Author: Mia Casas

Location: San Jose, Costa Rica

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

It has been officially over one month since I have returned home from my Study Abroad Program in Costa Rica. Unlike some of my peers, I was super excited to finally come home. Others had mixed emotions. On the other side of the spectrum, one of my friends was really upset and sad about the idea of returning to the States. This perfectly exemplifies how each person experiences circumstances differently, and processes their emotions differently.

Although I loved Costa Rica, I was ready to be home. I was anticipating reverse culture shock with excitement, oddly enough. Heidi advised us that we would come back to our country and culture with new, fresh eyes. She recommended that we keep a journal to note our observations about the world we live in. Our new vision would fade fast as we became accustomed to US living again.

It’s true that most Americans are known for their hustle and bustle in daily life, and this is even more accentuated during the holidays. The Christmas season, though, is my favorite time of the year and I was eager to come home to spend time with my family and friends, and catch up on all the holiday festivities. Undoubtedly, my relatives looked forward to my return, but the overwhelming feeling of sadness hit me unexpectedly when I realized I didn’t have the same support system as I did in Costa Rica. I knew that a period of grief would hit me eventually, but I never expected it to happen when it did. It happened one weekday when I felt like I didn’t have the support system I needed. I had realized how busy and run down my family was with work, practices, appointments, etcetera, leaving me feeling neglected, in a sense, as if they didn’t have time to spend with me. Meanwhile, I was so enthused to be home and wanted to engage more frequently than what my friends and family could offer me.

I hit a low that night, but realized it was just a part of the cultural adjustment process, same as in Costa Rica. In due time, I found clearings in my friends’ and family members’ schedules to catch up and enjoy their company, and eased my way back into my routine here at home. There are still times I wish I could take a break from all of it to embrace the Pura Vida spirit. Yet, I still count my blessings for all the things I missed while I was away. And I count my blessings for all the wonderful memories made in Costa Rica.

Los Chorros Waterfalls: For our last cohort trip, we traveled near Grecia to see this magnificent waterfall, in addition to hiking some life threatening trails, (the usual in Costa Rica). This sight was magical, as we were able to swim under the waterfall, and bathe in the river without being disturbed by tourists.

International friends: We said goodbye to our friends from Norway and the Netherlands. I am thankful for having the opportunity to have met them.