#KelsiAbroad – Learning to Make the Most of My Free Time While Abroad in Costa Rica

By: GoEnnounce Student Kelsi Brooks

I’m Kelsi, a junior Art major from Atlanta, Georgia studying abroad in Costa Rica for a second semester. I will be sharing my journey here on GoEnnounce as I explore Costa Rica. Please continue to follow my posts on Twitter with the hashtag #KelsiAbroad.

I am studying in Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jose, at Veritas University, one of the top design universities in Central America.  After that first month students often are worried about what to do with themselves, when they find they have extra free time.  Costa Rica is known for a saying “Pura Vida”.  This means Pure Life and is Costa Rican’s culture’s way of saying ‘Take it Easy’, ‘Enjoy Life’.   Now in my second semester I’m trying to make a point of experiencing “Pura Vida” as much as possible and wish I had done more of this my first semester.

One of the key things to remember while studying abroad is that not everything will go your way.

There will be ambiguous points in your trip where you will wonder what to do with your time. For me, it was adjusting to the “Pura Vida,” while maintaining my studies, and traveling. For other international students studying at Veritas University, it has been what do in their “free time” now that they don’t have an 8 a.m. Spanish class, or what to do with their 2 hour break in between classes.

Instead of seeing time as an obstacle, try to embrace all that it has to offer.

Monochronic vs. Polychronic Societies

*Monochronic Society = United States of America

More connected to productivity; needs are adjusted to meet the needs of time

“Time is money;” “Late is rude”

*Polychronic Society= Costa Rica

More flexible, less structured; time is adjusted to suit the needs of the people

It’s not necessary to do things one at a time; you can do several things simultaneously

Yes, you do have a block of time in between classes. What would be constructive and productive to do during this time?

Have you been to the university library yet and checked out their awesome movie section? Have you eaten lunch at the local soda around the corner? Have you chatted up the guards and asked them about life in Costa Rica?

Are you finished with your homework? (Better question: Have you started your homework?)

Have you worked out today? Maybe go play soccer with some Ticos.

Do you need to work out after class? Go to dance class! 🙂

Have you been to any of the museums in downtown San Jose? Are you interested in where to go to buy shampoo? Go with some friends to find a store nearby and get to know your new neighborhood.

What I learned first semester is there is a whole culture to explore outside of what my study abroad program is offering me. It’s easy to get lonely and miss home when you have free time. However, when you study abroad you’re often only there for 3 or 4 months.  I’ve been lucky enough to study abroad for an entire year.  This semester I plan to make the most of any free time I have and relish the opportunity to immerse myself in all “Pura Vida” life has to offer.

Stay tuned for my next post and follow #KelsiAbroad on GoEnnounce & Twitter!

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