Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Costa Rica:
My husband Barry and I had decided to pack up everything we thought we would need in CR in the back of our Chevy truck and drive throughout the U.S. National Parks and then through Mexico and Central America and then on to CR. We had the truck outfitted with special locks, shocks, new seats and bought the Central America map for our GPS. I spent a lot of time researching laws for insurance for driving in Central American countries. We drove around the entire U.S. with a heavy load of our personal stuff and while in Arizona, the border city, we decided to sell the truck and ship our stuff to CR. We could have saved a lot of time and a lot of money had we made that decision sooner. To answer the first question, yes. Yes, in our hearts we were prepared.
Life here is so different than in our “old” country. I won’t call it back home, because consider Costa Rica home now. I have the advantage over many expatriates because of all the years I spent here in my youth. I haven’t experienced any culture shock per se; it’s just re-acquainting myself with the Tico way of doing thing. John is learning and I think he gets a little frustrated sometimes with the way things are done. Fortunately for both of us, we have a great sense of humor and we tend to just roll with the punches.
Embrace your new country and culture - we didn’t travel all the way from Vancouver, B.C., to exit the plane and find out we were still in Vancouver, B.C. We WANTED everything to be different, new and, yes, challenging. Stop comparing your new adopted country with the place you left behind - it’s very rude and not productive.
My goal with the blog was to be able to share my new life with my friends and family. I also wanted to have a journal of the experience to look back on as time goes by. I now also want to share my experiences to help others who may be planning on retiring/moving to Costa Rica.
I was pretty well prepared. There wasn't much I'd have done differently. If there had been time to study Spanish more, that would have been good.
Reverse culture shock is a bigger issue for me now. OK thinking really hard back to when I first moved to Costa Rica, I do remember some culture shock. I was living with a Tico family with old-fashioned values, so that added to the cultural differences.
Life is so enormously different here. Moving here was a massive learning experience, as we knew little Spanish when we arrived, and are used to living in a modern, consumeristic society. Boy is Costa Rica a breath of fresh air! We’ve preferred to stay in the small, rural towns of the Central Valley – a land of coffee fields, machete-wielding farms, and wandering dogs, chickens and children.
No one can be fully prepared for moving to a new country. There is simply too much to know and things you only learn by being here an extended time. One thing we would have done differently would have been to move our belongings in a standard shipping container instead of a semitrailer.
Because of the nature of life here, I’m much more physically active. My diet has improved substantially. I’m very, very happy about both of these changes. Arriving here alone and not knowing any real Spanish to speak of made some initial tasks cumbersome, especially in Herradura, which has a primarily Tico population.
I’m not sure if there is such a thing as “being prepared” for this type of life changing decision. If I could go back and do it again, I suppose I would have studied the basics of Spanish more ahead of the move.
If there was one thing I would do differently, it would definitely be to go back and try harder to learn Spanish before moving. My husband and I have a basic understanding of Spanish and are constantly trying to improve, but still wish we knew more. Being able to communicate is so important for cultural immersion.
Visit the various areas and find out what fits for you. I have heard of expats arriving at our beach town and realizing it’s too hot for them… it’s always hot, so there is no excuse not to know that!
Living abroad in Costa Rica has really opened my eyes to a happier, more low-keyed, pleasant life. I don’t have a big house or a car to my name anymore, but I’m happier here with less. My life is actually richer here with the natural beauty and time I have with my husband now.