Abroad Adventures and Exploring Alajuela

My host family and roommate Jenna Hess after we made empanadas with them

Submitted by Kayla Barr on the 2024 Winter 24W SPAN program in Costa Rica

Abroad Adventures

My time here in Costa Rica has changed my perspective on a lot of things. Before coming to Costa Rica I thought that everyone here would not enjoy us being here. I think that I thought no one liked tourists so when first coming here I tried to keep to myself not talking to many locals. But while being here I learned that Costa Rican are very welcoming and will try their best to understand and communicate with you.

My host family and roommate Jenna Hess after we made empanadas with them

 I think that living with a host family gave me the best opportunity to get a full understanding of Costa Rican culture. My mamá tica would tell us stories about her life and her kids, teaching us how to make certain dishes and telling us her favorite things to do here. While living here I was able to notice all of the differences and similarities between our cultures and loved that we were able to combine and absorb another culture. Without a doubt that made the biggest impression on me and this trip, I do not believe that I would have been the same without my host family.

 I also think that the experience of being in a different country and not knowing anyone was very exciting but scary, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was able to make many new good friends and it was fun getting to know them, even though we only met three weeks ago I feel that they could be my best friends. I definitely got along with people that I would never even think about if it weren’t for this trip and I am grateful for that.

 I honestly think that the only thing I would change is to worry less about the trip and learn that everythings going to be okay. I would also like to experience the country through my own perspective instead of letting people tell me how to feel about it. Overall, I think that my time here will be very valuable to my future and that I will definitely be returning in the future with hopefully better Spanish. 

Exploring Alajuela

Me on top of the museum that used to be a fort for the army

This week’s excursion we went to Alajuela. Our first stop was the Juan Santamaria museum located in central Alajuela. We were supposed to go to the church but it was closed that day. After that we were able to explore a bit around by ourselves. We went to the market and then to look around the central park area. 

The museum that we first visited was actually a fortress before it was turned into a museum after the military was abolished.The museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history and culture of Costa RIca. Inside we saw/learned about the exhibit of Juan Santamaria, Historical Artifacts, Art and Cultural Displays, and some educational programs. There is a large focus on learning about Juan Santamaria and his legacy. We even were able to go on top of the roof to see how and where the soldiers would look out of in order to keep watch. 

Next we saw the marketplace where locals and visitors can explore a variety of different things from goods to produce to cultural offerings. While in the marketplace, my classmates and I were a little hungry so we stopped at an empanada spot that we were unsure of but we tried. We were surprised to find out that this was actually pretty tasty and definitely would like to go back before we leave. We also were able to stop in an ice cream shop and the ice was very good and worth the long line. This market plays a crucial role in the economic, cultural, and social life of the community. It is well-known and can be called an identity for Costa rica. After that we started to head back to the central park and it was very beautiful to just sit and look at all of the structures and trees. (Submitted on January 30, 2024)

the best ice cream in Costa Rica