Having trouble adjusting to a foreign country. HELP!

Old Jul 6th, 2018, 02:23 AM
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Having trouble adjusting to a foreign country. HELP!

I have moved to Costa Rica for quite some time now and I still feel like I am failing to get the hang of the Costa Rican life. I know that I am a foreign man in an unfamiliar land; I already have my citizenship yet I still feel like I am only a visitor. I have the trouble in communicating with the locals there and you can only imagine the struggle that I have trying to understand the people around and trying to make them understand me as well. How should I deal with this?
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Old Jul 6th, 2018, 06:52 AM
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I would think that the most important thing to do would be to work on your Spanish. If you can't talk to people, you'll always feel like an outsider. Once your Spanish improves, you'll be able to make better connections with people.
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Old Jul 6th, 2018, 07:53 AM
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I agree with november_moon about taking some language lessons. You might do so in a group setting--meeting folks "in the same boat" will make you feel less isolated.

Are you retired? Have special interests? Join up with some groups with similar interests. The few folks I know who have moved to other countries try to reach out to "natives" instead of ex-pats as a way of becoming more acclimatized.

Good luck.
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Old Jul 6th, 2018, 08:06 AM
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Not everyone is adept at languages and if that's an issue for you, for whatever reason, connecting with the English-speaking expat community may be your best bet short term. Having friends will certainly go a long way toward making you feel more at home. It does for me, certainly, on longer stays in my solo travels. And I suspect in time your Spanish will improve naturally and expand your circle.
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Old Jul 6th, 2018, 12:00 PM
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I'd agree about short-term, Thin, but so many people rely so much on the ex-pat community that it is too comfortable and they don't branch out as much. For sure a generality.
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Old Jul 6th, 2018, 02:19 PM
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I think you need to do all the things suggested...

Sounds like you need more fluent Spanish to be able to communicate. Sign up for a serious language program and really work it.

You need friends (likely expats will be the easiest to connect with) who speak English and who you have some common interests with. Book groups? Cooking classes?

And sounds like you need something more to fill your time each day (maybe I'm wrong on this part). Can you volunteer at a school? A library? At the orphanage? At an animal shelter? Join a gym. Go to church. Take up painting.

Oh, and you can post here on Fodor's and on Trip Advisor and help people with the Costa Rica vacations!

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Old Jul 6th, 2018, 03:14 PM
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Yes, that last part is critical - post on here and TA to help people plan trips! I am planning my 2nd trip to CR and have gotten great advice on these boards, but it's always nice to have additional input
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Old Jul 6th, 2018, 07:14 PM
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Probably a question you should have asked before moving to CR?
That said, I'm going to differ somewhat here, because as far as I know, the previous posters are tourists and don't actually live in the extranjero. There's a world of difference. Tourists to Spanish speaking countries should by all means know Spanish, but they'll never 'fit in'. And neither will you, ever, as a gringo in CR. Best you could hope for is to marry a Tica. Short of that, just embrace your gringo-ness. Learn Spanish, not to 'fit in' but rather to simply function in society. And to travel to other Spanish speaking countries. Which are right at your doorstep. Don't worry about helping others plan trips until you've taken them yourself. Even at that, 30 seconds a day is hardly fulfilling.
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Old Jul 6th, 2018, 09:02 PM
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So the bit about helping planning trips was a joke...

Anyway, I don't think anybody here is saying that a non-Costa Rican will "blend" by learning to speak Spanish, just that it will help the OP make more connections in his community and feel less isolated.
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Old Jul 7th, 2018, 10:04 AM
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I think the mystery is why he moved to CR in the first place, there must be some story there that might shed light on this. Obviously, learning Spanish better would help as that is one of the main complaints. And you might meet others in your class that are in the same boat and can get some friends (others who are expats are at least there longterm on business). This is just very curious but maybe it's real easy to get citizenship in CR, I have no idea.

I do know several people who are long-term expats and they never really feel the same as someone born here, no matter how fluently they speak. But they don't feel totally out of it or like a tourist.

I don't know about CR, in some countries there are even associations for certain countries, although I agree that makes some people who never are part of the local community. there are lots of Americans and Brits in France in that situation whom I'm met. I don't know why they even move there, people who have had so little interest in a country that they never even bothered to learn the language before they went (and never learn it that way once there). It seems to me if you are so attracted to a place, you would study that language for years, as well as immersing yourself in that country's newspapers, films, literature, etc.
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Old Jul 8th, 2018, 07:47 AM
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I wasn't joking about helping people with trip planning. This person is on the ground in Costa Rica and sounds like with time on their hands and needing a hobby.

I know on Trip Advisor forum for Puerto Vallarta several of the ex-pats lead various weekly walks/hikes, sponsor 'meet and greets', where short time tourists get together with ex-pat now locals for an activity or socializing.
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Old Jul 8th, 2018, 08:47 AM
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Many of the US expats I know in Costa Rica aren't happy with it now. Sometimes they moved to an area where the homes were less expensive and it's only Ticos around, who they really have nothing in common with.

I agree that you should think about traveling to some of the adjacent countries and being a tourist at home, if you haven't.

Just an anecdote, since I understand Spanish and could listen in on the conversations around me.. I found Costa Ricans to generally be more "fake friendly" and not so accepting of tourists and expats behind their backs. Perhaps it's time to think about marrying a Tica (was that why you moved there?) or moving to a place with more tourism where you are likely to have locals who interact with Americans and Canadians on a regular basis.
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Old Jul 8th, 2018, 09:32 AM
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eddiej~ Can you move somewhere else? Or do you have to remain in Costa Rica?
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Old Jul 9th, 2018, 02:23 PM
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For sure, posting on travel forums might be a great way to pass the time on a job that otherwise might be wasted by working, but it doesn't seem like a viable long term retirement strategy. I met a Canadian in Guatemala once that started a real estate business. I asked him how that came about, and he responded that after a short time in Guatemala, he realized that if he didn't find something to do, he'd soon enough become an alcoholic. So, there's 2 more options: drink your days away, or start some sort of business.
This book I found kinda interesting regarding business ideas: https://fourhourworkweek.com
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Old Jul 9th, 2018, 03:05 PM
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doesn't seem like a viable long term retirement strategy

No one said it was. This person sounds like they need a hobby or at least more social interaction in English and that would be one way. To converse and possible even meet people in real life if his location is a tourist destination in CR.

Better yet move somewhere else with a better fit, if that is an option.
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Old Jul 10th, 2018, 03:47 AM
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Since this is their one and only posting and they haven't come back, maybe they have already adjusted or they are a troll.
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Old Jul 10th, 2018, 07:21 AM
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I agree it's a bizarre first post...and it also doesn't make much sense. To become a "citizen" rather than a resident you need Spanish fluency, or to be married to or a child of a Costa Rican. I smell a pescado.
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