Pura Vida: “Pure Life”
Author: Tala Terrell
Hi, my name is Tala Terrell and I am a junior BFA theatre education major with a minor in Spanish at UNCG. I just completed a four week study abroad program in Costa Rica through my college’s Spanish Immersion Program. There are many things I can say about my time in Costa Rica, but the most impactful parts of my experience were the connections I made, especially with my host family, and the Arcos Learning Abroad Program.
My host family didn’t speak any English, so the language barrier was a bit of a challenge, but overtime, I was able to have long conversations with them. They were incredible and made me feel as if I was a part of their family. The Sunday after we arrived was Father’s Day and my host family was having a big dinner, and they welcomed us at the family dinner and included us in the conversations. My host family constantly had family and friends over who were all so kind and even tried to speak some English with us. My host family even listened to American music and danced with us. One night, my roommate and I even taught them how to do American line dances. At the end of the program, they threw a going away dinner for us, which had me crying because I didn’t want to leave them.
Acros scheduled many activities and excursions for us, such as a fruit tasting, tours of downtown Heredia and San José, a visit to Toucan Rescue Ranch, and much more. The weekend excursions were probably my favorite part of the study abroad program since we got to travel to Manuel Antonio and La Fortuna. I got to visit national parks, see volcanoes, swim in the ocean, and I even got to see sloths and monkeys in their natural habitat. It was an incredible experience that has me already planning my next visit to Costa Rica.
Though this program was very time consuming, I was able to develop many relationships in Costa Rica. I bonded with the students at Escuela Nuevo Horizonte and the seniors at Centro Diurno de Moravia. My host family (and their family and friends), Arcos directors, and my fellow classmates were all such a huge impact on creating a perfect experience in Costa Rica. I laughed so much with my classmates, especially during our two dance classes when we were struggling to figure out the dances.
Because of my immersion in Costa Rican culture and the connections I made throughout my experience, I fell in love with the country. I am so excited to go back and to continue growing my Spanish skills. At first, this program felt like a vacation, but by the end of my four weeks there, it felt like home.