by Brock Higdon
I still remember the first days of my Spanish immersion program like it was yesterday. I flew into Liberia, Costa Rica at the end of July, which is the rainy season. After going through customs and getting my bags, I was met by my driver who was holding a big sign with my name on it. Soon we were off to the home of my host family in Santa Rosa, which is located a couple of Kilometers from Tamarindo.
After driving for about 45 minutes through a heavy rain, we were met by my family waiting for me at the corner in the rain of course. After introductions were made, my driver was off and I was left to fend for myself. I really did not know what to expect. I was told they spoke no English, and at that time I spoke no Spanish. Soon we were in the house and I was showed my room after I had unpacked my things. I found a couple of toys I had brought for the two young boys. They were very happy to get them and wanted me to show them how they worked. I found that the boys and the father spoke no English, but the mother and her daughter who were visiting from San Jose spoke quite a little English, although they mostly spoke to me in Spanish – that’s the point of immersion.
When Monday morning arrived, I could hardly wait to get to school. My host mom walked me to the bus where I was met by a small bus from the school. This was used to transport students to and from school. Soon I was on the bus and on my way to the first day of classes. When we got there, I was introduced to the director and some of other students; then it was off to the beginner class for me and an engineer from Illinois and an insurance agent from New Orleans. Our teacher was a young lady who spoke no English, needless to say the first couple of days where hard but fun. When class was over I met a group of students who invited me to join them at a local soda, which is what they call a café for lunch. One of them was a girl from Switzerland. We would later become good friends and surfing partners. There were a lot of people there from all over and different walks of life. The majority of them were college students, but after a couple of weeks, most of them were gone to go back to school.
That afternoon after a relaxing day at the beach and watching one of the many beautiful sunsets, I was back on the bus heading to Santa Rosa. The bus driver dropped me off, and I started walking down to the house. I met a large dog whose name I later found out was Muñeco – which is Spanish for doll – let me tell you that day he was no doll. I guess he thought who is this guy on my street? As the situation with him deteriorated rapidly, I let out a cry for help. I feared he was getting ready to bite me. Soon my family came to my rescue and introduced me to Muñeco. After that, we became good friends and many days I would find him waiting for me at the bus stop to walk me home.
About the Author: Brock Higdon is a former Spanish immersion student and the owner of Learnspanishandsurf.com Brock lived in Costa Rica for over a year and has attended and visited many Spanish Immersion schools he can be reached at http://www.learnspanishandsurf.com