This is my first blog post on the Lafayette student blog, so I’ll give a quick introduction! My name is Elisabeth Burnor and I’m a junior, double majoring in Biology and English at Lafayette College. I’m spending this fall semester studying at the Universidad Veritas in San Jose, Costa Rica. If you happen to want to know more about me, my profile is up on the Meet the Bloggers page so you can pop on over there. Otherwise, read on!
Well, it’s a beautiful, rainy Thursday afternoon. During the Costa Rican rainy season, which is going on right now, it rains for a few hours nearly every afternoon. It’s one of my favorite things about this country, because I love rain!
I’ve been here for about five days, and I’m already falling in love with this place. During the orientation for international students at the Universidad Veritas, they told us a little bit about the stages of culture shock and the first stage upon arrival is labeled “arrival fascination.” I suppose that’s the stage I’m in, because I feel like I am constantly learning new things about Costa Rica and loving it more and more!
I am also constantly learning Spanish, but that is a much slower process! I took Spanish way back in middle school so, needless to say, I only knew how to talk about the weather. However, after two days of Spanish class and five days of conversing with a VERY patient host mother and father, who know little to no English, my Spanish has already come a long way! Yesterday, I was able to successfully explain to my host mother that my dad teaches English as a Second Language back in the states, which, for me, was quite an accomplishment.
And, in the first five days we’ve been here, we’ve already been a part of history! On Wednesday morning, during Spanish class, we experienced one of the largest earthquakes to occur in Costa Rica in the past 30 years (according to my Spanish professor). I wouldn’t call it a fun historical experience, but it was certainly exciting. I can only describe it as feeling like the ground was shaking (which is pretty much what an earthquake is), and we were immediately evacuated from the building. The staff at the university handled it very well and stayed calm, and there was no noticeable damage in the university building or, as far as I know, in the city of San Jose.
The epicenter occurred up in the Guanacaste region (northwest Costa Rica), and unfortunately, that area experienced some damage and two deaths. As tragic as those deaths are, however, we can be thankful that there were not more casualties. Our thoughts are with those who suffered loss of home and property and with the families of the two people who died.
So, it’s been an eventful first few days! I don’t want to make this post too long, but I will be posting again soon with more stories and experiences. In the meantime, I’ll be practicing my Spanish to avoid mistakes like accidentally telling my host mother that I would like to sleep on the kitchen table (which I did tell her).