by Malcolm, written for the NSA student publication, The Milieu
As a great six months in a tropical paradise comes to a close, one phrase comes to mind: Pura Vida.
The time I have spent here in Costa Rica has been eye opening. I have had the marvelous opportunity to experience so many different things. The thing that I believe will stay with me the longest is the culture. This has come in many different varieties: getting on a public bus at six in the morning well knowing I was going to sit in traffic for at least an hour and a half, for example. This experience has been the cornerstone in my development into an international citizen.
I came here knowing barely any Spanish and now I can have an hour or more long informal conversation with a Tico. This did not come from a Spanish class it came from living in a culture that is different from my own.
Not only can you use transport or learn a language way faster. You can eat some ridiculously good food. Olla de Carne, casados, mamonchinos, Gallo Pinto, jacotes, and the big two; Chicharones and Ceviche. All of these are just a small example of the diverse food selection that any one can experience in one of Costa Rica's many sodas.
All of the things that I have learned have taught me about myself and who I want to be in my future. The importance of family and friends is something that I used to take advantage of and now it is something that I cherish.
If I could advise anyone in this world about anything it would be to never pass up an experience that lets you expand your own horizons. Take a gap year, move somewhere new, try a new food what ever it is.
You never know that experience could be the one you tell your grandkids about in 60 years. My grandkids will hear about my experiences in the great land of Costa Rica.
PURA VIDA, Malcolm
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