Esteban López lives and works in Costa Rica. He works with Academic Programs International (API) overseeing programs in San José and San Joaquín de Flores, Costa Rica. In this entry, Esteban tells us about the beauty of Costa Rica, and reminds us not to forget a good attitude and a baseball cap when traveling to his country.
What brought you to be a Resident Director?
I used to teach Latin American Literature for U.S. college students. When API was looking for someone to work as their Resident Director for their Costa Rica programs, I got the opportunity to participate on the interviews and at the end, I was lucky enough to get the position as Resident Director for API.
What are some unique aspects of your city and country?
Costa Rica was the first country in the world that abolished the army in 1948. Costa Rica has reserved lots of areas for natural conservation, National Parks and reserves. Costa Rica is rich in flora and fauna and has many different climate zones within a small country.
What is one thing most of your students may not know about you?
They don´t know I have a big passion for books and classical music. Also, that I used to have a pony tail for more than 20 years. 🙂
What are some of your favorite aspects of being a Resident Director?
Being a RD keeps me young, also thanks to my position I have had the opportunity to explore my own country and culture along with my students. Their questions keep me always researching to learn more about Costa Rica. Also, the most rewarding thing is by the end of the program, we send the kids back home with their backpacks filled up with nice experiences, love for this country and people, and so much personal growth. To know that I was a little part of that makes me very happy.
What are some of the challenges of your job?
Dealing with personal issues of my students is always challenging. We all are different and I have to be wise whenever a difficult situation arises for one of my students. You always need to remember that being abroad could be difficult for some of them, and to remind them that you are there to help them no matter the nature of their problems
What have you seen as the biggest challenge for incoming students?
Perhaps the Costa Rican ways of doing things. At the beginning of the program learning about streets, addresses, directions could also be challenging. Depending on their Spanish level, this could be also a challenge. And of course, every students feels culture shock to a different degree.
What is your advice for students planning to attend your program, or to study abroad in your country?
I recommend this program for students that love to do outdoors activities; that rather prefer open air morning activities than going out at night. They have to be also ready for sunny hot days and rainy cloudy days, in our country this changes doesn’t depend on the seasons, it could change from one day to another, from one hour to next, hahaha.
Also it is important to come to the country with an open mind for social and cultural differences and to deal with a Central American society, where things may not be as structured as they are in the U.S. This could confuse you if you are not ready.
What is one thing you think students shouldn’t forget to pack for life in your country?
A baseball cap (hat) and umbrella!
What do you think is the most important take-away for education abroad students?
Humbleness. Once you see the world, once you go out of your small bubble, you realize how big the world is and little you are. How many lives there are, how many life histories, and how many people. You see how diverse and beautiful the world and people are. You start thinking less about yourself, but at the same time, you appreciate more what others do for you, and their friendship.
If you want to learn more about Esteban’s program, follow this link!