Alajuela Travel Blog› entry 4 of 12 › view all entries
Blake ended up being really nice when i woke up. We both apologized for any role we played in the mishap and went on to Alajuela to meet the other volunteers.
This was the day i first had culture shock. It was my first time away from home, by myself and in a foreign country. i laughed when i read pamphlets warning about culture shock. It sounds so silly, so ridiculous, so childish. But i was amazed to find out it was real. It can be frustrating to be on your own, not know anyone, not speak a language or dialect. No friends, no families, no memories. But that's also the excitement. Traveling isn't for everyone. i know some people that never like to travel outside of the suburbs of Chicago. A roommate of mine once asked me, "Why travel if everything i need is right here?" But to other people, traveling can be a necesity. Culture shock is an essential part of that process.
i thought to myself, "Why am i here? Is it worth it? What if i'm hurt? What if i die? What if i need medical attention? Oh my God, i think i have malaria! Mom won't be here to help me out! i think there's something in the water! Who's going to help me? No one knows me! No one even understands my native language!" Haha, for that day, i became the type of person i always used to make fun of. i never thought in a million years i would react like that. Obviously, i got over it!
Well, the volunteers were all really cool. i learned a lot about each of their lives. There's no need to list details about everyone, but i will tell you about Dan. Dan was from Germany and he owned a business based out of England that had stores in England and Germany and was in the process of opening a store in China. He was one of the best actors and one of the funniest characters i've ever met. We taught him how to play the card game "Bullshit". He actually won by pretending he didn't understand the rules. The entire time he would ask us over and over the same question, so we misjudged him until finally, right at the end, he blew us all away! Another thing that blew me away about Dan was that he was Dyslexic. A real inspiration. It would take him an hour to read a normal page of paper. When he was young, he had to go to special schools in the United Kingdom that treated dyslexic people, and he probably had to work five times harder at school than i ever had to do. It was so astonishing to meet someone who overcame a disability like that to become a successful business owner, have such a happy, fun-loving personality, and finally give back so much to the society that helped him by volunteering in his free time. He serves as an inspiration to me to this day.
(By the way, i do not really support our volunteer agency, because we had no idea they were a FOR PROFIT agency. For this purpose, i won't give their name. However, i will recommend the organization Costa Rica-Canada, which was based out of San Ramon and was a Not For Profit. The problem with the For Profit is that they didn't give enough money to the families that supported the volunteers. The homestay families only received $10 a week, which was much less than we were paying to be volunteers in the first place. Most of our money went to advertising, salaries and profit for the company. If i ever did this again, i would skip over the For Profit agency -- or the "middle man" as i see them -- and move directly to an area that needs help and find a reputable organization like Costa-Rica Canada. i'm not here to argue this, i'm just stating my feelings. Thanks.)