Costa Rica: The Reality of Culture Shock


Chrysteene Smith is a student at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in San Jose, Costa Rica.


So  I have been in Costa Rica for a little under four weeks now, and I have been miserable. Ok, not miserable, but I have been experiencing an unfamiliar feeling I wasn’t expecting. When I first got here, for some reason I had the impression that this transition would be a piece of cake.  I’ll be the first to admit that I thought the term “culture shock” sounded extremely dramatic, but I realized this week that was exactly what I have been experiencing.  People experience culture shock in different ways. For me, it’s included AT-TI-TUUUDE. I have been so irritable and emotional over the smallest things.  Last week, I cried before dinner because I was over gallo pinto (rice and beans). It’s a typical dish here in Costa Rica, and we eat it twice a day, everyday. I kind have just been in a funk. I’ve made a few friends. But every day after class, I come straight home and get online to see what is going on back home.  I’m so up to date on everything; I honestly feel like I’m still in the United States, and that has been a HUGE mistake!


This week I’ve came to the realization that I need to disconnect for social media. I’ve been so eager to show everyone what I’ve been up to and keep everyone updated on Facebook that I haven’t really been enjoying myself.  Last night I read up on past study abroad students biggest regrets while being abroad and how I could start making better use of my down time. I went to sleep with the intention to start fresh the next day–step out of my comfort zone and do something that scares me. And that happened to be approaching someone and asking them if they wanted to be my travel buddy. Something so small yet so empowering for me. I’m extremely nice, but I’m also introverted and can be shy, so I felt like the woman after making such a bold move.


Now don’t get me wrong. Costa Rica is beautiful, and I have the best roommate and host family. I’m blessed to be here, but I’ve noticed that during the last few weeks I haven’t had the best perspective. Studying abroad, like everything in life, is what you make of it. You can choose to stay locked to your phone all day and go home immediately after school, or you can decide to be spontaneous on purpose. I’m so glad I’ve decided to change my attitude sooner than later. Life is good, and I look forward to what is ahead. Hasta Luego!


The world awaits…discover it.

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