People are always asking, “How is where you’re living in Costa Rica different than home?” That is a complex question, so I asked some of my exchange student friends for help. The following is a short list I’ve compiled of things that will change when you move to Costa Rica.
1. Life will slow down a bit. Even in the bustle of the city, things never seem quite as stressful as in the states. On top of that, people actually say the famous, “¡Pura vida!” A LOT. It’s hello, goodbye, how are you, I’m fine, see ya later, it’s all good… and the list goes on!
2. Rice and beans will be served at nearly every meal. Although flavored and mixed differently each time, there is no end to the rice and beans. You might even get them as sides to your hamburger at a restaurant.
3. You’ll see a plethora of interesting animals. Everyone’s favorite Costa Rica fun fact is that it holds 5% of the world’s biodiversity. That’s a huge number when you think about the small size of the country! We’ve seen trees, birds, mammals, and lots of insects that we’d only previously seen in zoos and museums.
4. There are no water fountains. This is especially hard for a girl who spends time in the city of fountains (Kansas City, for those who are confused). Other things on the list of “stuff that’s hard to find here” include: ice, Kleenex, twizzlers, and pretzels.
5. Public transportation is the way to go (pun intended). Hopping on buses was a little frightening at first, especially for country kids like me. However, the transportation system is actually cheaper and more convenient than I imagined.
6. Clothing styles might surprise you. Many of the styles are very similar to those in the US, but people on the street do not typically wear athletic clothing or very casual styles. Of course there are always people that put their own touch on things, but there is less variance among the level of dress, and some ideas of modesty are different. For instance, shorts and short skirts/dresses are less common, but tighter clothes are more common.
7. Frozen food won’t make up every meal. Although it is accessible, frozen food options are much less prevalent than in the US. I was shocked at the tiny freezer aisle the first time I went to a supermarket, but the fresh meals are probably better for me than hot pockets anyway.
8. People here are much more open than in the United States. In general, people are more likely to share their feelings and/or be interested in yours. Sometimes this means that you’re more likely to get catcalled on the street. But more often than not, this openness is shown through the friendly and helpful nature of the ticos.
9. You might not want to leave. Many other things have changed since arriving in Costa Rica, but some of them are personal or just difficult to explain. As my friends and I look back on our time here, I can’t believe how many wonderful things, and trying things, I have experienced and/or pushed through. I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me in the planning and duration of my time here. I have LOVED my Costa Rica experience, but I’m mostly excited to say that my next/last blog post will be coming to you from the US!
Here are some pictures of our farewell excursion to the Poas Volcano and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens:
We were so lucky to have a clear day at the volcano!
The beautiful view from the old crater/now lagoon near Poas.
Making friends with the butterflies in the mariposario.
See you soon! Pura vida!