Day 1: Welcome to Costa Rica!!
Today I had the pleasure of receiving 16 students and Professor Claudio at Juan Santamaría International Airport. From there we loaded up on the bus and played some trivia for stickers until we arrived at Super Snacks. For most of the students this was their first taste for Costa Rican food. After a quick orientation at CPI, it was finally time to meet the host families! The students were very anxious and excited to meet their Mama Ticas and Papa Ticos along with their hermanos y hermanas. They were greeted with warm hugs and big smiles and ate dinner with their new host families!
Day 2: First day of class!
Spanish classes start today for Arkansas State University students! Classes are small with 1-4 students per classroom. During their break, I asked the students how their first night in Costa Rica went and I heard lots of funny and interesting stories. Everyone’s night was a little different. Brittney’s Mama Tica bonded with her by painting her nails after dinner. Matthew helped his hermano Tico with his English homework while he taught Matthew some new Spanish words and the two of them played Uno all night. It seems like everyone had a successful night.
After class, the students participated in a Latin cooking class where they learned how to make arroz con pollo like true Ticos y Ticas. Lunch was followed by a walking tour of Heredia where we visited El Mercado, a place where you can find a vast variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables along with some seafood, meat, and souvenirs. Our tour ended with a stop at and El Fortín and Heredia's 221 year old Cathedral.
Day 3: Free afternoon!
On the schedule for today is a free afternoon. All the students decided to go back to Heredia and explore the city some more. Upon their return, I asked Kaci what she enjoyed the most about her afternoon and she said, “I like how people can tell that we don’t know a lot of Spanish and they are really patient with us.” Commenting on what Kaci said, John agrees that “it was cool how the man at the heladeria (ice cream parlor) spoke a lot of english but he still tried to help us order in spanish.”
I am enjoying watching this group practice their Spanish everywhere they go and constantly look out for one another.
Day 4: A successful day in San Jose!
Costa Rica’s capital, San Jose, is full of rich history, friendly merchants, and beautiful landmarks. Today, we got to visit several of these historic sites including the National Theatre and National Museum of Costa Rica. Not only did the students learn about what makes this country so special, but they also got to experience a typical day in one of Costa Rica’s busiest cities. We also stopped by many parks including Plaza de La Cultura, Parque España, and Parque Nacional. Here, the students got to rest, buy ice cream, take pictures, and chase after pigeons. It is crazy to think how a country the size of West Virginia can have so much history, and yet after spending a day in just a few of San Jose’s museums and popular attractions, our Arkansas State Students can testify that this small country’s history is much larger than they could have imagined!
Day 5: Get your dancing shoes on!
Today, the students from Arkansas State University received a Latin dance class from the talented Doña Sidnya! It was great seeing this group of students step out of their comfort zone and try something challenging and new! The class started with everyone standing in three lines and learning some simple moves. As the moves started increasing in difficulty, the students found partners and practiced their new dance moves. Finding a different partner with each new song, the students danced their heart out for an hour and a half. After the class was over, the students were not ready to go home just yet and stayed at CPI practing their new dance moves for another hour!
Day 6-8: Manuel Antonio here we come!
This weekend the students took a relaxing trip to Manuel Antonio National Park. This beautiful paradise is located on the Pacific Coast and is home to squirrel monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and over a hundred different mammals and birds; many of which the students got to see this weekend. It was action packed trip full of hiking in the rainforest, swimming on the beach, sunbathing, shopping, and dancing.
Day 9: Downtime
Arkansas State students enjoyed a free afternoon today. While some people went back to the market in Heredia to buy Costa Rican soccer jerseys, others decided to stay in San Joaquín and find new places to eat. After a long first week in Costa Rica, “los chicos” were happy to have some down time to relax, spend time together, and get their homework done early!