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Living ‘Pura Vida’ in Costa Rica — Life as an Expat (Part 1 of 3)

Brittany Alford surfing in Costa Rica (Photo courtesy Brittany Alford)
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An Itch For Travel

Brittany Alford, a senior attending Texas State University, had a desire to see more of the world. After taking a solo trip with her friends to Hawaii when she was 19 years old, she knew she had to see more. In Hawaii, she witnesses eager twentysomethings living off of a waitress wage, but still enjoying the beauty and experience that it had to offer. Following her trip, Brittany knew she wanted to travel after college before being tied down to a corporate job and starting a family of her own.

I wanted to be free before I got tied down into the ‘rat race’ as they called it in Costa Rica.

Brittany Alford

A ‘poor man’s Hawaii’

Brittany Alford in Costa Rica
Brittany Alford with Costa Rica local

While Brittany studied at Texas State University, she still had a deep desire for travel and began researching study abroad opportunities through her school. During her studies, she met a friend who shared her love of being in the water and surfing. During class one day, he shares with her that Costa Rica is like a “poor man’s Hawaii,” and her interest was peaked instantly! Her friend explained to Brittany that he studied Spanish in Costa Rica through their school, which was perfect because Spanish was one of Brittany’s last classes before graduating. Once Brittany knew she could finish school while traveling to a place she could practice surfing, she was hooked on the idea.

Q & A

Culturs — Did you know anything about the culture of Costa Rica prior to moving there?

Alford — No, not really. I had never been and I only knew what friends told me about it. Everything was a total surprise and new experience, and that’s what I wanted: To experience life outside of America, to experience new things.

Culturs — Did you have any apprehensions about moving across the country?

Alford — No, I trusted my friend who went and just took his word for it! I went to the same school and city as he did. The nerves didn’t even hit me until I got there. I think it was my age and fearlessness. Maybe if anything, I felt nerves about being away from my family for a year. I didn’t know any Spanish and I had no idea how long I was going for when I went. I also wasn’t one-hundred percent sure how I would communicate when I got there, so that made me nervous too.

Culturs — So, what was the process of moving to Costa Rica? How did you prepare mentally and physically?

Alford — Well, there was the process of signing up with my school and the family I was going to live with while in Costa Rica. I had to make sure that the plane tickets were booked, and that my passport wouldn’t expire while I was living there. I knew I wouldn’t have much money while living in Costa Rica, so I made sure to be prepared with enough clothes, camera, computer and my iPod.

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!

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