I have been back in the United States for two weeks since leaving Costa Rica at the end of May, but it already feels like forever. Since I am from Atlanta, my four hour flight didn’t give me much time to reflect, but my 13 hour drive back to my school in Maryland gave me plenty of time. So here is a list of the very best of Costa Rica and the US!
Things I miss about Costa Rica:
- My Mama Tica and CR Friends: Although I was happy to see my family and friends that I had been missing all semester, once I arrived home I immediately missed my host family and friends from Costa Rica! My Mama Tica made me feel at home starting with the very first day of the program, and it was hard to say goodbye at the end of the semester. Without my Costa Rican friends and my US friends in my program, I wouldn’t have had the adventures that I did. So here’s a shout out to you all!
- Fresh Food: The few times that I have been abroad in Latin America, I have always felt like the food I was eating was healthier. This is probably because it is a lot fresher, that is, it doesn’t travel far from farm to table. Especially during my time at EARTH, I was eating fruits and vegetables straight off the plantation.
- Pura Vida: This is the slogan of Costa Rica, and it can mean many things. For me, pura vida meant trying new things, going after adventures, and appreciating each moment. It’s no wonder that Costa Ricans are some of the happiest people, for they truly are living the pure life.
- Honorable Mention: tropical climate, sloths, Tico time, Pops/Cafe Choco, and traveling
Things I appreciate now that I am back in the US:
- Roadways/Sidewalks: It is amazing how much I have admired concrete and asphalt in the span of two weeks. Although Costa Rica has many beautiful sights to see, its transportation infrastructure leaves a bit to be desired. During the semester, I navigated crumbling sidewalks and bumpy roadways. My drive back to Maryland was my first time behind the wheel again in four months, and I loved every bit of it.
- Convenience: In the United States, you can go to one store and get everything that you potentially might need. While I actually love the little independent shops and stores that a scattered throughout the streets of San Jose and Santo Domingo, I can’t deny the ease of convenience of a US mall or Super Target. However, as Costa Rica becomes increasingly commercialized, as evidenced by the fast food restaurants and new malls in San Jose, I hope that it is able to retain some of its friendly, small town Tico authenticity.
- Stuff: It’s no secret that US culture heavily emphasizes having “stuff,” be it the newest car or latest phone. In order to go to Costa Rica, I had to pack up my entire life into two suitcases. Once I came back to the US, I had a whole new perspective on the things with which people surround themselves. Traveling and living abroad creates a sense of interpersonal independence as well as an independence from material goods.
- Honorable Mention: air conditioning, waste management systems, fast internet, food variety, and English
Thanks for accompanying me on my journey this semester. Best of luck on future adventures!
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<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);">Hello! My name is Sydney Perlotto, and I am a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park majoring in Global Social Change and Development and minoring in Latin American Studies and International Development and Conflict Management. I am originally from Atlanta, GA but came to UMD because of its proximity to DC (and snow!). You can often find me volunteering around campus, baking tasty treats, or just generally frolicking! After traveling to Chile for a short term study abroad my sophomore year, I have definitely caught the travel bug and hope one day backpack throughout Latin America. Costa Rica is bound to be an adventure of language, culture, and biodiversity - and I have my waterproof hiking boots at the ready!</span></p>