Upon getting word that I was accepted into the Costa Rica Plus 3 Program, many ideas rushed into my head about the country itself. Since I have never been to another Latin American country, I did not have a very good idea about what to expect regarding the culture and even the geography of Costa Rica. Due to its location near the equator, I assumed it would be very warm (around 100oF) and sunny. After studying Costa Rica’s global economy, with both technology and agriculture, I assumed English would be fairly widely spoken across the country, especially in Heredia where there are numerous universities. Lastly, I thought that the locals would be quite reserved or even unwelcoming to us as foreigners in their country. On my first day in the country, many of my previous expectations were quite incorrect.
After being in the country for less 24 hours, I have already learned a lot about the culture and climate of Costa Rica. My impression that the temperature would be very warm was slightly incorrect in the Central Valley where we are staying. The high temperature is in the upper 70s each day, so it is very bearable and cooler than I expected; the humidity makes it feel quite warm though. As we are transitioning into the wet season in Costa Rica, rain is common most days, however it wasn’t much of a bother. The very warm temperatures and extreme sun that I was expecting is more common along the coastal regions of the country. With regards to the use of the English in Heredia, it is less commonly seen than I expected. For example, my host family does not speak English at all, and I know this is true for many other students as well. However, I think this makes for an even better experience, as I can practice my Spanish by being forced to use it to communicate. Truly, I did not think I would be able to communicate very well with not practicing Spanish in over a year. However, it has been pretty easy so far and I feel that my Spanish has improved already. I really enjoy the experience of staying with a host family and I think it is the best way to be fully immersed in the culture. Also, my family is very nice, and the food is amazing. This leads me to my next point, about being welcomed as foreigner. My host mother has been extremely welcoming and I feel as if I am part of her family. In addition, the locals, or ‘ticos’, seem very welcoming and accepting of visitors to their country. Overall, my expectations were very different from the reality here in Costa Rica, but I am really looking forward to the next 13 days in this beautiful country.