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A Day in the Life of a Student Abroad in Costa Rica

by Ali Mumbach
College student who is doing a study abroad in Costa Rica

My alarm goes off at 7:00 a.m. and I roll out of bed. The sound of cars whizzing by on the highway next to my homestay has become the regular soundtrack to my morning. I hear one of my roommates, Emily, another student who chose to study abroad in Costa Rica, come out of the bathroom. I go wash my face, brush my teeth, and get dressed in time for breakfast at 7:30 AM. In the United States, breakfast is the least exciting meal of the day for me. But in San José, it is the one I most look forward to – gallo pinto, platanos, fresh pineapple, and papaya. And our host mother, Rosalba, would throw in the occasional pancakes, which was always such a treat. But boy, those beans and rice (gallo pinto) and platanos were muy rico, and hit the spot every morning. I never got tired of eating them the entire four months that I was there.

My roommates and I finish breakfast and say goodbye to Rosalba as we head to school. We walk about five blocks and arrive at Veritas Universidad, the university that we attend in Costa Rica. My morning is filled with non-stop Spanish because on the first day, my profesora explained to us that there would be no English in Spanish class. This was a daunting expectation, but one that we learned to comply with. It was certainly helpful in the improvement of our Spanish.

When the clock hits 12:00 PM, we pack up and head in different directions for lunch. I have a couple of different options: buy food from the school, walk to a nearby restaurant, or walk down the street to the AIFS office and cook a meal using food that I bought from the store. I’ll go to the office – if I’m going to be here for four months, I have to make my money stretch. So I go make some pasta and veggies there. Before my afternoon classes start, I have time to sit at a park that is between Veritas and the office that has a gorgeous view of the mountains surrounding San José. I thank God for this moment and this experience.

Then I go to my afternoon classes. I have Cultural Photography, Conservation of Marine Biology, and Gender and Sustainability. I have these classes every other day, Mondays and Wednesdays. If I don’t, I go home, change and then go to the gym, which is walking distance from my homestay. I would do this on the off days, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Instead of this, I may walk to downtown San José and people-watch or visit museums or find some other cool spot to spend my time.

As it gets close to dinner time, I receive texts from my roommates checking to see when everyone will be home so we can eat. I walk back to the house and put my backpack upstairs and take my shoes off. It’s good to be home.

I join my hermanas at the kitchen table. Rosalba is already in bed by now cause she’s older and can’t stay up very late. Emily, Ruth, and I share the events of our days with each other. There’s lots of laughter as we indulge in the generous portions of cayote and platanos. Just another day in the life of a student who chose to study abroad in Costa Rica…

This post was contributed by Ali Mumbach, an AIFS Alumni Ambassador from Texas State University who studied abroad with AIFS in San José, Costa Rica.

College student who is doing a study abroad in Costa Rica
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