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Brittany Alford — The Ultimate Takeaway of Being an Expat in Costa Rica (Part 3 of 3)

Brittany Alford -- The Ultimate Takeaway of Being an Expat in Costa Rica (Part 3 of 3) (Photo courtesy Brittany Alford)
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Lifelong friends

Though Brittany Alford encountered countless challenges adjusting to her new life in Costa Rica, she wouldn’t take any of it back. Immersing yourself into a culture that you aren’t familiar with is scary at times, but any opportunity to learn and grow shouldn’t be overlooked.

During Alford’s stay in Costa Rica, she met people from all over the world and still connects with them to this day. Thanks to social media, she has stayed in touch with her expat friend, Aninna. Aninna was from Germany, but living as an expat in Costa Rica to finish school just like Alford was. When Aninna finished school, she would often come back to Costa Rica to visit Alford and stay with her. To this day, Alford and Aninna meet in Costa Rica every few years to vacation there!

Alford and the ultimate takeaway

Culturs — What do you miss, if anything, about the Costa Rican lifestyle?

Alford — I miss the slow pace, simple living, non-materialism, enjoying each day to the fullest and most of all, living “Pura Vida” (“Pure Life” in English).

Jaco Beach in Costa Rica (Photo by Samuel Charron on Unsplash)
Jaco Beach, Costa Rica (Photo by Samuel Charron on Unsplash)

Culturs — What do you miss about the culture?

Alford — Cheek to cheek kisses, everyone is family, coffee breaks, embracing each meal with family and friends.

Culturs — What is the most important thing you learned during your time in Costa Rica?

Alford — You can be in the most beautiful place in the world like Costa Rica, but if you aren’t happy with yourself, you won’t be happy even there. Happiness comes from within, not from people, places or things. While in Costa Rica I had the best and worst time of my life.

I realized I had a problem with drinking and that I was miserable inside no matter how amazing my time was there. I saw something wasn’t right with me and it took hitting a bottom there and seeing my true colors. So, the same year I came home, I got sober, and I haven’t drank since. I had so many GOD moments during my stay in Costa Rica. It changed my life forever. God was with me no matter how far I traveled or how alone I got.

Happiness comes from within, not from people, places or things.

Brittany Alford

Culturs — What advice would you give to someone interested in living internationally?

Alford — DO IT! Before you can’t. Traveling opens your eyes to things you wouldn’t normally be exposed to in America. You also learn so much about yourself in the process.

Volcan Irazu in Costa Rica (Photo by Alex Ip on Unsplash)
Volcan Irazu National Park, Cartago Province, Costa Rica (Photo by Alex Ip on Unsplash)

Culturs — Can you share a funny/interesting story about living in Costa Rica?

Alford — Yes! When I was waiting tables, I met an old German and Italian together eating dinner one night. I couldn’t figure out why they were there together. They both could barely speak English and that’s the only way they could communicate.

I come to find out, they were both pilots and they came here to Costa Rica just to fly giro helicopters. It’s basically a really small helicopter with no sides or a top that seats two people. They told me my tip for waiting on their table would be if I wanted meet them at 8 a.m., I would get a free fly on this giro helicopter. I had no car so I woke up early and walked there, got lost in the process, but I ran and barely made it in time!

I jumped in with the Italian and on our way up in the air, (super scary) I asked him how long he had been flying these things and he said it was his first time! These things are illegal to fly in most of the other counties around the world that’s why he came here just to fly lol. I was like great. Im going to die lol. It was amazing though.

These things can fly like feet above the ocean, beaches and rivers. I saw so much up and down the coastline, even got close to surfers in the water. I saw hundreds of crocodiles in the rivers. So wild. Anyway, when we came back to land the helicopter it took 10 tries to land it. It was too windy and he was struggling. We had to land in a totally different area for wind purposes and it was SO dang scary lol. I was late to work that night and almost got fired but it was TOTALLY WORTH IT!

Traveling opens your eyes to things you wouldn’t normally be exposed to in America. You also learn so much about yourself in the process.

Brittany Alford

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of Brittany Alford’s story!

Brittany Alford on the beach in Costa Rica
Brittany Alford on the beach in Costa Rica (Photo courtesy Brittany Alford)
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