Emily in Costa Rica

Emily is a junior studying public relations and strategic communication in Meadows School of the Arts, with minors in Spanish and English in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. During summer 2013, she is participating in SMU-in-Costa Rica with SMU Abroad, an intensive Spanish program at the National State University.

Read more from Emily in Costa Rica

Yo No Speak Americano: The Beginning of Pura Vida

Hola from the happiest girl on earth!

I could not have asked for a better past 24 hours as I traveled from Chicago to Dallas to San Jose to Heredia, Costa Rica. I won’t lie and say that the nerves weren’t getting the best of me, and that I didn’t feel nauseous when the captain announced that the flight attendants “should please prepare for landing in San Jose.” In that moment, although I could see the mountains and lights of Costa Rica from my plane window, I had no idea what I was thinking when I had signed up for the trip.

I was unable to function like a normal human as we proceeded through immigration and customs, getting tripped up on the most basic of questions from immigration: how long would I be in Costa Rica? Of all the questions, this one required a simple two-word response. Instead, I felt the need to elaborate about my program, which the officer was very obviously disinterested in.

We boarded the bus that would take us to meet our families in Heredia, and the excitement in the group built. What were our families like? Would they like us? Would I suddenly blank on my entire Spanish knowledge that I had built for 10 years when my family started talking to me? English was out, Spanish was in. Everything in Spanish, all the time. No Spanglish or English. It is just Spanish and me for the next 5 weeks.

After the first few hugs, I knew my family was meant to be. My family met me at the university and took me back to the house, where we feasted and talked for four hours about the trip, Costa Rica and America. I couldn’t be more blessed to be in such a loving, welcoming family with kids in their 20′s to show me around Costa Rica!

Today, we attended an orientation all about Costa Rica, with topics ranging from safety to the environment to the government. After being properly and throughly briefed, we were treated to a traditional Costa Rican lunch and Salsa Dancing lessons, which proved to be a hoot watching 15 Americans attempt to learn three new dances all in Spanish. I think we’re ready to hit the Salsa dance floor now, though!

The best part of the day is when I get to spend time with my family. After orientation, I ate dinner with my family and played board games until our eyes were closing shut. It’s the perfect combination of fun, family and, most importantly, Spanish. With each passing day, it will become easier to think and speak in Spanish. Hopefully, in 5 weeks, I’ll be dreaming in Spanish!

Spanish Word of the Day: “Tico” meaning Costa Rican

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