Alright, so I may wish to record my experiences, but I don’t want to have to go over them again and again (I admit to being lazy, but you’re just gonna have to live with it) so for information about my first full day in Costa Rica, I am copying what I wrote in an email about it (please excuse the fact that I use a slightly different writing style for informal emails than for blogs, I still wrote it, be happy).
Alex and I didn’t end up going to the dinner last night but it was fine, we just snacked and hung out here. We met one of the other girls in the lobby later that night and she told us what went on (which wasn’t much) and what we needed to know for today (up and ready to go at 8:15am) so we were fine.
The first day was fine, we had like an orientation at the University, which is 20-40mins away depending on traffic. We’re studying at la Universidad Latina which is part of Universidad Interamericana which has campuses in 21 countries. They focus on globalization of education. sounds awesome, maybe i should transfer, haha.
Universidad latina has a school of culinary arts, hotel management, architecture, engineering, and idk what else, as well as just the general school. For lunch we ate at the culinary arts center and the students served us a full three-course meal that was really really good. We had soup of a costa rican fruit thingy that looks like a small coconut and grows on palm trees but the soup reminded me of butternut squash soup, it was called crema de pejivaye. The next course was very good steak served with a mushroom marsala sauce, a carrot and small pieces of that yellow round space-ship-like squash as well as a potato ball that was stuffed w/cheese and mushrooms (one girl at my table is vegetarian and she got a portobello mushroom stuffed w/tofu instead of the steak). For desert they had cheescake (which wasn’t that great but was decent) w/a passionfruit glaze that was tart and really good and a slice of fig and a strawberry on top.
After touring the university, and the mall across the street from it, we went back to the hotel to put our stuff down before Fernando, our guide (who’s great) gave us a small walking tour of the area around our hotel, stopping at the bank, am/pm, and bookstore so we could get whatever we needed. I really wanted to buy a book in spanish to read and found some good ones but they were really expensive, all $15-20 each for regular paperbacks so I didn’t get any (tho I might find some later if they’re cheaper).
Everything here is pretty much the same prices as in the US, if not even more expensive for some things. The only stuff that’s cheap so far is fruit (I paid $1 for a tub of sliced pineapple at the am/pm on the corner) and beer (its like $1/can). Ticos dress a lot more formally and our group stood out a lot today, it was funny b/c most ppl swore by the end that “after today I’m not wearing shorts”, etc. but they’re all really friendly people. I think out of our group I’m one of the one’s with the most spanish speaking skills, no one really speaks spanish except like 2-3ppl who are hispanic, but I’ve been enjoying testing my skills on the locals. The flight down here was really fun, everything was in spanish (and then they’d say it in English after so I could test if I got what they said right) and when I spoke to the guy at Immigration, it wasn’t until the end of our conversation, when I accidentally said “Public Health” when he asked what I was studying instead of “Salud Publica” (which I then corrected after he gave me a confused look), that I realized he didn’t speak English. TACA airlines was nice btw, it was like the latin american version of Virgin (tho not as awesomely sarcastic) and they have billboards and advertisements for it everywhere here, (tho the older planes aren’t as nice – I was on one from SAL to SJO but they’re just normal, standard planes like UA or US or AA has) and my flight to SAL was actually crosslisted as United too.
Looks like I’m in for a lot of early mornings. Bfast is at 7am at the hotel and the bus leaves at 7:30 when I have 8am class, or 8:15 when I have class at 2pm. Oh, it sounds like I might be able to add another class if i want too so I’ll see if i want to do that in the next day or two, but I’ll probly just stick w/what i have. The biodiversity class sounds really cool and its taught at the Institute of Biodiversity a few minutes away from ULatina but its lower division and I wouldn’t really be able to use the credit for anything. They also have an extra fieldtrip but other ppl might be able to go on it too so I might end up just doing that. Otherwise, I’d look into Public Health Communications, the teacher is really nice but it conflicts w/one fieldtrip to a museum. Most likely I’ll stick w/what I’ve got: Alternative Medicine, and Ecosystem Health. In our free time at the University we can study, wander, go to the mall (which has a movie theatre thats like $4-5), or come back to the hotel on our own. What I like about this trip is they give you the chance to be independent and do things on your own (dinner is not included so the McDonalds ppl can go do their thing and those in search of authentic, real food can find it on their own and explore the city (fortunately, bc this program is mostly Public Health, most of the group doesnt like McDonalds=automatic brownie pts). We are responsible for our classes, our schoolwork, and notifying staff if we want to deviate from whatever they have planned for us, but otherwise, we can do whatever. I’m excited!