Thursday, July 29, 2010

Before you read my second post, I have to make a disclaimer that I meant to publish this on Thursday, but I realized that I had forgotten something important and didn’t have time to add it before I had to go to class. Since I have already gone to the class that I was about to go to when writing this post, I decided to include it as well. Hence, read this as if I posted it on Thursday after my class. Sorry for the confusion, enjoy!

It is about 9:00 p.m. and I have just completed my first week of classes at UNA. As an active and schedule-oriented person, this week has greatly advanced my adjustment process. As I have already told all of you, my first day of classes went quite smoothly, and even smoother I suppose on Tuesday since I didn't end up having class. My only class on Tuesday, Fundamentos de Sociolingüística, starts at 8 a.m., so I had to wake up quite early to get ready and make the 25 minute walk plus extra time for getting lost. When Caitlin and I got to class, we saw that a bunch of students from our program are in the class with plenty of ticos as well. By the time 8:00 rolled around, the professor wasn't there yet, and by 8:10 still not there, and not at 8:20, nor 8:30, and finally at 8:40 the ticos decided to pass around a sheet of paper indicating everyone who showed up for class and then we all left. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed, but I guess I'm still getting used to "tico time." Not having class, however, allowed me to accomplish a lot of other things. My friends (Caitlin, Callie, and Abby) and I were able to plan our trip for this weekend (more on that later), and then Caitlin and I signed up for a popular dance class :) Besides learning how to dance, it should be a great way to make tico friends! On Monday I bought a monthly membership to a gym nearby my house, so I went there to work out for the first time later in the day. Although I got a few stares since I stuck out like a sore thumb, I had a great workout and everyone there was really nice. In fact, ticos in general are incredibly nice. Everything is always "pura vida" and it's not odd to say a friendly "hola" or "buenos" to a stranger on the street. The way they say thank you is even friendly. Instead of the standard "de nada," they say "con mucho gusto," which essentially means "it was my pleasure." I haven't heard one person say "de nada" so I am trying to train myself to say "con mucho gusto." I am even getting used to the daily comments from tican men. It is quite standard for men here to make comments to women as they pass on the street, and my favorite so far has been when I was called "una gringa guapa."

Wednesday was a particularly good day. I had a great conversation with Claudia the night before, during which we talked about relationships, marriage, and God :) The conversation began on the subject of Carlos because I was telling her that today (Tuesday) was the first time that we had been able to talk in over a week due to the 8 hour time difference (it’s amazing how big of a difference 2 hours makes). After talking about my relationship with Carlos for a little while, I was a bit surprised when she asked me if I had ever thought about marrying him. From there we talked about how Mariela’s relationship with her boyfriend is similar to my relationship with Carlos, and then we arrived at the subject of why Silvia and her children live here. After that story, I decided that I felt comfortable enough to ask whether or not she had ever been married. Out of respect for my host family, I’m not going to share all the details of their lives, but I will say that she has been married twice and Mariela has a different father than Andrea and Silvia. After discussing how God’s plans for our lives are not always the same as the plans we have prematurely made for our own lives, we gave one another a big hug. And in case you were wondering, that was all in Spanish!

Inspired by the previous night, I woke up early to work out at the gym and then went to my Spanish class at 10. We learned about "el voseo" which is something I have never learned in any of my former Spanish classes because it is not used in Spain. I have always heard that vos is only used in Argentina, but I now know that it is used all throughout Latin America, so I am definitely thankful to now know how to use it. I have been trying to use it more often with my host family and I think that I am doing quite well. Little by little I am feeling more tican :) After class on my way back home I stumbled upon a little shop that makes smoothies from fresh fruit and other delicious ingredients. I ordered one with mango, pineapple, yogurt, and some other good! I am going to have to limit myself because otherwise, I will definitely become addicted. When I got home, Claudia and Mariella were cooking lunch and the kitchen was filled with fruit. I was so happy. I talked a little bit about my host mom's food in my last post, but I didn't mention that I haven't been eating very much fruit at all since I have been here, and because a) I love fruit to begin with and b) Costa Rica is known for all of its tropical fruits, I have been quite disappointed. But now the house is full of fruit and I have had really good food for the past few days now. Wednesday was definitely a good food day.

Later in the afternoon I met my friends at UNA and we walked to the mall in Heredia because tickets are half price on Wednesdays at the movie theatre. We shopped around the mall for a little bit, which is huge and incredibly modern, and then saw The Karate Kid, which unfortunately was in English with Spanish subtitles. Although I loved the movie more than I thought I would, I definitely want to see a movie in Spanish next time.

I ran this morning and then got ready to go to class once again. This class, Tópicos de una cultura de paz, is in a different building than all of my other classes, so I had to ask around a bit to find it and then a professor was nice enough to walk me there. I have the class with my friend Callie, but we are the only two Americans. We sat in the front and the professor almost immediately pointed us out. He knew that we were exchange students, but said that he couldn't tell from the sheet whether or not we were "chicos o chicas." A little embarrassed, we just laughed. He seems like a cool professor and the class seems interesting as well. There are a lot of projects and presentations, which is a bit overwhelming right now, but I'm up for the challenge.

The class that I had tonight from 5-8:30 (much later than I am used to at Miami), Contemporary Costa Rican Literature, was the first class that put me in panic mode. I was optimistic before the class started, thinking about how much I enjoy analyzing and reading literature, and my optimism continued once I met the professor…but as soon as she started talking about what we had to read, how and where we had to buy the readings, and how little time we had to read a very thick novel (all in Spanish), I became “super confundida.” Thankfully, my peer, who is actually from Miami as well, is in the class, so I at least had someone with whom I could exchange nervous facial expressions. I planned on clarifying everything with the professor after class, so I tried not to worry in the meantime. After becoming incredibly confused by what was supposed to be an explanation, we broke into groups to analyze several poems. Finally, I was in my element. Also, I was placed in a group with two ticans and no Americans :) I gained a bit of confidence during our analysis because I understood the poems just as well as they did and I even pointed some things out to them that they hadn’t caught. So, after class I walked straight up to the professor and told her that I was quite confused because purchasing books is very different in the U.S. (there aren’t any copyright laws in Costa Rica, so instead of just buying the books, ticans go to a million different copy shops, all with names and locations I have never heard of, to get reading materials for their classes. Way cheaper, yes. More confusing, definitely yes.) Seemingly charmed by my eagerness to “clarificar” just like almost all of her former exchange students, she clearly marked which books I had to buy and which readings would be in the course packet that we could buy at the copy shop. Wow, I now feel 110% better. When I got home, Claudia had made Spanish tortilla with spinach just for me because she knows how much I like it, and she also made me hot chocolate (made with cream, not just milk…fattening and delicious).

So, about my trip this weekend...I'm going to Montezuma which is on the South Pacific coast in the Puntarenas region. The beaches are supposed to be gorgeous and Montezuma in particular is supposed to have a young, bohemian, hippie feel. I can't wait! I'm going with Caitlin, Callie, and Abby, and although we have everything figured out, I'm a bit nervous because I don't know how everything works here quite yet. We're leaving really early in the morning to take a bus at 6 a.m. from San Jose to Puntarenas. The bus ride should be about 2 and a half hours, and once we get there, we'll take a ferry to Playa Naranjo. From there we'll take a short bus to Montezuma. Quite a lot of steps, but I'm sure everything will be worth it. I can't wait to tell of you about it when I get back! We don't have classes on Monday because it is a holiday for a Saint, so we're staying there Sunday night and we'll come back to Heredia on Monday. Keep me in your prayers for a safe and fun trip and I'll write back sometime next week!

P.S. Since this blog was intended for Thursday, I am obviously already back in Heredia from Montezuma. I had a great time and I’ll tell all of you about it soon!

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