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First Week of School

I apologize for not writing this earlier……here we go:


No classes on Monday! I used Monday to post pictures on Facebook, eating meals and hang out with my host mom. That was a very uneventful day.


First day of class! I woke up around 7 to get ready for my 8am class. The class was a lot of fun, I really like Alexa (the professor) she speaks clearly and slow. We worked in partners and talked about our partner and had to make posters about the other one. My artwork was fantastic as I met a guy Jeppe from Denmark. After the class Alexa asked Jenessa and I how we felt about the class, I told her it felt too easy and that I needed a challenge. She asked us to stay for the advanced class and we both did fine so now my class is at 10am! Later Tuesday I hung out at home and watched Combate. Then I went out with some of the ISEP people to a bar called Alcatraz, it was alright but the theme was sketchy. I had my first Imperial and enjoyed it, Callie peeled off the sticker, which I guess I’ll use in my scrapbook.


Wednesday I did not have class until 5 so I slept until 9:30, or woke up at 8:30 then attempted to go back to sleep. I went to UNA early in order to pick up my student ID. All went well with that except they spelled my middle name “Maie” instead of “Marie” but I figure it’s no big deal. Dialectología was interesting, the professor there was subbing for his wife, and he seemed very nice. We picked our projects and then everyone separated into groups. None of the ticos wanted to work with the Americans (Kayla, Bill, Cori and I) so the prof asked if we wanted to be a team, the “dream team” he called us. All I could think of was the scene from Space Jam:) After class I took a taxi home and read the song lyrics for the culture class. Then I joined my mom’s youth group, they were so much fun! We played Sansón, Delila, y León, which was a biblical rock, paper, scissors. It was so funny! We faced opposite directions, counted to tres, then turned around and gave the signs. I was up against this girl and we did the same sign four times in a row, until my Sansón killed her león. The message was harder to understand because they picked up their speaking speed, but it was very interesting. Later I asked them to write down their names and we added each other on Facebook. First tico friends ftw!


Thursday I woke up around 9 because my new time for the culture class is 10. We discussed the song lyrics by Malpaís, and the song was very patriotic and amazing. Alexa had us listen to other of their songs and told us that their leader passed away last year due to heart attack, which saddened many Costa Ricans. I enjoyed their songs, and I think I may buy the album. After class I went to figure out my schedule for the Exchange Language club, then I walked home. Afterwards, I passed a bookstore and decided to go inside. I asked the clerk what a good book with adventure was, she gave me “El Moto” which I still have to read. Dinner was this great chicken and broccoli and of course rice. Then I watched Grey’s because it was new and there were too many adults in the adult bible study for me to meet without feeling exhausted.


Fridays are my longest days class wise. My first class, teatro, lasted from 1-3:30, then my literature class is from 5-8:20pm. A very long day! I headed to class early so I could grab money from the ATM for the weekend and to find the class. The class itself was harder than I had anticipated. The professor is by far the fastest speaking prof I have encountered so that was difficult, but he also talked about abstract thoughts that I would have trouble focusing on in English. After the class I had written down many new words to look up! We all grabbed a snack (all the Miami kids are in both of my classes) from the kiosk out front of UNA, I love the chocolate milk here! Then we waited until Literatura. This class was alright, I liked the profesora, she had each of us join a group with a tico group. However, the other students were not willing to let us participate. There was this one sabelotodo that is in two of my classes, and he took over the group. The first project I was okay with because I have no idea what authors were famous in 1998 in Spain. But the second poster we had to make was deciphering a poem, and I did have thoughts about that. They blocked me out, so when the profesora asked me my thoughts on the poem I was able to shine by myself and I explained my opinion, without the help of my group members. When we had to pick groups for a project due in a few weeks, I asked a girl who helped me out in the first project, mainly to be free of the two guys. I think all of us students were frustrated with how we were treated. Hopefully next week will get better. Once I returned home, I crashed while watching Return of the Mummy with the Spanish subtitles.


First Excursion: Sarapiquí

Here’s the recap of this weekend:

Friday we met in front of UNA at 6:50 am! Too early for me! We all packed into this spacious van and made our way to Sarapiquí. Our first stop was a small park close by to the campus in Sarapiquí for lunch. Everyone brought out their lunches that their host mom’s had packed, I had a sandwich and an apple, it was delicious. Then we visited the UNA campus there, which was a lot smaller than the campus in Heredia, there was only one building. It was beautiful though, there was a river and the setting was very tranquil. After listening to Alexa’s father about the history of the campus we made our way to the pineapple factory. I was not expecting there to be so much pineapple! I forgot how much land the guide said but it was over 800 acres or so. Our guide was hilarious! He said the reject pineapple went to Canada and made many jokes throughout the tour. Once we went inside the factory building he told us to go into this cold room, then he turned out the light and jokingly said thank you before letting us out again. After the wagon ride through the fields we were given piña coladas in pineapples, and slices of the fruit. Cori ended up enjoying the pineapple when she thought she wouldn’t so that was awesome. The Selva Verde Lodge was beautiful! Beside our rooms there were hammocks and I rested in one of them during our free time, taking pictures of the scenery. We used our free time to swim in the pool before dinner, it was very refreshing. Saturday we were able to sleep in, until 8 (it was a very big deal!). We then did community service by planting trees to give shade to the finchas. It was fun, but the humidity made me sweat like crazy. Once we were done the owner of the land gave us juice and I played with the kitten, Jerry. Later that day we took a river tour, I saw a caiman, an alligator, and monkeys. Both friday night and saturday night Bill, Misha, Cori and I played cards in the lobby, it was nice to talk to Misha. Sunday we went to the cocoa plantation and saw the traditional way of making chocolate. It was very interesting, and the chocolate tasted great! We returned to Heredia around 2 ish and I took a nap and hung out while my mom went to visit friends.

Today has been very dull adventure wise. I did get my schedule and it is exactly the one I had anticipated, which is great, but after that I have been sitting around all day not doing much of anything because I did not have any plans for my empty Mondays. Some of the ISEP kids are thinking about going to the beach this weekend, I think it’ll be a great time! Tomorrow my first class starts at 8am, wish me luck!


Orientation Day 3/Day 4

Day 3

We did a lot of walking yesterday! We took the bus to San José and started of with the bus stop “Coca Cola”, it really it was not all that special. Then we went to el Mercado Central, a place I recognized, and we had twenty minutes to shop. Bill, Cori and I did about 3 laps around the market until we decided to stop at a shop. I bought a colorful purse that says “Pura Vida Costa Rica”, it’s so cool! After el Mercado Central we visited the front of the national bank, the post office, and the national theater. The tour in the Teatro Nacional was really neat, but with flash prohibited, not all my pictures came out. We had lunch at the theater, I had this ham and cheese sandwich but it was different from any ham and cheese sandwich that I had ever had. There was lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and another sauce on it, it was yummy. Then we had coffee and dessert, I love the coffee here! My favorite part of the tour was when we went to el Mercado Artesania. I had been there before the last time I was in Costa Rica and that was where I bought a majority of my souvenirs. When we went inside, I looked for this older woman who had been there the last time I went because Señora told me when she studied abroad she was also there, and I found her! We did not have much time to stay or I would have asked for her picture. I did end up buying a little key chain of a machete, I didn’t know until I returned home that the machete came out!  We took the train home and everyone separated at the central park. Most of the ISEP kids were going out but I had to go back home to grab more money. It was only a 15 minute power walk, I changed shirts because I had felt disgusting (the wind in San José carried a lot of dirt). Then I found money and took a taxi back to the University and met up with the others. It was a lot of fun to bond with them, we went to a place called Hookah Night, a bar and restaurant. Now I did not go overboard at all, but in Costa Rica, I am legal, and I plan on enjoying that fact because once I get home I have one more year to wait. I decided on one margarita, it was alright, I was not sure what to expect. I also ordered arroz con pollo, and we all had to wait a good hour because I guess the cook had just got there! So we talked and had some good laughs before the food was served. I was thirsty by that time so I asked for a Coke but they only had diet but the bartender asked if I would like Fanta, I think it was strawberry? It was really good! After we were all done, we walked back to the University to wait in line for taxis to take us to our homes. Gah! This is the first time I’ve gotten lost…in Costa Rica, there aren’t really address, my mom told me to tell the cab driver “275m north of Wal-Mart”. The driver was confused and we finally got on the right road, but we were talking about my major when we missed the turn. I really need to walk around my house to pick up on more landmarks, but we turned around and eventually found my house. After that I talked some with the youth group before taking a shower and going to bed.

Day 4

Today we met at the usual spot and Ivelina led us to the library. Once again we were talked to for a good four hours, it was awful. A lot of the material was covered in the student manual or was repetitive from what we had already discussed. I was also still tired from all the walking from yesterday, so listening and understanding was more difficult today. We let out early and I went to the atm and took out colones, I love that i can do that 😀 Then my mom called explaining the bus situation. I did get on the right bus, and got off the stop at Wal-Mart, but I did not go North. Perhaps I went East (I really need a compass) but for the second time I could not find my way. I walked around for maybe an hour until I caved and found this cute little park lined with taxis. I told him North of Wal-Mart, so he took me to the bus stop and asked “¿Norte?” I told him yes and sure enough my house was right there, not that far away, it was definitely a fail. Once I got home I had lunch with my host niece and my mom gave me ice cream you eat out of a plastic bag, IT WAS SO GOOD. Ayy, then after eating, I took about a 3 hour nap, I feel bad for sleeping the afternoon away but I was really tired. Now I’m going to force myself to be more social with whoever is visiting right now, before I didn’t talk much but that was because I was exhausted. I also have to pack for tomorrow because we are going to Sarapiquí to go on many adventures until Sunday!

Eso es todo, ¡Adiós!

Orientation Day 1/Day 2

Yesterday I woke up around 6:45 do get ready before breakfast which was at 7. After breakfast my mom and I walked to the university. I no longer have any worries about weight gain because walking 1 km everyday is going to keep the fat away! WIN. Anyways….we met all the other ISEP students outside the university and went to the library. It was refreshing to know that they were as nervous and had troubles with comprehension as well. Then from 8-5pm we basically sat in a room and listened to Ivelina (the resident director) and other UNA staff members. The campus is beautiful! I love that I can see the mountains from outside the library! Our lunch break was nice because we were able to walk around and see more of the campus. Then around 3pm or so I was too tired to understand most of what the staff members said. Once I returned home with my mom I took a two hour nap, ate dinner, then went to bed.

Today was the day of the placement exam! I was really nervous at first but the written was only a few simple questions and the interview was not all that bad. Profe Alexa was unsure where to put me so she said I can try intermediate and if she sees that I am doing well she’ll move me up to the advanced level. I hope so because I want to make sure that I get the credit for 342. At first I was a little bummed because Cori, Bill and many of the others were placed in advanced, but I figure if I work hard and improve that’s all that matters. We then took a tour of the campus and around Heredia which was entertaining. I think what will be harder than taking the classes will be crossing the streets without a car hitting me. We ate lunch at a café or some sort, courtesy of ISEP, and I had chicken, rice and cake. It was delicious! Cori pointed out that by the time she returns to Ohio she won’t want to eat rice for a long time, I am beginning to agree with her! Returning to the front of the university we waited until it was time to schedule. Scheduling was AWFUL! Oh my…. Most of the classes that Wireback had approved were at times we could not take them because of the culture course. We then figured we might as well knock our fine arts out of the way here. I ended up signing up for Dialectología hispanoamericana, Literatura española contemporánea, Teatro humanismo y sociedad, ISEP culture course and the Exchange Language Club. The Exchange Language Club is working one on one with a native speaker, helping them with their english and they help us with our spanish. It isn’t for any credit, but I figure the experience will be worth while 🙂 Once we were done (after 3 hours or so…blech!) I walked with my mom to the grocery store to buy food for dinner. We took a different route than before so I was confused. Once we returned home I downloaded my pictures from the day and just chilled until dinner was ready. I had to try really hard not to nap because I want to get a good nights sleep. Tomorrow we explore San José! I really hope I can remember the name of the market where Señora took us!

Eso es todo, ¡adiós!

La Primera Domingo

I woke up this morning around ten o’ clock, it was an amazing sleep! I then showered and prepared for the day. I am so thankful for having had the chance to go to Costa Rica before  because I remembered some of the tips from last time. Most homes do not have a long supply of hot water, mine was luke warm for maybe 5 minutes before it turned cold, I am so thankful for my privileges in the U.S.. Once I was all dolled up, my host mom gave me slices of papaya and let me pour yogurt on top, it was so yummy! Then she had made gallo pinto (rice and beans) with scrambled eggs and a piece of sausage. I was stuffed! She had told me yesterday we would leave around 12 to buy my phone, but running on tico time it was not until 1:30-2pm when  we got to the mall, but I was okay. The line to buy a phone was very different from a store in the U.S.. A security guard had to let people in one at a time because inside the chairs for waiting were full! After about an hour-long wait, we were assisted and I bought my little prepaid phone, it’s green and adorable! Then we went next door to Bagelmen’s (somewhat like a small Panera’s) and I ordered a BLT wrap, ginger ale and a chocolate chip cookie. The cookie was delicious! I didn’t enjoy the BLT as much as I thought I would, it was very rich and different from a BLT back home. Then Ana’s friend who drove us from the airport, Eddie, picked us up to take us to Ana’s church. The service was SPECTACULAR! ODM. There were over 100 people and it was very contemporary. Everyone had their arms raised in worship, it was  awesome. I could understand most of the songs because they had the lyrics on a projector, I even recognized some of the songs (“Grande es nuestros Díos” = “How Great is Our God”). However understanding the message was a different story. I could pick up some of the message, but I wish I had brought my bible, because the slides changed to quickly for me to read all of the scripture.

We then left church around 7 and Eddie began to drive us home. Ana then asked me if I was hungry and I said yes. She asked if I preferred Taco Bell or McDonald’s, so I chose McDonald’s. A unique thing about a McDonald’s in Costa Rica is they serve fried chicken, awesome right? I ordered chicken, fries and a coke. Once we returned home I began to eat my meal, the chicken was delicious. The fries were okay, but they weren’t what I was expecting. They weren’t very salty and had a sweet taste to them, I ate them anyway of course. Around 8pm I told Ana and Eddie that I was going to talk to Ian on Skype and told them goodnight. I talked to Ian for about an hour, then Facetimed with my parents.

I must now go to bed because orientation is in the morning at 8 am and we have to leave around 7:30 to start walking there! ¡Qué lindo!

*My host mom knows little English so when I spoke to Ian it was the first time all day that I broke down and used English. I am still adjusting, at times mi máma can speak too quickly for me to pick up what she is saying but other times I can understand.

The Big Day

I decided to write this blog while in the airplane. Now obviously it was posted after I exited the airplane but in case anyone was wondering, I did wait until landing to post this.

This morning I woke up at around 3:00, which was essentially a one-hour nap because I could not sleep. Ian was able to make it and spent the night at my house on the couch while we talked most of the night about random silly things and how much we’ll miss one another. I was so thankful that he could come to the airport to say goodbye, if it weren’t for the amazing Andrew Chen, he would have been stuck in the ol’ Oxbox. After arriving at the airport check in was easy, I don’t know why I was so worried, then again, who in their right mind would want to hang out at the airport at 4:30 in the morning! We then took many pictures, some of my parents and me and one with Ian and I, then before security Kayla and I had our pictures taken together. Security is the most nerve-wracking thing ever, I know I have nothing to hide, but boy do those x-rays make me feel like I’ve done something wrong! Kayla and I then hit Starbucks for something to have on the plane and within ten or so minutes we were allowed to board.

Now from the layout on Orbitz, I was picturing something relatively huge, with some elbow space. We were both shocked to find that our plane was very small! As someone who is claustrophobic, my stomach sure tied in knots and the anxiety levels rose. Kayla and I then had a great talk about our host family, how much Spanish we’re ready to speak and our preparations for the trip.

At the moment (8:17 a.m.) Kayla decided to nap, so I put my headphones in and decided to write some of my blog. Once we arrive in Houston I can either post this part one, or write more on the Houston airplane. Not much else to report except while waiting at our gate, we overheard some native Spanish speakers (perhaps they are also going to Costa Rica) and we both joked how we should join in their conversation to practice! Since sleeping on the plane is not working for me I’ve decided to watch You’ve Got Mail instead (Thanks Dad for putting in on! ☺).

Part two: The arrival

After a very nice dish of arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) I am about ready to take a nap, but first I will retell the arrival. First of all, whoever said the middle of the day would be less crowded in customs lied. But it was not that bad, I decided to try my Spanish, which would have been a better idea if I weren’t sleep deprived and still feeling the motion of the plane. I felt silly because she was talking away and I could only understand some of it. Then all us Miami kids claimed our baggage and made our way to meet our families. I will paint the picture, you turn a corner in the airport where it is nice and calm then you find a least a hundred people pressing up against the glass with name signs. My host mom was outside so when I didn’t see her I worried, mainly because I didn’t want to walk into the chaos alone. But alas she yelled “Kate!” (Yay for Facebook recognition). Then her friend drove us home. I love my tico home! My room is blue with a calm blue and yellow blanket on the bed. It is smaller than the dorm at Thomson but I am perfectly okay with that. After the tour Ana had many customers (she rents party supplies, like napkins and chairs) and I asked if it was okay if I took a nap. She said of course but said I should eat first, and with tico time the “dime un segundo” became a couple hours. But I was okay with this, I practiced speaking with her and then her boyfriend came over and he helped me a lot! We talked about my church and my family and other little things. He told me “poco y poco” which means little by little I will speak and improve at my Spanish. The meal was delicious, Ana gave me some homemade jugo de piña (pineapple juice) and it was delicious! Now I am going to Facetime with my parents for a few minutes before I go to bed, I can still feel the motion of the plane 😛

Panic mode

¡O Dios Mío! Wow, with the countdown to 8 more days I have hit the panic mode. Obviously staying up until 3 am to post about my panic demonstrates this. It has hit me that I am in fact leaving the country. There is still so much to do, mainly making copies and looking through all the paperwork to remember what to bring, phone numbers and addresses. I’m mostly worried about the language placement test. Crazy right? I’ve been learning Spanish for almost 6 years now (WOAH) yet I’m afraid during the oral exam I’ll stick to “Hola” and “¿Cómo está?”. This fear mainly stems from my regret that I haven’t used the extra 28 days I’ve had to study and used them to instead sleep and worry. But I’m going to try and twist my worries into another goal for my time abroad: CUT DOWN THE WORRYING! I’ve always been a worry-wart, such a gross word, but it’s true. Hopefully the culture shock I experience will help take away my worries, extra stress and help me gain the confidence I have down deep inside me.

On a brighter note I have been reading about Costa Rica. While I’ve been there once before (a time I will never forget) I’ve realized that I have completely forgotten many names of the places I visited and stayed. Reading more about the culture brings back so many warm memories of my first trip there. This brings out the “I can’t wait!” emotion because this time around, I am living in Costa Rica for 5 months instead of 2 weeks, giving me plenty of time to explore, absorb the culture, and definitely improving my Spanish. I think my ultimate worry is that I won’t be able to sign up for the classes I really need for Miami, but I’m starting to accept that in the long run, as long as I take transferable classes to my major, either way my Spanish will improve.

Tomorrow I plan on shopping for my remaining necessities and making those copies. After having time to write out my thoughts the panic attack has subsided….for now.


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