Integration – The Path to New Adventures

Since a copy did not work, I am linking to an article by my fellow expats and friends in San Ramon, Costa Rica who do the very helpful monthly newsletter/blog Retire For Less in Costa Rica. It expresses perfectly my philosophy about retiring in a country different from your birth country:


If you are considering a move to Costa Rica or any other country, I hope you will read the above linked article and not plan to just segregate yourself(s) with other foreigners as many Americans do. 
My Conversational English Club at a local high school.
 Atenas, Costa Rica 
I am not the perfect example of integration, but it is my goal and I am trying. Here is some of what I have done since moving to Atenas, Costa Rica 3 years ago: 
  1. Immediately got involved with language/culture studies at the local Su Espacio Spanish Atenas. I highly recommend it to anyone moving here from anywhere in the world! Though I am a slow language learner, they have stuck with me and slowly but surely I am able to “get by in Spanish” most places or have simple conversations, just not fluent yet! As we say in Spanish: “poco a poco” or step by step, or little by little. 
  2. Supplement my class studies of Spanish with two online studies occasionally: Duolingo is a free web-based language school with advertisements to cover the cost. It is very helpful and I highly recommend it. After realizing that Google Translate is not very good with Spanish, I discovered http://www.spanishdict.com/ which not only gives better translations, but has hundreds of articles and lessons on Spanish to help you. PLUS they also have an online course that competes very well with Duolingo as a slightly different approach that will fit some learning styles better, though it is not free! But well worth the moderate price! It is called “Fluencia” and you can get to it and a few free lessons from the dictionary address above. Once you do the free lessons and sign up as a student, you get a different app address. Great help!
  3. Attending church with Spanish music and sermons is a slow way to learn, but a help. The little Bible church I go to some has an English translation on the first Sunday of each month. At first that was all I attended. But now I prefer the other Sundays better and Ticos over expats. 
  4. Seeing a movie in Spanish at the mall theater in Alajuela.
  5. Watching local TV in Spanish of course! 
  6. VOLUNTEERING with local Angel Tree Project, fundraising for two schools, Spelling Bee in high school English classes, and as leader of a high school after school club for conversational English for those going to states as exchange students (above photo). 
  7. Walking everywhere (no car) is one of the best things to get me close to local people, not always communication, but communion, closeness, immersion, integration! And also . . .  
  8. Riding bus anywhere away from Atenas. I have now been on trips all over the country and it is not only getting easier, but I’m traveling like locals travel and feel integrated! 
  9. Traveling all over Costa Rica gives me more opportunities to use Spanish and meet more people and have more adventures and be a part of the broader culture! 
  10. Joining clubs: My first two years I was active in the Costa Rica Birding Club, which is an expat club of mostly rich Americans who drive their big cars all over the country for birds. I’m still a member, but more actively participating online in the local Costa Rican birding organization called Asociacion ornitologica de Costa Rica. I’ve met two local Atenas Tico birders and one has invited me to go hiking with him some weekend! A local expat club takes trips to concerts, museums, etc which has been good, but I’m hoping again to do less with expats and more with locals!
  11. My latest photo book is in Spanish! Plus most of the other books I have tried to give both the English and Spanish names for all the birds. And though my primary blog is still in English because of the audience, I also have a Spanish Blog. 



The deepest of level of communication is not communication, 
but communion. 
It is wordless … beyond speech … beyond concept.” 

¡Pura Vida!
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