Proctor in Costa Rica offers sophomores an opportunity to study abroad at The Cloud Forest School in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Living with host families, continuing their regular sophomore courses, while immersing themselves in Costa Rica culture and Spanish language. Read a mid-term update from David '20, Tommy '20, Lila '20, and Emily '20 below!
As a first year sophomore boarding student at Proctor, I jumped at the opportunity to study in Costa Rica this spring. Currently, I am living in Monteverde with my host family Marina, Carlos, Chidi, Said and occasionally, Lila ‘20.
We landed in Costa one month ago and it feels impossible to recount my first day here or more importantly my first impressions. Upon my arrival, I greeted Kathia, someone I initially referred to as “the coordinator lady”, and the other Proctor students, Lila (a girl who lived in my sister’s dorm fall term), Tommy (one of the skiers) and David (the kid with really red hair). After sitting down together, we endured painful small talk: the awkward dance of exchanging Spring Break stories and continuously repeating “I can’t believe we are in Costa Rica!”. The uncomfortable sentiment of estrangement followed us into the turismo taxi while we began the climb up the 4,662 mile high mountain. The next two hours included long pauses and incredibly wide smiles with intense eye contact (really just way too much eye contact) as each person scrambled to apologize after interrupting the other’s sentence or immediately after their shoe grazed another's leg; just awkward.
After another half an hour and the harmony of growling stomachs rumbling louder by the minute, we found ourselves stopped at a local mountainside restaurant. There we circled around a table and enjoyed our brief freedom from the cramped car. When it was time to order, I found myself completely dumbfounded as twenty minutes of gawking at the menu still left me clueless to what a casado or batido was. Fortunately enough, Kathia made the executive decision and ordered for me, saving me from attempting to communicate with my poor gringo Spanish. Once we finished dinner, we hopped back onto the bus and prayed the last hour and a half of our trip would pass quickly. Four hours had already passed and Kathia informed us we would need to hang on for “a couple more minutes”-- we remained stagnant for the next three hours.
In those three hours things changed: pauses in conversation evaporated, laughs flowed naturally, people spoke with ease and we had collectively achieved 200,000 XP in Hungry Shark. The remainder of that night flew by and each minute represented another inside joke formed-- not only did we defeat the eight hour car ride, we thrived throughout it.
While each off campus program will ensure a rocky start (similar to the harsh roads in Costa Rica), it will always pay off and you will not regret it. I begin most mornings (in reality, once a week) waking up to watch the sunrise and doing yoga with someone I now call my best friend, Lila. I then jump on the bus to school and sit with Tommy, Kosmo and their host brothers, Froy and Gabriel. From there we walk to class, some of which include working and soaking up the sun outside on La Creativa’s stone tables. At lunch, I can be found watching pickup games of soccer or indulging in eleventh grades makeshift picnics. After school, I attend Proctor’s daily activities such as horseback riding, cooking, art class or playing volleyball. Right after club ends, it is not uncommon to find Lila and I hanging out in Santa Elena or tanning in a local field until the sun sets. And at night we frequently are seen racing home to make the 7:00 curfew.
This routine is just as it sounds-- my routine-- and with consideration that this will appear cheesy, I’ve come to call Costa Rica my home and the people I spend each day with my friends. I will not go as far as to call myself a tica, but I may go as far to repeat what an eighth grade student group from California shared with me after I helped them with directions, “eh, I guess you count as a local”.
To imagine being so out of place, uncomfortable, unfamiliar and all in all, awkward with just three other students from the same school as me, to the feeling that I could almost be considered a local here represents the simple beauty in the Costa Rica program. I hope every going-on-sophomore applies for this trip and each student who previously participated in this program remembers it with same appreciation I have for it. I cannot promise each person has experienced or will experience the same as I, but I know, with the right intentions, each person can. I don’t know how I will manage to pry myself from Monteverde this summer but at least I will have many beautiful photos to reflect upon and three other Proctor kids to relive this adventure with. All in all, just amazing.
I have had so much fun in Costa Rica so far! I love my host family so much, and it has been such an incredible experience to be immersed in the culture at home. My two younger brothers are adorable, and I have had a blast playing Hot Wheels with them. My parents are some of the kindest people I know, and having full conversations with them in Spanish has certainly improved my comprehension and vocabulary. Living with a Spanish-speaking host family has been one of the most challenging, yet incredible experiences of my life, and the memories I have already made with them will forever be remembered.
The experience that I have had so far is something I would never have imagined having at boarding school. At first, I was scared because of of the different culture that I was immersing myself in, but after I got settled in, everything has been amazing. The food is very different (I eat rice beans with every meal every day) which is something new for me. The family that I live with is so wonderful. I have two younger host brothers, Froy and Gabriel. Froy is 4 and Gabriel is 6 and all they want to do is play. I really enjoy going to school at CEC, where I am taking math, science, Costa Rican history, and spend about two hours every day in Spanish class.