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Kae Studies Abroad

Updated: Mar 28, 2020


Hello! As you can see, I am still alive, and made it safely to Costa Rica. (If you didn’t know before this, I am alive and made it safely to Costa Rica). 

Before leaving, a few people asked how they could stay in contact with me or hear about my adventures. In addition to posting some pictures on instagram, I will also be posting updates here on my blog from time to time. They will be very sporadic and I have no idea what each of them will entail, so check back often for more updates! (I will also be posting my normal blog posts every once in a while on Sundays).

I thought I would do another Q + A because I like them, and I think they do a good job of explaining what’s been going on around here.

How is it?

My experience so far has been a lot of mixed feelings. I am definitely excited to be here and have been enjoying many aspects of Costa Rica, but there are obviously things that I still need to get used to. There have only been two days where I was feeling really down and/or cried. So I’d say we’re doing pretty well. It helps to talk to other study abroad students and compare our experiences. 

The weather has been pretty great so far. It’s been between 70s and 80s the whole time with around 70% humidity. Surprisingly, it gets cold enough to put a sweatshirt on here at night. So I’m glad I added a few long sleeves and jackets at the end of my packing. (I also found out that not every city in Costa Rica gets cold at night, but it is definitely a characteristic of San Ramon). A lot of nights end with us being pretty much covered by a cloud; our city is in the mountains so we get a good amount of fog up here. 

The food is also very good. We legit have beans and rice for every meal, yes even breakfast. I wasn’t really a fan of beans coming out here, but since it’s such a staple item out here, I’ve been sucking up my feelings and eating them. There are some days that I have opted out of my serving of beans, but I always say yes to the rice. Will I get tired of beans and rice before the trip is over? We shall see.

How was your flight out here?

The moment I stepped out of the car to say bye to my family, I started crying.

I did not stop crying until I landed in Costa Rica 12 hours later.


Okay, I didn’t cry the whole time, but I was tearing up/bawling here and there. I turned towards the window a few times so that people wouldn’t see me cry and try to talk to me out of pity. 

God had already started answering prayers as soon as I started travelling throughout the airport. I did not feel stressed at any point during my travels, which I am very grateful for. I even started a list of moments where I was shown favor because of how often it kept on happening.

Events of favor:

  1. A flight stewardess in vegas talking to me and helping me to find less congested paths to travel. We by-passed a big crowd of people trying to get to their gates. And she mentioned that I should ask for a window seat because sometimes they have extras available.

  2. Another flight stewardess in Phoenix mentioning that sometimes there are luggage wagon things just laying around that I could take to carry my bags (I had a duffle bag and my backpack, both very heavy thanks to my textbooks). We were walking at the time, and 5 seconds after she mentioned the wagon thing,  we stumbled upon one. So I quickly put my items on the cart and was grateful that I didn’t have to hurt my back with my duffle bag anymore. 

  3. There being a store in the airport with luggage that I could buy. I transferred all of my things from my duffle bag to a four wheel carry-on, and everything fit! 

  4. Having the Phoenix airport check that carry-on that I just bought for free.

  5. Being able to switch my middle seat for a window seat on the last flight...

  6. ...and then ending up having a whole row to myself with usb chargers

How is your host family? Have you been able to communicate with them?

After USAC (the company I am studying with) picked all of us students up from the airport, they dropped us off at a park in San Ramon where all of the host families were waiting. I got to meet my host mom, Irene, in person, and was introduced to her 12 year old nephew.

Her nephew had been staying with her on his vacation, but he just recently went back home to his family, so now it is just Irene and I. She is very sweet and patient. I am able to communicate with her fairly well. A lot of people out here speak extremely fast and slur their words together so I have to ask them to speak slower and concentrate a little bit more. Irene is pretty good at slowing down and using other words if there are some that I am not familiar with. 

She can cook very well and is shocked whenever I ask for water instead of coffee, tea or agua dulce to drink. Her food isn’t spicy because she doesn’t like spicy food, but when she found out that I did, she bought me a two pack of hot sauce. 

She has had homemade corn tortillas almost everyday, which are extremely good. I think one of my favorite things to eat are platanos fritos and I enjoyed eating her pork chops.

How do you get around?

I can count on one hand the amount of times I have driven in a car in the last week. We walk everywhere, but I don’t mind because everything in the city is within a 20 minute walk. Walking everywhere also helps me to get my cardio in, and gives me time to be by myself and just think. 

If we are traveling between cities, we take the bus because it is very cheap and pretty easy to navigate. If I need to get back home after dark, then I take a taxi, as advised by my host mom and the USAC program. 

How is school?

My first day of school was on January 13th, and it wasn’t too shabby. The walk from my house to school is only 7 minutes, so I am very grateful for that. I am taking 4 classes: Tropical Marine Biology, Ecology and Population, Women’s Health Studies, and Spanish 305/306 (and also a dance class). I only go to these classes once a week, except for spanish, in which I go two times a week...but each of the classes are THREE HOURS LONG,


which is 2 and a half hours too long for my attention span.

I’m used to classes being an hour and 15 minutes, so this whole 3 hour thing is a bit much. I’m hoping that the time will pass by quickly, but until then, I am only able to successfully pay attention for half the class.

The homework doesn’t seem too bad, so hopefully I am able to finish it all before the weekend each week. 

Including dance, I have three classes on monday, two on wednesday, and one on thursday. Tuesday and Friday, I have free! Which is very exciting. 

Have you done anything cool?

I’m coming to find that it is typical for students to do local things during the week, and then starting friday, travel to other cities to go on excursions or other adventures. So far I have gone to a farmer’s market, hiked to a waterfall, visited an indigenous village, gone to a hot spring, visited a few museums, and done a lot of exploring. 

I have stayed in one hostel so far, and it was a very interesting experience. Living in Vegas and having access to literal 5 star hotels has definitely spoiled me because when it came time to sleep, I refused to lay my head on their pillow. I slept in my clothes, zipped up my jack, put up my hood, and slept like I was in a coffin with my arms crossed. I probably would’ve been okay to use their sheets and pillow, but I have heard way too many horror stories and did not feel like having anything make my hair a home.

Other than the sleeping situation, it was fun. We got along with our other roommates and played some games. This hostel also came with free breakfast, and that mess was fire.

Do you miss your family?

10000000%. I have never been this far from my family and for this long so it is something that is really taking me out of my comfort zone. For the most part, we text in the family group chat at least once a day and I continue to send everyone memes or text them when something out here reminds me of them. 

I try not to think of all the things they might be doing without me cause that would make me too sad and I don’t feel like being sad. 

Are you going to go to a church out there?

I am actually in the process of testing out a few to see where I will be spending sunday mornings. My faith is a very very big part of my life and I couldn’t imagine not being connected to a church somehow for 4 months. Worst case scenario, if I can’t find a church I like enough, then I will watch my church’s live stream online. Shoutout to online podcasts and worship music as well.

Here’s to 4 months of living outside of my comfort zone.

Thanks for reading,



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