public school. I’m planning to walk there which is about a 15 minute walk. I’m looking forward to learn their difference in their schooling system, improve my Spanish and take advantage of the time I have left in Costa Rica. Let’s see how the rest of the month goes, I can tell you that it will go by fast. Thanks for reading. More pictures next time, promise [not to mention that my camera is not working] but luckily one of my nice gringo friend lend me his camera after leaving back to the states =)