This week I took a bus up to an active volcano to see it, though there was too much fog to see really anything. Though on the way down from the volcano we stopped at the oldest church in Costa Rica, which was absolutely beautiful. I learned that the next week was one of Costa Rica’s most popular homages where people walk from their houses all over the country to pay homage to an image of the Virgin Mary that is inside the church.
This past week my program went to several coastal towns along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. One of my favorite experiences this week was all of the wildlife that I saw. After sun down, one of the nights, my program took a bus to a remote beach to watch turtles lay eggs. I was so close to the turtles and was able to watch them dig a nest and bury an egg. Also, during one of pit stops I was able to see some toucans and macaws.
Throughout the first week I had my orientation for my university and had my first week of classes. I also had an orientation for my program where I got to know everyone who I will be spending the next 7 week with. I also spent a lot of time walking around, getting lost, and exploring downtown San Jose. Luckily my home stay is within walking distance of downtown San Jose so I have had time to tour downtown after class and make it back home for dinner in time. Through my guided tour I learned that San Jose does not have many tall buildings due to frequent earthquakes and there are not many old buildings because San Jose has only been the capital for a little over 100 years because the buildings in the old capital were demolished in an earthquake. My program also toured a coffee plantation and learned how lucrative coffee is for Costa Rica.
Arriving in Costa Rica was surreal. I exited the airport with taxi and bus drivers yelling out different programs and people’s names for rides. I of course could not find my program so I walked around the airport searching for a telephone. Finally, I was able to call my onsite coordinator and I sat a talked with people in my program waiting for more students to arrive before being taken to my home stay.When I finally arrived home I sat and talked with my host mom and a house mate for about 3 hours about ourselves and getting to know each other. I took a tour of the house and then went to bed really early from flying all day.
I made it back to Oregon, finally! When my friends and I flew into the Texas airport, we missed our flight and had to wait for another flight. I was so frustrated and all I wanted was to go home. Soon we were on the flight home and I was met at the airport by my parents, little brother and boyfriend. It was really nice to finally be back with my family but I already missed Mexico. I didn’t have any culture shock while I was in Mexico and haven’t had any from coming back here yet either. All together, the trip was a success. The next time I go to Mexico, I want to bring my family, they would love it.
I realized that when I was in Mexico, I didn’t have culture shock because my family at home has very similar values to the family I stayed with. Also, the culture I grew up in was very similar to the Hispanic culture. The trip was great, but I won’t miss the rain!
Well, the end of my trip is here. I can’t believe 5 weeks is already over. However, I am really glad that school is over. I feel like classes at Western Oregon University will be much easier because they will all be in English for me.
Tomorrow morning we are heading to Mexico city to catch our flight to Texas. I am really sad to be saying goodbye. This week my friends and I went to the mall, we got our nails done, went our to dinner and picked up gifts for our families back home. I bought a bunch of candy for my family to try and different gifts for people from the different places I traveled to while I was here. I am excited to go back home but I am nervous for what it will be like. Mexico is so laid back and calm. Everyone goes at their own place. In the United States, everyone rushes around.
I had comida with my host mom and the other host moms yesterday to say goodbye. It was really fun and I got to practice my Spanish because the moms will always ask a lot of questions. We had potato tacos, rice and beans and then cake for dessert. It was delicious.
This is two days before I leave for Mexico. I have everything almost all packed and I think I am mentally ready to go on the trip. I am excited to get better at speaking Spanish. I wonder if my family there will be nice and if any of them speak any English. I have purposefully kept myself from making expectations for the trip because I don’t want to be disappointed or having bad culture shock because Mexico is different from what I thought it would be.
The sessions and meeting for this trip have made me pretty nervous for the trip and I hope it is not as scary at people say Mexico is. I guess we will find out! The next time I write to you guys, I’ll be in Mexico.
This is us waiting for our flight in Portland, Oregon.
I’ve only have one more week in Mexico, I can’t believe five weeks has flown by so fast. On Mondays been my ankle and ended up having to go to the doctor the University I attend because I needed it to be wrapped. The doctor I had was so nice and made sure to explain what he was doing and what happened to my foot. The whole doctor visit was 25 pesos which is really cheap! The doctor told me to try to not go downstairs as much as possible and since I live on the third floor of my house I couldn’t get down for food and water. My family was so nice and very hospitable to me. They brought my food up to me and they made sure I had everything and made sure I wasn’t walking too much at school. Girl who I live with would come and check on me every day and then report to her abuela what my condition was. My ankle thankful healed very fast and in three days I was able to walk around and go downstairs for food and everything. This week was dead week and I always get harder than finals week because you have all the projects looming over you and the stress is too much. I survived thankfully and spent a lot of time this weekend working on homework because I have three papers and a presentation all do before Wednesday. I almost hate that I’m going to school in Mexico because I’m excited for finals week to be over But then I realize that the day after school ends, I go back to Oregon. Because my trip is almost over I’ve been trying to see the city I am in as much as possible. This week we went to the Centro and we went down a part of the city that we had never been before. The street we explored know was where all the shops were and everything was really cheap. The most expensive thing I bought was 150 pesos and I got two shirts two pairs of shoes and tank tops.
Today we went to El Parque Bicentinario Which is an amusement park. The park is a few big right and then a waterpark attached, the waterpark had three big slides, a big pool and a lazy river you can float down. All of it is outdoors and it was gorgeous! I had a blast and it was fun to see the differences between amusement parks in the United States in an amusement park in Mexico. They have food everywhere and a big stage for a traditional dancers would perform all day. I had a blast and I’m sure this week will fly by.
Week three started to be a struggle for me because I realized how much work 12 credits was in 5 weeks. But I took some time to do homework and luckily I am back on top of the homework game. During the week we went out to a jazz festival in the Centro and did some shopping before ending up in the Fabrica de Chocolate. The restaurant has all sorts of chocolate and ever fondue. We then headed to College bar and saw the night life during a local soccer game. Soon it was time to head home and it was pouring down rain, the best way to explain the rain here is to compare it to Oregon by saying when it pours in Oregon, it is a sprinkle here. The streets started to flood and it was almost impossible to get a taxi. Thankfully everyone made it home safe and took hot showers. The last time it rained and no one showered right after, we all got really sick. We also went to the movies on Wednesday at the theater by my house. On Wednesdays they have discounts and the movies are around 31 pesos. They are so cheap! We saw “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Transformers” in Spanish.
That weekend, I decided to go on a weekend trip to San Miguel de Allende, which is a beautiful town. The morning the group left, I looked up places to go in San Miguel and saw there was a Hot Spring right outside the town and so I told people to bring swimsuits!
I have returned home from Querétaro! It was so nice to see my friends and family. I enjoyed telling them all about my trip. However, it is hard to explain everything in words. It was really hard to leave Mexico.I cried in my last ESOL class as we were talking about what we were going to miss most about Mexico. My host mother cried as she sent me off, and I was crying too. She made me promise to come back to visit and she told me that I was the daughter she always wanted. It was so touching!
I have learned that I am good at adapting to whatever situation I am in, because I never really had the symptoms of culture shock when I got to Mexico, and I did not experience it when I returned home either. This was interesting and a little surprising to me. I think this is a great skill to have, and I am so glad I learned that I have that skill through study abroad!
I am so happy that I went on this trip. I did so many amazing things and had some of the best experiences of my life so far. One of the best things about it was the friends I made there. I definitely want to return to Querétaro someday.