When I was getting ready for my study abroad to Costa Rica, I was thinking about the fellow students that I would be going with and expected that I would probably make some friendships. I was hoping that the group would be fun, nice, and we would all enjoy our experience together. However, one thing I wasn’t prepared for was the incredible warmth and welcoming spirits of the people we would meet and interact with while in Costa Rica. Everyone we met was incredibly kind to us and made our experience that much better. One thing that I noticed while I was there was that whenever you would thank anyone for anything, whether a server or just someone holding the door for you, everyone answers with “con gusto” rather than “de nada”. Con gusto translates to “with pleasure”, and when I asked our tour guide why no one answers with de nada, she said that people feel that con gusto is a more genuine answer that relays a message of helpfulness. That small detail really stuck with me throughout the trip and after returning home, because I feel like it is such a good example of how friendly and warm everyone there was.

I can’t write about the kindness we experienced in Costa Rica without especially highlighting our tour guide Cata. She had lived in Costa Rica her whole life, and specializes in helping international groups learn about and experience all that Costa Rica has to offer. Beyond just the things that you can learn out of a textbook, Cata shared many things with us about Costa Rica that really showed us a glimpse of what life is like there. She told us her life story, and was always there to lend an ear or have a laugh. Almost everyone in our group came into Costa Rica, whose national language is Spanish, speaking basically no Spanish. Cata was patient with us as we all attempted to learn as much Spanish as we could in the two weeks we were there, which was an impressive feat, because I can imagine we probably exhausted her always asking her to help us translate. Meeting Cata was one of my favorite parts of going to Costa Rica, as she welcomed us so well and truly became a friend to us.