SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – A study abroad student received some upsetting news last week when after five days in Costa Rica she realized nothing looked like the Lonely Planet guidebook she was carrying around.
Becky Miller, a 21-year old geography major from Louisville, Kentucky, was scheduled to spend three months in San Jose studying Spanish as a student with Veritas University. Her plans are now very much in doubt after she blew most of her savings in central California on San Jose Shark hockey games and visiting the Winchester Mystery Mansion.
“I love Costa Rica!” she wrote beneath a Selfie posted on Facebook page from a San Jose Earthquakes soccer game. “This place is so tuanis!”
She also took to social media to comment on how easy the transition abroad had been.
“Moving to San Jose not challenging at all. Don’t see what fuss about,” she tweeted with hashtags #sowelcoming and #puravida.
The easiest part of her study abroad experience was the language barrier, she told her friend Katelyn on “El Face”, as it is known in Spanish.
“For real girl, I was sooo worried about that part,” she said. “I took Spanish in high school and it’s all coming back to me. I can understand everything perfectly – even movies on tv!”
It wasn’t until the fifth day that Miller started to suspect she might not be in Costa Rica. When trying to locate the university campus, no one had heard of a college located 200 meters west of a Musmanni panaderia in Zapote, she said.
Miller then got a shattering Facebook comment on a food picture she posted. After posting “Gallo Pinto, mmmmm” beneath a picture of beans and rice, her friend Collin responded:
“That’s Jamabalaya. You’re not in Costa Rica #hatetobreakittoya.”
Miller said she immediately took the comment down and un-friended Collin, though after some additional research, learned he was right.
“I went to Google Maps and it kept showing my location as California. I looked up the National Theater and saw it was 6,000 kilometers away,” she said. “Everywhere I looked said San Jose, so I assumed I was in the right place.”
She also noticed that every time she’d said ‘Pura Vida’ to someone, people looked at her like she was “from the south or Mexican or something.”
Miller, who has launched an Indiegogo campaign and is waiting tables at IHOP to raise funds for a Costa Rica flight, said that, like studying abroad, she will walk away from the experience more mature and ready for the real world.
“That’s the last time I’ll fly Spirit Airlines again,” she said. “Though maybe I should have realized something was wrong when I never had to show my passport.”