Here is the best for last: task 10. After spending four months in Costa Rica, learning, absorbing, becoming a part of another culture, it is going to be difficult to return. For many reasons it will be different, people, food, interactions, touching, greeting, gallo pinto, directions, the list continues. The most important though I how much I have learned about myself, and how I will continue to learn about my U.S. culture, having been away for four months. I will finish with some of my own thoughts about how U.S. culture will shock me and what I will continue to appreciate as well. But, until then, here are some other’s opinions about the home culture: U.S.
My mama Tica: 80 years old. I remember asking her opinion on U.S. Culture and her response being very typical. She mentioned that everyone works too much, doesn’t spend enough time with family, and that at the end of the day a lot of people suffer from an imbalance of work and enjoyment. Typical, yes, but I believe she has a point. Along with this analysis of U.S. Culture, she mentioned that it is very expensive to travel and maintain oneself in the States. We then began talking about Costa Rica Culture, and some differences. There is a better balance of work, play, and study in Costa Rica. “For in order to sustain oneself, it is necessary to spend money and do fun things in groups.” Yes, people work hard here in Costa Rica, but it is a different determination where the ends do not always justify the means: meaning that the journey is just as important as the destination. She had a slightly more negative outlook on U.S. Culture, but has experienced it before and made some good points.
My host brother and sister and two Tico college students: varied ages. Asking for a younger opinion yielded much different results. All three, and many more their age wanted to travel to the Untied States, and eagerly. When asked why, they said opportunities and the wild, fun, crazy lifestyles that accompanies the culture. (Interesting points that I will talk about later). They spoke mostly about the opportunities and independence in a more positive fashion, yet I am not convinced they have enough background information and are dreaming. Dreaming quite largely.
I also asked a lawyer from Nicaragua for an opinion as well. He stated in a very professional manner that there are both positives and negatives within each culture, noting the ability for many individuals in the U.S. Culture who are unable to stop working and relax. People are driven by work and the though of always needing more. During this conversations he also gave many compliments, such as that individuals in U.S. Culture are not afraid to be very individualistic and fight for themselves. This I took to mean that when the individual does something it is more likely to do it for the self than for the greater good, not good nor bad. He was neither positive nor negative, throwing out both cases and many examples.
Bringing all of these examples together yield an interesting result. Age differences play an important part of deciding a cultural desire: perhaps because with age, culture becomes more apparent? or being outside of ones culture makes one more aware? I expected many of the responses I received, not surprised with the opinion/fact that individuals in U.S. Culture seem to work in a disproportionate ratio to how much time they spend in enjoyment. This ties in well with the younger responses as they see the wild, party, music blaring side of the culture. Perhaps it is an uneven balance of work and play that lead to large amounts of work, then a burnout?
As my time experiences and absorbing a different culture comes to an end, there are a few questions that I want to throw out to the public as I make my return. How long can I hold on to the cultural ideas that I like while surrounded by an older culture. An older culture from which I have now made realizations?
This is why we can all appreciate the Pura Vida: reflection is the key to success.