Sunday, January 16, 2011

Reverse the Culture Shock?

I've been back in the country for a little over a month. I think this is my transition phase of writing. I plan on switching gears. Maybe I'll change the name of the blog and all that. This are all just random ideas floating around in my head. When you study abroad, you have these orientations and meetings that you are required to attend, and in each of them, I think the sole purpose is to scare you into submission and doing exactly as they expect you to do as you are abroad and upon return as well. They give you diagrams of the ways your emotions and thoughts should flow. They tell stories and have you read articles of the most extreme, horrible, terrifying cases ever. You literally read the cases and wonder what caused the people to react the way they did. Maybe that is a harsh stance on this issue, but it is truly shocking what cases they have documented.
All this to say, I am back in America, and I feel like being a journalism student, I have a responsibility to write at least a little something every once and a while.
I am trying to come up with an interesting story since I have been back. I have had some great adventures back here in the states. I have been to the concrete jungle (yes, NYC), snowboarding, Grimsley (where my grandparents live) and lots of time in Knoxville. School has started back and I don't feel like it should be yet, despite the fact I have had an extremely long Christmas break.
So, as I start back with school, hopefully I can adjust to school and all that. I'm back in the states though, so feel free to stop on by the house, give me a call, text whatever. Welp, over and out.

Friday, November 19, 2010

So Fast

Let's get real. I have not done this even remotely as frequently as I had originally intended. I apologize to any of you who were anxiously waiting for this to be posted on a more than an every, now and then basis.
So, here I am closing in on only one week left. Even as I typed that, I felt myself tense a little. I love this country so much. I have experienced things I never thought I would be able to do. I have had so many opportunities that I am so thankful for. God was really looking out for me when he put me down here. I have made some amazing friends, and I literally think I have the best family I could have gotten.
Along with all this, I have been trying to maximize all of the time I have left here. Essentially, that means constantly I want to adventure, as well as do all those things I have grown to love & want to do just one more time before I leave. All of this is somewhat exhausting, but I can say that I have loved every moment of being here. I definitely don't take it for granted that I am here.
I still have revelations of "wow, I really am living in Costa Rica" all the time. I look around me at the mountains and the beautiful skies and the crazy rainforest trees and I am reminded of how cool this really is.
[Update on the bucket list] I have now surfed, crossed a HUGE swinging bridge & went behind a waterfall.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Whole New World

I have been in Costa Rica for a little more than three months now, and I still feel like all the time I am seeing new things, even in places I have been multiple times before. I can appreciate so many things here, that I wonder if I would ever even notice in the states. Here adventures are so easy to have. I can hop on a bus and see where it goes, I can take a bus to the rainforest, or to the beach, or to a volcano all just to see what's there. I love this country and all that's inside it.
Even walking, it seem like I enter new worlds just with a turn of a corner. There are so many areas and different places to go and see. Each day I feel like I experience a whole new world.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Marking Things Off

This past week has truly flown by. Time seems to be in hyper-speed. I looked at my watch today and realized October is almost half way gone. It's a crazy thought. I still have so many things I hope to accomplish while I am here. I have had a list of things I want to do in my life since I was in high school. Granted, I have changed several of those things and I have accomplished some of those things since I first made my list, but I still have tons of things to do.
While I am here, I still have a few I am anxiously awaiting completing. A few of those things are: to see lava, to learn to surf and to go zip-lining through the rainforest. I have plans to do two of those three things, but I am looking for a way to mark off learning to surf also. Costa Rica is such an amazing country. I have three different locations to do these things that are important enough to me to have on a list, and ordinarily I would have to travel to three different countries or at least board a plane to accomplish these, but in Costa Rica, all are just a bus ride away. I love it. Hopefully, all those three can be accomplished and I can mark those off my list.
Today, I was actually planning on marking one more thing off my list: to take a train ride, but that didn't happen. My friends and I were ready to catch the train, but the train never actually came through. It was a little disappointing, but maybe there will be more time for that as well.
Also for the record, if you don't have a list, I would seriously encourage you to make one. Sometimes I tend to be a little excessive in my list making, but, this is something I would really encourage. When you accomplish something it is truly great. It also serves as such a motivation. If learn Spanish wasn't on my list, I may not even have ended up in a study abroad program. I could've been still back in Tennessee, not having the capability to mark off multiple things off my list all within the four months I am here. This is truly a fantastic experience.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I Spy!

I'm finding I live in somewhat of an I Spy book. I feel like along every turn there is something new to experience, and something new to see if I just look in the right spaces. I Spy books when you're little are something to pass the time more or less; something you could check out from the library and not actually have to read anything. It was an adventure, but often it took time to seek out the individual objects.
Here, it's the same way. San Jose, for instance, is not exactly what I would describe as a beautiful city. It is a city and it has lots of nooks and niches where really cool things can be found, but that is the catch, they have to be found. Walking around Central Avenue is not going to give you the best cultural experience. It will give you an experience, sure, but not the best. It's when I step off the main pedestrian avenue I find the small things that make this place great. Walking around the other day, I saw a home with drainage gutters shaped like hearts. I have seen the true hearts of people who are willing to help me when I have no idea where I am going. There are new things it seems around every corner. Often, when I walk around, I feel like I enter into new worlds. I find I can literally feel the changes of the neighborhoods. I just have to be ready for the changes. I have to be ready to spot the differences, and at the same time the similarities.
This weekend, my friend Sarah and I took our long awaited graffiti tour. Since we arrived in Costa Rica, we have been wanting to take a tour of the artist expressions painted along sides of buildings and walls. Here, graffiti is not like at home. When we see graffiti at home often it is an indication you are in a bad neighborhood, and you should probably leave quickly. The first change here is that it is legal. People submit their designs to the owner of whatever structure, where then they get approved and then painted. Of course, there are the abandoned buildings with graffiti plastered all along the edges, but overall, it is an accepted form of art, not a warning to guard your belongings.
Sarah and I embarked on our trip with bus money and not a clue as to where we were going. We headed off the bus when I looked out the window, pointed to graffiti and our anticipation took the best of us when we ran to the front of the bus, without pulling the string for a stop, and little recognition to anything other than a wall of graffiti off in the distance. We hoped off the bus, and then, we spent the next 9 hours walking around, looking for any kind of graffiti we could spot. We walked all through who knows where and we found graffiti that would literally boggle the brain and the eyes.
All these things are what you make of it. We found places I had no idea existed, and probably could not find them again. It was a great adventure, and who knows what all you can see when you're looking for it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Everyday Learning Experience

Normally, when I sit down to write, I have a head full of some adventure I have just experienced. This time, I have a bit of a different topic. I am writing this time about Spanish. I suppose it is kind of ironic to write about another language, but this is what I am setting out to do. Learning a language is a pretty difficult undertaking. When I go about my days here, I set off to learn something new, solely by being put in everyday situations. To learn a language in its entirety is an entirely different idea. It is hard. Possibly a lot harder than I expected. I strive to learn something new every time I step outside the door of my room. I can learn here in my house, as well as outside these walls.
As most of you would assume, I do not normally have this type of mindset when I step outside. Learning is not usually even ranked on the top ten when I leave the house at home, but here it is. I learn words almost everyday, and often I hear things that I have no clue what it means, but I love the experience all the same. I love hearing people answer the phone with "Alo" and I love hearing "Gracias" and "Con mucho gusto". Everyday experiences like getting to and from places on the bus and buying a snack at the store all have a newness to them that often contain a learning experience. Sometimes that experience is of culture and sometimes it is purely language, but either way, it becomes rewarding to do the simple things.
I love Spanish, and I love the experiences I am gaining everyday, even if they aren't all categorized as an adventure. The everyday life here is fun and exciting, even if it is nothing to write about.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The View From Up Here

Each day Costa Rica gains a little more of my love. Despite the fact the rain is inevitable and forms rushing rivers along the sides of the streets as well as in them, I still am in love.
This weekend, my Mom came down for a visit, so I got to head off to the beach, which is always great! Bonus, this weekend it was actually sunny for most of the time, so I enjoyed the hot weather of Jaco this weekend. Before Jaco, however, when I went to the airport to pick Mom up, I found possibly my calling for life. An airport picker upper person. I could people watch for hours!! Watching people watch for who they are waiting for, then when they think they see them, but actually don't. Then, they actually reunite or meet or whatever and it is a beautiful thing to watch if not awkward and ridiculous. I'm not sure what I'm changing my major to yet, but an airport picker upper is my future job, probably not with that exact title.
After we came back from Jaco, we became roving travelers because the hotel we were staying in had limited space. We had to change rooms every night from then on out, but I also realized I could be a nomad. I like the changes. I like taking in one space and then moving before you become too accustomed to it. Mom was able to meet all my friends from the program and my Tica family and see San Jose and UCR.
The Tuesday brought lots of adventures since it was the Eve of Independence Day here. Ana, my Tica sister, was running with the torch in a parade that day. We went to the parade through San Pedro and ended up at Ana's school where there was a carnival type thing with tons of food, people pretending to be statues, tons of fireworks and a torch of their own. All of it was really cool. Mom thought the statues were real and were always there, which made it really funny when she asked if they were always there, and my Mama Tica was pretending to poke them and ask them questions etc.
After the carnival and fireworks display, both my Moms, Ana and I went to this restaurant in Escasu that literally put the city in perspective. When you walk down the streets of San Jose, its much easier to see the bad. The trash and the dirty streets, the honking cars and the haze of pollution looming over the city are easily in view. The city from inside, is really nothing to look at. From up in the mountains though, the city is beautiful. The night air was clear and the lights were brilliant. The sight of far away fireworks celebrating the day further illuminated the vast lights of the city. It was truly beautiful. Naturally, my camera was dead, so I wasn't able to capture the beauty, but the picture would have been better in my memory anyway.