Dissecting the Costa Rican Culture

Especially after seeing the difference between yesterday (Sunday) and today (Monday), I was starting to become curious as to why the culture has such a diverse religious impact even though the national religion is Catholic and many families are not very religious anyways. Yesterday throughout our walking tour of Heredia, I saw lots of Stars of David painted on the outsides of older buildings and the cathedral that has some synagogue like features.  After learning about the history of this country more in depth, it all started making more sense. When Costa Rica was under control of Guatemala, it was on the border of the region that was under control- making it not a priority. Therefore all the diverse people tended to settle there as to not draw much attention to themselves. During this time there were a lot of Jewish settlers who moved in and left their mark on Costa Rica. Once Costa Rica became it’s own country, that changed again and the majority groups moved back in. That being said, Jewish influences are very common in this country, not due to religious beliefs though, but simply due to the fact that it’s what Costa Ricans are used to seeing and they like it. As a religious person, I don’t necessarily agree with this aspect of the culture, but it gives diversity to the culture, which makes it more interesting.

I have also begun to wonder why the education system is set up the way it is. We have previously discussed mandatory education for children up to high school, however the universities are trying to slow down enrollment. We also discussed how a semester of college is equivalent to about $100; whereas Pitt for example is around almost $17,000 a semester. There are also many scholarships available in order to help out the best of the country. Our discussion today taught me that the universities of this country are government funded, and therefore cannot accept many students without raising the cost of the tuition for families. On one hand, I agree with them and I do see the point. It’s not fair for people to get to choose any college that they want just because they have the money and they don’t have to work hard to get in. In this country, it’s those who work the hardest who get to further their education, which shows good personalities. However, it makes it very hard for those who are just not naturally gifted with intelligence to create a better life for themselves.

As I’ve begun to familiarize myself with the lifestyle of the ticos, I’ve really begun to wonder why they are so laid back and have such a relaxed way of living. There’s the whole concept of “tico time”, which I quickly grew to love- considering I’m usually late for everything. I’ve also noticed that many of the Natives have a lot of patience when I’m trying to communicate with them. They understand that I have trouble speaking Spanish, and they always seem to want to help instead of getting frustrated like many Americans would if the situation were reversed. For example, when I’m at work and a customer comes in that does not speak English well, I tend to find myself with thin patience. With that being said, I’ve definitely learned a lot from laid back style of the Costa Ricans. While discussing the history of this country today, I noticed many times that decisions were made based on the easy going mindset. Like when Costa Rica finally became it’s own country, it was perfect just doing it’s own thing. Whereas, most other nations at the time were trying to conquer each other and create empires. I believe that this mindset has also come from the fact that Costa Rica was a border territory. They never really had strictly enforced rules since they were so far away from Guatemala. Without a strict structure in place at the start of the country, they became laid back and are content just going with the flow. I wholeheartedly agree with this lifestyle of the ticos, and I wish I could implement it throughout the world. Costa Rica is said to be the happiest country on this planet, and I believe that their easy going manner is a big contributor as to why the people here are always so happy and not stressed.

All the cultures throughout the world are unique and have their own features that separates each one from the rest of the world. It’s possible to get a little preview of it when you’re a tourist in a country, but you don’t get to fully appreciate the culture until you immerse yourself with the locals and dig deeper into the history to understand why things are the way they are.


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