That Lango-Barrier though???

Sooo as a native speaker of English and a bit of knowledge in Spanish, many wondered how in the world I would do while I was in a Spanish speaking country. I had no answer..because I didn’t know. That was the joy of it all for me, just diving in there and going for it!

I’ve been in Costa Rica for 2 months and a week and so far I have managed to get through this long. There are a few tips I will leave you with so that you know surviving another language is possible!

 Know the basics

I took Spanish for 2 semesters in high school and 2 semesters in college…you would think that would do the trick but for some reason it wasn’t sticking with me. Knowing the basics is very important because it will take you a loonnngggggggg way! Trust me, I don’t know why..just do it! So when I say the basics I mean know greetings, simple phrases, and simple conjugations. When I first got to San Jose, this was the only thing I relied on. I knew different words and phrases and I was able to start there. Use all that you learned within your Spanish classes because this will definitely be a good start for you. My host family has been very helpful. If you try to speak the language, people are definitely more likely to help you out.

 It’s okay to sound horrible! 

I’ve been learning that it is okay that I may sound like I just learned the language a day ago. First, it makes them crack up and secondly, if you listen to yourself speak, you’ll be dying on the floor laughing yourself. The people here in San Jose have been great. I can sound like a complete idiot but they are willing to try to help you figure out what you’re trying to say. I have had a ball so far with learning the language. I’ve had moments where I made absolutely no sense and moments where I actually got a decent sentence out of my mouth. (Those are the moments to celebrate). Once you are in a location for at least a month you get more comfortable with listening to dialogue and recognizing key words that you may know from previous classes. Make yourself uncomfortable and get out there and just do your thing. Locals are more willing to help when they see you are trying.

 Listen to understand, not to respond

When you’re learning a language it’s important to make sure that you have your listening ears on because it will help you to understand the language better. The Spanish language isn’t as direct as English. They have similar words and some key phrases, but the way that you speak the language differs. I have been able to comprehend and understand so much by just listening to the make up of a conversation and it has helped me to even speak back. By listening, the language will be so much easier to learn! Listen for words, conjugations, the sounds, and similarities. By doing this, it will be easier to remember what you have learned in class and you can use these tools to get you through.

 Have fun!

Have fun while you’re learning a language. It will definitely make it worth while. If you want, you can create hypothetical situations that you can start in English and then translate it into the language you are learning. I think this is a good way to reinforce things that you already know in the language. One important note, it is good to use your resources. Find a friend or language group that you can speak with face to face so that you can practice and learn from a local. I love speaking with locals with the little bit of Spanish I know, because they correct me and help me out when I get stuck. Find a few friends in the country you are in and they are definitely willing to help because they enjoy meeting new people. But overall, don’t make this a chore, make it a hobby!

Fast and FURIOUS


Driving in San Jose is no joke! It’s like fast and furious out here! On any given day Monday-Friday, you will be faced with seeing zooming cars, non-existent laws, and a bunch of traffic during rush hour. The weekdays are the busiest when people are traveling. It’s like Boston drivers and New York drivers out here! If you need to cross the street here, you need to do it at the RIGHT second or you may be stuck waiting another 5 minutes.

Upon arrival, I seen so many cars driving on the wrong side of the road and I was scared for them while they just cruised like nothing else mattered. The motor bikes here just do what they want and get to squeeze through traffic! That is a bonus I’ll say! But I wonder what driving laws are in place here because I definitely would love to live here if there are none! I think the way that locals drive out here is fascinating! I would get to places so much quicker if I just follow behind a few others.

But there are some precautions. I have seen some accidents here probably because they enjoy the fast and furious life. But as long as you keep your guard and know what you’re doing, then you should be perfectly fine!



This is the fun part! During the first few weekends we went on a few excursions to a few cool places!


This was from our trip to the volcanoes! We got to see an active volcano in Costa Rica! It became active a few days before we got to Costa Rica. My host family said all of San Jose was covered in ash!


This was taken on our trip at La Paz Waterfall. This was such a beautiful trip! We got to see frogs, monkeys, parrots, toucans, butterflies, and of course waterfalls!


We got to visit the beautiful Jaco Beach! This was a very laid back location, good music, good vibes, and pretty awesome waves! (The hostels here in Costa Rica are actually pretty legit…and cheap! ) This is a great location to just hang out and relax!


Look Familiar??

Hola Chicos!

Today’s adventure will take a look at some familiar food spots in the states..with a twist! (I hope you had lunch already!)

Our first stop is….


That’s right! There’s a Popeyes. It has similar menu items as in the states, but also a little flavor of Costa Rica! You may find a sandwich with some avocado, tomatoes, and a special sauce on there! I guess everyone can enjoy some southern spice!

Our next stop is….


I’m not as surprised with this as an option. What I am interested in though is their menu. They have some interesting creations here in Costa Rica! Such as their Cheetos wraps. It’s like STUFFED with whole Cheetos and cheese! There’s meat in there but I think the cheese would probably just take charge. I haven’t had one yet, but I might try it out. Did I mention they also sell fries here? I love fries so that kind of made my day when I got here!

Next on our list is….


Pizza Hut is all around here. I haven’t tried it yet but I think I won’t turn down the opportunity to do so. It looks like it has similar menu items here that you would find in the states. The biggest difference is that they sell individual pizzas as their selections!

On to the next stop…


Now this here was a bit of a surprise for me. Seeing that this is a rare sight for myself when I’m back home, I was a bit shocked to see this here. I haven’t tried their menu yet but it smells like it won’t disappoint!

One place I wish I could’ve gotten was Hardy’s Jr. There is one here in their local mall. This was definitely the biggest surprise because I don’t believe we have them in Massachusetts and I know they’re more so popular in the southern parts of the US. I hope to try it out and at least get my first little experience.

Overall, I think the food selections here in Costa Rica are great. I do prefer the traditional foods here in Costa Rica compared to the selections that are already available in the US.

I hope you all enjoyed this little tour of familiar spots!

Hasta Luego!


Hola Chicos!

I am finishing up my first full week here in San Jose, Costa Rica and all I can say is WOW! During the first week we had a city tour, and let me tell you, it was phenomenal! What I enjoy best about the city thus far is that vibrant weather and the ease of access from the university to downtown, local parts, and neat spots to grab a lunch! But I would like to start our journey together with some amazing photos! img_0110

This is the view from right outside the university. You can see the city and a few of the mountains that are here in Costa Rica.


During our first trip to the beach this week, we were fortunate to have such beautiful scenery as we were on the bus heading to Jaco Beach!


This is a lovely snippet of Centro de San Jose (Downtown, San Jose)!

So far, many of the views that I have come to cherish this week, have been a compliment to the beauty and history of San Jose! Next week, we’ll hop on the train to see some very familiar places that we’ve all been to in the states!

Hasta la proxima semana! (Until next week)


Follow this Spring 2017’s Office of Study Abroad & International Experiences Global Correspondent, Nikquania Gamble, on her studies in San José! Nikquania is a UMass Lowell Liberal Arts major studying this spring on a UMass Lowell partner-led study abroad program, CISAbroad Semester in Costa Rica.

Nikquania Gamble sitting in front of the Centro Ybor which includes a Jimmy John's restaurant., in Tampa, Florida