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Journals from Costa Rica

2011-10-04 Balancing beaches and books

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Sunset in Santa Teresa

Week 4 September 18-25

We have officially been here a month. Some days are better than others; it is still hard to talk in Spanish all the time but it has started to get easier. I have found that I am thinking in Spanish almost as much as I think in English. However, this has led to making writing in English a little more difficult when writing journals or sending emails to my family. There have been a couple of really frustrating days when I  could only understand and wanted to just give up. But most days here are still really amazing, I constantly find myself thinking, Wow--I’m really in Costa Rica right now.

So far we have gone someplace new every week. I already wrote about the nature reserve, and since then we have gone to a Trapiche, the beach, and the first two cities where the Spanish colonials settled. The trapiche was pretty cool; it is a place where they make cane sugar into tapa de dulce, which is used in various Costa Rican recipes. The trip to the beach was for one of our free weekends; we went to Santa Teresa and stayed in a hostel. The beaches were beautiful and, yes, the ocean was WARM. It was like bath water. It was my first experience staying in a hostel, and overall it wasn’t too bad. The bathrooms definitely could have been cleaner, but we only paid nine dollars a night to stay there. This week we went to San Jose and Cartago as a field trip for history class; we got to see some churches that date back all the way to colonial times and also saw the obvious European influence on the buildings within the heart of the cites. It was really interesting, but it was a lot crammed into a short period of time.

We have two tests this week, one for history and one for ecology, and I am pretty nervous about them; the classes here are really hard, but hopefully after a full day of studying I will feel better. I think the hardest thing to balance is the excitement of being here and wanting to enjoy as much as I can and also wanting to be successful in classes and still get good grades.

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