Three weeks abroad and I already feel at home! BUT it definitely did not start off that way…
Upon my arrival in Costa Rica I felt many different emotions: reluctant, scared, anxious, humbled, at peace, hungry, in awe, thankful, safe, not so safe, excited, thrilled, adventurous, proud, encouraged, and full of life. I’ll admit it- there were moments were I found myself questioning why I even chose to study here in the first place, as well as moments were I was so excited for the adventure to begin. The first week was…. hmm- bittersweet.
Lessons I have learned (the hard way) within the first month:
1. To accept discomfort not as a challenge, but as an opportunity. Every morning I have the joy of waking up to 5 different alarm clocks. Why? Well, the walls are really thin, my window doesn’t completely shut, and plus I am a pretty light sleeper.
The alarm clocks in order of experience:
5:20 The neighbor’s rooster
6:00 The neighbor’s alarm clock
6:25(ish) The birds pecking at my window and their little tripod nails clanking on the tin roof
6:40 My housemate’s alarm clock
7:00 My alarm clock (but by then I am usually already dressed for the day).
No worries, I have learned to laugh at this.
Also.. I have been waking up at 6:50 morning to shower.
I have been suffering through cold showers for 10 days.
I have been taking 2 minutes shower to avoid frostbite.
Today, I found out the hot water gets turned on at 7AM.
2. A life lesson we’ve all heard before: “It’s not where you are, but who you’re with.”
I don’t think I ever fully understood or appreciated this cliche phrase until now. Costa Rica is great and is full of beautiful places, but even when I am standing in front of the blue waters of the Pacific or peering across San Jose admiring the mountains in the distance, I still feel a sense of sorrow and miss the people back home. Every rare opportunity that approaches me here I take, but I don’t doubt that the experiences would be ten times greater if the people who are dear to be were able to experience it with me. As time progresses I am able to fully enjoy each experience and so sharing the stories with friends and family is more rewarding.
3. Learning a new language is TOUGH. That is all.
4. Culture Shock is a real thing. They say many study abroad students go through a pattern of cultural shock in which they experience 4 different stages: free, flight, fight, fit. Traveling to Costa Rica and the first night here I felt very “free” and excited for this experience. Day three I was already feeling the “flight” stage. I felt uncomfortable and really disliked the uncertainty of what I was doing. After the first week, these feelings fluctuated. By the second week, I only felt homesick after skyping friends or family and I was genuinely beginning to feel happy to be here. Its now already been over three weeks and I don’t want to leave. I have some basic Spanish now, more friends, a sense of independence, freedom, and an establish routine.
Before I left home I made some goals for my time in Costa Rica:
- Learn how to surf.
- Pick a coffee bean. (In progress)
- Learn Spanish (In progress)
- Be open to all things adventurous (Continuous goal… but have already repelled down waterfalls, ziplined, done yoga on a cliff, mini-bungee jumped..)
My reasoning for studying abroad was purely for adventure. However, I have found myself loving this experience for so many other reasons as well. This first month has been life changing and I am excited to see what the next 2 months bring.
For now, PURA VIDA!!!!! – Nette Schulze