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Describe how you "dreamed" expat life would be before you moved overseas. Please provide as much detail as possible.
I dreamed that I would come to a place peaceful cooperative living was the norm. I dreamed of beautiful sunny skies, friendly people, opportunities and time to walk, hike, bike, and learn some new things. I hoped to learn Spanish, driving a manual car, a new job, a new culture, and other things not expected. I hoped to ride horses again. I hoped to own my own dog. I hoped to practice my sketching, and to write the book that is in my heart to write. I hoped that work would find me and that I would continue to live in Costa Rica for the foreseeable future. I hoped to find other like-minded spiritual people. I hoped to practice more yoga, meditation
How has your expat experience met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
Very, Very well. Been here ONLY 3 mos, a time frame my gringo friends say is when things really get interesting, or sometimes there are challenges.
Culture shock was more of a factor then I'd have expected. was homesick, missed my friends in the US (a lot), have times when I think not one more Spanish word will go in my head. I can NOT own a dog where I live, BUT I have adopted someone else's dog as my surrogate puppy. I do have time to do ALL the things I had hoped to do, and do them, with the exception of not starting yoga (really, 4 times since January don't count), nor have I started THAT book, yet. The manana syndrome has set in on both of those and I'm OK with that. I am starting to let go of my type A personality (didn't know I had one). I have gotten to experience how flexible in other ways (not yoga) I can be, and sometimes I am asked or simply must stretch further then EVER before in my life, and I do. Sometimes its not pretty or I don't want to, and then I do. I have become conversational in Spanish, on my own, w/o instruction (I don't recommend this, but I'm a language teacher, so I have an edge). I do recommend practicing every, single day. If you skip, your brain w/ suddenly not work in Spanish, even for simple things. I practice Spanish every day, I make all kinds of mistakes, I am not afraid to sound stupid because I keep improving and I listen and now folks are helping me to correct my grammar, verb conjugation, and other refinements. I do not have pie in the sky ideas about this positive feeling. Some days everything is great, sometimes not. Work is still challenging, even though I enjoy it, so is living in another country. I now know what alien residents feel like in my country because I am one in Costa Rica.
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How has your expat experience NOT met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
In my work, my supervisors do not tell me anything ( and they are a combo of Tico and Gringo), but contracts, invitations to return, my value as an employee is not, well valued very much, I am replaceable. I wish I had my car, made more money to buy a scooter, or the busses ran on a more efficient schedule. I really "can't get there from here" because if you can't walk to it, or you don't have a car, you can't get there EASILY, and EASILY means your travel time between places that would normally be about 20 mins with a car, can take oh, recently 4 hrs. Wish I had my car. :(. Finding a male companion who does not want to marry for my money (don't have any), or have sex with me w/ or w/o friendship, or who is even willing to be a good friend has been VERY challenging, and really does not exist where I live. Your choices are: Tourists, guys that left home to find a date here, guys that have lots of girlfriends and or espouses ( equivalent to wives). That can make things for a single, straight lady, a bit lonely. Oh and so far, I have not found a place close by to learn how to do Latin dancing. Oh yeah and many gringos seem very negative about life in general. I feel sad for them, and expect that they feel somewhat trapped here, often having come to invest a lot of money in real estate or dreams of owning and running a hotel, and making their retirements secure, that then fell through. I have a lot of sympathy it seems to be very hard. I also observe that there is no reliable source or system for house sitting for resident gringos who live in the country