Feeling at Home Abroad

Dorothy Moore
June 16, 2014

As my second week in Costa Rica comes to a close, I am at my program’s halfway point.  The question is, have I changed?

Maybe it’s hard to tell when I’m still in the middle of the adventure, but I think yes.  It isn’t that I have had a grand, sweeping change-of-mindset, or even necessarily that I see the world from a whole new perspective (it is like I see it from a different side of the same house). I think it is that I have learned I am capable of things that I had pegged myself as not liking or not doing prior to living in Santo Domingo.

The frog I befriended in the bathroom of Carara National Park.

Twice this week, I woke up before I had to and went running.  And loved it.  I woke up without grogginess or unhappiness– maybe even jumped out of bed– and  took off on a personal exploration of my foreign home.  In Oak Park, I stayed up late and slept in until late morning, but here I’ve adapted my routines to do as the sun does.  Santo Domingo is not considered safe to be walking at night, and especially not alone, so my days are usually completed by eight, when the sun is long gone.  I associate summer with the sun setting late and rising early, but here it only rises early.  I never would’ve called myself a morning person until now: running as the fog shakes itself off the mountains, the roosters crowing in my neighbor’s yards, the streets quiet if only for an hour.


Feeding croc “Angelina Jolie” in Crocodile River, Tarcoles.

There is such a thing in Costa Rica as “Tico Time”: the idea that time–and adhering to it– is fluid, not mandatory, more of a guiding idea of when things start and end.  For me, this was a major shock.  In all areas of my life, I am on time or even early, and I plan my days in a color-coded schedule.  Between balancing classes, friends, work, and extracurriculars, Google Calendar has been the only way I could survive and still make it to meals. I am not used to being told pura vida, tranquila, all reminders that life is slower here, and taken less seriously. I have more time to read, or to sit and watch the clouds move, or even sleep.  This might be what is most foreign to me, and what I want to take home with me the most– the process of letting time pass instead of chasing it; blocking out time to connect with the people around you without worrying about what is next; sleeping, actually sleeping, without a to-do list running through your head.  I want to return to the United States with my watch still on Tico Time, as well as the rest of me.

Until next time,



Crocodiles sunbathing in Crocodile River. 45 crocs per square mile!

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Dorothy Moore

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I&#39;m Dorothy Moore, a recently-declared Geography and Education Studies major at Macalester College. I am originally from Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, so I am most comfortable in cities with public transportation, bike routes, and corner coffee shops. My favorite words are wanderlust (love of travel) and fervent (having great intensity of spirit) and I try to live with them as guiding principles. I love to read and write, and I am always looking for a new story to tell. I don&#39;t know where I&#39;m headed, but for now, I&#39;m happy just exploring.</span></p>

2014 Summer 1, 2014 Summer 2
Home University:
Macalester College
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