Hi, my name is Leanne Boody. I am a rising sophomore in the Swanson School of Engineering. I participated in Pitt’s Plus3 program studying in Costa Rica for two weeks to learn more about the country, with a focus on the coffee and banana supply chain.
During the trip, we were given many opportunities to interact with Ticos. My two standout encounters were with the Ticos who traveled with us on our day off and the school of Tico students learning English. We all decided to go on a trip to an island on our day off, and it involved about an hour long boat ride there and back. The boat took some tourists and some Ticos making for an interesting mix of people and cultures. My big takeaway from that day was that everyone likes to relax and have fun. Despite the tours and lectures being very interesting, we all needed a break from school. This trip offered a really nice time to unwind whether you chose to swim, snorkel, walk around the beach, banana boat, shop, paddle board, layout in the sun, or really anything else you could want to do to relax. The Ticos seemed to really enjoy dancing and sitting on the beach, and were open to speaking to us. One couple on the boat ride back encouraged my friends and I to dance to the traditional salsa music as everyone else also seemed very new to the style. We didn’t have a lot to say, as language was still an issue, but the couple’s joyfulness and appreciation of silliness and terrible dancing seemed universal after a nice relaxed day at the beach.
The students we met during the language exchange offered a look into what others understand about Americans. We were paired up into groups of two or three in order to have a more intimate discussion and a better understanding of individual experience. We were to speak in our partner’s language, meaning I had to attempt to speak Spanish. However, much to my surprise, I didn’t feel embarrassed or dumb. All of the students were understanding of our limited understanding of the language and did their best to decipher what we were saying, and help us through pronunciations. I found it very interesting to see that how we grew up was still similar despite growing up in such different places. School, friends, and even teen slang really translated easily between our languages and experiences. I found their school systems and thoughts about Americans very interesting. They found our desire to grow up faster interesting, and seemed confused why we would have jobs already.