Heredia por media calle :)

Here are some of the things I’ve been up to this week. I’ve been very lucky to meet some wonderful ticos and ticas who have helped me learn about my new city, Heredia. The title of this post is a saying that a new tica friend taught me. It refers to the fact that Heredianos are known for not quite following traffic laws, which is definitely something I’ve observed. :)

My first fútbol game. Vamos Heredia! It was a beautiful day for a game, and a win for Club Sport Herediano!

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After the game, some friends and I explored Heredia’s central park (El Parque Central). It is always lit up at night!

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We went on a mini field trip around the city for my Costa Rican culture class. We got to explore Heredia’s oldest church, La Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción.

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One of my favorite buildings in Heredia is the post office. It’s much more historical looking than most of the post offices that I’ve seen in the Midwest!

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We visited a few other cultural sights, my favorite being El Fortín. It is a tall tower in the center of Heredia. We had to climb a lot of twirly steps, but it offered awesome views at the top. We also got to meet the mayor (el alcalde)!

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After a long week of learning about Heredia, we decided to reward ourselves with the biggest pizza we could find! It was as delicious as it looks!

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I hope you enjoyed your tour of Heredia! Now I just need visitors to come see me and experience all of it firsthand!

Pura vida!

Tori :)

L2 and a View

The first week of classes is over… and we all survived!

After a night class, a few of my US friends and I climbed to the top of one of our school buildings to get some shots of the city at night. All the red cars lined up are the taxis, and if you look closely, you can see the neon Burger King sign to the left.

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I’m already getting a lot of practice with my Spanish with my host family, ordering things at restaurants and stores, and a few homework assignments. In one of my classes, I’m learning about the process that students here use to learn English, which is really interesting!

I was very confused when I first arrived because street signs and names are seldom used here. However, I am getting more acquainted with my route to school and some of the other places in town. If you visit, I can show you the landmarks I use to find my way around, including cemeteries, parks, churches, and “the house with the zig-zag bricks.” Here’s a view of my street!

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My host family has been wonderful, letting me tag along to the houses of other family members, the grocery store, museums, and the mall! I also love just spending time at my host home, doing homework or reading and enjoying the breeze. Our front patio is my favorite!

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Even though culture shock and homesickness are present, I am working on my routines and settling in to my temporary (but lovely) home. :)

Pura vida!

Tori

Indigenous Floss

More about orientation week!

Our third day of orientation began our excursions. We started at La Sabana Metropolitan Park in San Jose. Here’s our first group picture!

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We went to a natural history museum that had really interesting displays with shells, fossils, rocks, and animals.

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It was back to San Jose for day 4, starting with walking around the city and finding this beautiful church. It was very open, like many of the buildings here.

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Unfortunately, I began to feel sick that day. I know it’s common for bodies to rebel when they’re under the stress of getting accustomed to a new place, but I was frustrated that I had to go home and rest instead of spending more time in the city. Feeling sick in a new place definitely made me miss the comforts of home more, also. However, my host mom took me to the clinic, and she has been wonderful in helping me to feel better! I was nervous about holding up during our last day of orientation because I knew it would be a long one, but I’m so glad I decided to go!

We left early so we could drive a few hours to get to the rain forest. We started our day with a banana plantation tour. We learned all about banana plants and how they go from the rain forest to our tables with their little Dole stickers. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures because we got a lot of rain during the tour.

During lunch, we visited a jungle lodge and did some exploring. That’s where we came up with Indigenous Floss (both a prediction of the use of a certain rain forest plant as well as an excellent band name to use in the future).

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After lunch, we went to another part of the rainforest to learn how chocolate was made back in the good ol’ days. The tour started with a walk across one of the longest suspension bridges in Costa Rica (about 800 feet long!) It was scary, but a really neat experience.

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We got home late because a landslide closed the road we had taken in the morning. Our road home was very curvy, but the views were beautiful. I guess it was just a reminder that you can always find something good when things seem bad. I’ll need to keep that in mind as we start classes soon! :)

Pura vida!

Tori

Roto el hielo :)

Observations during this orientation week have been so numerous that I’m going to have to make more than one post about it!

The weather here is BEAUTIFUL. There are almost constant breezes that make drying clothes outside the ideal option. See below, the patio and clotheslines behind my host home.

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I haven’t mastered the ATM/bank situation just yet, but I am slowly figuring it out. Look how pretty Costa Rican colones are! I think it’s good for my budget because they’re so pretty that I don’t want to spend them.

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This is my host dog, Lulu! If she looks sad, it’s probably because I had to steal an oreo wrapper from her. But I’m sure she’ll forgive me when she realizes it was for her own good.

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It’s strange to me how quickly my confidence in speaking can shift. Sometimes at school I can’t even form basic sentences, but then I can come home and tell my host mom everything I did that day. Then the next day will be the exact opposite! Here’s the first picture I’ve taken of my school.

P1000348 (600x800)Orientation has been stressful, but it’s also been really good. Having something to do is much better than spending all my time at my host home missing my US home. I am SO happy to have met the other students in the exchange program (a.k.a. mis amigos gringos).

More to come soon! Pura vida!

Tori

P.S. The title loosely translates to “breaking the ice,” something my host brother, Victor, taught me. :)

¡Bienvenidos a Costa Rica!

Well, I made it! Here’s a recap of my first day in Costa Rica:

I traveled with my friend Meagan from Nebraska. Here’s our slightly teary picture before leaving the airport in Omaha.

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My first impression was muy incómodo (very awkward). My host family didn’t recognize me because my clothes and hair were different than my picture, so I kind of had to sneak up on them. And the welcome hugs/kisses on the cheek that I had tried to prepare for were much more difficult because I’m quite a bit taller than them and had a lot of luggage. Not to mention that I said “Nice to meet you,” in English. I didn’t quite have my Spanish brain on yet.

Eventually I said a few things correctly so they figured out that I can at least speak some Spanish, but I also had to ask them to speak more slowly and/or repeat nearly everything they said on the way to our house. I looked out the windows the whole way home and already noticed a TON of things that are different from home or that I’d never even seen before!

Everything is very close together here. Most of the cars seem smaller, but the roads are also. This doesn’t keep people from driving very fast. I would tell you how fast, but my kilometer to mile equations are not very accurate yet…

Most of the houses are connected. My room is small, but it’s the perfect size for what I brought from home. My window looks like a glass blind, which means my room is very loud, but it also has a wonderful breeze!

We had coffee and cake in the afternoon, which seems to be something that is typical here. I gave my host family some cherry mash as a gift from my hometown, and my host mom said she liked them!

Before I even finished unpacking, we were off to meet more family members. Everyone has been very patient with me, which I appreciate more than I know how to express to them. My host brother, Victor, showed me pictures he had taken of Costa Rica, and he told me that he wants me to like his country. I think I will. :)

Sleeping was hard because it is so much louder than my house in the country at home, and it was the first time I’d been able to really think about how much I already miss my family, but I survived the first day!

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This is the first sign I saw at the airport! I had to be a tourist and take a picture. :)

Pura Vida!

Tori