If you want to have the "real" Costa Rican experience you should consider living with a Tico family. It could be one of the most life changing, exciting, and beautiful experiences of your life. You will not only be able to learn the language first hand by internacting in the day to day with all different age groups (as Costa Rican families are very large). If there are kids in your host family you will learn way more and they are very willing to interact with you.

You will also be able to learn more about the culture and how the people live. I admit every Costa Rican lives different, I had a fairly wealthy family and one of my friends had a poorer family we had very different experiences, but they both were great. You just have to make the best with what you are given and remember to smile. As Costa Rican's are noted for being friendly and inviting in most homestay experiences you will feel the same. I was shocked at all of the things my host mom did for me, I felt like a princess.

Without a doubt there will be times you have no idea what is going on and others you all will be laughing your heads off about something that was said incorrectly.

The families are of course receiving some type of compensation for hosting you in their home. On that note, this does not mean they are your slaves or that you should treat them in a negative way. They, just as you are, are enduring a cultural experience and you are representing your culture so try and be curtious and respectful. Many of the families have rules and depending on the family some are stricter than others. For example, in one of my homestays the rule was that if you were going to stay out all night then you had to come home in the morning with jugo - juice, pan - bread, and the - periodico - newspaper. Obviously, this was not a very strict household. In another home, the mom would wait up for me worried just like a mom at home, so try and ask and feel your family out to see what is acceptable and what is not.

Host families are sworn to follow one very important rule: No English allowed! In certain extreme cases if something important needs to be communicated they might slip out some English but otherwise they are instructed not to have anyone speaking to you in English. Also, they are not permitted to have any other students who speak your language for this same reason.

This is not to say that you need to avoid English because sometimes you will need a break. One girl in my program swore off English and after six months she was pretty much at the same level mainly because she did a lot more trying to speak in Spanish than listening to it. Even if you do not speak, listening is the best way to learn.

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