The Hardest Adjustments in San José

Kelsi Brooks is a student at Georgia College & State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Kelsi is currently studying abroad with ISA in San José, Costa Rica.

Kitchen Counter
My kitchen counter in San José

You love your independence, and your heart is set on traveling all the time while abroad. Also, you are staying with a host family, and you will be taking courses. While trying to balance your adventures abroad sometimes you are not interested in being tied down to any rules or regulations.

Below are some of the most difficult adjustments that I have had to face since arriving in Costa Rica.Time Change

You arrive early to breakfast. You double-check your watch. The clock on the wall is two hours late. The birds are singing at 5 am. The church bells are ringing and no one is up. You are frustrated, angry and hungry. It has set in that you are no longer home. Two hours have passed. You have gone back to sleep but your mind is whirring with frustration.

“Buenas dias!” Food is on the table. Your roommate sits across from you. You know very little about them, but they seem nice and they speak English.

Feeling Like a Foreigner

This morning has been strange. You are a foreigner here, and today it has been made evident.

So how do you cope?

Today, your attitude is crucial to your emotional and overall well being. I know that it is hard, but get out of yourself and try to have a good attitude. Try to see your experience through another lens. Your Mama Tica, your host family, and your roommate/s have their own schedule to follow. Mama Tica may wake up at 5am but only comes down to make breakfast at 6:15am.

Your host family will tell you about certain hobbies that they have.  Listen to them well. You will find that time is really not as stressful as you think. Just know that everything is not about you, and that you may have to adapt. When you expect your host siblings to be home, they may be taking Taekwondo, your Mama Tica might be belly dancing at the studio, or your host sister may be getting home late from her university because she has to take the bus. For instance, my host sister sometimes misses dinner to help out at her church. Meanwhile my Mama Tica loves to talk to us while we eat. It is a great time to ask her questions about the Tico culture and customs.

More about Family Life in Costa Rica

So it is important to be inquisitive, excited and aware of your circumstances and surroundings. Living in Costa Rica becomes easier as you adapt to becoming one of the familia. In the United States some are used to having an individualistic mindset. It’s all about me, me, me.

Here in Costa Rica, life is about loving and catering to those around you.

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