Beyond the Language Barrier

DSC00933

 

“And they don’t speak any English”, our tour guides said to us as we were being assigned to homestay families. I was frightened to say the least.

This was going to be the first time during the trip that I would be separated from the rest of the team, and I spoke almost no Spanish. Luckily, I was partnered up with Lupe, one of the student coordinators, who could speak Spanish. But I was still worried about being unable to connect with my homestay family. I didn’t want to bother Lupe by asking him to translate for me every time I wanted to communicate. On the other hand, I didn’t want to just remain silent and lose the opportunity to connect with the locals and immerse myself in Costa Rican culture. Continue reading

Homestay Away from Home

Participants Danny, Erick and Guia with host Jimmy

Being dropped off was like the first day of Kindergarten, except we were college kids in a foreign country! It felt odd at first. Not because we were placed in the homes of complete strangers in a foreign country, but because by this point, we had already done a lot throughout the day and the week as a whole team that it felt weird to split up and experience similar, yet different situations.

Our Costa Rica trip came to a close only recently, but those ten days feel so close and so far away at the same time. I can vividly remember everything, but still feel the need to refer back to my journal to remind myself of how I felt at those exact moments. Continue reading

“Costarricenses” not “Costarriquenos”

The author with student Isaac at the primary schoolIt took several attempts to remember that when referring to Costa Ricans it is properly said “Costarricenses” not “Costarriquenos”. This became a problem when I found myself being corrected by the locals, constantly. Luckily they were not offended, rather they were understanding and extremely friendly; such characteristics seemed to be quite common among Costarricenses.

Of all the Costarricenses that I met I found the youth, in particular, very intriguing because their thought process about education and life was more enlightening than I would have ever expected. Going into the Global Sustainability & Cultural Immersion, Costa Rica Program I knew that I wanted to speak to the youth because the youth has a tendency to speaking the truth, or rather they are more honest and straightforward about their opinions on certain criteria like education and overall happiness. That being said, the entire trip was extremely rewarding but the visit we paid to the schools of Mastatal was by far the most informative and eye-opening experience of the program. Continue reading

So You Wanna Be Fluent?

A sign reading 'bienvenidos' - 'welcome'As I walk down the plane aisle looking for my seat, I become aware of the low murmurs of Spanish conversation around me. Attendants greet me in Spanish as I pass by. I start to feel the slight beginnings of apprehension. This isn’t like Spanish class! People talk faster than I’m used to and from where I’m standing, I can’t hear one sliver of English dialogue at all.

It’s not until the attendants give flight safety instructions that I hear English again and it’s only a translation of the Spanish announcements. During the plane ride to San Jose, Costa Rica, it slowly begins to sink in that we’ll be immersed in Spanish for the next week and a half. It’ll be my first time in an environment like this for a prolonged period of time.

Continue reading