Thursday, February 26, 2009
I have rode a horse on the beach, hiked in a rainforest, watched the sun set, came within 2 feet of a wild monkey, observed all sorts of wildlife, traveled on my own, slept in a hammock, wondered around downtown San Jose, rode a bus to no where in particular just to see what was there, eaten so many different fruits and veggies, made great friends with my classmates, missed my family and friends from back home, met the most interesting strangers, adjusted to no internet car or cellphone, am okay with taking cold showers, developed an enjoyment of listening, and so much more.
This place has truly changed my heart, mind, and soul in just a short amount of time. I don't even know all that will come of the next 11 weeks..
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Thursday night I went wtih Eric, Rebecca, and my professor & her daughter to the National Theatre. We saw The Dream which was performed by the International Ballet Company. The show was good, but not at all like what I was expecting. The curtains opened to a rock band and a single metal ring hanging from the ceiling. It was more of a mix of modern, cirque de soleil, ballet, and rock. The theatre itself was absolutely breathtaking and I am glad I got to experience going to a show here like I do in America.
Friday night we all tried to go bowling, but it was a 40 minute wait. After an hour and a half of playing pool, the lanes still weren't ready so we left. We all went to this little resturaunt in our neighborhood which, of course, was delicious. We met some other Americans studying in Costa Rica for the semester. It's so much fun to meet new people!
Saturday for lunch a few of us had a picnic at this, what we call, a chicken hut. It's a rotissiere chicken resturaunt that is open to the outdoors. Four of us bought a whole chicken, that came with tortillas, chips, and juice for lunch. It was so delicious! The man at the resturaunt really enjoyed our company and enjoyed talking with us for a bit.
MUSEO DE LOS NINOS
After our chiknic, we went to the Children's Museum. The building used to be a prison and then was turned into a museum a few years ago. All of us were immediately taken back by how pretty the outside was, it looked like an old castle and as we walked through the front hall it was as though each of us lost 10 years and were little kids again. It was so much fun to go through the exhibits which were all in Spanish and play the different activities. We got some great pictures.
GETTING READY FOR SCHOOL
Saturday night my family got school supplies ready for Ana Lucia. We decorated a folder and an old shoe box to put an extra change of clothes in for her to keep at school. It's always so impressive to me the different ways people down here conserve all of their resources. Nothing ever goes to waste.
This park demostrates all four land types here in Costa Rica. I didn't really enjoy it as I thought we were in a park viewing lands that we were living in, which is just a bit silly to me.
I went to Catholic mass with my family Sunday night. It was all in Spanish and the priest spoke rather fast. I concentrated really hard, which is certainly the way I should pay in church all of the time, in order to understand. I also had to copy my family in their actions with standing, sitting, and kneeling. I am so glad I went and I think my Tican parents were glad I went aswell.
My classes are getting a bit tougher with certainly a lot more work. It's so hard to sit inside at a table when I look outside and see a gorgeous landscape. I just want to be outside and play all day!
Friday, February 20, 2009
Because public school is so over crowded here all of the classes are on a different schedule. For example, the fourth graders go to school on Monday from 7 am - 3:30pm, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am - 5:40pm, and on Wednesdays & Fridays from 7am - 11:30am. It's really hard for parents and students to keep up with.Today was my first day of my practicum. Even if I descrcibe in full detail about what I experienced, there is no way I could capture or recreate it all. This school is nothing like I have ever experienced before and I don't dare compare it to anything in the States.
To begin on simple observations - the building, classrooms, and supplies are vastly different. One must wait outside the locked front gate for the guard to walk by and let you inside. All of the paint is peeling off the walls, there are a lot of cracks in the tile floor, some windows are broken, and all of the walls are very thin. When I walked inside the classroom, I found 25 student desks, a teacher's desk and chair, one cabinent, and a chalkboard. One or two rooms had a poster hanging on the walls. There was minimal teacher supplies and I couldn't find any textbooks. My teacher had a country manual from which she copied all activities (that would normally be made into worksheets) on the chalkboard.
Although a lack of supplies may seem to be the biggest problem facing this school, it isn't. A lack of classroom management far exceeds a lack of supplies on the issues scale with this school. Today I have seen students physically beat each other during a lesson, students yell at me/each other/the teacher, students run around the classroom during a lesson, and an entire class not finish what should be a 5 minute activity during the 45 minute class due to disrespect and lack of effort. The amount of patience my cooperating teacher has, and is expected to have, is astounding.
My practicum today has made me seriously rethink my plans to return to Costa Rica for my student teaching...
Thursday, February 19, 2009
It seems as though everyone from America's favorite saying from Costa Rica is "pura vida." It means "great" and Ticans use it in almost every conversation for all sorts of reasons. My favorite saying has become "con gusto." This means "with pleasure" and Ticans say it as a sort of your welcome. I am astounded at the graciousness of the people and that every act is done "con gusto." I am trying to make it sort of my challenge to do all that I do for others with pleasure and feel genuinely so in my heart.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The best part of the whole night was finally feeling like I belong here. I have felt a great sense of belonging at school with all of my classmates, but hadn't quite got there with my family. I am so glad to have been able to connect with my family as much as I have.
Monday, February 16, 2009
I have to desribe the hammock hostel because it is unlike anyplace I have ever been, let alone slept at. There weren't any walls anywhere, the pathways, sides of bathrooms and such were lined with colorful mosaic tile. We slept in a hammock for $5 a night. There were two large areas with about 50 hammocks in each. Everyone who stayed there were all so nice and from all different walks of life. I loved talking to new people and hearing all about where they had been and where they are going.
Saturday morning we got up to go to a surf competition down the road. It was so cool to see people doing what they absolutely love to do. I got a competition t-shirt and felt like I belonged (not really!), kind of. That afternoon it rained so we played cards and took naps. Rocking in a hammock and listening to the rain and waves crash made for the best nap I have ever had in my life. It was Valentine's day so we went to get dinner from a lady who was grilling skewers out of the back of her truck. It's so weird to think that last year I got all dressed up and went to B. Christopher's for dinner and this year I ate off the side of the road and hadn't even showered in two days.
Puerto Viejo was so far from anything I have ever experienced before that it pushed me in a whole other realm of living that is completely unexpected. To meet so many people without a care in the world was inspiring. I am so glad I took a chance, let my guard down, and truly experienced life this weekend.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I was most surprised to find that all of the tags on the walls speaking of historical events were in both Spanish and English. I felt like a guest in their (Tican) museum and should be expected to read in Spanish. Mostly because that is our philosophy in America - if you come to our country, you should speak our language. I ask Stephani,who is our middle-man type of person between our school here and Costa Rica, about how Ticans felt having English becoming a more promenant language in their country. She said it was fine because that way more people could understand what occurred here in Costa Rica. It interests me to find the parallels in what America is going through with immigrants and how Costa Rica is dealing with the same issues. I am pretty sure I am doing my final global studies project on immigration.
We are headed off to Puerto Vieja this weekend and I am so excited! It's a beach on the Carribean side of the country and is supposed to be beautiful. I am sleeping in a hammock hostel, which I am kind of nervous about, but we are all doing it together, which means it'll be fun. :)
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Saturday was one of the longest and full days. Everyone in Costa Rica gets up early and all of our bodeis are simply used to waking up at 6 am to start our days; being on vacation didn't even impact this. We woke up at our normal time and headed out to get breakfast. Then came a guided 3 hour hike through the rainforest of the Antonio Manuel National Park. It was so neat to see all of those animals (sloth, monkeys, crabs, etc.) and plants that I have seen in textbooks all my life in person. We stopped our hike at the beach and played for the next few hours. Meg, Ellen, Caroline, and I left the rest of the group and hiked a little farther only to discover a sort of "secret" beach. It was only about 25 meters long in total and had the most amazing rocks to climb and get different views of the ocean and jungle. We skipped lunch and went straight to horseback riding on the beach! It was amazing and our tourguide, Roberto told us all about life in Costa Rica. Despite crazy scheduling issues, it was perfect timing as we got to watch the sunset as we rode. That night we went to El Avion, a resturaunt that was built from an old CIA plane that crashed. The food was very American and filling and I didn't feel good after I had eaten because it wasn't as fresh as the food from my house in San Pedro. That night we went out into the city and went dancing which was so much fun. It was such a good day to bond with our whole group.
Sunday was simply us tying up loose ends at the beach and driving home. The roads here in Costa Rica are very narrow and curvy. I got terribly car sick and was miserable the whole way home. Which coming back home, to not my house in Raleigh, really was an eye opener that I am going to be here a long time. It was the first time I didn't feel like I was on a vacation.
I am going to post pictures on here later, but my internet is being weird. So, check back!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
"If that's what it means to be crazy - to live life everyday as if it matters - then I don't mind if we are insane." Revolutionary Road
We went to see that movie at the mall last night. It was so good and cheap! A ticket was only 1000 colones which is less than $2. There were a lot of Americans aswell, which is alwasy excited to meet someone new. It's weird how being American instantly makes you friends here. It's mostly because we are obviously not from here given our skin tone and language.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
It been a bit tough adjusting to having classes as well as being in a foreign country where everyone is so relaxed. We just want to hang out and walk around town, but eventually we force ourselves to do our homework. I love having Spanish class first thing in the morning. We have it Monday - Thursday for a little over an hour each day. Our professor is amazing and it is only myself and Caroline in the class, so it is basically private tutoring. I get so excited when I go home each night and can use new words with my family and make less gramatical errors. I am also taking an Environmental Science class. The professor is so passionate about her field area and it certainly translates into her lectures. She also used to be an Elementary school teacher and says that some of her class can be translated to use in our future classrooms. Aside from Education class that I start next week, I am taking an upper level Global Studies class. In this class we are examing the Tican culture and state of the country. Our assignments inculde journals, observations, and research; all of which are going to be appreciated when I return to the US and want to remember all that I encountered.
Today was kind of a gross day; it's very windy, about 75 degrees, andit rained this morning. For the first time we took the bus instead of making the 30 minute walk to school. This turned out to be wonderful as we made a new friend! I walk everyday to school with Mark, who lives five houses down from me, and we were chatting on the bus about our classes. Well, this girl tapped him on the shoulder and asked us where we were from - in English! It turns out there is a group from University of California school system taking classes at the University of Costa Rica. We exchanged names and told each other where we live and are planning on hanging out. It's not that easy to make new friends when you don't have a cell phone number to give them for them to call. I am sure we will see her again soon, as she lives near our neighborhood.
I wake up each day (at 5:45am on my own, without an alarm, and not really tired) so excited for all of the things I will experience in the day. I feel as though my outlook on life and daily happenings is so positive and all of the glory goes to God.
Monday, February 2, 2009
With this sudden drop in a completely different culture, I also have seen such a greater need for me to teach, English as a Second Language, in America. I can't imagine how a young child feels having to go to a new school, with different people, and constantly being looked down upon having currenly experienced a similar situation. I know these children have such potential; they just need a little patience and exra care.