Even though this year’s Wandering Scholars – Jonathan Moore, Marina Musgrove-Pyfrom, and Serina Wesonga – haven’t left their hometowns yet, their journeys have already begun. 

For their first official assignment as Wandering Scholars, they did some fact-finding about their host countries. From exchange rates and average costs to  popular artists and political issues, they have researched things about their host countries that will impress their host families and inspire their fellow travelers. In the process they’ve also discovered new things to be excited about, as well as some surprising facts about where they’re headed.

Want to know more? Read the highlights on Costa Rica below and stay tuned for our Peru edition!

Traditional Casado

Serina Wesonga researched her host country, Costa Rica, where the official  language is Spanish. However, as Serina notes, English is spoken in business communities and tourist destinations. The nation shares borders with Panama, Nicaragua, and North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

Serina also found that the traditional  lunch meal is called a “casado” a word that means “married man” in Spanish. In Costa Rica, when husbands come home from work this dish is served for dinner by their wives. It consists of rice and beans served side by side and mixed with some type of meat (usually pork, fish, or chicken).

Serina also investigated Costa Rican popular music genres including an indigenous calypso scene. This form of calypso is distinct from the more widely-known Trinidadian calypso sound.

Watch the video below to learn more about this typical music:

During her research Serina was most surprised by Costa Rica’s temperatures during her travel window. She says: “I imagined Costa Rica being very hot in July and June…I found out that [these months] would not  be classified as summer in Costa Rica”. Serina sees differences between her host country’s culture and America’s culture, “Everything seems like it will be  new and exciting  to me.” She says that the biggest adjustment will be the language barriers.

“I am hoping my host family and the people of Costa Rica will be patient as I try to soak up and translate as much of the language as possible. I am extremely excited for the new things that await me and I hope that all adjustments will go smoothly for me”.

Marina Musgrove-Pyfrom‘s host country is also Costa Rica. She discovered that even though Spanish is the main language, there is also an area where a Caribbean Creole dialect of English is spoken. One phrase used in Costa Rica is “Pura Vida.” It means pure life and symbolizes the Costa Rican idea of letting things go, and enjoying life. In Costa Rica, if someone asks you “Como estas?” (How are you?), you can answer “Pura vida.” A local band is Villalobos Brothers and a local TV show is A de Asombroso.

Watch a trailer for A de Asombroso here:

Costa Rica has a similar government system to the USA. She learned that in Costa Rica abortion is severely restricted. It is only permitted if the mother’s life or physical is in jeopardy and it is a controversial issue between political parties.

Marina also noted that the seasons seem different from the U.S.

“Philadelphia, where I am from, is very hot outside [in June and July]. So when I pack for Costa Rica I plan to bring ponchos, rain boots, and rain jacket to protect myself from the rain.”