No matter where one studies culture shock manifests in some way, shape or form. In my case culture shock really occurred when it came to the food, but I have been reminded of home from time to time. Many people especially from the United States assume that all Latin American cultures are the same, however that is not the case at all. There were certain challenges or concerns I expected to encounter regarding religion or sexism which are present within my own culture. However, there were things I expected to be somewhat different such as food or traditions. For the most part I was right.
When it came to food I was hoping to find amazing seafood or just overall good dishes. I definitely have explored my foods while being abroad, but if I am being completely honest Costa Rican food is not my favorite. Being a pescetarian here has been extremely easy so it is not the meat, but in terms of flavor I hoped for more. Coming from a mexican household I am used to spices and seasoning on almost everything. I am used to having that one flavor overpower the rest, but everything here is a lot more subtle which is not bad it just can get boring sometimes. Also some of my favorite Mexican dishes are just made different. The week of my birthday my host sister Daniela made me Chile Rellenos which is my favorite dish, however in Costa Rica it is much different. I appreciated the effort though.
Costa Rican Dishes:
- Gallo Pinto
- Chancleta (which I still have not tried, but I want to so bad)
- Patacones (aka Tostones)
- Sopa Negra (not my favorite but I don’t like beans)
- Maduros (My favorite !)
- Granizados (Like raspados with ice cream)
Weird (as in not for me) Costa Rican food:
- Mayonnaise and Ketchup (they looveee it)
- Butter on a lot of things
- Mangos… normal mangos are known as manga here..
I wish I had more to say about traditions, but the only holiday that has occured since I have been here was Easter and I was on spring break. However, the week before Easter I went to Guatemala where they had a parade in order to prepare for Easter weekend and that weekend was the weekend that most reminded me of home and my culture. Religion is a huge part of most Latino cultures and although I am not religious but I love to see how our traditions bring people together.
This is the one thing that reminds me of home. Being around good wholesome family. I like to think I have become a part of my host family little family and that honestly warms my heart. They protect me and support me as if I was their blood. I obviously miss my family so much and would not trade them for the world, but at the same time I would not have been able to survive my semester if I did not have my Host Mom Flory and My Host Sister Daniela here supporting me.