Student Blogs

tico time

February 18th, 2016 hmbutl17

tico time (n.): the accepted and frequently practiced lateness that arises from a laid back, “pure vida” way of life

My two weeks in San Jose have already come and gone…but my limited time here in the city has been incredible to say the least. I lived with a host family, took an intensive Spanish course at Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA), learned how to salsa dance, cooked traditional plantain empanadas, and traveled to the beautiful Caribbean coast over the long weekend. It was nice not having to wear my traditional “I live in the jungle getup” everyday (zip-offs, snake boots, bug repellent, etc.) and I greatly appreciated the freedom/much needed change in pace…think less science, more Spanish, and much more sleep.

I finally got to experience tico time in action–got to witness and participate in the chill, relaxed attitude that characterizes Costa Rican daily life. Now, this doesn’t mean that I could arrive late to my 9am class. However, I could casually sip out of a coconut on my walk to school or take a leisurely stroll with my Spanish teacher during class because it was “a nice day.” These two weeks, I discovered true pura vida, conversed in Spanish, and got all I could out of this mini cultural immersion.

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Tico spanish

I didn’t realize how much I missed speaking in Spanish. Since I left Argentina in November, my use of the language has, without question or surprise, significantly decreased. The wonderful thing about my language course at CRLA is that it was completely personalized, integrated interesting medical concepts, and only consisted of the teacher, myself, and Rob (HC student who studied abroad with me last semester in Argentina). With a certain level of proficiency in the language, we were able to spend class time telling stories, practicing doctor-patient interactions, and lecturing on the cell biology of illnesses like diabetes, dengue, and Alzheimers. It was quite remarkable for me to see my two majors clash like that…never did I see myself actually explaining cellular functions or metabolic pathways in Español.


Tica familia

My loving Costa Rican host family was another great surprise. Comparing this experience to my five-month home stay in Argentina, I did not expect to feel like part of the family after 14 days. Of course, I was quickly proven wrong. My tica madre (host mom), Ana, and her entire family welcomed me with open arms and made me feel right at home. Her grandson, Paublito (5), and I had some great times playing Captain America after school and I always shared a delicious dinner with the whole family. I was also fortunate enough to have a Swedish host sister, Lucia, to keep me company. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better familia. I mean my tica madre gave me peanut butter for breakfast…so naturally, what could have been more perfect than that!


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Tica vaca

Over the long weekend, some friends and I decided to head east to Puerto Viejo, a popular beach town located right on the shore of the Caribbean Sea. The beaches were, of course, stunning and the main street of the town had great energy. To save money (& also for the story), we slept in hammocks at a hostel! While I was slightly hesitant at first, I can now confirm that it was very comfortable and given the opportunity, yes, I would do it again. We also got the BEST Jamaican food from a stand at the beach: coconut fish and jerk chicken with rice, yuca, and some amazing Jamaican slaw that I can’t even describe. Please enjoy these photos and short time-lapse I captured of the Caribbean (el caribe) before my phone died.

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Well that’s all for my very tico-filled week…Check back in soon to hear about my exciting zip-lining trip to Monteverde, Costa Rica before I get back to my also super exciting science and rainforest life!


Pura vida,




This week I learned…

1.) that pedestrians have absolutely NO right-of-way when it comes to crossing the street. I think it is actually safer to bungee jump/sky dive than it is to make my commute to school in the morning.

2.) the word chunche. It is a Costa Rican slang word that is used to mean thing. Basically, you can point to anything and call it a chunche without having to think of the actual word. This is very good for non-native speakers like me who often forget the names of miscellaneous objects!




2 Responses to “tico time”

  1. Angie Butler says:

    Once again Haylie, I love reading about your adventures! I miss you! Love your new do!!!!! <3

  2. Julie Harrison says:

    The best education is seeing the world! Great blog!❤️

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Haylie Butler '17

  • Studies: Biology and Spanish double major with a premedical concentration
  • Hometown: Rossmorr, Calif.
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