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Jaime Mendenhall, University of Nebraska Kearney

12 Jan 2017

¡Hola! I’m Jaime, a Spanish minor sophomore at my local university. For my first TalkAbroad session, I spoke with a woman living in Costa Rica named Maritza. I did this on purpose; I’m thinking about studying abroad in Costa Rica this coming summer, and I knew doing a TalkAbroad would be the perfect opportunity to talk firsthand to a tico.

Even though I’m fairly confident in my Spanish, I was still a bit nervous. However, Maritza did a great job of facilitating the conversation and keeping it going; I didn’t have to worry about remembering a list of conversation topics (although I had some written down on paper next to me—just in case!). Of course, I told her that I was considering studying abroad in Costa Rica “in the summer.” She asked if I was planning to go in December. Then, I remembered that the months of June and July are considered to be part of Costa Rica’s rainy season, which they refer to as winter. Whoops…!

Later, Maritza asked about where I’m from, and what kinds of attractions we have. I’m from the Midwest. What was there to tell her?? I didn’t know the words off the top of my head for “cornfield” or “farm,” so I told her about how one could go fishing or hunting. Earlier, she had told me how there are lots of beaches in Costa Rica, and she asked how far one would have to travel from where I live to get to “the first beach.” Oh, you know, not far… just several hours… by plane. I think this goes to show how interesting it can be to learn about another culture—from someone of that culture and in their native language, no less.

It’s crazy that something I take completely for granted- that June is in the summer, for example- could mean something completely opposite to someone else. Maritza tells me her country and her people are beautiful, and I’m glad I had this chance to preview la pura vida de Costa Rica before I go experience it for myself.