I am a proud Clemson Tiger, born and raised in the south, lover of all things pink, orange, and preppy, fan of college football and basketball, preacher's kid, daugher and sister in a loving family of 4, talk with a southern accent, hoping to be a pharmacist, college senior, currently living in Costa Rica studying abroad. Join me on this adventure as I blog about it all - what I'm doing here and what the culture is like, in addition to my musings on faith, fashion, and current events.


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Thursday, December 10, 2009

place of abundance

"…we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance"
-Psalm 66:12

One day I will sit and write about my journey to get to Costa Rica, how it started over a year ago, and how it has brought me to the point I am at now. The short version is...that the Lord has brought me to a place of abundance. For me, it was Costa Rica. The Lord brought me here. The Lord has kept me safe here, has loved me and carried me through this entire experience. He has shown me what the John 10:10 life is about. Thank you, Lord, for all of it. The people, the friendships, the food, the experiences, the time of rest and relaxation, of trials and endurance, of growth and change. Never let me forget, Lord, all that you have done for me here.

is it really over?

Wow. It's 1:20 am. I have to wake up at 3:30 to wait to be picked up to go to the airport. My flight leaves at 7:40 am from San Jose, on to Houston, then on to GSP.

I can't believe this is the end. This has been without a doubt the MOST INCREDIBLE experience of my life. It feels like it has been too short, that it isn't right that it is over. I have been emotional for the last 2 weeks, and the past several days have been tough, not only with the stress of exams and packing, but also with the sadness that comes with telling all of my new friends goodbye.

I have made so many new friends with the other students in the program. I can't believe how lucky our group was. We ALL got along SO WELL. I loved every single person in our group. Each person was incredible and unique and such a pleasure to be with. It's crazy how well we all got along.

I also am so blessed to have made so many tico friends. Without them, who knows how much worse my spanish would be? I am overwhelmed by the kindness and compassion the people of Costa Rica have shown me. I will never forget the image of when my tico friends dropped me off just now...we were all piled in the car, me in the backseat after SC had left, and when they let me out, they all opened their doors and came out to me to hug me. We all embraced for so long, and cried, of course. These people really are my friends, people I care about and love, and pray to God that I will see again.

My family...wow. What patience and kindness. To open your home up to a total stranger and let her have free reign over everything. Could you do that? My host sister has become like a real sister to me. Saying goodbye to her will be so difficult tomorrow morning. She asked me to wake her up, even though it will be 4 am, to say goodbye.

I am feeling and have been feeling for the last week or so the craziest mix of emotions, and the closer I get to getting on that plane tomorrow, the more intense they become. 6 hours ago I was eager to get home, and after saying goodbye, I just want to stay.

MIF invited me, MSG, and MV to his house to eat dinner with his family. His host mother who is just precious cooked dinner for us - chips and beans, delicious ensalada, and arroz con camarones. She was so kind to us and I always love seeing her and hugging her. After I got home, my abuelita stopped by to give me a present. She gave me coffee! More! After I already have 5 bags to bring. AHH! I am so touched that she thought of me and did that for me.

Costa Rica has touched me in a way that nothing or no one ever has. Perhaps it will take me several years to realize and see the changes which have taken place inside me. I just know that I am not the girl I was when I arrived. I have been touched by the people here, by the beauty of this tiny country, by the city of San Ramon. This experience has passed so quickly that I feel like it is just a dream, like it all passed in only a few short days, as if it has only been a couple of weeks since I left South Carolina to come here.

I am nervous about the transition from Costa Rica to home. My life here has been incredible, and it is very hard to say goodbye to it. I know that I must, though, and that if the Lord sees fit, he will bring me back to this paradise I have found.

Siempre en mi corazon, Costa Rica.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I am officially FINISHED! I have completed all 5,000 projects, tests, papers, and presentations successfully here in Costa Rica. I already know 4 of my grades - all A's so far. Keep your fingers crossed that we are 6/6!

I have just been an emotional basketcase the last couple of days. Actually since Friday. Actually since 2 weeks ago. I have cried a lot already, and know that more tears are probably on the way. I have had to say goodbye to so many people - KL (the only one in the group who has already gone), my neighbor tico friend who I will miss very much, my professors at school, the people at the hospital I worked at, and tomorrow, to my other tico friends, Claudia, some of the other group members, and my host family. Pray that I will handle this well and not be a blubbery mess!

I can't believe that I have been able to meet all of the people I have and make all of these great relationships. Who would have thunk it? The Lord has blessed me IMMEASURABLY MORE than I could have EVER EVER EVER EVER imagined in so many ways on this trip.

I'm not done blogging here yet. I have some more posts I want to do. I probably won't get back to it until I get home. I leave Friday morning - out of my house at 4 am and out of Costa Rica at 7 am.

What a ride it has been. PURA VIDA!

Monday, December 7, 2009

weekend and today

Saturday was a good day. I woke up early and my host mother decided to try again to take me up into the mountains so that I could see out toward the ocean! And QUE DICHA - we were able to see it!!! It was breathtaking to be able to see out over the ocean and see the islands and the Nicoya Peninsula. After riding up through the mountains we went to my aunt's house in San Pedro. She and her husband have a BEAUTIFUL home and property there in the mountains and you can see the ocean from there as well. Luckily we were able to see it, and she showed me some INCREDIBLE fotos of sunsets there. Their home was beautiful and open inside. I wish I knew how to describe the floor plan! It was open with a big tall ceiling, and the living room area and kitchen were continuous, with lots of doors opening to the big back porch they had. And if you walked up a series of stairs you looked out over the kitchen and living room and the rooms were off of that little walkway. Anyway she offered to call us if it was clearer in the afternoon so that we could see it better. My padres then offered for me to continue on the journey with them to Palmares so that they could pay a bill for something. It was the first time I had been into Palmares. It's a small town, much smaller than San Ramon, but it is clean and safe and lovely! I liked it a lot. There are huge fiestas there in January. People come from all over the country (and world) to take part. There are lots of concerts and music and artsy things. My mom and I had icees that were WAY too sweet, but I ate it all because she paid for it. We then ventured back to San Ramon. It was quite an adventure, but we were able to talk a lot and I enjoyed the time with them. We then came home and went to get AM from work and then went to eat lunch. It was scrumptious. Afterwards we came back and then I went to Delicias for a while to do some work. I came home to shower and get ready to go see LUNA NUEVA with mis amigos and my brother and sister!!! It was crowded when we got there so we had to separate but AM and I chatted and ooed and aaahed the whole movie! It was good, but the book is way better. Afterwards, my brother and sister went home and the gringos went out for a while. We met up with the ticos there. I got to salsa some...it was lots of fun! We danced at Night Fever, hung out outside to cool off a bit, then went to another spot for a bit to hang out some more. After a while we all went home.

Got up, ate breakfast, and got to work. I got some work done in the morning and stayed at home till after lunch. After we ate, I went to meet some gringo amigos at Delicias to get some work done. I did some work on my internship journal but unfortunately the internet wasn't working so I couldn't really do anything else. I offered for TJ and MIF to come to my house to use the internet. So we were walking down the street toward my house when I hear some people yelling and a car horn. We turn around and its Helbert and Diana and some other amigos in her car! They asked us where we were going and I told them that we were going to my house to do work. They told us to get in, that they would take us home. Well, they didn't. We then proceeded for 3 1/2 hours to be spontaneous. Helbert drove (like a maniac, may I add) through the mountains to a lookout point that was probably the most stunning view of ANYTHING I have seen since being in Costa Rica. It was beautiful there! We met a campesino...not sure what the English word is for this, but basically someone who works on the farm in CR. He was kind and talked to us for over an hour. We enjoyed the views and each other's company. Afterward we drove back around and stopped at Fory Fay, a great spot here, to try something that Helbert wanted us to try. It was ceviche mixed in a bag of dorito-like chips. Surprisingly it was scrumptious! Then we drove back through Palmares, continuing on to San Ramon. We stopped for 15 minutes to look out over San Ramon, up at the starts, and have a dance party on the side of the road. It was fun and BEAUTIFUL! FINALLY we made it back to town and Helbert dropped us all off at our homes. I did some more work and waited for my neighbor tico friend to get home, and then we headed out to the centro to meet everyone for a while. We hung out, then went and hung out outside for a while, then went back to where we started. We had a great time talking and dancing and just hanging out together. SC didn't have her keys to get into her house (she left them with CD) and when we went to her house no one answered the doorbell. Entonses ella came with me to my house and I let her sleep in my bed and I slept on the couch. I actually slept well. My dad came in the room with a flashlight in my face saying that the sensor thing in their had gone off and was confused and so I explained what happened to him and he was fine with it.
Today I had to wake up early to get ready to go to the hospital for the last time. The shower water was cold, a first in my home here, but it woke me up. I got ready quickly and then my dad dropped me off at the hospital. I met Claudia there and the doctors were out taking care of an emergency so we walked around the hospital so that I could take some pictures (I will post them soon!). It was interesting. They have a lot of outdoor gardens there, which I'm sure is great for the patients to enjoy. Anyway, they came looking for us, so we went into the Director's office to take more fotos which I will be posting soon, probably once I get back home and have time, of him presenting me with a certificate for all the work I did! We then all sat down together, Claudia, the director, other doctors and myself and had cafecito and cookies, and talked a while. Claudia commented on the relationship she hoped to create between Clemson and the hospital, saying that the public health department could collaborate with the hospital and vice versa. El Director said that he would love to come to SC to visit Hilton Head to play golf and then go to a football game as part of his weekend activities if he were to come to Clemson to talk with people there. I am going to miss them all a lot. They were so kind to me!
I then went back to my house and went to the U to do some work, which I did until 1230 or so. Then I came home and ate lunch with the fam and did a bit of studying after lunch. At 2 my sister and I went out toward the centro. She wanted to develop a picture of us and put it in a frame, and I wanted to develop some too. We went to the developing place first, then to the store to get her a frame, then to her school to get her university information, and then to Aroma's Cafe to eat a snack! We talked a lot and I really enjoyed the time that I spent with her. I really feel like she is like my little sister and I am going to miss her! She had to go to her grandmother's house after that, and so I went back home and got my things to go to school to work for a while. I worked until 630 or so and then came home and did some work and skyped with mom. Around 830 I went to KA's to walk to Gerardo's apartment. He made food for all of us and so we all hung out together and talked and enjoyed each other's company. It was a lot of fun. I got back later than I expected but have been doing work since then and just wanted to take some time to blog before I forgot everything that I did.
I come home on Friday. I won't be able to start packing until Wednesday. I have 2 tests and a paper due tomorrow, and then a 20 minute Spanish presentation and 5 page Spanish paper due Wednesday on health care in Central America. Pray for me! We're almost there.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

lovely fotos

Check out this post, a coastal christmas, on pink cupcake's blog:


These pictures are so lovely!

Friday, December 4, 2009

this week

My lack of posting probably explains my current circumstances. As the end of the semester and my time in Costa Rica approaches, available time seems to be disappearing to do all the things I want and need to do. Actually it seems that ever since I got back from fall break in Panama the work has just piled on, because I have not been able to post as often. Anyway, I wanted to catch up a bit on Wednesday-Friday of this week as best I can.

Wednesday was a busy work day. I had class at 8, and we spent about an hour with the final bit of material for the class, and spent another chunk of time just talking about our Thanksgiving breaks, Obama's declaration to send more troops overseas, the age of grandparents here, and our future plans. Carlos, tico of age 54, told us that he has 2 grandkids, the oldest being 8. EIGHT years old! Isn't that crazy? My real daddy is 54, and he DEFINITELY has no grandchildren, and will not have any for 4-5 years bare minimum. After class I stayed at school till lunch time to work on my project for the next day. I then went home to have lunch and spent the whole afternoon at school working on my project and essay due for Spanish the next day and studying for my exam for my literature final the next day as well. I stayed at school until 6 until our society and environment class had to go to Claudia's apartment for our presentations of these questionnaires we have been working on. We had delicious burritos there and banana splits for dessert. The food was great. Then we each presented our data and went our separate ways. I went home to continue working, and KL came with me to hang out for a while. We chilled for a bit then she went home, and I stayed up to continue working and studying. I finally made it to bed after 12:30 but was unable to go to sleep, thinking about having to say goodbye to everyone and having to leave Costa Rica.

Thursday I had my literature final at 8 am. It wasn't too bad, but I just wish I had had more time to study and prepare for it. Afterwards I went to the USAC office to finish my project and essay due at 1. I went home for lunch around 12, then returned to school to class. We each presented our projects (mine was on Semana Santa in CR) about tica traditions and then spent some time talking about our experiences in CR - likes, dislikes, regrets, etc. I am definitely going to miss my 'tia teacher'! Afterwards I went home to change and get ready for my dance exam! Ivan took us to Puntarenas last night to a place on the beach for our final exam. We danced the night away with the other students from Puntarenas. I salsa-ed, meringued, bachata-ed for hours! It was one of the greatest nights of the whole trip for me. I danced with a very talented tico who just spun me around EVERYWHERE. It was amazing. I sweated a lot though. Puntarenas is hot and SO humid and we all were just dripping sweat. Todavia it was a blast! We left just before 1 to head back to San Ramon and got back around 2. I went to bed after peeling my dress off and putting on some dry pajamas!

Friday I slept in without an alarm until 9:30 and it was lovely! I think you sleep and wake up better when you don't have an alarm. Anyway I showered and spent the morning relaxing and doing some stuff online. I had lunch with my hermanos, and then I went to KL's house to hang out. She, her brother and I spent the afternoon together around town. We had to go renew his license first. Then we went looking for some random things she needed for Honduras. She leaves tomorrow morning at 5 am to go to San Jose to then go on to Honduras where she will work with doctors there for 2 weeks before heading to Peru to spend Christmas there with a friend. It was fun to spend time with her! I stayed there until dark time and then went home to change. MIF and I then walked to meet everyone for pizza at a spot nearby, and we carried the pizza back to KL's house to eat it. It was delicious! Almost everyone in the group was there except for DB, AK, DL, TC and JW. We then went to the movie store and rented Four Christmases. I saw it last Christmas with my friend Bailey and laughed the whole time. We all watched it together and then just spent time hanging out and talking. Some people left around 11, but some of us stayed until just after 12. Saying goodbye for good to KL was hard. We both cried and it was difficult to walk away.

Coming in to this trip I was afraid that I would not make close friends with anyone or have anyone to share my faith with. How silly of me to underestimate the Lord! Everyone in the group has been incredible and awesome, but KL has just been the one person I can always talk to about my struggles, joys, disappointments, mess-ups, and spiritual things. I am so thankful that the Lord brought her into my life, and I feel like I have been changed because of her. She challenges me to think harder, look deeper, and just enjoy everything going on around me. I have never laughed so much in my life as I have on this trip, and I think I owe a lot of that to her!

I dread saying goodbye to my family and tico and gringo friends. I love it here, and my Costa Rican life has just become so normal for me that it is hard to think about what my other life will be like sometimes. I am just a basketcase of emotions right now and don't know how to handle this at all.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hoy y ayer


We went to Cafe de Altura, coffee enterprise that provides coffee to distributors all over the world, based here in San Ramon! We got a tour of the whole place. No coffee though! After that we stopped at a panaderia and Claudia bought us pan y donuts, and we bought coffee. Then we went to Los Angeles to souvenir shop for a bit. Afterwards I returned home to my chante for lunch with the familia. We then all piled in the car together to take my sister to school to get her test scores on her final exams. She did VERY well! She is muy inteligente! Then we drove up into the mountains because my mom wanted to take me to see if I could see the Pacific Ocean and over the city. Unfortunately it was too crowded so we went home. I went to the U to do some homework. I stayed there for a while, then headed back home to continue doing work and such. I went to KL's to watch a movie. Her brother and I went to the mercado to comprar palomitas, and then when we returned we started the movie. Desafortunadamenta, era en espanol, pero they talked way too fast, and the remote was lost so we weren't able to put on subtitles. We settled for some weird movie on TNT instead, but I fell asleep. I then went home and did some work, and went to bed rather late.


Woke up and got ready. KA and I walked around town to take pictures of the city. We went by the fire station because her dad is a firefighter and she wanted to ask for a patch to take home to him. They invited us in the station and gave her a shirt and told her to come back Thursday to get a patch! They were SO kind! And they gave contact info to give to her padre. I was overwhelmed with how kind and welcoming they were to us.

We then went back to my house, she checked her e-mail, and I did some work. I then went to school to print some stuff and came back to my house to eat lunch. I went back to school for class. It was kind of stressful for me today. Then I walked to my professor's house for class at 4. Today we had to make final presentations on a topic of our choice. I chose dances of Latin America. She and I made empanadas of some sort (she taught me how and let me do it!) and it was so fun! We ate them after the presentations, along with some Peruvian sweet thing (she is from Peru originally) and coffee. Her house was so cute and quaint. It is clean and well decorated. And she is just precious. Afterwards I went home and Skyped with friends for a while and got some work done.

Lot of work and studying ahead these next few days. Pray! Sorry this post is kind of sloppy and rambly, and Spanglishy. I'm exhausted and hopefully can add some better details later. I will give Nicaragua updates soon, probably this weekend when I have some more time.

Buenas noches!