Looking Back

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I had a 30-40-minute walk to class and back to my homestay everyday the past three months. The mornings that I walked alone, I thought. I looked up, saw the mountains, and took in the beauty of another Monteverde morning. On the walks with a friend, the view was accompanied by stories of our tica families, our studies back in the States, perhaps whining sessions about upcoming exams. Sometimes our walks were with a larger group, the neighborhood crew all heading to class together; it was like a party. Every day and every walk here had value.

Six days a week, on average, I woke up around 6:30 am to another adventure. Well, this would be true if I was not jolted awake by the roosters right outside my window. I have decided to become a vegetarian this semester. Yet for some reason, I have no sympathy for those chickens that so rudely crow at 4:00 am. My host mother or father then made breakfast and lunch for my brother and I, and without a doubt I could always look forward to gallo pinto and huevo revuelto (a common dish of mixed rice, beans, and cilantro with scrambled eggs) and probably more rice and beans and some vegetables for lunch. Yes, I have eaten rice and beans at least two out of three meals a day for three months. But I have to say, as a creature of habit, that I enjoyed it by the end.

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I can’t leave without going to our favorite reused fabric workshop for some unique souvenirs!

My arrival to the Study Center preceded class or my internship until lunchtime, then Spanish for three hours. These were long days, but I look at them fondly. I remember the moments mid-semester when I hit a plateau with my Spanish, with my studies, with my interest in being abroad. I think of those days and the walks home with my friends, commiserating over the constant rice and beans and motorcycles rolling by. The final two weeks brought a sense of relief and nostalgia that our rigorous program was almost over, but also never again will we have this time together in Costa Rica again. My classmates and I came from all over, representing 14 universities from Philly, D.C., California, Colorado, Iowa, and more. We came from varying levels of Spanish knowledge—from “all I know is hola type of gringo” to “yeah I can read it pretty well, but do not ask me to have a conversation type of gringo.” Though I cannot speak for every one of my classmates, I am happy to say we are now no longer afraid to start a conversation in our adopted language.

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The last lecture.

There are parts of Costa Rica’s history and society that I know better than the United States’.  I would be lying if I did not admit that I have learned more in the last three months about myself, humanity, language, and nature than any other period in my life. I loved this semester. To know how I am going to move forward after completing my last final and saying nos vemos to my tica family, I had to look back and reflect of all my days here, good and bad, boring and euphoric.

-How would I recommend studying abroad in Costa Rica?

-With absolute certainty.

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