Grecia, Costa Rica: Part III

Okay, first off, so sorry that this is late in coming. Last week, I came to the internet café and discovered my email inbox was full with 36-some messages, at least 10 of which were sent by the Postmaster warning me that my inbox was full. Oh life.
Second, I just discovered this, but Blogger has a email inbox for me too: elise.arvidson.thought-isms@blogger.com . Cool. Please, for the remainder of the trip, if there are any questions, thoughts, comments or anything even remotely resembling feedback to my blog, please use the above address so that my school inbox isn’t clogged all the time…not that I’ve gotten much feedback…
Third, I made it back from Grecia, and am in San José (also called San Ho by some in our group), and am going to be near a computer UNTIL MONDAY!!! Just so’s you know.

Now, table of contents:
· Northamerican–Latinamerican relations and their strains
· 5 things I have learned about me
· 5 things I have learned about others

We’re good.

RELATIONS:
One thing to remember in another country is that actions speak louder than words, whether the message sent was intended or not. Some of the “strain” of Northamerican and Latinamerican relations stems from both a disregard of the above, and limited mindset of the other culture/person/etc. Hispanic culture is very indirect, as I’ve mentioned previously. The meanings, the direction and the commands are all understood, but not necessarily expressed. Because Northamerican culture is rather more direct, often, a foreigner can seem rude, unsympathetic, and completely oblivious to social codes and implications. This, obviously, causes much stress on both ends unless each side is willing to be flexible and forgive. As a foreigner in this country, it would be my mortal embarrassment to offend my host family in any way, as they’ve offered me a home, food, and anything else I need. Therefore, although I have a direct manner in asking for something I would like (for example: going with some friends to a concert and spending the night over there since it will be late) I need to ask it as though it all depended on my host parents. I need to ask their permission even though I am of age, and everyone with me is a responsable adult like me. The way I ask is indirect. If I were to say “I am going with so-and-so and so-and-so to this-and-such a concert on Friday, and I will be spending the night,” my host parents will likely feel as though I am taking advantage of their good grace to do whatever I please. They may also feel that by expressing this, I am hinting that I prefer the company of my friends I’ve known for a little while over the company of the family that is housing me. Does this make sense? A much pleasanter way to say the same thing is “Some of my friends and I wanted to go to this concert, but it will be too late to come home. We might be able to spend the night there, but what would you suggest?” This opens it up for the family heads to give an opinion and not feel as though I am taking advantage of them. Also, I am letting them know that I would like to be with friends, but respect the decision of their family. “Strain” is only the result of not trying to appease the other but stubbornly sticking to one’s own ways.
Which leads me to continue…

5 THINGS I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT ME:
1. Patience is both my greatest strength and my biggest fault
2. I am a contextual learner. If I come across a word I don’t understand, I listen to the context to get the bigger picture, and define words by their connotations in which I hear them used. This is why I’ve been having a mental block with grammar lessons, because each word is crucial.
3. I am very forgetful of little things, even when I try so hard to remember, but able to memorize passages of readings solely because I found them interesting.
4. I become angry when communicational flow stops, i.e. when conversation turns into monologue, or when discussion becomes argument.
5. I can look at the mammals/insects/reptiles, I can smell the mammals/insects/reptiles, I can get close to the mammals/insects/reptiles, but if they jump on me in any way, I cannot stand it.

5 THINGS I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT OTHERS:
1. Laughter is indeed the best medicine
2. Love is eating yucca casserole (even though you despise it) solely because your host mom made it just for you when you came home. Profound love is having two pieces.
3. Natives will often “use” a foreigner for “language practice”, even though they know less of the foreigner’s language than the foreigner knows of theirs.
4. Host families are like flowers: sunny smiles, showers of compliments, and fertil trust make the relationship grow.
5. Everyone has a limited point of view, because everyone has had a limited life. Therefore, foreigners will often be judged based on this view. Flexibility in all things is key.
BONUS
6. As a foreigner, natives either assume that the foreigner knows absolutely nothing about the native’s culture, or that the foreigner is well versed in the lives, events and other random details of everyone in the foreigner’s home country. We keep having to explain that the United States is much bigger than Costa Rica, and that it is impossible to know the lives of everyone else in the States…

Well, this post’s long enough. I will try to upload my pictures tomorrow!
Have a wonderful evening!

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4 thoughts on “Grecia, Costa Rica: Part III

  1. Daniel says:

    That about asking for things is true, lucky you that only had to deal with it during the time you were here :/
    I also would like to add that for some reason that i can’t explain (not my case), ticos feel that they can be friends with any gringo and will (always that they have the chance) try to make conversation, compare cultures and try to make the target gringo like him/her and their culture, for example the man in the bus that told me that i “wasn’t showing proper behavior or culture”… i’m 100% sure that he would have never said that if you wouldn’t have been there been witnesses to my “unproper behavior”.

  2. Ha, well actually, I grew up with this mentality, but in my time here, I’ve discovered that many of the students in the program are unfamiliar with this concept. I was more or less explaining it to them…

  3. rainmakesmehappy says:

    Oh… i see…
    Then you understand my pain. XD
    Or maybe it doesn’t have to be that bad…
    Maybe it’s part of the tight family bonds that latinos have and most gringos don’t

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