Jamir studied abroad this past summer in Costa Rica for six weeks. This is his second journal on the blog. Check it out!
Jamir Nahuel Kai
15 May 2016
Study abroad reﬂection #1
It’s hard to accept reality. A strange articulation, I know, but I can’t express the bulk
of my feelings right now in any other way. I’m experiencing a surreal blend of comfort,exhilaration, and unease. Primarily, I’m overwhelmed by the gorgeous climate this evening. Fresquito is how my host-sister’s boyfriend described it. I would agree, cool and fresh feeling.
Secondarily, I miss my ﬁancé already. We haven’t spent more than a day apart for the last three years, and the plane ride to Costa Rica was enough to make me feel the distance between us that is to last for the next six weeks. Once I process the tropical breeze alongside the pangs of missing my beloved, I begin to tear up.
I can’t believe I’m ﬁnally here! I’ve been dreaming about this very place since ninth grade. That’s six long years of fantasizing about walking amongst the mountains and the bugs (so many bugs) and seeing beautiful, diverse, Spanish-speaking people all around me. And now I’m here. Los ticos do indeed, as all the posts I have read claimed, greet kindly all passersby. And greetings are speciﬁc to the time of day.
My host-sister is a ray of sunshine, but busy. To make sure I got to see the beauty of the town and surrounding towns, she and her boyfriend took me for a sunset drive around the highs and low of Carrillos Alto and Carrillos Bajo. We took an even further trip out to a bigger town called Grecia and I tried my ﬁrst authentic Costa Rican dish! I didn’t like it all that much. But that’s okay! Dinner by my already loving and caring host-mother, Alicia, was fabulous and ﬁlling. First day of school is tomorrow. Bright and early.
Jamir studied abroad this past summer in Costa Rica for six weeks. Check out his journal before he left on his trip.
Jamir Nahuel Kai
12 May 2016
Pre departure reflection
My passport has finally arrived! My new duffel bag has finally arrived! I just picked up a new pair of sunglasses and my two ounce travel bottles are filled with sunscreen, body wash, and bug spray. I’ve spent hours online researching various aspects of Costa Rican culture and I’ve had a long conversation with my host parents’ daughter about my stay in their home. It is now officially feeling quite real that I will soon be leaving for Costa Rica and living in Alajuela for an entire six weeks. But even though everything feels prepared, the butterflies in my stomach are telling me otherwise….
What if I don’t like the food? What if my host family aren’t okay with gay people? Will I be able to stay in contact with my mom without an international phone plan? And what am I going to do without being able to sleep next to my fiancée and our two dogs every night for a month and a half??? The truth of the matter is I’m equally as worried as I am excited for this imminent trip.
However, as a teacher candidate in my fourth (out of five) year at the University of Virginia, I recognize the value and importance of studying abroad. I can’t wait to start experiencing the new culture, meeting new people, and improving my Spanish. I’ll be doing a semester-long teaching internship at Monticello High School in the fall and taking standardized assessments in July, so I want my fluency to be as perfect as possible before returning home to the states. I also can’t wait to be capturing moments, sharing them with my loved ones, and transmitting my experiences in various forms. Above all, I’m very thankful for this opportunity as I’ve never been out of the country and I’m the only person in my entire extended family to attend college, let alone spend a month abroad to study a foreign language. I shall return stronger, more knowledgeable, and with un montón de memorias that I’ll utilize and cherish forever!!
Taylor Clarke is a rising 4th year student majoring in Statistics who studied abroad on the UVA in Costa Rica program in Alajuela. Enjoy her pictures!
Needless to say, soccer is the most popular sport in Costa Rica. If there is a soccer game in Costa Rica, you can bet money that nearly every tico is watching. These pictures were taken in the Juan Santamaria Park in downtown Alajuela during the Costa Rica versus Italy game of World Cup. This picture depicts part of the passion and excitement of life in Costa Rica, and if nothing else, everyday life in Costa Rica during a soccer game. Soccer is a huge part of life here.
One of Costa Rica’s main goals is to preserve nature while achieving a harmonious relationship between her and humans. Bridges like this are common in the forests of Costa Rica as they effectively achieve this goal. The trails throughout the forest include many bridges to minimize ecological disruption and provide a unique experience for visitors. You walk through the forest using both dirt trails and bridges, but mainly bridges. The bridges vary in height and length, this particular bridge was one of the tallest and longest at this park.
Welcome to the Jungle! I took this picture standing in the middle of the cloud forest at Monteverde. It was very hard to get a good picture without getting my camera wet, but the views and sounds were amazing. This picture looks out into miles and miles of untamed wilderness – home to thousands of species of plants and animals. This kind of environment is part of what Costa Rican culture is built on.
This is something you rarely see nowadays in the United States and many other places – people making goods by hand. This is a picture of a typical workday at the wood factory in Alajuela. These workers make hundreds of beautiful, unique items every day in this tiny workshop the old fashion way. All the employees were relaxed, having fun, working, and listening to music. It’s still Pura Vida, even at work!
This is a picture of the most traditional lunch in Costa Rica – Casado. Casado is a staple meal in Costa Rica consisting of rice, beans, potatoes, and meat. Trust me, like all the food in Costa Rica, this meal will become your new favorite food. The meal is typically served with a cold fruit drink, or refresco del dia. The best part, the food is all natural! All of the food in Costa Rica is amazing and it is a huge part of the culture and family life.
This is one of the best views you can find near Alajuela. It overlooks the city of Alajuela and the partnering city of San Jose. If it’s a clear day you can also see Grecia and Tacares. Views like this are quite common up in the mountains, and the landscape is truly breathtaking. All the city lights make looking out at night particularly spectacular. You will often see locals here enjoying themselves and the beautiful views Costa Rica has to offer.
Costa Rica strives towards using as much clean, renewable energy as possible in hopes to conserve the countries (and the planets) natural beauty. Costa Rica is one of the top users of wind energy in the whole world. Seeing these while I was living there really made me proud of Costa Rica. Clean energy should be a big part of every culture.
This photo was taken on a beautiful afternoon in the Gulf of Nicoya. The water was vibrant blue, clear, and warm … pure paradise! This is just a glimpse at the beautiful pacific coast of Costa Rica. A large part of the culture involves taking care of the earth and embracing nature. If you like the outdoors you need to go to Costa Rica! Ticos take a lot of pride in the beauty and protection of their environment.
Cattle and oxen are another important part of early transportation and global trade. These animals are a national symbol right along with the carreta and coffee. Livestock remains one of the main sources of income for the Guanacaste region aside from tourism. Costa Rica is also known for having very good meat and dairy products.