Volunteer Abroad - Costa Rica, Volunteer Abroad Programs

Pura Vida – Easier Said than Done

by Hannah Nevitt, Greenheart Travel volunteer abroad participant

Every day, multiple times, I remind myself to have patience…the patience to adapt to this new and different world I now live in. There have been many moments, in many days, where I have been frustrated…frustrated that I could not understand the language, frustrated with the heat, humidity, and the heavy rain, and especially frustrated with the bugs. But then I take a deep breath, and remind myself that acclimating to another country different than my own will often bring such “learning moments.”


Patience is a virtue in Costa Rica

Once again, “Not wrong…just different.”

The Spanish word for patience is, “Paciencia.” I have learned to use this word quite often. There have been many days in my Spanish class when I have wanted to throw my pencil and give up as learning a new language can be really hard. There are often days when my brain hurts and all I want to do is speak in English. This is actually easier said than done because my entire world is now in Spanish: the television, the music, the books, all of it, and my host family doesn’t speak English (although the kids are trying to learn).

Although I knew this would be a challenge, there are many reasons why this experience continues to be so important for me; the first is to learn a second language, the second is to gain some international work experience and the third is to experience a full cultural immersion. In the past year I have traveled extensively, but I have also tried to experience several different types of travel mediums: the study abroad, the leisure travel, the low-budget backpacking, and now this, a full- immersion, extended-exchange of work and cultural understanding.

After three weeks of living in Costa Rica, I am definitely beginning to understand the life of a foreign exchange student. Living with a host family in a different country, with a language I don’t understand and learning to navigate and observe my new environment. It is exciting, exhausting, and challenging, yet I know this experience is going to be invaluable. Every day I take notes of my experiences and how I could possibly make them better.

Along with the “highlights” of my travels…the adventures, the adrenaline rushes, and the inspirational sights…it is also important to document “the lows.” The times when you are uncomfortable, frustrated, or lost, when you miss your family, your friends, and the “normalcy” of your life back home.

There are definitely days when I miss the comforts of home like my bed, my personal space, and the occasional indulgence of a glass of red wine, but overcoming these situations is all part of the immersion experience.

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.


2 thoughts on “Pura Vida – Easier Said than Done

  1. Hi Hanna!
    I was writing to you and all of a sudden I lost my comments, so, here goes my second try! I have enjoyed reading your blog entries immensely. You are having the experience of a lifetime!!! You will have all of this in your memory bank for ever, and you are making us re-live some of our own experience as we read about yours.
    Continue having a great time and keep on writing, it is great to live the experiences through you! We are looking forward to seeing you when you come back full of excitement to come back and rejoicing on a great stay there.
    A big hug to you, John and Maria Day

    Posted by Maria Day | November 18, 2009, 5:20 pm
    • John & Maria!

      It is so wonderful to hear from you!!
      I am having a wonderful time, each new day brings excitement and learning experiences.
      Thanks for following along with my adventures…I would love to meet up with you when I get home. Especially so I can keep up my Spanish!

      Hannah Nevitt

      Posted by Hannah | November 19, 2009, 2:06 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s