9 days?!

It is a very strange feeling to think back to my arrival to Costa Rica. In a lot of ways I do not feel like I have been away from home very long. It feels like everything in MN and at Drake is at a stand still while I enjoy my vacation. Haha I know this is not the case though. And when I think back to the first time I met my host family, my first weekend trips, and the multitude of uncomfortable and awkward moments I experienced as a result of being in a new place, it seems like I have been here forever. It is going to be hard to leave for sure! But at the same time I have reached that point where the anticipation of getting home makes me ready. I have started to think about all the things that will be happening when I get home. Emails are coming from Drake asking about my interest involvements in different organizations for next year, so I am trying to make decisions about those things as well. And of course I am so excited to see my family and friends and catch up on their lives!

One major thing I am going to try and take away from my semester abroad is that it is unnecessary to constantly be running. It is good to take time to read or play Rummikub with your host family 🙂 I have realized that a lot of students in the US are involved in A LOT of clubs and organizations. Like too many probably. Here clubs are not quite as popular from what I have noticed. I know clubs and leadership opportunities are a great thing because they provide us with a lot of good experience! I have loved some of the organizations I have been involved in at Drake. But I am going to try and make a conscious decision to be a little less involved than I was before. This is sometimes hard when many opportunities come your way and you often have to say no without knowing what other opportunities will follow. But I ask God will guide me in my plans and help me choose things I like the most. I do not want to be running around stressed out. I prefer to enjoy the last 2 years of college with my friends! Do not get me wrong, it would be against my character to do nothing but classes. haha. However, I am really hoping to take part of this Costa Rican attitude back with me 🙂

I am not going to put up pictures because I can show you them when I get home in LESS THAN 10 DAYS, but here are a few random things to share.

  1. For my Spring Break I went to 2 places: Bocas del Toro, Panama and Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. To be honest Panama was not the best experience of my life because I was getting over being sick and it was raining most of the time. It is a fun town though and the beaches are beautiful! However my time in Puerto Viejo was BOMB. It was my first time on the Caribbean side of CR. The other places I visited were on the Pacific Ocean. I did lots of fun things like bike to different beaches, went out to eat, stayed in the cutest hostel EVER and for CHEAP, and more. The owner of our hostel was Italian and his accent was so great! Then on the way home I went white water rafting! The most amazing part was the scenery we passed while going down the river. INCREDIBLE. I had one of those throw away water cameras so I am quite excited to get them developed when I get back to the U.S. and see how they turned out. There is a good chance a lot of them are of my finger or something, but that is the fun of it. Like before digital cameras, it will be a surprise how the photos turned out 🙂
  2. For my semester abroad, as long as I get a C in every class it will just transfer back to Drake as credit. This has taken a lot of pressure off of me to do a perfect job on my schoolwork! I still do not like to slack in my school work but I understand now why we have grades. Without grades it is hard to motivate yourself to do things super well just for the sake of learning, especially if the topic does not interest you.
  3. So I checked the weather forcast for the last 8 days I am here and it is cloudy with a chance of rain every one of those days. This is strange because since I have been here it has hardly EVER rained. Almost all sun. Therefore, I have come to realize the rainy season is coming. Looks like I was here at the right time and it is not too bad of a time to leave. Too bad though because I have not gotten sun for about two weeks and my tan is fading haha
  4. I got a haircut! Seems funny I did it like two weeks before coming home but my hair was just too hard to deal with because it has gotten so long. And I successfully explained what I wanted to the hairdresser and all turned out well. My host mom and her granddaughter gave me the recommendation of where to go. It was a little store with one hairdresser. Super nice and only $14 after tip and everything. They straightened my hair which took like 45 minutes because she was so thorough and THEN went on to cut it.
  5. I should be all done with Spanish classes for my minor once I get back. So I have a few ways I am planning to keep up on my Spanish when I get home—read books, skype a few people from Costa Rica, use this online website I found that have games, potentially find a place to volunteer that has a lot of Spanish speakers, and try to practice with whatever friends from home that know Spanish. It is not like I am fluent or anything, but I do not want to lose the grounds I have gained.
  6. It was strange not being with my family on Pascha, but I Skyped them all that Sunday and it was so great to see all of their faces! Skype is such a great thing. They just passed me around from person to person 🙂
  7. Little time left, lots of things going on… going to be an action packed 9 days!

Pura Vida! Nos vemos muy pronto 🙂

So begins Spring Break 2015!

Today is my first official day of Spring Break. In some ways it seems unfair I even get a Spring Break because my whole experience in Costa Rica is a break in some ways. I am not saying I haven’t had to do work and stuff because I definitely have! However, being in this country is a constant adventure and much less stressful than a semester at Drake. Tomorrow morning I am leaving for Panama to an island called Bocas del Toro! This is my first time leaving Costa Rica in over two months, so it will be interesting to see a different country. They use dollars there so it will be strange not using colorful money. I like the Costa Rican money a lot! haha I will be in Panama for three nights and then the bus will drop us in Puerto Viejo (a Costa Rican city on the Caribbean side) where I will spend 3 more nights. I am really looking forward to seeing these two new places! Apparently it is going to be superrrr hot though so I am a little worried about that. But I guess will just spend the whole week in the water!

I have not blogged for a while so I will give you a few highlights from the last few weeks!

-Two weekends ago I took a trip to Montezuma. It was a really cute little town and part of the traveling to get there involved taking a ferry! The best part of Monetzuma was the waterfalls. We hiked to the very top which was not easy but so worth it! While on this trip it really hit me that English is a universal language. The fact that we know English is an advantage in many ways. There were tourists from all over the world in Montezuma and while many did not speak Spanish, a good majority of them knew English so they were able to get around pretty well. The people working at the shops and restaurants probably learn English not just because there are lots of tourists from the U.S. and Canada, but also because it increases their chances of communicating with people from all over the world that visit Costa Rica.

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Took us 20 minutes to get to this waterfall…

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…and then we kept climbing like 20 more minutes until we were above it!

on the ferry

on the ferry

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Jumping off the rocks! Don’t worry family, I was careful 🙂

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on the ferry

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– Aside from Montezuma, during the last few weeks I have been going to classes, hanging out with my host family and friends, figuring out what classes to register for next fall at Drake, checking out Spanish novels from the library and trying to read them, and I have even started to enjoy watching soccer! I have a lot of respect for the sport. Wednesday I started to get a little sick for the first time being in Costa Rica 😦 I am pretty sure it is because about 10 other people in my program were sick early this week. I have been doing lots of resting and my host mom has been taking good care of me by making me soup and tea with ginger and lime 🙂 I am hoping my body can fight the rest of this off before I leave for Panama tomorrow!!

Lastly, I have completely accepted that I will not come home with perfect, fluent Spanish. I am learning a lot each day but perfecting a language is no easy task. People tell me what so many new words mean every day, but it is almost impossible for me to remember them all. That is partly because memorization has never come as easy to me, so it usually takes me three different occasions of hearing the same word. I have found the important thing to learning a language is to jump in and just start speaking. I think most people’s biggest obstacle is being embarrassed to say something wrong. But I have learned once and a while it’s best to be able to laugh at yourself. As a side note, children are hard to understand because they run all their words together.

Believe it or not I come home in 4 weeks from tomorrow so I look forward to seeing you all! I am so blessed to have so many loving and supportive people back home. For now I am off to new adventures!

Costa Rica Internship/ Service Learning!

In addition to classes, I am working about 8 hours a week at a Christian organization in San Jose (20 minute train ride) called Fundación Rahab. Here is a video to tell you a bit about it! Also, at the bottom of this post, check out the link for a project I am working on at La Fundación.

When I first started, I second guessed my decision to do this because it took a good chunk of my week up. Only 6 of the 28 people in my program are doing the service learning component (each in a different place- hospitals, other NGO’s). I wanted to spend that time at school, go to the gym, clubs at school, and more. The workers were nice enough, but did not interact with me much at the beginning. Partly because of the language barrier and partly because they just did not know me yet. But over time I have come to really enjoy my time there. Now as I think about, my time in Costa Rica would not be complete without it! It gives me the opportunity to not think about myself or where I am going to travel next weekend. Not only that, it has provided to be a good learning experience.

A current project I am working on is to raise money for a camp the organization puts on each year for at risk youth. I would love if you would check out this video we made explaining more about it!

And here is a link if anyone is interested in donating or learning more! http://www.gofundme.com/FundacionRahabCR

Manuel Antonio

A little bit about my time at the beach in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.

A few other things:

-Costa Rica does not have daylight savings time which actually makes me quite happy. I have never liked losing an hour of sleep in the Spring. So now I am an hour behind home.

-Went to my first movie in the theaters today. Had a great time and I think I like the popcorn better here. I got carmel and regular mixed 🙂 And I even understood a good majority of the movie! A lot of movies here are actually in English with Spanish subtitles because they are U.S. movies. However, this one was

Spanish without subtitles because it was a Costa Rican made comedy!

A few pictures of the beach and such:

sunsets do not get much better than this

sunsets do not get much better than this

Hot bus...

Hot bus…

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animals just chill on the beach

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Monkeys everywhere!

Monkeys everywhere!

Entrance to national park

Entrance to national park

Oh and I went to my first Costa Rica fútbol game

Oh and I went to my first Costa Rica fútbol game!!

Loved the energy of the crowd. Heredia vs. Honduras (Heredia won!)

Loved the energy of the crowd. Heredia vs. Honduras (Heredia won!)

Wait… February is over?

  1. There is this woman that works at the place I am doing my internship at. At first I thought she lived in the U.S. for a while or something because her English is absolutely perfect and she has no accent. But actually, she has only been to the United States for a few vacations! She just started learning English really young. That makes me want to immerse my kids in another language at a young age… so much easier to learn!
  2. I have recently had a few phone interviews for summer internships and I have realized how useful studying abroad is for the questions “Tell me about a time when….” You have to adjust to new environments, be ok with ambiguity, get out of your comfort zone, etc. And a piece of good news: I was offered a summer internship and accepted yesterday! It is full time for 12 weeks at Prime Therapeutics, which is in Eagan. I will be a Business Analyst Intern. I am really excited because it sounds like a great internship program and all the people I talked to through the internship process were really great. I was not really sure how getting an internship from all the way in Costa Rica would go, but I feel very blessed everything worked out!!
  3. I am quite surprised I have not been run over by a bus or car at this point. The cars do not really stop for people as much as they do in the United States. People fore sure do not have the right of way here. Occasionally a nice person will stop and let you go. But it is better not to count on that. For the family members who were with me in Jamaica, it is that bad, but I do not think the driving is incredibly safe here. Gotta remember to watch where I am going!
  4. It will be very hard to adjust back to not having someone do your laundry, change your sheets, and cook all your food.
  5. There was a Gecko in my room. I didn’t think too much of it and let it be until it reappeared 3 days later! My host brother decided to tell me that if you touch their tail sometimes it falls off and grows a new one… and then he showed me a video of a gecko tail squirming around the floor. So at that point I wasn’t too thrilled about the uninvited guest. My host mom spent like 20 minutes helping us look for it. No luck so I think it is gone!
  6. People have trouble pronouncing my name for some reason here. Also they spell it Jeimy. Haha didn’t think it was a hard name but I guess it is just a different sound.
  7. My life here is essentially all Spanglish (Spanish and English). I will be taking notes in class in Spanish and then my professor says something to elaborate and I want to write it down so I write that part of the notes in English because it is faster for me. But then I get confused on how to spell things because I am going back and forth between the languages and some words are similar. So then my notes are about 75% Spanish mixed with English and lots of spelling errors… struggles! I also find it is hard when I am switching back and forth between Spanish and English a lot. My Spanish is definitely improving, but not quite at fast as I had hoped.
  8. I am continually amazed at all the natural beauty in Costa Rica. One country has beaches, volcanoes, cities, and more. There are so many things I want to see but it is hard to plan where and when. Locals keep giving me suggestions on where to go but I only have so much time! I want to see as much as possible because who knows when I will be back. But at the same time I really enjoy just relaxing in Heredia. Last weekend I did a day trip to a beach called “Playa Blanca”. This weekend I am going to Manuel Antonio which is apparently one of the most beautiful beaches/ national parks! Very excited 🙂
    Playa Blanca

    Playa Blanca

    My friend Kendra! We work at the same internship site in San Jose

    My friend Kendra! We work at the same internship site in San Jose

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    The waves literally knocked me over!

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  9. I would consider myself tan at this point! YAY
  10. I would like to take a few moments to appreciate those who work for public transportation here. When you get on the bus you give the money directly to the driver and he gives you change. They do not have a machine that does it. It is really impressive the way they keep a line of 50 people moving. Their hands just fly and they know exactly how much change for any combination of money someone gives them. As for taxi drivers, they are so good with directions. I know it is the same in the U.S. I guess, but still someone just tells them where they want to go and they know where it is. And here there is not addresses so you mostly just tell them landmarks.

Todo mi amor! (All my love) ❤ Jamie

My first ever Video Blog

Hey everyone! Yesterday marked 4 weeks of being in Costa Rica! Seems crazy I have already been here so long. It has gone so fast! In a lot of ways I feel like I am still adapting and figuring out where stuff is.

I decided to try out something different for some (maybe all) of my blog posts and record myself talking in place of writing. Check it out by clicking the link below. (props to my friend Samantha for the idea of using YouTube to upload the movies) Sorry if it is a little awkward… it isn’t incredibly natural to talk to a computer. And I sort of just got out of the shower when I made it. Haha Anyways, enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uuhug0Xbs3g&feature=youtu.be

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