I (kind of) accidentally haven’t written in almost 3 weeks.
Once classes started, I seemed to have less time for everything except schoolwork. In lieu of a 10 page blog post, and in the style of Luke Ferguson, I’ll try to keep everything as short and concise as possible by sharing 10 things I’ve learned so far while in Costa Rica:
- University is difficult. The University of Costa Rica (UCR) is the best school in Central America, and it has earned that title for a reason. The amount of reading I’m given in each class, to complete outside of class, would be a lot in English. In Spanish, it’s a little terrifying.
- Talk to strangers. The other day I heard two people on the bus talking in English about Jesus. Based on that alone, I introduced myself and found a new English-speaking Bible study to go to on Sunday nights. Additionally, through them I met the director of Latin American missions for Cru and got to shadow her at the Cru regional office for a day. All because I talked to some strangers (but actually all because God is good and very, very cool).
Don’t be afraid to try new thingsForget that – It’s okay to be afraid to try new things, but try them anyway. Basically, don’t let fear win.That’s kind of my mantra some days, and it’s sometimes difficult for me. But, this past week I tried something new and stayed in hostels while my friends and I went to the beach (we had a week off from class). I also visited a national park by the sea, went to a wildlife rescue center, and got to chill on the beach and eat a bunch of coconuts. And I got to have some really cool conversations with some incredible people.
- Language is a means to an end, not the end itself. I’ve been able to meet so many people from literally all over the world. I’m learning in a whole new way that communication is a powerful thing, and language is only a tool that we use to be able to communicate. Also, pretty much every other nation teaches their inhabitants to speak multiple languages. I kind of already knew this, but have never experienced it as fully as I have here. None of my international friends think speaking another language is as mystical and impossible as I still think some days.
- Find Christian friends and community. This is the first time in my life that I haven’t lived in Columbia, South Carolina. God showed me pretty quickly that Christian community is something to be sought after immediately and vigilantly. I’ve been blessed to find a really cool church (through some cool new friends) and some awesome Christians to help me do life better for Jesus here.
- It’s okay to accept help. Sometimes I have to ask for it and accept it, much more than in the states. I can either get upset or embarrassed about that, or I can accept it and remember it . There are times when I am the one who has the opportunity to give help instead of receive it, and I want to remember to give that help as graciously as my friends here have given it to me.
- Cultural differences can be difficult. Living in another culture means that I won’t always understand what’s going on. I won’t always get the joke, and I won’t always know the appropriate response to a comment. This is kind of similar to #6 above. People give me grace when I just don’t know what’s going on. And I don’t have to stress when I don’t know, because people are kind and willing to explain things to me, even when it takes time. Something else I can remember for the future, when I’m the one whose comfortable in the culture and someone else might not be.
- Luke 12:48 – From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded. I have been given resources and opportunities in my life that some people will never have. And those resources and opportunities combined give me yet another opportunity – the opportunity to give. I want to give my knowledge, my education, life, my everything, for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of helping others physically and emotionally and spiritually. And God has blessed me in so many ways with an ability to do just that.
- There is so much need in this world. This sounds naive to say. “But Becca,” you may say, “haven’t you seen that really touching documentary that came out last year about poor people/orphans/clean water initiatives/etc.?” And if you’re thinking that, you have a point. I should always understand that there is need in the world. It’s just that I think that for the first time, during my time here, people in other situations are becoming less “other.” I’m no longer able to say in my mind, “Other people struggle in this way. The others. Far away. Not me.” Those “other” people are people I see everyday, people who are my friends, people my friends know. And I cannot turn a blind eye to that. “Other” people aren’t really that “other” to me right now. I don’t think I know quite how to say this well, but hopefully with time I’ll be able to communicate it better.
- Nothing good in life is incredibly easy. My time here has been challenging. Most days have at least one overwhelmingly difficult moment. But, above all, my time here has been beautiful and amazing and fun and thought-changing. I’ve already been able to think and to do things that I never even knew I hadn’t thought or done before I came here. It’s only been one month, and I’m already absolutely, tremendously, 100% glad I came.
*The title is kind of a pun because “mes” is the Spanish word for month and “mezcla” is the Spanish word for mixture. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯