As I hopped on a plane to my magical study abroad destination all alone, I could feel my stomach drop. This was it. What seemed like a fantasy was now about to be my reality. I never put much thought into studying abroad. I always knew I would go and I did not really care where. I made the decision on a whim, like most decisions I make, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Needless to say, I tend to fall out of my comfort zone often. After my long journey, I arrived at my Mama Tica’s [my host family’s] house. With a yappy dog at her feet and speaking solely in Spanish, she welcomed me to Costa Rica with open arms. I never wanted a host family, because I doubted my ability to adapt. Little did I know that my Mama Tica would be a highlight of my experience in Costa Rica.
As soon as I stepped foot in the house, she called down my new roommates. Matching the names I was told weeks prior to the faces now before me was peculiar. None of them matched the image I had created in my head. It was like watching a movie after reading the book. I was taken back but not disappointed. Without hesitation we went on our first adventure all together to a street festival in my new home, San Jose. That night I knew those girls would not be strangers to me for long.
I shared a room with the stranger that ended up being my twin. Unlike in “The Parent Trap,” we did not share looks or parents, but we were born on the exact same day. Even though we are both gemini, we were a perfect pair for balancing each other out. She was in a constant state of high energy, which opposes my calm nature. We got to know each other very well in the close quarters we shared. The room next door to ours also hosted two girls that were quite different from each other. It is shocking to see four girls from different states, cultures, and backgrounds come together and get along as well as we did. It must have been Mama Tica’s delicious cooking that brought us all together. Sobremesa is a spanish tradition of relaxing and enjoying conversation at the table after a meal. We started and ended everyday by making this tradition our own. It was not long before we became family.
Those girls were always a constant part of my stay in Costa Rica. We had many other roommates from all over the world come in and out of Mama Tica’s home during my time there. I traveled all over Costa Rica rushing to bus stations every weekend, buying tickets and staying at hostels or airbnbs that were most likely booked that day. Everything was planned last minute and sometimes we even had to lay on the bus floor, but every destination was worth it. These experiences I shared with people I barely knew and that will be what keeps us connected forever.
The strangers I met in Costa Rica are far from strangers now. We laughed, we cried, we fought and we made up. Like all relationships, ours were far from perfect, but I would not trade them for the world. Each person that was part of my study abroad experience is crucial to my story. My roommates became my sisters and my “temporary” friends became people I would never want to be without. And if they are reading this, wherever they are, don’t be strangers! 😉