Sean Cassidy fell for the Pura Vida lifestyle so much during his first semester in Costa Rica with CISabroad that he decided to go back! Along with studying he is helping CISabroad’s site director Lisa plan excursions and is keeping up a blog. Learn what it’s like to study in Costa Rica.
Greetings! My name is Sean Cassidy, and I am a second time study abroad student in the incredible country of Costa Rica! It is my pleasure to be sharing a blog with you all, as well as a little insight as a result from my experiences here in Costa Rica. So if you would please, read on!
As I mentioned, I am a study abroad alum in Costa Rica as I spent my spring semester of sophomore year here, and now yet again the spring semester of my senior year. (Graduate on the beach? Yes please). Being back has been a very different experience but all the worthwhile. For those of you who do not know, Costa Rica is a small country (about the size of West Virgina, USA) located in Central America. Climate consists of approximately 6 months of sun and six months of rain; obviously I came during the sunny months. The primary language is Spanish, and the people are referred to as ‘ticos’. And of course, the country is bordered by the Paciﬁc and Carribbean..in other words.. beach beach beach!! However, Universidad Veritas (where we study- and yes, we do study) is located in the middle of the country in San José, so it does require some traveling to get to the coast, although I believe paradise can be found right in the middle of the city too.
During my ﬁrst trip here, I fell in love with the country. Whether it was the ‘pura vida’ lifestyle, the delicious food, the warm attitudes of the people, the naturaleza, or the peculiarities of the language that attracted me so much; something got me, and I fell hard! So much so, that I extended the length of my trip. However, I did ﬁnd myself going back home despite the fact that I highly considered staying forever. Which is very possible my friends…
And now, it is round 2! Somehow someway I found myself back on a plane headed south to the rich coast (Costa Rica in english hehe). It has been so great to be back and see old friends, visit places I never got to see, and keep advancing in my Spanish skills and knowledge of the Hispanic culture. But like I said, this trip has been different than the ﬁrst. It is impossible to repeat that ﬁrst experience where everything is new and feels like a wonderland. Not that it makes it any less great, I just now ﬁnd myself honing in on different aspects. So once again, before I start this part, I want everyone to know that I LOVE Costa Rica and I will forever recommend it as a place to travel, however, I like to present the whole truth and some of the challenging areas of being abroad. So for those who are curious about the cultural differences that may not be as exciting, here you are. Passiveness: Ticos are overly passive. Socially and politically. For example, don’t be too offended if you make plans with somebody that is never going to show. For some reason it is very difﬁcult for some ticos to just say ‘no.’ Machismo: a trend throughout Latin America (and the whole world) where men feel very obliged to comment on women’s appearances walking down the street. It is obnoxious. Taxis: generally a good experience, but be careful not to get ripped off by being whipped all around town before they take you where you wanted to go (which they knew where it was all along.) I recommend traveling with someone who speaks Spanish! On top of this, unlike the ﬁrst time I am in a personal relationship with somebody back in the USA and three months apart has proved to be challenging, yet very possible, which is something I think people in similar situations should know. This on top of graduation, and going back to a job I love that I just recently landed has me often anxious to get back home. However, it is important to remember that these months go so fast and wishing you were elsewhere can be damaging and that everything here is what you make of it. So stay positive!
There are so many things I could say about study abroad and Costa Rica in speciﬁc, but when it boils down to it just remember to be ﬂexible, embrace change, be friendly, be a team player, and immerse yourself fully in the experience. It is truly a once in a lifetime one. Study abroad has been some of the greatest times of my life and if it interests you, I highly suggest that you do all that you can to be able to have this opportunity as well. There are plenty of programs, tons of resources, scholarships, and a whole world to know. So what are you waiting for?