Costa Rica, a city that is famous for its beautiful beaches, lush green forests, and an ideal vacation destination. This was all that I knew about Costa Rica before coming on this trip for 2 weeks. After just my first week here, I have found that Costa Rica has so much more to offer than a tourist destination. It is a place with health care for all, great education, and a small country known for accepting many immigrants and refugees. During our time here, we have had the opportunity to learn more Spanish, specifically about local Costa Rican phrases and way of life. We have also been able to visit various organizations to learn more about the country and what social work is like here. One of the common phrases they use here is ¡Pura Vida! which means great, good or cool. When I first learned about this phrase, I loved it and how it signified, a more relaxed, calm and content state of mind. Many Ticos (a local term for Costa Ricans) use this phrase on a daily basis, which represents the more relaxed culture present in this country.
Another phrase that I love is term they use to refer to the older generation is “ciudadanos de oro” which means citizens of gold. This phrase alone shows the level of respect that this country has for their older citizens. Older citizens in this country receive a new id card once the reach the age of 65 that allows them free bus rides and free health care with the added assistance of social security pensions. Similarly in the United States there is also a focus of respect for the older generation, with various discounts, free access to national parks after a certain age, and social security assistance. Costa Rican culture also emphasizes the importance of family and caring for one another, as seen with the help and care offered to the older citizens. Many families live very close together, such as the host family I am staying with, her children live in the apartments upstairs, her sisters live near by and her father lives down the street. Families tend to stay close together, involved in each other lives, and care for one another. In the United States as well families are highly valued, but at the same time there is high value put on independence. Thus, it is not very common to see families and extended families all living on the same street as it is in Costa Rica. There are pros and cons to living in close proximity with family and living further apart, so there is not one right answer. In both countries family is important and something to be valued.