• Hannah Brauer

Creepy Statues, Cosplay Conventions, and Godzilla

Updated: Aug 25, 2019

It’s going to take me a while to get used to living right next to the train tracks — there isn’t a wall next to my bed, just a curtain separating me from my Mama Tica’s office (she’s a seamstress) and another curtain that leads to my host brother (Jonathan, aka “Jota”)’s room. So, there’s basically no barrier between my bed and the trains screaming at 5 a.m.

Eh, it’s a worthy sacrifice to make for public transportation, I guess. The transportation here is amazing! I hear you can get anywhere in the country by bus or train for less than $15. No joke.

Anyways… I had orientation today!

Everyone in my program is so cool. I have to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect — there are about 35 of us from all over the United States: Missouri, Kentucky, California, Texas, New York, North Carolina, and Oklahoma (to name a few), and I’ve barely met anyone from half of these states, especially in the South. But everyone clicked instantly despite our different backgrounds and homes, which was a wonderful feeling. There’s something about being thrown into a foreign country that can bring people together.

Orientation was very laid back; we took a bus to the Museo de Cultura Popular (Museum of Popular Culture) which had some neat artifacts, plants, and a few animals that we got to explore. I was very creeped out by the traditional heads they had on display right by our table, though (see photo).

I made a few friends who planned on going to the local mall, Paseo de Las Flores, and walked there by myself after orientation. That was a bit of an adventure — it isn’t safe to walk alone or with your phone out, especially for women, but it was in the middle of the day so I figured out the directions without Google Maps. That’s actually a great accomplishment for me.

The mall was a MADHOUSE. It’s right across from our university and about a 10-minute walk from my house, so I was surprised at how gigantic it was. There’s a food court, clothing stores, a book store, a movie theater, a bank, and even a trampoline park!

Apparently there was a cosplay convention happening, which is why it was so difficult to get around. There were video game competitions, people dressed as Spider-Man and Ramona Flowers, and vendors in the middle of the mall selling gadgets that filled up the entire walkways. Eventually, my friends Gloria and Michaela split off from the rest of the group and we hung out in the book store for a little while.

It was fun seeing all of the Spanish titles for the books I’ve read in English — i.e. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (or, in Spanish, “a thousand times until forever” and “the story of the servant”).

When I got back, there was a street vendor selling “copos” (traditional Costa Rican shaved ice) in front of my house and the family was standing outside buying some. I got an orange flavored one and it was unlike anything I’d had before — it’s similar to a snow cone, but with condensed milk in it that tastes a bit like cream cheese frosting (see an example here).

After dinner, my host mom and brother took me out to see Godzilla 2 at the mall. I was thinking it was going to be in Spanish and braced myself for two hours of confusion (with an occasional CGI monster fight), but it was in English with Spanish subtitles. I actually really liked the movie and had fun following along with the Spanish subtitles to tried to read them faster than the actors could say them in English.

Even after a day, I do feel my Spanish coming back a little bit. My class starts tomorrow so we’ll see which one I place into!

#studyabroad #travel

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