Hola Stout students,
My name is Amelia welch, I’m a junior at Stout in the CMGM program and I’m currently laying out in the sun under a palm tree writing this blog post. I’ve been in San José Costa Rica for only a month now and I can say without a doubt this is the best decision of my life. I decided to study abroad last minute, and wow am I happy I did this. I decided to study abroad in Costa Rica for a few reasons: First of all, I am minoring in Español and my desire to speak the language fluently will never die. Another reason is because of Costa Rican’s inspiring environmental efforts. I recommend studying here if you have a passion about the saving the environment and becoming more sustainable. This country sets an example for the rest of the world. Costa Rica is one of the few countries that spend money on environmental issues rather than things like war (they have no army), or politics. They run all of their electricity through natural energy sources like hydropower, wind, solar & thermal, instead of using fossil fuels which are deadly for our planet and directly impact the rising temperature of our climate. Also, Costa Rica is a place where everyone is happy. You can see it on the faces of locals, and feel it all around you. People here are genuinely kind, with huge hearts and deep love for family and friends. There is a reason why only 3% of the United States is made up of Costa Ricans, and it’s because they truly enjoy living here.
Alright, more about studying abroad: before hopping on that plane you will hear plenty of scary stories about culture shock, but don’t fret. I honestly didn’t feel any culture shock whatsoever. Granted I’ve only been here for a month, so I will update you if I feel anything but I’ve been pretty good. I think this also goes along with picking a country and school that coincides with what you are trying to get out of the experience. I suggest picking a culture that you are interested in, or share the same ideology as. For me this country is perfect. The emphasis on material items and the rush of the United States are out the window and the emphasis lies on enjoying every second of life. Here in Costa Rica people are truly conscious about saving water, food, and doing what they can to help the world. I think this is amazing, and I have been able to assimilate into the culture fairly well, despite being an obvious gringa.* Here everyone is tranquilo (chill) and time isn’t important, the most important thing is family and enjoying the “Pura Vida”* lifestyle.
I am currently living with a host family, which I also recommend whole-heartedly. Living with a host family is a genuinely good way to better understand and learn about the culture. My host parents are a few of the best people I’ve met in my life. They are extremely loving, generous, and cook me delicious traditional Costa-Rican meals everyday. If you like rice and beans, and have a caffeine addiction like me, Costa Rica is the place for you. Here we eat rice and beans with pretty much everything, and drink some of the finest coffee in the world! Between coffee breaks, I attend “Veritas University” as a study abroad student. Going to class everyday I stand out, I am no longer the majority but a minority. It is truly an interesting and eye-opening experience I think everyone can benefit from. You really gain a better understanding and appreciation for other cultures and other perspectives. It is a humbling experience that makes you appreciate everything in life. I am so happy to be here, and I can’t wait for what the next few months will bring me.
One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is have no expectations, and don’t be afraid to try new things and open your mind up to a new way of living. By studying abroad you will learn so much more about yourself, the world, and your role within it.
Gringa** A female native speaker of English, unrelated to race. Gringa is often defined as disparaging slang for a foreign female in Latin America. But that’s no longer true in Costa Rica, if it ever was. We are gringos, the locals are ticos.
Pura Vida** Spanish for “pure life.” The law of the land in Costa Rica. The expression is used in many forms, from a greeting, to a synonym for “excellent.” Ticos follow this lifestyle and are some of the most wonderful people on earth. A synonym of “hakuna matata.” Life is wonderful; enjoy it.