WELCOME to ASU in Costa Rica 2013!
This year, there are 12 students in the ASU Study Spanish in Costa Rica group. The students will be studying Spanish at el Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (CPI) and will live with families in San Joaquin and in Monteverde, Costa Rica, for a month this summer. If you are interested in seeing pictures and reading about what the group is doing in Costa Rica, this is the place for you! Each new entry will be at the top (just scroll down from here), and entries much further down are from the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 programs. To see all of the pictures and videos in each entry about this year's group, click on "read more," since only the first picture or two will show up on the first page. This year, the students will join me in uploading photos, stories, and cultural information so that friends and family at home can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience with them!
Just scroll down to check out our Costa Rica blog and please check back every few days between June 2nd and 30th for updates. After you look at any entry, please send comments, either to individual students or to the whole group. That way, you can participate, too.
We hope you enjoy the blog!
June 18th 2013
We went to La Carpio this past Tuesday, a sort of refuge for people coming to escape from Nicaragua. We went there expecting to help them, but I feel personally that they helped us as well. When we first went there, we went in for an orientation. We didn't just get the job assignments however; we got the entire back story for the whole organization. Gail, a truly amazing woman, entered the Peace Corps before my time (I won't say when!) to help when wars in Nicaragua were occurring. She wanted to create a safe haven for refugees from Nicaragua or victims of the awful circumstances to get back on their feet and start a new life. And so she did just that in Costa Rica, a country which took a stand and refused to have ... read more
June 14th 2013
This past weekend our group traveled to Manuel Antonio National Park. On our way to the beach, we had to take a 30-minute walk through the rainforest. There were nearly 300 species of animals in the park. We first came upon a two-toed sloth. We had the rare chance of seeing a mother sloth traveling across the tree-tops with her baby attached to her underside. Next, we encountered the white-faced monkeys when we neared the beach. Seemingly cute, everyone was excited to see them. As we found out later, the monkeys know how to snoop into our bags and retrieve the snacks we bought earlier. One member of our group (Jonathan) had his banana stolen right in front of him. Also looking for a free meal, there were raccoons. On the rocks sunning himself was a ... read more
June 13th 2013
Coffee beans, ground coffee, chocolate covered coffee beans, iced coffee drinks, coffee liquors, coffee candies . . . coffee everything! Today was our day to visit Café Britt and learn about the production of coffee, from the first step of planting to the final step of roasting and packaging. The Café Britt Coffee Tour is not just another tour. Yes, it is full of information about coffee production and its importance in Costa Rica, but it is also funny and full of surprises. We walked down a path totally surrounded by coffee plants and tropical trees, where the Britt guides explained the planting, growing, and hand-picking processes. Then we were led to the roasting area, where large roasters are used for varying amounts of time to create light roasts, dark roasts and espresso roasts. The next ... read more
June 10th 2013
We had an amazing weekend at the central Pacific coast enjoying a well-deserved break from classes and daily life in the Central Valley. The hotel (called Mimos) was very tropical and our first stop on Friday afternoon was the pool! Saturday morning was our highlighted time at Manuel Antonio National Park, but this entry of the blog is only going to tease you a little bit about that. There will be a blog entry written by a student focusing on the wildlife that we saw in the park and even at the hotel, so the entry you are reading now will not contain our wildlife pictures. But we did get some GREAT ones -- tease, tease -- so keep checking the blog for that upcoming entry. Of course, Howl, our own Red Wolf, is not indigenous ... read more
June 7th 2013
We are headed to Manuel Antonio National Park and the beach for the weekend in about an hour, so there will be no more blog entries until after the weekend. Just for fun, though, check out the pictures of our Latin dance class yesterday. Everyone did great learning the salsa, merengue and cumbia, although no one could quite keep up with our energetic dance instructor, Luis. Enjoy the photos and more to come next week! (Sorry that the Travel Blog website is not uploading videos right now. You would enjoy seeing this group in action!)... read more
June 6th 2013
After Lindsay talked to the security guard in Spanish and was granted permission to place “an animal” on one of the large stone spheres at the entrance to the National Museum in San José, I knew it was time: GROUP PHOTO WITH HOWL! We spent yesterday afternoon in San José, the capital city of Costa Rica, which is only about half an hour from San Joaquín. The two main attractions were the National Theatre and the National Museum, but all along the way Johnny filled us in about the history, commerce, and culture of the country. In the National Theatre, we were amazed by the ornate details and beautiful architecture. When seeing the marble from France and Italy and the huge amount of gold throughout the theatre, it is hard to imagine that the location was ... read more
June 4th 2013
(If you want to see the pictures in a larger format, just click on them!) You may know that the ASU group is studying at CPI-Heredia (Centro Panamericano de Idiomas). Yet we are living in the town of San Joaquin, so you may be a bit curious about the names of places here. Heredia is actually the name of one of the seven provinces of Costa Rica, and it is also the name of a city. San Joaquin is located in the province of Heredia and the city is about a 20-minute bus ride away. Yesterday after classes, we took that bus ride and were introduced to the city of Heredia by our guide, Johnny. (He will be our guide for all major excursions and he is THE BEST!) Yesterday's excursion was part orientation, part tour. ... read more
June 3rd 2013
We arrived safely yesterday with no complications or problems. Of course, everyone was exhausted after a mostly sleepless night (since we had to be at the airport in Memphis at 4:30 am!) But the excitement of finally arriving in Costa Rica and seeing the school and San Joaquin, where we will be living for the next two weeks, kept us going until the host families arrived at the school at around 5:30. The plane landed on time just before noon, but we were quite busy during those 5+ hours. After the 15-minute drive from the airport to San Joaquin, the first order of business was lunch. We walked together from the school to town and ate together in a typical restaurant, then walked back to the school for the placement test, orientation, photo ID pictures, and ... read more
June 29th 2012
Coming from a country that fries and sugarizes every possible food product on the shelf, Costa Rica is a wonderful change of atmosphere. Here the food is essentially delicious from its natural flavors, which leads to a better and healthier food. Although the main ingredients are somewhat basic, the varied mixtures of the ingredients create something different to avoid monotony. For example, the dish gallo pinto is based on a mixture of beans and rice. Today, the addition of onions, eggs and tortillas enhances a simple dish of gallo pinto to a well rounded meal. Another traditional dish that branches off of beans and rice is the casado dish. This dish still has rice and beans, but, in addition, this dish includes a salad, a choice of meat, and a fried plantain for dessert. This natural ... read more
June 26th 2012
When we arrived at CPI, we entered through a large gate. Nothing crossed my mind initially, until we left the school and each house was surrounded by a gate. Each gate was different in size and color, but they each protected the houses. I thought it was very unique. The first morning of school, my Mamá Tica handed me a set of keys; one key to the gate and the other for the door. I remember thinking how nice she was; to not only open her home to me, but to give me a set of keys too!!! Then I arrived at school and everyone had keys! (I still felt special though). While living in Heredia, I found that security was strict, and the gates surrounding the homes made perfect sense. Our tour guide always told ... read more