When You Want to Leave, But Also Want to Stay

What do you do when you want to be two places at once? That was the feeling I struggled with the last few weeks of my study abroad experience, when my desire to be home and my desire to stay in Costa Rica were fighting it out. About a month before the end of my program, I started having some health problems that made it difficult for me to eat. I went into the program knowing that my chronic health condition might flare up, but had relaxed my guard after spending three months with no issues. For about two weeks, I was miserable, and constantly wishing I were home. But then my health problems became less severe, although still present, and the reality of the situation set in. In two weeks I would be leaving Costa Rica, this beautiful country where I travelled every weekend and where I had made amazing friends, all of whom happened to live across the country from me. And that was incredibly sad.

One of the hardest things about leaving Costa Rica was that in a lot of ways it was a reprieve from the responsibilities of my normally hectic life. I had no job here, no events to attend every night of the week, and it felt like the previously pressing decisions to make about internships and post-graduation plans had faded to the background. Here, I did my work, went to class and my internship, and then spent a lot of time just relaxing. Hanging out with friends, going to volcanoes and waterfalls, exploring new cities. The stress of life in the United States, where everything seemed to be building to something else (High School to prepare for College, College to prepare for Law School, Law School to prepare for…) was totally forgotten here, where the Pura Vida lifestyle let everything just fall away.

But, it is not a total paradise. Costa Rica is an expensive country to live in, and I am still more than 2,000 miles away from my close friends and family. I miss a lot of things about home, including the little things that I took for granted before (like hot showers).

I am excited to go back home, and I am dreading leaving this unique, cozy niche that I have found here in Costa Rica. It will be challenging, but my new friends and I will stay in touch. I will keep using my Spanish, maintaining and improving my current fluency level. I am also going to try to incorporate the Pura Vida lifestyle into my life in the United States, taking more time to live in the moment rather than plan for (or worry about) the future.

This transition period, this ending, is difficult. Saying goodbye is hard, but I am trying remember that every ending is also a beginning, and new adventures await.

Author: Isabelle B

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