Costa Rica Tico Time – API Blog

Today’s post comes to us from UW-La Crosse and Spring 2019 API Student Blogger Savannah Stanley! She’s enrolled in our Multidisciplinary & Environmental Studies program at Universidad Veritas in San Jose, Costa Rica. Today she’s talking about her first impressions of her new, gorgeous home!

At 4:15 in the morning I descended into Alajuela, Costa Rica.

The adrenaline circulating through my veins kept me awake for over 24 hours as I ventured into the airport passing through immigration and looking for my checked luggage. And then, I heard it: “pura vida!”, yelled some Tico man in a blue shirt. At that moment I knew that I had arrived in my dream country where “pure life” is not only a greeting, but a lifestyle. Fast forward a few days and I’ve declared myself to be in love with this small nation. Here’s why:

Aside from the breathtaking scenery, including mountains, volcanoes, palm trees, & a multitude of flowers that surrounds me whether I am in the city or not, Costa Ricans are some of the friendliest people I know.

Every morning when I eat breakfast, my Mama Tica, (my Costa Rican host mother), and Tia, (Costa Rican host aunt), sit with me. Our chats range from how I am feeling to traditional Costa Rican food to the current economic crisis. My heart glows knowing that they truly care about my how my day went, mood, sleep, health, ability to learn Spanish, etc. In less than a week, I feel as though I am a part of this familia tica (Costa Rican family).  

In Costa Rica, we live on “Tico time”.

Tico time is a “I’ll get to it when I get to it” type of mindset. At breakfast we take our time; in class we take our time; at the dinner table we take our time; even walking to class we take our time. For lack of a better word, this stress-free mentality literally slows one down. But living in Tico time does not, I repeat DOES NOT, translate to laziness or even boredom, like many from the United States would envision. To be honest, Tico time is one of the major reasons that I feel so cared for even though I’ve been here for a week.  

Tico time in san jose

You see, we chat and connect without worry about schoolwork or wondering if someone texted me. In Tico time I see the world with more clarity; instead of the usual rush to finish and “accomplish” a task, I contemplate, observe, and pursue the topic or action at hand. The other day in class I was assigned a 21-page reading—in Spanish. Spanish is a foreign language to me and in typical American fashion, I began to mentally freak out. In typical Tico fashion, my professor informed us “that no stress was assigned with this reading”. She reassured us that we would go over everything and discuss any confusion during the next class period. So, how much happier, friendlier, more productive and EFFECTIVE would we be if stress-free Tico time manifested itself in all our lives?  

Within a week, the Tico culture & the Tico people have validated that money & material things do not equal happiness & love.

It is the time we allow ourselves to connect with others, human or not. It is the respect we give ourselves to choose a stress-free mindset. And it is the resulting capacity to view this world in terms of the bigger picture. These are the ways I’ve observed Ticos live happily and wisely. Any foreigner is sure to understand the moment they are welcomed with open arms into the pura vida of Costa Rica.  

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  1. I also went to UW-L and studied in Costa Rica! It was the best experience I ever had. Toward the end of my trip, my U.S. family was going through a rough time with the loss of my grandfather and my Mama Tica sat with and comforted me just like I know my own mother would have. Cannot wait to return someday to see the corners of the country that I missed. Pura vida!

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