Help! I’m in Culture Shock in Costa Rica, What’s the Cure?
Have you been living in Costa Rica for only a short time, and not feeling so well. Can’t put your finger on exactly why. The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, you love your new little house. You just returned from a day at the beach and had fresh tuna for lunch. You tell yourself, “I could never have all this: the nice weather, the seashore, this leisure lifestyle back in Atlanta. ” Here, I get up in the morning and sometimes I cannot remember where I am.
Well, what you have is called Costa Rica culture shock. Better known as a disturbance of the mind or emotion. You have come to this tiny little country in Central America which has it’s own distinct culture and you are existing within it. You hear a strange language, although you studied Spanish in high school does not mean you remember much of it. The buildings all around you look different. You wonder why they don’t paint that century old house on the corner, or why do the parents allow the children to throw candy wrappers in the street? Or why don’t they fix the big pot hole on 2nd Avenue? Why don’t the streets have names, how do people ever find anything? Maybe it’s because they lived all their life here, know all their neighbors, know where everything is , and don’t need signs all over the place to tell them. You sit in central park and watch the people going and coming, laughing and talking, smiling a lot. They look so happy and carefree. Children play games while mothers sit on park benches and talk with their friends. Maybe that’s why there is no newspaper, just stroll down to the park and catch up on all the news. No one hurrying, no one running, no one looking at their watch. Seems strange after the rat race life you have been living back in Atlanta.
You came here on a job assignment at Intel because you are a computer engineer. The computer chips manufactured here are shipped all over the world. Your co workers, mostly Costa Ricans are friendly, helpful, and very likable. They tell you about their families, their children, soccer games on the weekends. You have made friends and are invited to a get together at their home . But didn’t he say the party starts at 7 p.m.? Be glad that you learned ahead of time that “tico time” is different. 7 p.m. means around 8:30 p.m. So show up around 9 p.m. This is Costa Rica culture.
You wonder why didn’t the company give you a crash course in Costa Rica culture shock, not just send you down here cold turkey. But now you’ve been here six months and things are getting better. You are feeling more secure, you know your way around, where all the best shopping is, movie theaters, good restaurants, and have meet some really great people. Best of all you know the shortest route to the beach.
It all takes time and patience, yes, time will be the only cure for culture shock. Plus a positive state of mind. Don’t dwell on the negative. And always remember you are a guest in Costa Rica. Don’t try to change the way things are done. Learn to happily exist within this culture, experience the true meaning of “pura vida” or pure life.
Ann welcomes questions and comments. At end of the post click on no comments or click on reply. Are you thinking of making a move to Costa Rica? Or have already made the move and are feeling like well, I need help getting out of this culture shock! Please feel free to reply to me and I’ll be happy to try and help.