“Pura Vida” means “pure life”. It’s the common saying for the Costa Rican people here. I knew that the pure life would be an adjustment and a time for much change. I knew that I would experience culture shock, but I was unsure how. The second I stepped out of my taxi, I had a dose of culture shock. A complete stranger was helping me with my bags, hugging me, and “kissing” me on the right cheek. From there, the noise of the nearby families, the joy of the people, the grandchildren who walk into your bedroom and bathroom to talk to you, and the nickname of “Caro” you suddenly have are all new changes. Rice and beans for every breakfast, fresh fruits, fast talking, and thousands of ants crowding your sink and toilet–yep, I’m definitely in the tropics of Costa Rica.
These changes have caused feelings of interest, stress, excitement, and confusion. Here, Costa Ricans don’t like the word “no” so one must say something in a more polite way. Telling my mama tica (host mom) I don’t like fried chicken or don’t want a certain food has been difficult, especially with such a different diet. For five weeks, I have decided to take it all in and eat by the way of these people, regardless of how different it may be.
Adjustment is a difficult thing, but just like anything else, I must adapt and will do so well as I always have. The first few days of anything is never easy. For instance, I had six hours of classes (four of which are all talking in Spanish) followed by five hours of homework… all on the first day. I have had to remind myself not to worry or fret but take it all in. In times of difference, nobody expects me to know everything but to breathe and enjoy the experience. After, almost five full days of living with my host family, I am sure I will adapt to the change of a slower, more tranquil life. I am excited to sit back, enjoy the food, travel to other parts of the country, and heighten my level of Spanish. ¡Pura vida!
The view from my Spanish class.