My time thus far in Costa Rica has really shown me how differently people around the world view things. Standards do not stay the same throughout the world and someplace with wealth in one country could look like something of disgust in a different country. For example, first coming to Heredia, you can see how small everything is. I grew up in the big, spacious country, so I normally associated small homes and places as an area without much money. Going to school in Pitt helped change that view for me, but even compared to Pittsburgh, the places around where I stayed in Heredia were extremely small. Continuing to drive through the country today showed me that it pretty much stays the same everywhere. Although the buildings tend to stay more on the small side, it does not mean that there is not wealth involved in homes and buildings. I’ve noticed that the styles can usually help determine the wealth of a building. The metal roofs, for instance, can be indicators that the buildings are not worth much. Even though it seemed to be that many of the buildings did not seem that wealthy, Costa Rica is still considered the happiest country in the world. I love being able to see this because it’s a huge culture shock as compared to how people live in America, where money is the judge of everything.
The farther we got away from the city, the more laid back the people seemed to be. This follows standards in America, and the history of Costa Rica too. The farther people get away from authority, the less strict they have to live their lives, which is one of the reasons why Costa Rica is so religiously diverse, as I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs. As we were passing the beach, even though we didn’t get to interact with the people, everyone we passed just seemed so casual and the buildings seemed less hectic than in the city.
Coming into this trip, I was expecting Costa Rica to be a beautiful land with lots of diverse landscapes. I honestly wasn’t expecting as much urbanization as there is. The country is beautiful, but in a different way than I was expecting. Again, it’s one of those things you just should experience for yourself and you will never fully be able to explain to someone who’s never been. My host mother told us that she loves her country because you can drive an hour to get to the beach, 40 minutes to get to the mountains, and 20 minutes to get to the city. America is diverse itself too, except you must drive multiple hours to get your extreme differences. Arriving on Saturday, I honestly was thinking that the city was a lot different than what I was expecting, just because of how urbanized and how poor it all seemed. But as I’ve spent time here, I’ve come to realize that my first impressions were wrong, and I need to work on not judging a book on it’s cover. I’ve realized how imperative it is to wait until you understand the culture to make your judgements. In doing so, I’ve seen how this beautiful country has definitely exceeded my expectations, just in different ways that I was expecting.