A Different Life   2 comments

Even though many of the other ACM students and I sometimes take advantage of being able to talk to each other in English throughout the day or a lot of the preparation for our research projects is being done in English, I can tell that my Spanish is already improving. Well, some days (like yesterday) I come home after a long day of bilingual thinking, and I have trouble getting out the right conjugations or have to stop in order to remember certain words while I talk with my host mom about my day and I find myself content to just sit in silence, but other times I can tell there has been improvement and it really makes me happy. For example: last night my host brother had two friends stay over and they joined us for dinner. There were six of us snuggled in around the small table eating dinner, and soon the boys were joking around with each other and telling stories of crazy things that happened lately. I wasn’t necessarily included in the conversation – I was in one of my content-to-remain-silent modes, but I was laughing and following along. I realized at one point that this was the type of conversation that just four days ago I had trouble understanding – I thought my family spoke too fast. Although I obviously didn’t catch every word that was said, I picked up enough to know the general “plot” of the stories, and the rest I managed to gather from the boys’ exaggerated gestures. It was loud and jubilant, but a great feeling when the boys realized that even though I wasn’t saying much I understood them and they began talking to me as well, and not as much around me.

The conversation had another meaningful aspect as well. Even though the boys were just swapping stories, sharing news/gossip with my host mom, and making jokes, the conversation helped me learn more about what their lives are really like. The level of violence that has risen in cities & suburbs of San Jose in the past few years due to poverty is much more real when you listen to the stories of a 13 year old boy telling about the time he ran away from someone trying to mug a group of his friends, or the 10 year old girl who was in a convenience store when it was robbed. These are things that I have never had to experience, and I am very thankful for that. Through the course of this conversation I was able to gain a little more insight into the lives of my family, and connect personal experiences with what we have discussed in our classes at ACM.

Speaking of discussions we have in class, we just finished a very interesting discussion about Costa Rica, which also creates an interesting dichotomy with what I wrote above. We discussed some of the generals of cultural differences and ways of life in Costa Rica, but we spent most of our time discussing our reactions to/opinions of an article in Yes!Magazine that explains why Costa Rica was just named the happiest country in the world. For example, we talked a lot about the topic of sustainability, and how the habits of a sustainable lifestyle often lead to a more fulfilling (and happy) life, such as eating fresh local food, public transportation, and lower levels of consumerism. It was interesting to compare the explanations in the article with our daily experiences living in San José. Check it out at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/climate-action/why-is-costa-rica-smiling

As I sit here enjoying the sunshine and the breeze and observing the frequent visits of hummingbirds to the flowers in front of me, I know: How could one not be happing living in a country whose motto is “Pura Vida” (pure life)?


Posted February 3, 2011 by rwieme in Uncategorized

2 responses to “A Different Life

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  1. Hi rachel
    lHaving fun?

  2. Hi Raquel!…sounds like you are having a blast!! we have piles of more snow and it was -7 when I came to work today, so enjoy your biutiful weather!! will write more later!
    Love Ya
    Uncle Pat

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