Ciorstan – My Costa Rica experience


I’m not quite sure how to sum up my experience in Costa Rica. It was amazing. Exhausting. Life changing. Exciting. Hot. Incredible. A great learning experience. Banter. The happiest two weeks of my life. Better than I could have ever imagined.

Before the trip, I didn’t know what to expect. Despite being excited and counting down the days, I was also nervous and apprehensive. I was worried about the bugs, about the food and what I thought would be a complete culture difference. My number one worry however was meeting the people. I had no idea how we were supposed to communicate when we didn’t speak the same language. I thought we would have nothing to connect over. I still hate bugs, but we had cockroaches and massive spiders in our bathroom and survived. I ate vast quantities of rice and beans, but also had pizza, a lot of cereal and the best cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. And after spending a mere 6 days in Rey Curre, I was sitting in the bus, driving away from the village for the last time, crying my eyes out. Because we had connected. Despite the language barrier, we were able to communicate, and we created a bond that was truly special.

And there is no doubt in my mind that my favourite part of the trip was the people. From our Scottish group to the Costa Ricans and the Portuguese, I can’t imagine ever doing this trip without the same people. I became such close friends with everyone and they will all always hold a place in my heart. I think here in Britain we have a tendency to be quite closed off, we are very polite but sometimes don’t show much affection towards others. However over in Costa Rica, everyone was so warm, welcoming and truly genuine, and I think we need more people like that in Scotland. Everyone we passed gave us a smile and said Buenos Dias to us. And the people in the villages, specifically for me in Rey Curre, were some of the nicest I’ve ever met. It was easy to spend time with them as they themselves really wanted to get to know us, taking our phones so they could ask us something on Google translate, helping us with anything we didn’t understand and giving us an abundance of big hugs. When we were feeling hot, exhausted and overwhelmed, their beautiful smiles truly helped lift our spirits. One of my favourite memories is teaching them the cup song and then spending hours doing it non stop!

The trip changed me in many ways. Before I would have described myself as a relatively shy, quiet and introverted person and I’ll be the first to admit that my communication skills and confidence are something I struggle with. But I think this experience really brought me out my shell, and exposed a fun side of my personality that some people don’t see. I certainly laughed more than I ever have before. And because of the nature of the trip, you couldn’t just sit at the sidelines and watch, you had to get stuck right in, and because of this my confidence really grew and I reached the point were I was totally comfortable standing up in front of a room or hall full of people, introducing myself in a language I didn’t know and talking to them. It’s also given me a strong desire to see more of the world, visit new places, experience more cultures and have more adventures like this.

I found myself learning all the time, from small words in Spanish and Portuguese (I doubt I’ll ever forget the words to head, shoulders, knees and toes in Portuguese I’ve sung it so much) to how to make cotton. I learned so much about different cultures and the process of sharing all three was something I really enjoyed. In particular I loved watching some of the young people demonstrate some traditional dances which we got to learn a little bit of. And then in turn we taught them some Ceilidh dances, which was a completely different style but the picked it up and seemed to really like it. It made me proud to see how much they enjoyed the few tasters we gave them of our culture, and excited for them to have the full immersive experience next year.

Overall the trip was just amazing. I made so many happy memories that I will always cherish and created and solidified so many friendships that I know will stay strong – we have already video called several times. I want to say a massive thank you to everyone involved from Costa Rica for giving us an unforgettable time, the group from Portugal for going out of their way to help us and extending a hand of friendship, and the Scottish leaders for all their hard work and not just being great leaders, but great company.  I am so incredibly grateful for being given this opportunity and can’t wait for our friends in Costa Rica to come visit us here in Scotland and see how beautiful it is. I hope they’ve got some warm jumpers!

Bha eòlas iongantach orm ann an Costa Rica. Chunnaic mi seallaidhean àlainn, dh’ionnsaich mi rudan ùra agus rinn mi mòran charaidean ùra. Bha mo chuid fàbharach den turas a ‘coinneachadh ris na daoine. Bha iad uile glè chàirdeil agus aoigheil agus tha mi cinnteach gum bi sinn fhathast nan caraidean. Dh’fhàs mi mar dhuine agus dh’fhàs mi nas misneachaile. Dh’ionnsaich mi cuideachd mòran rudan ùra, nam measg cànanan. Chòrd e rium a bhith a ‘roinn nan diofar chultaran, agus bha mi a’ còrdadh rium a bhith a ‘teagasg dannsa Albannach. Rinn mi mòran cuimhneachain toilichte agus tha mi glè thaingeil airson na cothrom.






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