Saturday, December 18, 2010

Final post

Hey everyone! This is it for me, I am on my last post of My Costa Rican Adventure. I am currently sitting in Phoenix Airport right now as I wait for my flight home. And the trip is finally starting to feel over. I am excited to go home and see my family and my girlfriend and all my great friends. on my flight home I had a lot of people from veritas with me, including two of my good friends. After we landed 4 of us went and had lunch and hung out and went through security together, then about 20 minutes ago we said goodbye. It was a great relaxed way to end my adventure, with a few friends to help me ease back into the States.

This last week was very busy for me and a lot happened, so I am going to try to hit the highlights without dragging on too much.

Last weekend my friend Sho and I went to Tortuguero, the marshlands/rain forest of Costa Rica. We spent almost all day Saturday and Sunday zipping around the canals there (no roads, only canals) and we got to see a wide variety of wildlife. From crazy cool plants, to alligators, crocodiles, exotic birds from all over North America (they had migrated here) and, the highlight, BABY SEA TURTLES! It was towards the end of hatching season and we found two turtles who couldn't get out of their hole, and we helped them out, washed them off, and took pics with them. Then watched them run to the ocean. for all the pics of out trip you can go here: Tortuguero

The last week of class was fairly easy. We went to the courthouse on Tuesday and sat in on a few court sessions, i only understood about half of what happened, and that was WITH the help of my teacher. Wednesday we had a potluck breakfast, which was a really fun end of class celebration. And then we played a game that helped us identify body parts and actions. And Thursday was the last day of classes. For our final we played a board game where each space was something you had to talk about. My final grade in Advanced Conversation was a 96. Pretty good huh?

Thursday night Mamá Tica made us a traditional Christmas dinner. Complete with Tamales and Champagne. We spent like 2 hours together hanging out, talking and taking some pictures. It was a really great final thing to do with my family. At the bottom will be pics of my family.

Friday was spent packing (sorta). At least I did pack that day, but I mostly just kinda hung around my room, saying I was packing. And this morning I woke up at 4 am (2 am in Portland) and was at the airport by 6 am. Like I said above, the flight was actually pretty good cuz of how many Veritas people were also on the flight with me.

Here are some pics of my family and roommate so that you all know what they looked like. I really feel like they are all my family, and they told me that they feel the same way. I now have family in both the States and Costa Rica. As well as friends all around the country and even Japan. My experience in Costa Rica stretches beyond my new Spanish abilities, I met so many amazing people here who totally blessed my life. I may never see 95% of them again in my life, but I will always remember the 3 months we spent together in Costa Rica. I experience, and became assimilated into, a completely new culture, and I loved it. My friend Jeff told me on Thursday night that "everyone you meet affects you in some way or another and each experience in life teaches you something new about yourself." This experience has been life changing for me and I learned a lot about myself, and I hope I had some good affects on other people, I know they did for me.

My little brother Luis, we called him Luigi.

The whole family. from left: Maria Jose (Majo), Aflredo, Luis, Alfredo, Eugenia.

My roommate Matt from Boone, North Carolina
Thank you all for following my posts and caring for me and praying. I couldn't have survived without all your love.

Vayan con Dios
Nick Culbertson

now get me home!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Getting to the End

hey guys! It's almost my last week here in Costa Rica. And I'm back with some random details about my life.

Not a lot has been happening since my last post. I've just been going to school and hanging out. Last Sunday I went to see the new Harry Potter movie (in English :P) it cost only about $3 to get in, and it was a NICER theater than in America. There are definitely some perks to being in Costa Rica :D

Conversation class has slowed down a lot since I last posted. We've moved away from games and movies and onto lectures. This week's classes have been going SOOOOOO slow. 4 hours feels like all day, and I'm not the only one who feels this way. A friend of mine told me today that she felt like yesterday morning was one day, and yesterday afternoon was another day, that's how long it felt to her. Basically all this week we have been getting lectured to in Spanish, which sucks. We're learning how to say "he said to her," or "I asked him," or "they spoke with her." But we don't have a book to follow along in, so it's boring.

Classes are starting to come to an end though, I am currently working on translating an Alice in Wonderland book for my Translation final and tomorrow we have our last presentation for Spanish. You can definitely feel the end coming near. You can see it in people as they go about their day. Not just hear them talking about it or watch them get ready to go back. It's like in WHO they are. 10 more days here in Costa Rica. It's leading to some grumpy people and disinterested students.

But I am still enjoying my time here in Costa Rica. This Saturday and Sunday me and my friend Sho are going to Tortuguero, a rain forest and beach that is supposed to have some amazing plant and animal life. I'm excited for it, we might even go out at night to see some turtles nesting on the beach. :D Hopefully I'll have pics next week :)

As my time is winding down here in Costa Rica, I wanted to share with you what my daily schedule has looked like over the last 3 months and also teach you some Costa Rican Spanish.

Daily Routine
7:00 am My alarm goes off, I don't wanna wake up, but I get up and take a shower

7:30 Breakfast time! My host mom makes us breakfast, usually bread, butter and coffee, but lately we've also been having hot dishes like eggs, gallo pinto, and quesadillas.

7:50 Leave for school with my rommate, it's about a 7 minute walk to school.

8:00 class starts

10:00 Break time in class. We all get a half hour break. I usually spend it in the cafeteria with mis amigos

10:30 back to class

12:00 Class ends and I head home and eat lunch. Lately it's been hot dogs followed by peanut butter on bread.

1:00-7:00 Homework/naptime. I usually try to accomplish all my homework in this time, maybe get a nap in and often times mess around on Facebook and talk to friends

(Tues & Wed) 1:00 Translation class starts.. it's boring

(Tues & Wed) 2:30 Translation class ends... finally!

7:00 Dinner time! My host mom is a wonderful cook! Almost every night we have Rice and Beans (cheap and delicious) and some form of meat, but almost never the same thing twice. Often times though, its some kind of chicken, sausage or beef recipe.

7:00-10:00 finish homework time, if I finish early I usually reward myself with a movie or TV episode.

10:00ish My girlfriend is now on line and we have our nightly Skype date. It's the perfect way to end the day :D

10:30 or 11:00 Bed time! time to do it all over again tomorrow!

Costa Rican Slang
Here are some words/phrases that you NEED to know if you ever plan to talk to someone from COsta Rica (or even me now) :)

Tico(a) (tee-co) - A term that means "Costa Rican." You rarely ever hear someone say "costarricense" it's almost always Tico(a)(-s). All the Study Abroad students call their host mom Mamá Tica.

Pura Vida (poo-rah vee-da) - The country's saying. It's almost like "God Bless America" it can be a greeting, it can mean "good" "thank you" or "goodbye." The two most common uses are as a Greeting "Hola Como estas?" "Bien, Pura Vida" or as thank you like at a store. It also describes the lifestyle here. Laid back, take it easy, don't worry, whatever happens will happen. (AKA my lifestyle) *This is probably the most important one*

Tuanis (twa-nees) - basically means Cool or Good. "Como estas?" "Bien" "Tuanis" It's used almost exaclty like Cool in conversations, but it doesn't refer to items, only like feelings and events etc. which leads to...

Chiva (chee-va) - This means Cool, but like items/people. That person is cool or "chiva"

Mae (my) - This means Dude. And is used in all the same ways that Dude is used in English. It is now a regular part of my language, and be prepared to hear it, even in English when I get home.

Well, I hope this gave you a good insight into my life here. I gotta go, it's 7:00, which means dinner :D

Vayan con Dios!
Nick Culbertson

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


So, as you probably all know, last week was Thanksgiving. I hope you all had a wonderful time with family and/or friends. For any family reading this, I really wish that I was able to join you guys for Thanksgiving, but we'll just have to wait till next year I guess :)

What did I do? Well let me tell you..

It started off just like any day. My alarm went off at 7 am and I did NOT want to get up. But alas, I had to, for you see I had class to go to (ON THANKSGIVING!!) Thanksgiving is very much an United States Holiday, and seeing as how I'm not currently in the States, we had class all the same. So, for most of the day, Thanksgiving felt like any other day, I even went to the mall and saw football on tv and it was very weird to think that my family would probably be watching it in Grandma's tv room, not having to think about anything except when they are going to eat.

However, that night Veritas University had planned a special night for all us independent students (AKA those of us who did not come through a special program like ICA or CPA or something like that). We all met at school and were loaded onto a bus to an unknown destination. When we arrived, we realized that we were at th fanciest restaurant that any of us had probably ever been to. They had prepared a Thanksgiving dinner for all 150+ of us plus our teachers. We all got to hang out at a restaurant over looking San Jose and Heredia (Basically the same city, but different areas). A meal at this place would normally have cost in the area of $50 per plate, so we were very excited to be there for "free." As far as Thanksgiving dinners go, it was only ok. But it very much was an American dinner. Turkey, potatoes and pumpkin pie (all of which you almost never see in Costa Rica). Plus some other salads and green beans.

This did not feel at all like Thanksgiving at this point. It felt like a celebration of what we had all accomplished to this point. We all had left our family and friends in the States and traveled to a different country with a different language and way of life. But through it all we all grew, learned a new language and made new friends from all over the States and Costa Rica. In 3 weeks from that time, we would all be leaving, probably never to see many of our friends here again. But we will always have the 3 months that we all spent together in Costa Rica to connect us all. This Thanksgiving was the best Thanksgiving that I can remember, if only for the celebration of our accomplishments. It is definitely the highlight of my time here, and I will never ever forget Thanksgiving in Costa Rica.

Other than that, I have started a new class and we are in our second week of it. It is Advanced Conversation and I LOVE it. It is a very fun class, but also a very helpful class. My goal when I came here was to learn how to speak Spanish. Not to learn how to write essays in Spanish, or how to practice business in Spanish, or deeply and intensely study the culture here like other classes I have (Advanced 1 & 2 = Grammar) or could have (Spanish for business, Cultura Herencia). I love that all we do in class is talk, play games, read books then talk about them etc etc. It is my favorite Spanish class I have ever taken. Monday we played the game where someone writes the name of a famous person on a sticky note then sticks it to someone else's forehead and the person has to ask yes or no questions to figure out who they are. It was a fun class for sure. But the next day, the teacher compiled a list of all the names that we used and we were split into 3 groups and had to choose 10 of the 29 people who we wanted to invite to our dinner party and then have assign table placements for the 10 famous people and the 3 in our group. When we presented to the class we had to explain our reasoning behind inviting or not inviting people and why they are sitting where they are. (FYI: I am seated next to George Lopez and Nelson Mandela and across from Anne Frank at this party, I plan on asking Anne Frank how she died). Some groups had invited the same people to their parties, when this happened the class got really fun. We "debated" (Read: argued vigorously) over who got to have that person at our party.  It's been fun to see how easily I am able to express my opinions and understand full books in Spanish.

The class has been really fun. A perfect class for my last month here when I am feeling a little burnt out and starting to really miss people back home. I actually enjoy going to class each morning.

It's Christmas time here in San Jose, which means I walk to school in shorts and a t-shirt and see Christmas Trees and Decorations in windows and doorways. It's just too weird for me. I keep trying to get in the Christmas mood, but without family, friends and cold weather I doubt it will happen. Every time I try to listen to Christmas music I end up missing home a lot, so I have to switch back to regular music (Except Family Force 5 and Relient K. So I'll probably listen to them a lot).

Next Saturday the 11th, a group of friends and I will be going to Tortuguero, a beach where we should be able to see Sea Turtles and some other cool animals and plants. It will be my last Saturday in Costa Rica, and I think it will be a beautiful farewell to this country that I have fallen in love with.

As you probably can tell, I'm starting to get nostalgic already about Costa Rica, but I also am starting to miss people back home more than I ever have the whole time I am here. in 17 days I'll be home in Portland again.

I am going to end with a few pictures from Thanksgiving, as always you can see all of my pictures as I steal them from friends here: My Costa Rican Adventure 

Vayan con Dios

Our view of San Jose. Gorgeous

Savanna and I after dinner

All the Independent Students
I'm in the middle

Bus seats in Costa Rica :P

Thanksgiving dinner for us

Sho (from Japan) and Savanna
I had so much fun with them

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What I've been up to

Hey everyone, I am so so so sorry for the time in between my last blog post. This month was a pretty crazy one for me, but at the same time really tranquil and relaxed.

This month marked the half-way point in my time here in Costa Rica. While this is both exiting and saddening, it also meant mid terms for me. I had my midterm last week in my Translation class, which consisted of translating a Costa Rican myth, which was really difficult to translate. Also, we have begun to switch from easy in class worksheets to full stories and children's books which are a lot harder and more time consuming. I do not enjoy my translation class, it seems pointless and is almost completely busy work. But I only have a few more weeks of it.

For the last 3 weeks I have been in Advanced 2, which is more conversational than Advanced 1. The major thing we have learned are Pronouns to use for That, Who, Which, etc. The class overall has been a  bit of a disappointment. The teacher did not seems to be very prepared for teaching the class, and thus we just read through our book, which isn't as exciting as it sounds. We aren't working on grammar enough for it to make a big change in our speaking and we aren't conversing enough to really make good improvements. The class is right in the middle, which frustrates a lot of us in the class. 2 weeks ago I had my first presentation, and I talked about Oregon and a lot of the students were really impressed with the State and had not known much about it. I got a 94 on that presentation. However, that was averaged out by my worst test in the history of school the next day. The teacher decided to assign us homework the night before (which is unusual for here) but that's not what was frustrating, what was frustrating was that we went over the homework before the test, and we all didn't quite grasp what the homework was over, so the teacher spent 2 hours trying to help us better understand, which only hurt our brains. No one got above and 80 on the test and most were in the 55-65 range. The next day I had a pretty good grasp of the homework/test but my head was just too worked to function well on the test, which is frustrating that it went down that way. This last week I had another presentation. This one was a tourist presentation on a Hispanic Country. I chose Argentina because Kelsey lived there for a year. Now I know everything fun to do in Argentina and really want to go there. The teacher really likes my style of public speaking, and thinks I am a great public speaker. but also says I need to practice my concordance, means when thinks are feminine and masculine and plural and singular.

As far as Advanced 1 goes, the class finished up well. I got a 95 in the class as a whole and I definitely felt like I improved my Spanish and I gained a lot of confidence. I can converse with my family very well now, and often find myself staying at the dinner table for longer and longer just enjoying the company and talking with my family. The biggest indication that my Spanish is improving is that I can now understand and talk to my younger brother Luis who is 5. For some reason he has been the most difficult to understand, probably becasue he doesn't know to slow down and enunciate for me.

Since Tamarindo, I have only been to 2 places here. Last weekend 5 of my friends and I took the public bus to Arenal, the most active volcano here in Costa Rica. The buses were terrible and the seats were small, but Arenal was worth it. Unfortunately it was cloudy and we couldn't see the top of the volcano. If it wasn't cloudy we might have been able t see lava at night, glowing on top of the mountain. But we were able to hike up on a lave flow from 1968. The eruption from 1968 was the last major eruption from the volcano. When the tour guide was describing it to us, he referenced Mt. St. Helens several times. I thought it was cool that something from Oregon is mentioned all the way down in Costa Rica. After the hike, we got to enjoy a few hours at the hot springs that the tour guide company owns. They also provided us with dinner, which was like a 5 Star restaurant. The fanciest place I've ever eaten.

Also, Friday my class went on a field tip to a rich area of Costa Rica. We saw a giant Cathedral and a park that had iguanas, sloths and squirrels running around it. We could even walk up and feed the animals bread and they would eat it out of our hands. We then went to a natural preserve and hiked up a mountain and got a view of the whole city. It was a very pretty location, but a pointless field trip. We couldn't hear the guide, and we had nothing to take notes on. But it was a lot better than class. 

I have definitely settled into my life here in Costa Rica and I feel like this is home (probably why I haven't written in a while, it feels too normal to have to inform you guys :P ). I feel like I am a part of the culture here and I love it. I miss all you guys at home, but I also love it here. I'm gonna be sad when I leave in only 5 weeks (!!!!) but I am also gonna be excited to be home. I now have 2 homes, and I want to be with both.

Anyways, I feel like this is getting long. I will try to write sooner next time :)

Vayan con Dios

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Children's Museum and Surfing

So this week has been a fairly busy one, so this may end up being a little long ish. In the last week I have been on a field trip to the Children's Museum here in San Jose, and I have been to the Pacific Ocean and gone surfing and I have made it through 3 of the 4 weeks of my first class.

First class. I am in my final week of Advanced 1 Spanish. Which of course means that this week is going to be really busy. I have a group presentation on Thursday that needs to be close to 45 minutes and a quiz over comprehension of a story that same day. Then the following day I have my final for Advanced 1. It;s going to be a busy week of studying. But I really feel like I am gaining more confidence in my Spanish skills and I am able to speak more fluently and for longer at one time. Last night I even had a conversation with my Tica Mamá over the differences between Oregon and here, especially at the beaches. It was nice to be able to hold an everyday conversation in Spanish (something I have been missing since I've been here). My teacher also says that she has seen a lot of improvements in my Spanish. It feels good to both see and hear from others the growth of my skills that I am here to develop (although with a growth in Spanish comes a shrinking of English skills, my English Grammar is taking more and more thought the longer I am here).

Friday my class went to the Children's Museum here, which was an amazing field trip. It was fun to be able to act like a kid but be old enough to truly enjoy it. First we had to run through the museum in our groups trying to find specific answers to questions and get signatures from the employees. Which was crazy and fun (my group placed second by the way, no big deal really ;) ). Then We split up and thoroughly examined one exhibit per group. This is going to be what my 45 minute presentation will be on Thursday, my group is studying Costa Rica and their culture. We finished with about an hour to spare and then explored the museum more. There was lots of exhibits about many different things (Space, the body, Costa Rica to name a few). I have posted some photos below highlighting the best of the activities there. If you wanna see more you can go here Museo de Niños

(Keep reading below the pictures for my description of Tamarindo)

Yeah, I'm in Star Trek. Be jealous

And here I'm being eaten

Zen master
  OK, I told you this was going to be a longer one. Next comes Tamarindo.

After my trip the the museum, I went on my second excursion in Costa Rica, this time to the West Coast at Tamarindo. The beach actually looked pretty similar to Oregon, just imagine slightly more sun and palm trees and 20 degrees warmer, and you have Tamarindo. However, this also mean that there wasn't much of a wow factor in Tamarindo. It was basically just a warm Cannon Beach to me, but I still enjoyed my time there.

On Saturday My friend David and I went surfing. It was my first time surfing ever, and I was really excited to try it. We rented the board and got lessons for only $20 total. The instructor was very helpful (and the lessons were in Spanish, I was proud that I understood them). After about 10 minutes on the beach practicing laying on the board and standing up, we hit the water. During the lesson, which lasted about an hour and a half, I never attempted to catch a wave without the instructors help, but that's OK because it was helpful. On my first wave that I tried to ride, I was able to stand up and ride the wave for a little while, and on the third wave I tried I rode all the way to the shore, which is a fairly big deal for first time surfers (granted I was being pushed into the wave by my instructor, but I still had to be the one staying balanced and standing up). After the morning of lessons, we broke for lunch and souvenir shopping, then we were back in the water to finish the day on a surf board, this time with a few friends to take pictures. In the afternoon I was all by myself, and I still rode many waves. It was seriously so much fun. Now I want a surf board back in America really bad (*wink wink* mom, dad, family, Kelsey *cough* Christmas Present *cough*) I already am feeling the surfing itch and it's only been 3 days since I was there.

After we had to return the boards I was feeling a little sick, probably from dehydration, sore muscles and all the salt I swallowed, so I went to bed early and then hung around the hotel until we left on Sunday. We had Monday off due to a National Holiday (I think something to do with Columbus) so I was able to fully recover and relax after my excursion, which I didn't get to do last week. 

here are some more pictures from Tamarindo, also you can go here My Costa Rican Adventure to view all my photos from Costa Rica.

(If you can't see either of the albums I linked here, email me at and I will find a way so that you can see them)

Thanks guys
Vayan con Dios
Nick Culbertson

The day is officially done for me
Tamarindo at dusk

Monday, October 11, 2010

Puerto Viejo

Hey hey all!

Sorry it took so long in between posts, but I kinda forgot about this with all the work I had last week. But now I'm back to tell you all about last week, and especially Puerto Viejo

Last week was the hard part of my 4 week class. We focused a lot on grammar, so there was lots of lectures and tedious homework that was over the lectures in class. We learned the subjunctive form, which is how to express your hopes, wants, and desires. Like "I hope that you have a good time tomorrow = Espero que tengas un buen tiempo mañana." We also had a group presentation on Thursday. I had to present on the Death Penalty... in Spanish. That was really hard to do, and pretty boring as well, but I got it done and got a really good grade on it. Finally, on Friday was our midterm test. I know, 2 weeks in and I already have a midterm! Well, the class is only 4 weeks long. We got our tests back today, and I got an 85 on it, so a solid B.

But, getting to the good stuff; this weekend I went to Puerto Viejo!!! It was a paradise, right on the Caribbean Sea. It was seriously a dream come true to be there for me.

Banana Trees
We left Friday afternoon, and drove the 5 hour road to Puerto Viejo. Along the way, we started in the Costa Rican mountains and traveled through thick forest and cliffs. It was the thickest jungle I had ever seen in my life. After we got through the mountains, we drove past miles and miles and miles of banana orchards. As far as I could see on either side, there were banana tress. All the major fruit distributors were down there, Dole, Chiquita, etc. All of them there simply to harvest bananas. It was not something one sees every day.

Pretty soon, we arrived in the Port of Límon. Once there, we turned and traveled parallel to the ocean for about an hour. Just off the cost was a small island, and the bus driver told me that the island is where Christopher Columbus landed when he came to America... I'm not so sure I believe him. But anyway, as we drove, the sun began to set and we got some cool views of the sun setting.

Once we arrived in Puerto Viejo, we went out to eat at a local bar/restaurant and had rice and beans and played pool and hung out. That night, we went out and explored Puerto Viejo, but there wasn't much to do since it was night time.

It was a late night for me and an early morning. I was up till about 12:30 hanging out, and then had to wake up at 6:30 am for breakfast. We had rice and beans and eggs for breakfast at a panería (bread shop) and then headed out to Snorkel!!! Except when we got there, we discovered that we were unable to snorkel cuz the water was too dirty and the waves were choppy, which could have made it dangerous. I was really upset about this, but it definitely didn't ruin the trip for me as a whole. Instead of snorkeling, we went on like a 1 mile hike next to the Caribbean. On this hike we had the Ocean on our left and the Jungle on our right. We were able to see iguanas up at the top of trees and some really crazy looking bugs. But the two highlight animals were definitely the sloth and the monkeys. The sloth was kinda boring, but still really cool to see. The monkeys however, were really cool. My friend David and I were able to watch the monkeys crawl across the branches and jump from one tree to a palm tree right in front of us and climb the palm leaves, if they had missed on their jump they would have landed 2 feet from us. It was very cool.

At the end of this hike we were able to get in the sea, but it wasn't much fun to swim in because of all the coral that was on the ground. The coral felt like rocks, but looked much cooler. I was able to snag some of them and took them home as souvenirs. We soon moved farther down the beach to play in a more sandy area of the beach. I wish i had brought some boogie-boards.

When we returned to Puerto Viejo, my friends Jeff and Sho and I went out to lunch at a restaurant that was located right on the beach. We sat at a counter facing the ocean, which was only about 10-20 yards away from us, with palm trees along the side of the water. It was seriously like living a commercial. After lunch, the three of us walked along the beach and forest just to see what was there. We found some really cool secluded beach spots and some cool trees and plants. I found a coconut and plenty of coconut trees with coconuts still on them. We also found a very very large tree that had vines growing all over it and swung around on the vines. After that, I was ready for a nap.

A couple of us then went to dinner at a little stand just outside the main town. It looked a lot like the Taco Stands in Mexico, but served us Rice and Beans. After that, we went to a bar/restaurant that was situated right in the beach. The atmosphere was really chill there. They had some music playing in the background and the lights down to a level where it seemed like candle light. We all ordered just something to drink and went and sat on the beach (which was only like 10 yards away) and watched the waves role in at night. There was candles in paper bags all over the beach (set out by the restaurant) and one palm tree. It was the nicest, most relaxing thing I have ever seen or experienced.

The next day, we spent the morning in Puerto Viejo playing in the ocean. We got to sit in the waves and use some goggles to look in the rocks at some small fish and plant life. Also, I got to lay on the beach, right where the waves would sometimes make it to me. It was amazing, I can't stress that enough!!

Anyways, that was my first Caribbean Sea excursion. It made me want to go back already. I was very tired and exhausted, and I think I'm still trying to recover from it. I'm going to include some photos from Puerto Viejo, but I only have a few because I have to steal them off of friends' Facebook page since I don't have a camera here. So in a few days I will post some more pics here, so check back in the next day or so. Also, you can go to this link (¡Pura Vida Mae!). It's my Facebook album about Costa Rica, so i'll be putting pics from Puerto Viejo, San Jose and other activities I do while I'm here on that page.

Thank you all for reading, now I have homework to do
Vayan con Dios

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The first week

Hey guys!

I'm back for my second post to tell you all about my classes and what my routine is starting to look like. 

I am taking only 2 classes right now. I am taking an excellerated Spanish class. This means that for 4 hours every day, from 8am to Noon, I am in a Spanish class. The class is Advanced Spanish 1, which is the third highest class that I can be in here. We focus on reading, speaking and grammar mostly. My other class is Introduction to Translation. The class is only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and is from 1pm to 3pm. In this class we simply translate stuff from English to Spanish. It's fairly easy, but has a lot of busy work. It will last for the whole 12 weeks that I am here.

My classes are very intense, it seems to be much more so than in America. This is because my classes are all in Spanish, and my Spanish Language class is only 4 weeks long, so we're already almost a quarter of the way through the class. Next week is Mid-Terms already. After the 4 weeks, I will move up a Spanish class and will be taking Advanced Spanish 2 for 4 weeks. After those 4 weeks I will take Advanced Conversation, which is the highest class they offer.

So far we have mainly been focusing on Costa Rican phrases and trying to learn aspects of the dialect here that doesn't translate to English or other Latin American countries. For example, the people here are called Ticos, not Costa Ricans, and when you ask someone to pass you something at the dinner table you say "Regalame" which literally translates to "Gift me." It is a very Tico phrase. Today we had a quiz over comprehension of a reading assignment. At first understanding the story was very difficult, but once I looked up the vocab it became fairly simple. Overall the class will be challenging, but as long as I put in the work (4 hours in class, 2 outside ever day) I should do fine in it.

With these two classes, I find myself in class for 24 hours a week and doing 12 hours of homework, which is more than I've had to do since high school. So, I mostly find myself doing homework or relaxing from all he work. Because of this, I haven't had too much time to go out and explore San José. Hopefully this weekend I will be able to get out and see the city.

Right now I am sitting in my room, listening to a Thunder Storm roll through outside. It rains here a lot. The other day it rained for almost 6 straight hours, and that was a downpour for all 6 hours. I feel like the weather here is very similar to Portland. It's usually not raining in the morning, then about noon or 1 ish it starts to rain, then it rains for the rest of the day. But here, it's to the extreme. It's hot when it's not raining, and it pours when it rains. But, we will be through the rainy season in about a month to a month and a half. Then, it'll rain...

I am currently attempting to make friends here, it just has been hard to be very social while trying to adjust to a new schedule and routine AND do all the school work I have to do. But, tonight is the "Crash Party" at school. I don't know what that means, but it's basically a Back to School of Welcome to School party. I also met someone who invited me to an evangelical church down here, so I will be going to that on Sunday probably. Also, next weekend I am going to PUERTO VIEJO!! :D :D :D I am soooooooo stoked for this!! We are going to be on a Caribbean beach and go snorkeling and play in the water. Ahh! So excited! The school offers excursions to international students, we just have t pay for them. Some students paid for this through the program that they came with, but I didn't come through a program so I have to pay for any I want to go on. Because of this, I think I will go on maybe 2 or 3 while I am here. Especially when it's PUERTO VIEJO!! Plus, it'll only cost me about $100 for everything (food, transportation, activities, hotel), which is good compared to this weekends trip to Monteverde, which costs $200 (and doesn't even involve snorkeling :P).

Anyways, hopefully I will be able to meet people through these events and really settle in here. I feel like I am not quite settled yet.

But, this is getting long, so I'll wrap it up now. Hopefully pictures of my family next time

Nick Culbertson
Vayan con Dios