It is challenging to imagine a lifestyle that is not your own until you have lived it. I have been a functioning member of the Costa Rican society for the past two weeks, and I am proud to share that I may just have made the leap from a girl from the U.S. to a full-fledged Tica. The journey has had its challenges, but it has taught me to see our world in a different way. Here are some tips for those planning on going to Costa Rica, as well as some general advice on going abroad!
1) Get familiar with the greeting Buenas. You can pretty much say it at any time or any place in Costa Rica. Don’t be alarmed if someone on the street greets you with this; in the States we are not as apt to saying hello to random people, but something I love about this culture is the interaction between the people.
2) If you want to become a local, you have to eat like one. Find a soda and order a casado. Casado literally means “married man” and it consists of rice, beans, salad, plantains and your choice of meat. Casados are generally very cheap, but they are also incredibly delicious and filling.
3) For anyone wanting to go abroad to learn a language, I highly recommend living with a family. I have learned more in the past two weeks than I have in most of my classes back home. Classes give you the foundation but in order to speak the language, you need to be put in a situation where you are forced to talk. It might sound scary, but it’s the best way to improve!
4) MEET LOCALS. It is so easy to continue surrounding yourself with people who speak English, but look yourself in the mirror and say, “Today, I will make a new Tico friend.” All the cool kids are doing it. This past weekend my roommate and I met some locals and they showed us some great spots!
5) Speak Spanish everywhere you go. I have taken a few trips so far, and some of them have been extremely tourist-friendly. In Costa Rica there are a lot of people who speak English, but don’t get comfortable! If people speak to you in English, respond in Spanish. After all, that’s why we are here!
6) Go see movies in Spanish. Last week, my roommate and I went to see Monsters University. The movie was in Spanish with no subtitles, and afterwards we felt incredibly accomplished. Treat yourself.
The list doesn’t end here, but I challenge you to truly immerse yourself whenever you go abroad. There is so much to learn from another way of living, so let yourself see as much of the world as possible. ‘Til next time, Pura Vida!