Friday, May 30, 2014

Adios Chicas! Que triste!

Sorry I haven't written in a while! I've been caught up in a lot of homework and exploring the culture here in San Jose. I'll try to make time once a week for my last month here, to write about what I'm experiencing.

The first few days of May were a little tough. Three of my housemates returned back to the United States the first weekend, so we celebrated as a family the last night we were all together. Kate, Kresta, and Shey all had a great time here and taught me so much before they left. They taught me how to take a taxi, how to walk to the mall, and how to not be afriad to talk to the family and ask questions. 

My familia tica threw a big cook out the last night we were all together, and we all pitched in to help make the night perfect. 

I prepared the tea, as well as helped make the dessert with Kate, while Shey and Quincey helped set up the huge sound system that we played our music on. Kresta with Monse helped set the table up outside, as well as make sure Kenneth had everything he needed to work the grill. 

Mariela enjoyed singing to all of us, and dancing, as she prepared the meal, especially to her favorite Spice Girls songs! We enjoyed grilled fresh fish, grilled mixed vegetables and potatoes, and our favorite dulce de leche dessert! 

We also toasted our farwells to our returning sisters with a mixed drink or two :). 

It was a night full of laughter and dance (from everyone except Kenneth who was still on his crutches and cast from breaking his leg). However, this didn't stop him from smiling and laughing just as much as the rest of us!

Monse loved being able to stay up a bit later, and dance with the big girls because we spin her and help her jump higher in the air. She loves dancing so this night was a lot of fun with her. She also played us songs on her guitar, and so did Kresta! Both girls showed lots of talent to us that night and we enjoyed hearing them play. 

I miss these girls a lot! They were full of so much wisdom and were great to hang out with and live with! I'm so glad all of us got to spend time together this final night, and be the diverse family we were! 


Wednesday, April 30, 2014


This past weekend I traveled to Tamarindo with my study abroad group. We spent two nights in a beautiful hotel beach resort! 

The first night we ate dinner at the hotel's wonderful restaurant and had the pleasure of viewing a traditional dance group. The women wore long colorful skirts, and the men wore traditional shirts and black pants. The danced during our meal just feet away from our tables. After dinner, we spent the night just walking the town, peering into shops, and dancing the night away with the locals. 

The second day we woke up early to eat breakfast in the hotel's restaurant once again. After lunch we spent many hours lounging on the beach, playing in the waves, and swimming in one of the hotel's four pools! 

The beach was just across the street from our hotel rooms and the hotel provided chairs to use to lounge in, right on the shore. The day was sunny and warm with just enough clouds to give your skin a little break from the direct sunrays every few minutes. We saw a few rain showers, but each only lasted a matter of minutes and was never hard enough to stop our fun. 

As we lounged in the chairs we had a fabulous view of the trees that lined the shoreline. Laying under the trees truly made me feel like I was in paradise, which is exactly what Tamarindo is meant to feel like!

On Saturday night, we spent our night talking goofy pictures at sunset on the beach. We also ate at a Falafel bar, and spent more of our time walking the town. 

On Sunday, our final morning, we spent a few more precious hours on the beach and in the pool. We packed up everything we needed and headed home. It was a very relaxing and sunny weekend, that felt much needed before my final week of my first Spanish class abroad! 

One round of Spanish class down, two more rounds to go! Intermedio 2, here I come!


Monday, April 21, 2014

Bocas Del Toro, Panama- Semana Santa!

This past week was Semana Santa- or Holy Week. It started Friday the 11th and ended on Sunday the 20th. A group of friends and myself decided to take a four day trip to Bocas del Toro in Panama. We left Friday the 11th and returned home on Monday the 14th. 

The first day in Panama was full of rain and clouds. We spent our first night walking through town trying to avoid the rain and looking at the shops. Many of the shops offered handmade items from residents of the island- Bocas del Toro. 

Our first full day, Saturday, we traveled to a part of the Carribean where we could see dolphins jumping in the water. I couldn't get any pictures because it was raining very hard and I didn't want my camera to get wet, but it was nice to see dolphins just feet away from our boat. We were also going to be able to snorkle with the dolphins, but the rain was so heavy it would have seriously hurt to get out of the boat. After seeing the dolphins, we traveled to La Playa Estrella- Starfish Beach. 

The starfish could be seen under the water, but signs on shore read- do not touch the starfish. When they are not in the water, they cannot survive. 

On our second full day we spent almost 8 hours on La Playa Rana Roja- Red Frog Beach. Although we didn't see any frogs, the sand, waves, and beautiful shoreline filled our day. 

Each night we ate somewhere a little different than the night before. One night I decided to try some octopus! It was delicious and wasn't expensive at all. Seafood in Central America is much cheaper than it is in the states because it is so abundant and close by. 

Bocas del Toro was a great way to spend a few days of my Semana Santa. It was nice to travel by so many different modes of transportation- small bus to the border, by foot across the border (which was a little scary because its just a long wooden bridge!), by taxi from the border to an area halfway to our launch point, by foot through an area that was impassable by vehicle, then by bus to our launch point on the water, and finally by boat to Bocas del Toro! It was a long process both to our destination, as well as back to San Jose, but it was worth the trip. 

The rest of Semana Santa, I spent here in San Jose. It was interesting to see the city without many people. Usually the city is full of people, especially downtown, but during Semana Santa many people leave San Jose, or don't leave their homes. I spent the last 4 days of Semana Santa walking downtown with friends. We explored the Artesian Market, as well as looked at many of the shops that were open. We enjoyed churros, conversations with some locals as well as other toursits, and of course all the exercise we experienced walking to, from, and through downtown!

Can't wait to tell about the many more experiences to come!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

First Group Excursion

Arenal Volcano

This weekend we went on our first excursion as a large group. We visited Arenal Volcano which is about 4 hours away from San Jose. We traveled by bus to the beautiful volcano and stayed at a luxurious hotel called Hotel Los Lagos. 

This hotel offered several different attractions including four different types of wildlife habitats. We were able to see crocodiles, frogs, butterflies, and ants on our way to one of the hotel's beautiful restaurants. 

The hotel also offered several different pools and hot springs. We were able to spend hours each day relaxing by the pool or staying warm on the slightly cooler nights in the hot springs. 

As we walked up and down the hills and trails located between each pool, hot spring, restaurant, and of course our rooms, we could see many different types of flowers, trees, and other natural beautys. Many of the flowers were in full bloom, showing their lively colors and brightness in the very warm and bright sun. 

Many of us were able to take a tour by boat on Arenal Lake. We discovered this lake was man-made after the volcano erupted years ago. The lake currently is much lower than it should be, only about half as full as it should be, luckily the rainy season is to come soon! As you can see, the volcano is very clouded and you can't see the point, that is because of the high of the volcano. When it reaches a certain height, clouds begin to block our view. 

My first excursion was a blast. I had fun learning about the culture of the Volcano, as well as the lake. I also didn't mind my hours by the pool and my nights in the hot springs. Felt like a well deserved get away. 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Yesterday we began classes. Spanish classes run for only four weeks down here, and after the four weeks you can advance to the next level of Spanish. I'm starting in intermediate one this month, next month I move to intermediate two, and then in June I will be in advanced one. I'm truly enjoying the experience of speaking Spanish almost all day long both in school as well as in my home.
Spanish classes run from 8 am until noon. Then elective classes begin any time after 1. Currently I have one class every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which is my Spanish class. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have my Spanish class in the morning as well as a communication class in the afternoon from 1 pm until 3 pm. My class sizes are small, similar to class sizes at home. My Spanish class has 6 people and my communication class has only 2!
Even though it is only the second day of classes, I feel like I am starting to remember more and more Spanish that I thought I had lost. Currently my class is working on past tense verbs, it has been a great review hearing myself speak, as well as seeing myself write. My spelling has not been the greatest yet, especially the accents on words!
I know I will get better with each day, which is exactly what I want to happen!
Pura vida!

Costa Rica- my flight and family

Hey everyone, sorry my other blog hasn't had any other posts besides the one the night before I left. When I arrived in Costa Rica at my new home, I attempted to log in and blog before I went to sleep. However, google thought I was a hijackering, because I was trying to log in from a different country then where I set up my account.
My trip down here wasn't as smooth as I had hoped it to be. The airport in Milwaukee went fine, passes through security without a problem! Didn't even take my belly button ring out, yet I didn't beep at the metal detector. The flight from Milwaukee to Charlotte, North Carolina was fine for my first flight ever. However, I was almost not allowed on the plane from North Carolina to Costa Rica.
My ticket was booked for one day too many (91 instead of the limit of 90) and they told me I couldn't fly. I started to cry and tried making a few phone calls, but then my phone died, luckily I brought my charger in my carry-on. I was nervous that my Costa Rica experience would never start. I figured I was going to have to stay in the airport and book a flight home. Eventually the attendant told me they were going to allow me to board the plane. I met one of my fellow classmates in Charlotte and we flew smoothly together to San Jose, Costa Rica. When we arrived at the airport, we couldn't find our guide right away, luckily a nice gentleman asked us who we were looking for and went and found our guide for us. He truly demonstrated Costa Rican hospitality! We took a taxi to our university- la Universidad Veritas and met our host families.
I'm staying with a host family who is very kind, and who themselves have a busy life of their own outside of trying to care for a total of five students. There is Mariela the mother, Kenneth the father, and Monserrath the little 4 year old girl. Mariela and Kenneth both hold jobs, as well as care for Monsy (that's what we call her). Mariela also attends classes a few days a week about an hour away from home, but an hour here is much different than an hour in the United States in my opinion.
The other girls that live here are Quincey, Shey, Kresta, and Kate. Each from very different places as well. We are all from different states and bring our own opinions and views to the table, literally. We eat breakfast and dinner together every morning and night, as well as see each other in passing at school. School is only a 30 second walk out the door, we literally live next door to campus! This has been very convenient if any of us forget something, we can just rush home to grab it.