Homestay Family

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One of the most rewarding experiences on this trip was staying with my home stay family. They were one of the most humble, caring and patient human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. My initial feelings of nervousness completely fled after meeting Betty, Williams, and their three-year-old son Issa. Through this stay, I was given an everyday cultural experience that many who have visited Costa Rica cannot claim.

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A Tico’s Best Friend: The Dogs of Mastatal

img_5508_25503316283_oI’ve always loved dogs, but I saw a deeper love that Ticos expressed not only for dogs, but for all of wildlife and the passion for animal protection and conservation.

Among all the biodiversity and vast wildlife in Costa Rica, there was a type of more domesticated species that caught my attention while in Mastatal.

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Futbol: The Heart of a Costa Rican Community

25811314114_cf6f5551e9_kThe whole time I was out on the field, I felt like family, with the girls supporting me and throwing game-play tips at me at every corner.

I could feel the beads of sweat dripping down my face while I overheard one of the soccer players yell out, “who’s ready to play?” Without even thinking about the blanket of humidity covering me and the heat of the sun beating down, I screamed with excitement, ready to run onto the soccer field. I hadn’t played soccer in years and my excitement was taken to a new level when one of the girls on the team ran over with a team jersey, shorts, and cleats to throw on for the game. It was only my second day in Costa Rica, and I already felt like family.

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A Vegan Milks a Cow

 

 

IMG_4970 I told myself that this was a cool opportunity that I should at least try, because when else would I have the chance to milk a cow in the heart of Costa Rica?

I love cows. And from the moment that our group arrived in Costa Rica I was overwhelmed with countless adorable cow sightings. The people sitting around me were probably quite annoyed because I had to point out every single cow that I saw. So you can imagine that when the option to milk a cow was offered, I jumped on the opportunity.

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Truth or Dare: A Challenge by Choice

Marcos cuts a piece of sugar cane off for daring participant Danny.

Have you ever tried a food you’ve never had before or have you ever raced against a friend to see who was the fastest? Have you ever talked to a stranger or asked a random question in class? Have you have felt a bit of nervousness going into something and decided to do it anyway?

If so, then you have been challenged whether it was by yourself or by someone else. Whether or not you have chosen to partake in it and complete it was your choice and these choices are a part of who you are. Continue reading

The Bittersweet Truth

Cacao beans with grinding stones.

I wish someone had been more honest with me. Have you ever believed in something to be so true that you could almost taste it? As a child, your life was as sweet as the chocolate melting on your fingertips on a hot summer morning… But growing up, you come to realize that it really isn’t like that. Life is bitter and so is real chocolate. Continue reading

Travel Tips for the Wallflower

A father and son enjoy shaved ice on the warm Saturday morning in the park.Our recent trip to Costa Rica was, well,… AMAZING to say the least. We laughed, we learned, we explored, but we were also challenged. We were challenged to be vulnerable and to really put ourselves out there.  Now, I wouldn’t necessarily label myself as a “wallflower,” but I’m definitely one who enjoys observing more than participating, and enjoys listening rather than talking.  That being said, when we first arrived in Costa Rica I was immediately faced with my first challenge of the trip.

My first real challenge happened in a park in the center of town. Many locals were sitting on the benches and enjoying their Saturday morning talking to each other, playing board games, people watching etc. It’s definitely not something you see often here in California. It was such a relaxing environment to be around and it felt like no one had any worries. Not only that, but there was a music festival happening as well. A live band came to play in the park where a rather large crowd of people gathered around to listen, dance, and enjoy the music. It was beautiful. I loved watching everything that was happening around me, but that was just it: I loved watching. I loved seeing the vibrant colors everywhere, listening to the music playing with laughter in the background. Continue reading

The First Costa Rica Night Fair

CostaRicanNight_8-5x11_May2015

Outreach is an important part of the Costa Rica Program and one of the ways we share our learning with the campus community is through a collaboration with UCI Dining & Hospitality. This year that collaboration led to our first ever Costa Rica Night Fair and small lunch promotion.

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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