Culture-Shock, Reverse Culture-Shock

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That explains it.

Before I left the USA (or EE UU), a close friend prescribed reading about “Culture-Shock, Reverse Culture-Shock” to me.  An explanation of it can be found here:

http://newcomersguide.mit.edu/ng/culture-shock

After reading it, I had assorted feelings including: discovery; assurance; and self-reflection.  Most prominent, however, was my feeling of gratitude toward the friend.

Full disclosure, I do not have a flawless track record in dealing with changes in location.  I will even admit to turning around when positive change awaited at the next exit. I got stuck in the culture-shock stage and mistook it for a warning of danger. Now, I realize that the hard part will come and go and that a new and improved me awaits on the other side.

I am currently somewhere toward the end of the honeymoon phase, but am looking forward to meeting the challenge of culture-shock.  I will write from there, but am more excited about writing you from the other side.  Bring it on!

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First Impressions

From my first hotel in Lindora, Santa Ana

From my first three nights’ accommodations in Lindora, Santa Ana

G’day and thank you for stopping by.

Since touching down at Juan Santamaria International Airport, I have composed this in my head while beating the streets for a job and solid place to live.  That being said, hopefully your expectations of my writing remain reasonable.  Days ago, I wrote that I could not guarantee Pulitzer prize winning literature, but did guarantee honesty in these blog posts.

Here are my first impressions of Costa Rica aside from the obvious ones (it is beautiful, the people are nice, etc.)

  1. “Futbol/Soccer–Futbol Americano”Beginning with this one may seem odd, but I am excited to report that people here do not exclusively refer to soccer as “futbol.”  They say “futbol-soccer” when talking about the game played on a field with two goals and “football-americano” when talking about the one played on a field with two goalposts.  My friends in the USA (I love and miss you) are no further ahead of the curve by calling it “futbol” and insisting that everyone else does too.  I am adapting to and learning appreciate soccer in all of its international pageantry.  I concede that it is cool and its growth is exciting, but I can still be a fan and call it “futbol-soccer” or just “soccer.”
  2. Uber Come Quick!–Costa Rica needs Uber as much as anywhere I’ve been.  An astounding disparity exists between the cost of a taxi and a bus ride to the city.  A bus ride from the outskirts of San Jose to downtown San Jose costs the equivalent of less than $1 (USD). However, a cab ride for the same trip costs the equivalent of approximately $18 (USD). Fortunately, this problem is soon to be solved. I read an article about Uber’s pursuit of bringing its business here.  I am excited for Costa Rica about this!
  3. Cost of Living–Before arriving, I estimated that everything would cost far less than in the USA and the buying power of the dollar would far surpass that of the Colon (Costa Rican currency). This is true and not true. It is less expensive living here, because I, like most gringos, cancelled a number of bills before I left.  I do not have rent, American health insurance, a local gym membership, a monthly data and cellular service contract, or a number of other expenses that I might still have in the USA. The buying power of the dollar is about the same as the Colon and the prices of goods and services closely resemble those in North American cities excluding New York City, D.C. and a few others.  Hole-in-the-wall fresh produce markets are plentiful and inexpensive. With all of this in mind, it costs a little less to live here with a similar lifestyle, but not much.
  4. USA? So what–No one really cares that I am from the USA. This is refreshing. Previous to getting here, I expected to be pursued for money or information about my country of origin at every corner.  This is simply not the case.  Generally, people here are as kind and as caught up in managing their daily lives as they should be. I contend that the same percentage of desperate or predatory people live here as anywhere else. Such a way about them probably arises from similar circumstances too.  People in Costa Rica may try and steal from me or inquire aggressively about my country, but it is likely because they think I have money or knowledge that they want.  It will not happen because I am from the USA.
  5. Born in the USA–To close with an almost perpendicular point to #4, being here for only one day humbled me in a way that I have only experienced a few times in my life. The conclusion to this point may resemble some of the one-liners of Hotels.com’s “Captain Obvious” to those of you who have lived or traveled extensively outside of the USA.  Previous to last Friday, I understood it solely on an intellectual level, but am learning it intuitively as my time here continues.  I have not spent any nights in Asia or Africa, so I contend it as true while bearing my own ignorance in mind.  It is subject to change. I request that you accept this as coming from a grateful North American and not as a statement of arrogance, hubris or ethnocentrism. So, without further ado, here is the most vivid and important thing I have learned so far: Being born in the United States and being taught English as one’s first language are possibly the two utmost blessings ever bestowed upon anyone in the history of the human race.  I did nothing to earn or deserve it, but recognizing this has already made the trip worthwhile.

Pura Vida!