Costa Rica has been a great learning experience and I’m thankful for this opportunity.
Traveling is one of my passions. Whenever I get the opportunity to go somewhere I take advantage of it; with each trip comes new perspectives. Traveling allows you to experience life in a new, fun and exotic way while learning more about the world and yourself.
Studying abroad is notoriously known as a long vacation and party for students around the world. While that may be true for some, this trip, to Costa Rica, has allowed me to view a few particular social issues differently— especially the cultural clash within colleges and society.
Many of us are guilty of being insensitive towards foreign cultures within our communities and/or universities. We make comments regarding the language, their habits and fashion. Some just assume that since we live in Merica’, everyone will speak Merican’, act like Mericans’ and dress like we’re Merican’— this is not the case and nor should it ever be.
Having spent the last four months in Costa Rica, having traveled throughout Europe and working in Haiti I can assure you that cultural diversity is vital to our existence.
When you think about food in America, where does it come from? Pizza comes from Italy, hamburgers come from Germany and idea of utilizing beef comes from the French— this is a simple yet effective way of showing diversity within the United States. Though, cultural diversity is much more than the food we eat.
Living abroad, studying and working is extremely difficult— especially when the native language is not your first language. Many of us get to come home from school and relax, yet those living abroad have the constant uphill battle of mastering the native language. But unfortunately, since I’ve been at Toledo, I’ve heard many discouraging comments regarding foreigners not speaking the language.
disclaimer: This happens everywhere and I’m not putting the blame on individuals at Toledo, in Ohio or the United States.
I came to Costa Rica, four months ago, knowing less than ten words in Spanish— now I’m having full conversations with my host family and various locals.
Rather than discouraging, we need to encourage foreigners to come to wherever we are. We need to embrace the cultural diversity and becoming welcoming. This will not only help them, but it will help the community, school and your own personal growth. With every new person there is something new to learn. Imagine the United States without cultural diversity— we’d be non-existent.
We must give everyone a chance— A chance a creating a better life for themselves, their families and their country. The United States is a dream destination for many and we cannot disappoint. Embrace the cultural differences, learn and grow with one another.
You may not understand que onda (Spanish), was ist los (German) or commet ca va (French) but you will always understand a simple smile.