Post #2: Critical Incidents

Throughout my time in Costa Rica, I have been able to adjust myself decently well to the culture and climate. I have enjoyed all of the new experiences and people I have met since arriving here. As anticipated prior to my arrival, I have adjusted well to the food, my internship, pace of life, and with my host family. Every now and then, I have encountered some cultural clashes, such as work-life balance, or eating habits, but overall I would say that I have adjusted well. However, one of my greatest challenges has been learning how to maneuver through the Costa Rican public transportation system.  

Coming from Fort Worth, Texas, I had little-to-no experience with public transportation. Using the South Shoreline train from South Bend to Chicago during my first year at Notre Dame was a new and exciting experience to me, but did little to prepare me for the public transportation in Costa Rica. Prior to using Costa Rican public transportation, I assumed that all bus fares cost the same and that the bus would stop at every stop on route. Furthermore, I assumed the buses to arrive consistently and periodically.

However, upon first using the buses in Costa Rica, I felt very overwhelmed, as I had to strategically plan when to wake up so that I could not only sleep, get ready (while sharing one bathroom with four other people), and eat breakfast comfortably but also to get to the bus stop on time. Though it sounds easy, it was quite difficult for me primarily because the bus only comes once an hour at any time within a 30 minute time period (sometimes really early and sometimes really late). Upon using the bus for the first time alone, I was very nervous. Since not every bus stop in Costa Rica is distinctly known, I had to learn how to be comfortable with asking people for directions to the bus stop and confidently waving a bus down. Moreover, I had to quickly learn how much each bus fare was (I take 4 buses to go and come back), where it is appropriate for me to sit during the bus ride, and how many times and when to pull the cord to stop the bus.  Furthermore, it is quite common for Costa Ricans to greet people–stranger or not–on the street. Due to this, I was expecting it to be normal to show acknowledgement to the person sitting next to me on the bus. However, when riding the bus, I learned that even though it is common to say “Buenas” to those in passing, on the bus it is not normal to greet the person sitting next to you.

Overall, I am proud of myself for finally learning how to navigate public transportation–and especially in another language! I feel far more independent and confident in my abilities to travel alone now that I have mastered public transportation. Furthermore, I cannot wait to see how I will grow from future cultural critical incidents!