EARLY HOMESTAY REFLECTION:
Although it hasn’t been very long that I’ve been here, in Costa Rica, it feels like I have been here for longer than a month, and it’s barely been a week. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but time is flying fast and it is just beginning. The feeling of having been here for longer, however, is not a bad one, rather, a settling in one. I’ve become familiar with the streets that surround me, and even have a few places of comfort that I can depend on, which has been nice.
I also am glad to say that I feel a lot more comfortable at home (or well my homestay), than I initially thought I would, which was something I was worried about prior to arriving. Contrary to my worry, however, I haven’t felt too awkward taking up space in someone’s home, and a lot of that has to do with the hospitality and kindness of my homestay family, and the fact that I do have roommates to share the experience with. It might be too early to say, but living with a host family is something I do recommend as it has made adjusting and navigating all the new things and changes so much easier to deal with. I think I am also just fortunate for having ended up where I did. Most nights after dinner, we all stay to talk at the dinner table, and we unravel through conversations that I never expected to have while away. It has made me realize how nice and instant new connections can be formed through simple talks, and I do recommend taking advantage of having those conversations if you can and end up in a homestay while abroad.
Besides my homestay situation, everything else has been going well, although at first I was struggling a bit with my course situation and deciding on which to take. While it is easy to forget during the first few days that part (or a good portion) of the studying is studying while abroad, it is important to be mindful of the schedule you will set for yourself as it will be foundation-al to how your day to day will look throughout your stay. For me, that meant both taking courses I was interested in but also ones that aligned within a schedule that would work for me, which meant taking courses earlier in the day as I am someone that likes to get independent work done later in the afternoon. It took a lot of communication and consideration to rearrange my schedule, but in the end I am glad I decided to reconsider it. Although I will be honest and say I am not completely happy about some of my courses as I initially thought I would be, at least I was able to fix some portion of it before the deadline to drop and add. If you do end up finding yourself in that situation of not being excited about your courses, know that you’re not alone and that many other students while abroad, as I have come to witness, are also going through it.
A piece of advice I would give based on this experience is that of making sure you ask for syllabi and schedules of courses (if possible) prior to beginning them, and never being afraid to ask questions or request changes. Being proactive and responsible ahead of time will come a long way and help you build an experience that works for you. On the positive end, remember courses are just a part of your study abroad experience and you should definitely make time to explore and indulge in new things to make the most out of your stay – be mindful, but don’t let courses define your whole time. Enjoy what you can, there is so much out there!
Picture 1: Sarchí, artisan village in the Alajuela province of Costa Rica
Picture 2: Sarchí part 2, gift shop interior