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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

    Notes from Abroad

    <ong>Name: Eric Murphy

    Year: Junior

    Major: International Relations

    Where are you studying abroad? Costa Rica

    Do you have a host family? I live in a house that was originally designed for The Real World: Costa Rica with 11 other students

    Favorite food abroad: This egg dish that our breakfast cooks make us.

    Favorite class: International Business taught by the esteemed Karol Granados

    Piece of advice for students thinking about going abroad: Never be afraid to challenge your language skills, the locals that I have encountered are more than willing to help you through the language barrier (and if you go somewhere in the tropics, wear sunscreen).

    Have you had any moments in which you felt especially American?
    There have been numerous times when I felt especially foreign. The most aggravating moments that I have encountered have dealt with stereotyping. If you look white in Costa Rica, especially if you have lighter hair, you are very restricted. No matter how well you can speak Spanish, if you look foreign, locals will almost always automatically speak to you in English. When students come to a foreign country to learn the language they expect to have the opportunity to practice it with regularity, but when students are spoken to in their native language it hinders their ability to actively learn the language.

    Recently we went out to this Costa Rican festival in Palmares, which is known for being runner up to Oktoberfest for most beer consumed by a yearly festival. I wanted to blend in with the locals, but I felt the gazes upon our group of US students as we walked through the crowds. I strongly recommend breaking into smaller groups of four or fewer when facing a similar situation. My group of four did not attract nearly as much attention as we had in the larger group. As US students we are targeted by petty theft with a significant amount of regularity, mainly because the robbers expect us to not pay as much attention to our goods as locals. Girls are the main targets, and without cheap taxis, I am sure the situation would be even worse. While this may sound mostly negative, it is just part of the adjustment process. Until now, my time in Costa Rica has been one of my best life experiences, and I will continue to challenge myself to become one with the Tico.

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