To offer a bit more perspective on what my life is like here in Costa Rica, I thought I would write about 10 different things I had to adjust to while in Costa Rica. By no means are these 10 items “bad,” merely, they are different things I have had to adjust and adapt to, which is a part of studying abroad and acclimating to a new culture.
- Throwing toilet paper in the trashcan and not the toilet.
- Prior to coming to Costa Rica, I knew throwing the toilet paper into the toilet was not an option here in Costa Rica due to the plumbing not having the capacity or pressure to get the toilet paper where it needs to go. Many a time when first arriving here, I had to dig my toilet paper out of the toilet because I would forget to put it into the trashcan. Whoops! I know for certain this will be a hard habit to break once I return to the United States.
- Having no mirror in the bathroom
- I am not sure if this is cultural thing, but Sheri and I do not have a mirror in our bathroom. Rather, we have a mirror outside of our bathroom. However, the bathroom mirror downstairs has a mirror above the sink. From what I can deduce, the main bathroom in the house has a mirror while others do not.
- Not having hot water to wash hands or dishes
- When I turn on the faucet in the bathroom or kitchen, only cold water comes out. I wash my hands with soap and the dishes with soap, don’t worry. However, I cannot guarantee that all of the germs have been vanquished, but I do my best!
- Bugs are everywhere and anywhere
- As a result of the climate and windows not having screens, bugs creep into all corners of the house. A normal day consists of me saying “farewell” to at least 5 ants in my rooms. Occasionally, a little lizard will wander in through the window and scurry along the walls and sometimes into my bedroom.
- Catcalling happens on the daily
- As a result of the machismo culture in Latin and South America, catcalling happens on the daily. For someone who does not look like they are from Central or South America, I already attract a lot of stares and attention. Nearly every day while walking to or from school, someone will deliberately honk at me or yell at me. All I can do is ignore the unwanted attention.
- Walking by after 6:00 pm alone is not a great idea
- Unfortunately, after 6:00 pm, I have to take a taxi or Uber to get where I need to be. I am a firm believer bad things can happen ANYWHERE. By no means am I implying Costa Rica is unsafe. When traveling alone, having common sense and being aware of your surroundings are of the upmost importance. Not walking around at 6:00 pm at night is a safety precaution more than anything.
- Rice and beans daily for meals
- Funnily enough, my mama tica does not like to eat rice and beans all the time herself. Additionally, with having lots of experience of hosting students from the United States, I think my mama tica recognizes rice and beans for every meal are not a part of our daily diet. As a result, I do not eat rice and beans for every meal. Rather, I have rice and beans for 1-2 meals per day and most of the time I have the ability to choose how much rice and beans I want to eat.
- Bus routes and bus time tables are extremely complicated to understand
- After studying in Europe where the train and bus schedules are easily accessible via a Google search, trying to plan a trip to another city or area of Costa Rica can be extremely complicated and frustrating. As I have learned, talking with my mama tica or consulting multiple blogs helps find answers and provide some direction.
- Unplugging from technology
- This point is more of a personal choice. I do not have a sim card while in Costa Rica, which has forced me to unplug when I do not have WiFi access or if the WiFi is not working. When traveling in Costa Rica, it is pretty easy to find a place with free WiFi. However, the internet source may not be reliable. Additionally, during afternoon rain storms, sometimes the WiFi at my home or school stops working for hours at a time, which forces me to unplug.
- Embracing the relaxing pace and culture that equates to the idea of Pura Vida
- As someone who is always go, go, go, slowing down and embracing ‘Pura Vida’ has been slightly tough. Ticos do not take life too seriously and stop to smell the roses more often and not. I hope to embody this aspect of Costa Rica culture by being fully present and embracing life during the next two months of my exchange. Pura Vida!
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