Livin' La Pura Vida

By Harry Liu

  • Photo of students shopping at market in Costa Rica
Visiting a fería, or local market, with my host family—just one of the many unforgettable memories that I have had this summer

Studying abroad in Costa Rica gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in an entirely new culture. The Ticos, what the Costa Ricans refer to themselves as, live by the motto "Pura Vida,” or Pure Life. Staying with a Tico family for a month allowed me to experience and live out the Pura Vida lifestyle.

The photograph was taken during one of my visits to a fería, or local market. The first thing I did with my host family was visit a nearby fería. Going to the market is truly a social experience. 

We chatted with each other the whole walk to the fería. In addition, I met some neighbors there, and my host mother introduced me to them. Afterwards, we inspected the locally grown fruits and vegetables of each stand and talked to the vendors. For dinner, in addition to the rice and beans, I had a full plate of fruits, which we just bought together. There were papayas, mangos, pineapples, and watermelon slices!

The Pura Vida lifestyle is best summed up as the combination of the many daily experiences that Tico has. The experiences I’ve had taught me that in order to fully immerse yourself in and understand a culture, you have to keep an open mind, be flexible, and completely embrace it. In other words, you have to challenge yourself to try new things. 

The photograph of the fería shows just one of the many unforgettable memories that I have had this summer. It is the everyday interactions with my host family that I cherish and will miss the most!

Harry Liu
Duke in Costa Rica
Summer 2016

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