5 Things I Love About Living With A Host Family in Costa Rica

Grace Holzer is a student at University of Richmond and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA Service- Learning in Heredia, Costa Rica.

I’ve been living with my host family that consists of our host mom, two Beagles and a roommate for two weeks now. On the third day, Mama Tica told us, “el ingrediente más importante en la receta de vida es el amor” (the most important ingredient in the recipe of life is love). That cannot better describe what I’ve felt for and from my host family thus far, and these are some of my favorite things about my experience.

1. The Food

When you live with a host family, you get to experience the food of the culture for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mama Tica makes the best food, and I always love sitting down to dinner together. Costa Rican food is simple and plain but absolutely delicious. I don’t know how I’ve lived so long without gallo pinto or guava jelly in my life, but now I’ve been blessed with two weeks full of it.

2. The Cross-Cultural Dinner Conversations

One night, my host mom was discussing the complexities of English and how so many of our words sound similar and mean completely different things. Her example was bread and breath. I laughed and told her that in Spanish papa (potato), papá (father), and Papa (pope) are all the same word and all mean completely different things too. Only when you’re with people whose language and culture are different from your own do you realize the oddities of your own language and culture and can you laugh about it together.

3. The Normal Dinner Conversations

Along with talk about our differences, we also just have normal dinner conversations. We talk about our days, we make fun of each other about things like boys and who has the messiest rooms, and we laugh together a lot. At first, conversations could be a little awkward and forced, but now we’re family and we act like it.

4. The Ultimate Resource for Getting to Know Your New Country

We ask our mom everything. Where should we go? What should we do? How do you say this word in Spanish here? She taught us how to ride the bus, where the best places are to eat are, and which shoulder to wear our purses on when we’re walking in the street. Without her, we’d be lost. Not only has she given us the Costa Rican family experience, but she also takes care of us and makes sure we know what we’re doing.

5. New Pets to Love as Your Own

When we watch TV at night, I always have a cuddle buddy. My host family has two dogs- Pupo and Linda. Pupo, though he’s fat and sometimes struggles to get up on the couch, joins me as we watch some random show because we haven’t quite gotten the hang of the channels yet. And Linda always gets into trouble and stares me down when I sit in her spot, but I love her anyway. My family in the U.S. has always had animals in the house, so having two dogs around makes the place feel even more like home. They complete our happy little family that I’m so glad I found 2,000 miles away from my own.   

We visited this beautiful beach on our first weekend in Costa Rica. Even though there wasn’t white sand and crystal clear water, the palm trees were picture perfect.

The world awaits…discover it.

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