The first groups of Wandering Scholars are finally on their way and traveling in their host countries. There is nothing more exciting than reading about their experiences abroad.

Wandering Scholar Marina and Local Roots Fellow Gina have been in Costa Rica for a week now with the Costa Rica Pioneer program and based on their blogs it sounds like they are having an amazing experience!  

Below is an excerpt from the group blog where Wandering Scholar Marina talks about overcoming food barriers. Follow this link for Gina’s description of the first few days in Costa Rica and a video about our students in the Costa Rica Pioneer Program 2012.

Overcoming Food Barriers

Before setting foot on the beautiful land of Costa Rica, I was definitely nervous about eating the food. Back at home I am known for being what most call a “picky eater” because of my poor eating habits.  So to prepare for the trip I packed tons of snacks to hold me over for the ten days just in case I did not eat anything. I even researched the food eaten in Costa Rica. The main dishes served are traditional rice and beans, fish, and chicken. Before even tasting it I already formed an opinion and decided I did not like it.

Once we as a group arrived in Costa Rica, we headed to a buffet for breakfast. I was extremely nervous about trying the food. So for my meal I ordered a very conservative plate. I had a flour tortilla that mimicked a flat pancake, white rice, and these mini sausage links known as embutido. I knew that I was taking a risk with eating embutido but I figured I might as well try it. Shockingly embutido is really delicious, it tastes similar to mild hotdogs. I took a chance with embutido and it gave me a little feeling that it’s going to be okay.

Yesterday was Sunday and also day three of our journey. That night we met our host family for the first time.  Before our placement Paul and Noe, our group leaders, went over a few tips and rules regarding living with our host family. One of the topics of discussion was about eating the meals our host families’ cook. They explained how not eating some of the food could be seen as a sign of disrespect or poor manners, so we should eat as much as we feel comfortable eating. With that in mind I had many mixed feelings and became doubtful.

My host mom, known as Mama Cinya, cooked this big dinner for the family to celebrate my arrival. As I watched Mama Cinya in the kitchen, I could just sense all the love and effort she put into making the food. I could not just waste the meal and not bother trying it. So I overcame my fear of trying new food and ate my meal completely. The meal was rather tasty for the most part. I told Mama Cinya I loved the food multiple times in Spanish. Mama Cinya then gave me big hug and warm smile. That moment was priceless and I will forever remember it.

That day I overcame many food barriers. For those who struggle with trying new food I recommend mixing food you do like with the food you dislike, which is a very useful technique. Also what helped me get through my fear was just simply thinking about the person who made the food for me. I know the food served in Costa Rica can be repetitive at times. My advice to that would just be to stick it out, it is worth it. It means the world to your host family when you eat their food. In return they give you love and affection, and that is worth a million!

Have you ever experienced a fear of a certain food? What did you do to overcome your fear?