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Collegiettes Abroad! Costa Rica Edition

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCNJ chapter.


!Hola amigos!

Hoping everyone and their families are safe and dry from Hurricane Sandy and are ready to finish off the semester with an even bigger bang than what she left. 

Greetings from Costa Rica, the country of beautiful beaches, tropical rainforest, and rice and beans! It’s been about a month now since I’ve been abroad and there’s so much to talk about. From the art to the food, everything has a distinct style unique to Costa Rica. There’s always something new to discover.


In general, Costa Ricans are a set of friendly people. I’ve butchered so many words and sentences while talking to strangers on the street, and they would correct my grammar or pronunciation with pleasure. Life is taken a little easier here and there’s a saying that sums up that attitude: Pura Vida. It literally translates to “Pure Life” and metaphorically as good living, all is well or life is great. You can say it in response to “How are you” or as a salutation. 

And with Pura Vida is Pura Comida (made that one up) but it means good food. I’ve tasted different types of fresh fruits and vegetables unique to the tropics and loved most but hated some. Even fruits we have in the States, like limes, apples, and oranges, taste and look different in Costa Rica. Guess preservatives really do make a difference. 

I reside in Barrio Zapote, a quaint neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown San Jose, the capital city.  Downtown is host to a number of art museums and tons of vendors with interesting collectibles for locals and foreigners. And along with art, there’s a dope graffiti scene across the country that usually presents itself as murals, political statements against the government, and street art along the walls of houses and public buildings. I’ve been on a hunt for graffiti around the world and have been lucky to encounter some magnificent work here in Costa Rica. 

One of my main goals for traveling to Costa Rica was to finally become fluent in Spanish. Hey, I thought Spanish 103 at TCNJ was hard, but there’s nothing like asking for directions in a country with little to no street signs and locations relative to other locations, making left and right turns up 200 or 400 kilometers and past other places you have never encountered before. Sounds confusing? Try it in Spanish. Having to speak the language everyday was difficult at first, intimidating, and frustrating at times, but my Spanish has improved faster than I’ve ever witnessed before. And it can only get better from here.

I can talk for days about my observations of this country but in the end, you must experience it for yourself. If you have any interest at all in study abroad—I mean the slightest, tiniest grain—GO FOR IT! Don’t hesitate for a second to learn about the opportunity to travel the world, to gain an outside-of-the-classroom experience, to extend your knowledge.

Ok, so maybe you don’t want to learn a new language (which to some extent you most likely will) and you’re only interested in traveling to get a change of scene. But you’re worried about the financial aspect of studying abroad; still go for it. There are so many opportunities for students to pay for study abroad, via scholarships, grants and programs willing to pay for students. Just awaken your inner hustler and get to searching. For instance, I was able to help finance my study abroad trip by applying for the Gilman Scholarship. It is a great program that helps pave the way for many students to travel anywhere around the globe and enhance their study abroad experience with awesome opportunities as student ambassadors. Be encouraged and don’t let anything hold you back from doing what YOU want to do.

Until next time mis amigos!  

!Pura Vida!