Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Founder's (or Island) Effect

               In genealogy there is a term called founders affect.  Basically when a population of individuals is isolated from other interactions with the outside world it changes slowly and any of its defects are amplified.  Basically what we have with my study abroad program is an intense founder’s effect.  You can read about why I chose the program that I did in my first blog, but basically it is ending up a medium intensity study abroad program instead of high intensity.  The founder’s affect analogy applies because my study abroad program essentially provides an island of English speakers in the sea of the city of San José.  When you live in another culture and with a host family you find yourself unable to communicate if you don’t make strong efforts to do so in their language.  When you are with English speakers though, it is just so easy to switch back to your native tongue.  Sure we are all here for an intensive Spanish program but it is a definite truth that for some of the students that experience begins Monday through Friday at 8 in the morning and ends at noon.  (Notice I said 8 in the morning instead of 8 a.m. – since that is how it translates from Spanish, this stuff if taking over my life).  Well we have only been here six days so I am not trying to be too hard on the international students at Universidad Veritas but I hope that we all change.  I am ready, I already carry on extensive conversations with my ticamomma and would like to do the same with my classmates.  Unleash the floodgates of broken Spanish.

I requested a friendly household with long enough beds, and good food, and I am not sure I could be more satisfied with the result! The food has been excellent and I feel welcomed.  So basically my material needs have been accounted for, and I am satisfied with the result.
Granadilla (Passion fruit) half eaten
Now onto how my program is shaping up, I came to San José Costa Rica on august 28th and now today it is September 2nd.  So I have been here six days during which I have eaten fresh passion fruit (granadilla), been ripped off by a taxi, spent time on the street of bitterness (la calle de la amargura), learned how to Merengue, and salsa (properly), and even made an attempt at Costa Rican Cumbia (according to my instructor it was invented by prostitutes!)  So as you can see my life is quite full of excitement and new experiences.  It feels like I have been in Costa Rica for months, I can’t believe it has only been six days.  It feels like it has been so much longer since I left. 
So the least you need to know: I really want to learn Spanish, and so far an 75% pleased with my progress and 100% happy with my homestay, and 90% satisfied with my all around experience.



  1. LOL thank you for the percentage of satisfaction updates. I'm interested to see how they change. Usually they talk about the culture shock.. honeymoon stage in the beginning, followed by a crash.. but it sounds like you are adjusting well. I didn't really have culture shock til I came back home. I'm excited you want to write things directly translated from spanish! Wait til all your english spellings go.. & you say things like "more big" instead of bigger.. which I still find myself doing lol.

  2. Yo debería hablar contigo en español para practicar. Es muy bien que quieres hablar con tus campaneros en español. Es una posibilidad que los estudiantes muy avanzados vengan mas tarde y hablaran contigo en español todo el tiempo! También, Recuerdas traerme algo de la café de Cafe Britt. Hasta luego hermanito!

  3. it's so cool to have smart children. Thank you God.