I have to say, Costa Rica felt so much like home that I forgot I left Florida. Our homestay parents treated us like we were their own, and our departure was rather emotional. The bus which transported our professors and our classmates was waiting out in the street for us as my roommate and I exchanged hugs with our families a thousand times over. This goodbye hurt. In just a month, we not only got to experience the ebullience of the nature, customs, and language of Costa Rica, but we also experienced unconditional love. We experienced humanity. We witnessed the daily lives of ordinary Costa Ricans—a people so full of generosity, compassion, and positivity that it overflowed; the streets of San Jose weren’t just flooded by the constant rain storms, but by the kindness of the people.
We learned that love isn’t always a blood bond. As humans, love is something we all have in common, it is something we all yearn for, that we are all capable of. Our family in San Jose embraced this message. They spread it to everyone they encountered. Before we left, they hugged us and said, “God blessed us with two sons. We’ve always prayed for a daughter. We prayed, we prayed, and we prayed, and finally, God gave us more than we could have ever imagined. He gave us two very special women—Medina and Gviana, you are what we prayed for. You will forever be our daughters, our family. We love you.”
That moment was the best part of our trip. It’s truly about the connections, the friendships, and the love that is fostered. These moments are what I will hold dear to myself for the rest of my life. It offers hope. There are people out there that are willing to offer you the world—and sometimes that just means a helping hand, a conversation, a good laugh, or a smile as you pass them in a busy street. It is these moments that show us that despite our differences in our language, our culture, our upbringing, our race, religion, color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation—we are all human. And we all love. Costa Rica embodies love, and for this reason, I cherish every moment spent there.
Before coming here, my goal was to enhance my knowledge of the Spanish language in order to connect with a wide variety of people, and more specifically, connect with my future patients as a traveling nurse practitioner. Yet, I have gained so much more. Along with advancing my ability in the language, I have learned to be more open with the world, and despite the obstacles I may face, to always stay true to myself and spread my compassion and love towards others.
Costa Rica, I promise to return. You have taught me a lifetime full of lessons. Till next time (and as we said to our Mama Tica each day before we left for school)–¡Besitos!