Friday, September 20, 2013

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

It was depressing realizing that we had to leave this beautiful place. Although we were only there for three weeks, it felt like we were there for months. We adjusted just fine and had gotten use to the atmosphere...the culture... everything.Within the short time that we were in Costa Rica, we met 10 new amazing people who we still keep in contact with today. We became a little family. We learned and experienced the wonders of this beautiful country that many of us never thought that we would ever be. We can't even began to explain how grateful we were to have such an amazing adventure. It was truly life changing and we hope that many others can be granted the opportunity to do the same.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Monteverde, Costa RIca

Alyssa Bungee Jumping
Horseback Riding


The last city we got to visit was Monteverde. As soon as we got there, we went horseback riding through the town. On our way back, we got to see the beautiful pink sunset. It was such a gorgeous view. Here we stayed at a cabin. The bugs weren't as bad as Manuel Antonio. The next day we went on the Extreme Canopy Tour and went zip-lining through the forest. We were so high that we zip-lined straight through the clouds. Oh and we can't forget that we got rained on, which made it even scarier. Three members from the group went bungee jumping.While we were waiting for them we saw a beautiful parrot.

Arenal, Costa Rica

The professors planned an amazing trip for us to go to Arenal. We first visited the Evangelista Blanco church. The church was surrounded by a field of trees that were carved into dinosaurs, ducks, faces and more.

We stayed in a fancy hotel that was just miles away from the active Arenal Volcano. That same day, we went to the Baldi Hot Springs. This luxurious place had more than 30 pools which were all being heated by the volcano. Too bad this trip was only for one night. We were living the life!!


Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Our first weekend in Costa Rica was visiting the City Manuel Antonio.On our way there we stopped to see crocodiles. There were thousands of them, okay maybe not thousands but there were a lot and booooooy were they ugly. LOL!! When we arrived at the hotel, we realized that we were in the middle of the rain forest. And the view from the rooms were amazing. We fell in love with our rooms but quickly had to leave for dinner and to see the beach. After spending time at the beach and eating more delicious food we went back to our hotel for a rude awaking. Our rooms were infested with ants and we noticed all kinds of different bugs. At this point we were missing are home in San Jose.The whole weekend there, many of us did not sleep at all. At one point we saw a cockroach that was as fast as a cheetah and I swear it had wings.

Also, while we were there we visited the National Park. It was so gorgeous. After a 10-20 minute hike through the National Park, we came across two different beaches. While hiking there, we got to see sloths, monkeys, crabs and raccoons. The experience here compared to San Jose was completely different. It was more of a relaxed environment and a tourist city.
Some Crocodiles

View from our room

Second day at the beach

National Park Map

Beach in the National Park

Restaurant made out of a train

Plane Restaurant

School Work

While in Costa Rica, we took two classes: Social Work and Ethnic Relations. Our Social Work course consisted of reading two books about child welfare and writing book summaries about each one and how we were impacted by them. We learned the many ways how children are deeply affected by their living situations and surroundings. The novels we were required to read gave us the inside scoop of what life is really like as a social worker. Whether it be at a desk handling phone calls or driving to a clients home to have a check up, the atmosphere is very unpredictable and can be dangerous at times. A social worker is never certain of the type of environment that they will walk into. We read about and analyzed real-life cases of child abuse and neglect. Professor Medill covered everything from identifying symptoms of abuse/neglect to the very laws that have been enacted to prevent such incidents.

Our second class consisted of learning about the Costa Rican culture. This course was more discussion and observation based.Chapter by chapter, we read Los Ticos, a novel discussing the history of Costa Rica and its culture. The best aspect of this course was that we experienced almost everything we read about in the novel. Going to school, shopping, or simply conversing with our neighbors gave us personal insight of what the Costa Rican culture was all about. Although Costa Rica isn't one of the richest countries, los ticos take pride in their country and their culture. They definitely live by their motto: "quedar bien". They treat each other with a certain level of respect and refrain from disappointing others. Taking this course made us feel like we were becoming experts in the culture. We learned why los ticos are the way they are and we were able to understand and appreciate our experiences a lot more while we were there.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

First Day of School

It says Welcome Northern Arizona University Students!!

School started at 9 in the morning. We talked, took pictures and made sure we stayed clear of the wild drivers on our 15-20 minute walk to Fidelitas Universidad. Many of the drivers honked at us as they drove by. Upon arriving to the campus, we realized how easy it was to tell that we were foreigners. While we were dressed comfortably in tank tops and shorts, the native students were in jeans, heels, and nice shirts as if they were going to the club. We don’t know about everybody else but we felt waayyyyy out of place.

When we got into the classroom, Javier gave us a quick rundown of the Costa Rican culture. He informed us that the drivers don’t care about you. “Don’t carelessly walk into the middle of the street because they will hit you.” He also told us that there’s a lot of criminal activity at night which explains why people have gated houses. Because of the crime rates, he also told us not to act too foreign taking pictures because people will know that you are a tourist and it makes you vulnerable to getting robbed.The teachers continued by telling us to go to a dance class later that day as a cultural event. We learned the Salsa, Cha Cha, and the Merengue. I’m not gone lie, I was getting it

San Jose Mall

The next morning our guide, Javier, met us at our apartments at 9am to show the way to the San Jose Mall. We all made our way to the bus stop. Javier told us to have our bus money ready because the Costa Rican culture is very past paced. The bus finally arrived and cars began to file behind it and had to wait for the bus to move. Mind you, there are 14 of us. After the third person got on the bus, the cars already started honking for us to hurry up. We got on the bus and made our way to the mall.  The things they had at the mall amazed me. They had hair salons, nail salons, and tattoo parlors. Although the currency was different, surprisingly, the clothes cost the same, sometimes more. They also had the same fast food restaurants as the U.S. Taco Bell, McDonald's, KFC, Popeye’s and Wendy’s. The only difference is that they were 10 times better. McDonald’s even had a separate station just for dessert.
Costa Rica Fam Bam

On The Bus

Costa Rican Change

McDonald's ONLY for Desserts!