Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lessons Learned

Throughout your travels you always have to go through a period of trial and error. Adjusting and adapting to the culture is important for sustainable tourism. You can't just expect everyone to understand you and accept your quirks. It's like going to a new school. You slowly pick up on key words and different ways of doing things that helps you to fit in a little better.

Today was our first real day to get out and explore San Jose, the capitol of Costa Rica. And, let's just say, in one day we learned quite a bit. We took a simple walk to the downtown area (about 30 minutes) and wandered around to see what we could find. It was a great way to just aimlessly wander and enjoy the new scenery and architecture. By talking, or attempting to talk, to the different people, we were able to find our way to the Teatro Nacional, beautiful downtown churches, and the Museo Nacional where we were able to meet Sofia Ruiz, a Costa Rican artist about to open an art exhibit at the museum. It is truely amazing what can happen by simply asking a question.

The thing is, I've never been the type to just ask. I have always liked to stick to a plan and abide all the rules, but today I was able to just walk and see and meet incredible and fascinating sites and people. They really aren't lying when they say that the Costa Rican people are extremely welcoming and friendly. Yea, there are the guys who honk their horns every time they pass us "Gringas," but there are also the restaurant/bar owners who help you order and remember you the next night when you come in.

So, long story short, here are some of the things we learned today..

  • You don't have to tip your waiter/waitress. Gratuity is already included in your bill.
  • Some people will take advantage of the fact that you are foreign and charge more simply because you don't know any better (i.e. taxis, stores, restaurants, etc.).
  • Most places in the city accept US dollars, but they will give you change in colones so be prepared to do the math.
  • ALWAYS pack rain gear! NO EXCUSES! (We got soaked by the afternoon rain storm and had to take a cab home, hence the lesson above).
  • Pigeons are everywhere, and they try to get tourists to pay for food to take pictures with them... gross.
  • Potholes in the roads can be the size of bathtubs
  • It's best if you dress conservatively in the city. Otherwise, be prepared for lots of looks and constant honking.
  • Costa Rican beer is pretty darn good.
  • And finally, I really do need to learn more Spanish.
That's all for now.. I know posts are frequent so far, but its going to slow down when the real work begins and we are traveling more often. Hopefully I will be able to keep things updated. In the meantime, I added another page called Tweets! that I am trying to keep updated with my tweets while in CR (I haven't figured out if I can just link them or not..) but check it out anyway! It's kind of the random funny things that happen or lessons that are learned.. I try to be clever :). Also, pictures from San Jose will be posted very soon!

Thanks for sticking with me! Feel free to comment if you have any questions or travel suggestions!
Buenas noches!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Southern Comfort Zone

Flying to Costa Rica today I definitely did get a little sad. Just the initial idea of leaving Texas, my home for the last 23 years of my life, was difficult to accept. But then, in that same moment, I understood that I would always be able to come back. Texas will always be there and my friends and family will always welcome me home. Even though I'm in a new country and culture, I will always be a Texan at heart and no matter how far I travel out of my "Southern Comfort Zone" (thanks Brad Paisley), I know that I can always go back.

This experience will allow me to grow in ways I never thought possible. It is already testing my patience and ability to adapt to a different culture. For instance, our hotel for the next few nights give uses actual keys, not electronic cards, and the rooms don't automatically have AC. Apparently the sun rises around 4:30 in the morning and nighttime begins around 5:30pm. Wireless internet access is also patchy and hard to come by. But all these things are miniscule in comparison to the experience I am gaining. Tomorrow the real fun begins.

Today is just the beginning. Costa Rica awaits. Here's to a year full of excitement and growth!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A word of Thanks


It's so true though.. the feeling can't really be put into words perfectly.

I live this life of mine with no regrets. Every minute of every day I am thankful for all of my blessings. As I prepare myself (body and mind) for this new chapter of my life I can't help but think of all the friends and memories I will be leaving behind here at UNT and all across Texas.

For five years, I have created a life and a family here in DFW. I came here on my own and I will be leaving with a network of friends who I will truly miss. I am going to miss tailgating and going to football games (or not going to the football games...), cooking with my roommates, nights out on good ol' Fry St., Greek Life in general, Dallas shenanigans with my single ladies, and spending time with my beautiful pledge class. I mean, I could go on for hours listing every little thing I will miss, but this is more a way for me to say thank you...

Thank you to everyone I have met over the last few years. From Eagle Camp to Freshmen Orientation, being in Greek Life and the Honors College, and the many jobs I have held, you guys are why I have a hard time leaving. I have had one of the best support systems from both family and friends and I couldn't be more grateful.  I have been blessed with great jobs and employers, wonderful advisors and professors, and family and friends who support me no matter what.

One of my biggest fears is to leave a place and be forgotten. So I have spent the last five years doing my best to leave my mark on UNT and all my friends here. I can only hope that I have brought a smile to your heart and left a fond memory with you. I know there are bound to be plenty.

So this is my way of communicating across international borders. Stay in touch.

-B