Open to Connections

The number one problem I foresaw when studying abroad was making new friends. I am very selective when it comes to choosing friends. Friendship is one of the most important things in this life. Choosing to talk to or hang out with someone solely because you like who they are as a person is pretty profound and should not be taken lightly. Also, friends say a lot about you are as well. Therefore, I find myself being selective about the friends I make. When in a situation where I am meeting new people for the first time I simply just sit and observe in order to gauge the personalities’ of others. I realized this slightly judgmental approach would not fly when I left the country. There would only be a small number of individuals who are part of my program and an even smaller group of individuals in my classes. Therefore, I made it one of my goals to get off of my social high horse and be open to making a diverse group of friends. I was quickly reminded of this goal when I arrived in San Jose.

Once I arrived at the airport it was pretty easy to pick out from the massive crowd of travelers which people were in the ISA program. Mostly, because they were all gathered together in front of the meeting point with large luggage. In addition, most people were talking about which classes they were taking and asking about one another’s host families. This was my opportunity. I usually would sit back and observe others listening in on who would be in the same class as me or who would live with me, but I didn’t. I spoke up and introduced myself as a fellow ISA participant. I know this is a very simple action and may be silly writing a whole paragraph about meeting people but, in this moment I began to follow through on my study abroad goal. While this moment may seem small, it was the breaking of a cycle I was accustom to. This moment further set the mood for my study abroad journey so far.

Downtown San Jose outside an all women’s college We could not pass up on the opportunity to take a picture with such a powerful quote: The revolution will be feminist or it will not be.

I have transitioned from being closed off and only allowing a few people into my inner circle to completely abandoning the idea of a “friendship circle”. In my experience with the ISA program it is more of a web of connections. I started off meeting my roommate Catherine, who met two other girls in her class therefore, when we saw them on an excursion to Manuel Antonio  national park we seem to gravitate towards one another. It seems there is this magnet that naturally connects ISA members. When we were on the beach we did not scatter our towels into cliques or particular friend groups. When we saw one ISA member sitting in a spot on the beach then we are all joining each other on that spot of the beach. If I see a ISA member down the street going to lunch that means we are eating together, along with other people we meet along the way. While I have not had much success connecting with Costa Ricans, which will be next week’s study abroad goal there has been this massive friend group created. By automatically connecting with someone based on which travel program they chose means you must be very open, you never know what kind of conversation you will be having at the lunch table. It could mean you’re laughing over the things that happened that week or you end up eating with someone who is going to completely unload their life story. This has definitely changed my perspective of how I view other people as well.

some friends and I enjoying some famous Costa Rican ice cream in the Central Market located in downtown San Jose.

Prior to this trip I believed when it came to others what you see is what you get. If I didn’t like what I was getting, which could be based off of a single sentence or five second exchange, I avoided the person. In my ignorance I completely dismissed the fact that there is a reason behind everyone’s actions. While it is not my job to find the reason behind each and every person’s actions, it is my job to be accepting.

Mariah Allen 

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