Costa Rica Brenna Go..

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Costa Rica Brenna Go..
Costa Rica
By: Brenna Goddard
Climate and
• Tropical climate, averaging between 71 and 81 degrees
• The coolest months are November thru January, the warmest
March thru May
• Two major seasons: Rainy (May to Dec) and Dry (Jan to May)
• Population: 4,578,945, 1/3 of which live in San Jose, the
• Costa Ricans are also friendly referred to as “Ticos”
• The picture above is of Maria Paula, a daughter of my host
family, isn’t she cute?!
• There are many religions in Costa Rica, but the most common
one is Catholicism.
• Costa Rica is a beautiful
country with three main
regions: central highlands,
Atlantic costal plain, and
the Pacific coast
• The highest elevation in
the country is 12, 500ft
• Costa Rica has four
volcanoes, two of which
are still active!
Volcano Arenal
• I was able to see Mt
Arenal while it was
still steaming from
an eruption it had a
few days prior!
Don’t worry,
Volcanoes erupt all
the time here so it
is normal protocol
for Ticos.
Other interesting facts..
• Language: The predominant language is Spanish, and the
dialect differs in different regions of the country. The best
way to learn the language is to stay with a host family, and try
to make “Tico friends” so that you can practice while
developing friendships. Also, while in Costa Rica, get to know
your community! I liked to stop by a local café for coffee
before class. The people will appreciate your business and
sometimes will try to talk with you to try to learn English!
• Greetings: Cost Ricans have a very different idea of space.
They greet and say goodbye with a kiss on the cheek or hug,
and walk closely together on the busy streets. This is
something to adjust to, but it not a bad thing, in fact I began to
love it!
• Ticos are also very vocal. It is considered a compliment when
a man calls at a woman on the street. In America we see it as a
negative thing, but here the women are used to it, and even
enjoy it.
My Town:
Puntarenas is in a peninsula so it
is surrounded by ocean on both
sides. It is more long that it is wide
and it takes only about ten
minutes to walk the width of the
I lived with a host family with two
daughters ages 9 and 2. I had my
own bedroom and shared a
bathroom with my host sister.
I went to the USAC school right off
the beach to study Spanish. I also
had the opportunity to take a
cooking class and join in a dance
class--highly recommended!
Home life: What to Expect..
If you decide to live with a host family, they will probably prepare
meals for you. You can always offer to help with anything around the
house, but my family generally cooked and then let me know when it
was time to eat. My host dad did teach me how to make a couple cool
dishes too. We generally ate together if we were all home.
My family also did my laundry but allowed me to help. I heard that it
is rude to have your host family wash your underwear for you, but
some families have no problem with it, so just ask how they normally
do these things.
My family gave me my own key so I could come and go as I pleased,
but when I went out in the evening, I told them so that they could
expect me back round a certain time. I also told them when friends
and I were going on a weekend trip so they wouldn’t worry about
me--this is very important! Just think of this family like your own
family (be respectful and don’t make them worry about you).
A Typical Day..
It took me about 15 minutes to walk to school, and I
liked to get coffee at a local café on the way. My
Intermediate Spanish class lasted 2 hours and it was
taught in Spanish, which helped us learn it quicker.
Thankfully the classrooms had A/C!
We had a 10 minute break in the middle of class and
we all liked to play ping pong to pass the time.
My professor was very pleasant and very helpful when
needed. He was also very available for students to find
for help.
The grading system was pretty much the same as it is
at KSU.
We had homework everyday: vocabulary, grammar,
and reading.
Overall, the school was very similar to schools in the
U.S. The main classes are Monday-Friday.
• Costa Ricans also have a unique sense of time. If a meeting is
scheduled for 5pm, many people will arrive around 5:30 or so. This
is also referred to as “Tico time.” However, when I took classes here,
we were expected to be on time- no Tico time!
• In the same way, Ticos are typically laid back and easy going. They
value relaxation time, and do not tend to keep rigorous schedules
outside of work.
• Most families in Costa Rica only have one car, two at most.
However, a lot of Ticos walk when a destination is fairly close,
or take the bus, which goes from town to town.
• The houses are typically smaller than homes in the U.S. and
are surrounded by bars, that open like a garage door. Most
homes do not have A/C but have an open-air system. My
family also had a washer, but hung clothes to air-dry, and
hand-washed dishes.
• A typical Costa Rican dish will
include black beans and rice. They
also usually include chicken, fish
or beef, and some kind of
vegetable. Avocados are quite
popular, as well as fried plantains
which are similar to bananas but
larger and possessing a unique
• When going out to eat, expect for it
to take some time. Costa Ricans
like to enjoy their meals, and
maybe spend two hours eating
and enjoying company.
This is a dish that a host mom
prepared for a friend and I, it was
Family Recreation
• My host family enjoyed site seeing and traveling to other parts
of the country when possible. Family time is essential to Costa
Ricans, even if it just involves spending time together in the
• My host dad frequently played soccer in the drive way with
his daughter, and I even got to join in the fun.
• Ticos love playing sports, but particularly love soccer or
“futbol.” The World Cup is a huge deal to this country.
This is Maria Pia, we played a
lot of board games, tea parties,
soccer, and she especially loved
makeovers. She considered me
a good friend, and was
offended if I was referred to as
anything but that!
The Market
• While I spent time in Costa Rica, I frequented the Market,
where they sold fruits, clothes, books, and the works. This was
one of my favorite activities.
This is a friend of mine, among crates
containing various delicious fruits and
This is the bakery that I loved to
frequent due to its tasty donuts and
treats that reminded me of home!
Places to Avoid:
• Like I mentioned, the market is an awesome place
to explore, but be careful about going in the
evening. I never went to the market by myself when
I knew it would be getting dark soon.
• Also, find out the places to avoid by asking around.
• In general, trust your instinct. If you start to feel
weird about a certain place or group of people,
avoid it/them.
Things to do:
• Travel! Explore the country
as much as possible and
you will find gorgeous
white beaches, the lush
rainforest, beautiful
waterfalls and more!
Things to do..
• Take a crocodile tour
or go zip-lining in the
Things to do..
• Take a coffee
Go on a horseback
• Meet your
neighbors, take
nature tours and
learn about exotic
animals and
flowers, cook with
your family and
learn new culinary
skills, and discover
the culture: their
arts and music!
The Cost of Adventure
Honestly, it is hard to say how much things will cost because it all depends
on what you want to do.
First, determine what kind of person you are: Do you like to go all out and
do every available activity there is? Or do you like to save money and limit
your activities?
I would take about $100-$150 in spending money per weekend you are
there. You may not spend that much, but it’s nice to not have to worry
about money while you are there.
Hostels (not hotels) cost about $20-25 a night. Buses are cheaper than
If you do not think you will travel every weekend, and don’t want to buy a
lot while you are there then you probably won’t need as much.
Also, when you exchange money, only take out what you will need for the
next few days or the next week, try not to carry a lot of cash.
Helpful Tips:
Before traveling to any country other than your own, check the currency and
get a feel for the difference, it will help you tremendously!
Try to look up useful phrases and expressions before you go, making it easier
to get around and communicate basic needs.
If you decide to go out at night, which can be risky, go in a group and always
travel with at least one male.
Never carry excessive amounts of money on you, and try to keep your credit
cards and important documents (passport!) at your host family’s home.
Consider buying a money holder that can be concealed under your clothing, it
just keeps you from worrying about it as much.
Don’t be flashy. Try to fit into the culture by wearing comfortable clothing,
maybe packing a couple dressier things for special occasions, and I wouldn’t
bother with bringing any bling.
Research the local water safety to make sure it is safe to drink, I did not have
problems with it, but everyone needs to check into this!
Try to talk to the locals as much as possible as it will help you learn the
language so much faster!
Travel with your friends as much as possible, it is amazing what you can see
in one weekend!!
I used Skype to communicate with people back home and it was a big help
with my home sickness!
TAKE PICTURES!! These will last you a lifetime and help you keep all of your
What to Pack:
• Follow the packing list that Study Abroad
gives you, and also don’t forget: a raincoat, a
poncho, an umbrella, your swimsuit, and
clothes for both cool and hot weather. I
would bring a pair or two of jeans, but
mostly shorts for Costa Rica’s climate. Also
bring a sweater for when you travel
somewhere at a higher elevation (the
mountains). Don’t forget bug spray and
sunscreen, and flashlights come very in
handy as well. And don’t forget your tennis
• http://www.worldheadquarters.com/cr/climate/
• http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Americas/Costa-RicaTOPOGRAPHY.html
• All pictures were taken by me and those are only a few of the
them. Costa Rica is a truly beautiful country!
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