I arrived in Costa Rica on Saturday afternoon in hot weather and then an hour later when we got to Veritas University it was cold. My host mother here says that every day you should wear a tube top with a sweater and bring an umbrella because you never know what the weather will do in Costa Rica. Catalina my mother is very nice and sweet and speaks spanish very slowly for us, and English when I don't understand. Catalina my 21 year old sister speaks perfect English and seems nice, but she hasn't been around much yet. Kniccoa my house-mate is also really nice, from S.C. and better at Spanish than I am which is helpful. I have my own room and Kniccoa and I share a bathroom. The shower this morning was cold but not freezing, something I'll have to get used to. My house is super cute and has a little yard out back, nice view. We get mtv and the Disney channel, Kniccoa reported. Catalina sr. handed us each a set of 5 keys - one for each lock on your way into the house. I suppose it's good to be on the safe side but everything so far has been VERY careful. Dinner the first night was rice and some sort of meat with mushroom sauce, served with cooked green beans and carrots, and fresh juice. There's always fresh juice. Orange, pineapple, you name it. Breakfast was Cheerio's the yesterday and Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) today, both are good. Yesterday morning we had a meeting and everyone is nice, new, overwhelming. I wore my multi-colored skirt and new gray long sleeved top with fleece, it's warming up a little though. After orientation meetings (mostly about safety) Kniccoa went home for lunch and then ventured out to explore. Our host sister had sent us to Pequeño Mundo, a store that sells everything you could ever need, kind of like wal-mart, but everything is in boxes and you have to really look for the good stuff. Then we checked out the mall, which is all crazy on the outside like rocks and I'll have to take a picture. It's like a maze inside. First catcalling experiences, mostly whistling and one guy who asked us "How much for both?" We've been told to ignore these comments and it's normal, but it's still a little disconcerting. The mall had like 8 million surf shops even though we're 3 hours from a beach - I suppose it's "the look". Also tons of shoe stores which might be dangerous, all the Ticas wear fun colored heels the way we wear flip flops or sneakers. I may have to try it out at some point. Last night after dinner Kniccoa and I watched the Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan in Spanish, it was funny to try to figure out what they were saying. Knowing the story helped.
This morning it was cloudy when I woke up (6:00, still jetlagged from HK) but less so (no tan nublado) by the time we went to the ISA office at 8:30. Shower still cold, btw. Jeans and fleece for the morning, periodically taking off the fleece and inevitably putting it back on. The good news is my placement test went pretty well and I will be taking Intermediate 1, which is what I needed to get Conn credit for my Spanish class. This is especially good news because I will be IN Spanish class from 8 to 12 every day. The bad news is neither Tropical Design and Architecture or Latin American Architectural History are being offered because only 2 people signed up for them and they needed 4. I got placed in Cultural Photography and Intro to Latin American Tropical Dance, which both sound great but don't satisfy major requirements. I've switched Photo for Intro Drawing because that (hopefully) WILL count towards my major. I would have liked to add it instead of switching but the times conflicted. I would rather take photo than drawing but I think I'll take pictures anyway and working on my major is the responsible thing to do. Bummer. This afternoon we toured San José and it was something of a whirlwind but very cool nonetheless. (Is that really one word?) The city is very small for a city and has a cool combination of modern architecture and classical - most notably the Teatro Nacional, a big church, and the court house. We stopped at a bank and I finally switched some money, and walked through a market (Mercado Central?) that reminded me of the jade market in Hong Kong but instead of all jewelry you could buy clothing, meat, beans, shoes, leather wallets, you name it.
People are already talking about bars and night life that they have experienced ("Man, I was so wasted I lost my keys, and then we took this taxi, and it took us all over town, and then....)... I'm excited to experience San José but I'm not quite ready for drunken escapades - I'm happy to hang out with Kniccoa and the Catalinas for a few more days. Veritas University is pretty cool - it's an art, design, and architecture school - and different portions are painted in bold rainbow colors. It's a little funny but design-wise also sweet. I just wish they were offering architecture for ME!
Other than that I'm meeting lots of people and they're all nice. I'm having a hard time with names - learning 52 new ones in such a short period of time is hard, and today we got added to the other program that has classes at Veritas. My friend Mark who sat next to me on the plane is in the other group and says his 2 roommates are loud american idiots. I got lucky.