Decision: Spain or Costa Rica?

I can’t make a decision!

I’m at the stage of my life where I’m checking items off of my Bucket List. Speaking a foreign language and living in another country are two of those items that have risen to the top of the list.

I fulfilled the usual high school and university foreign language requirements by taking classes in French and Spanish, but I never learned to speak another language. I understand a few words and phrases and can read signs well enough to get myself around. But that is NOT the same as communicating in a second language.

I have dreamt of living in Italy, Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Morocco, England (no language barrier there). I dream of many things but want to make this dream a reality.

1st priority is to learn a language. 

Spanish it will be. Spanish is spoken in South America, Central America, Spain, Cuba and the US! It is the 2nd most popular world language, measured by number of native speakers. (Mandarin is first and English is third.) Immersion is the only way to learn a language. I hope to do 4 week immersion program but can’t seem to make a decision about where!

2nd priority is to experience another culture. 

Barcelona, Spain has been on my list of MUST SEE cities for a long time. Gaudi. Dali. Picasso. Flamenco. Tapas. La Sagrada Familia. Mediterranean coast.  A dynamic city with historic side trips around the country.

Costa Rica is mother nature. Vulcan Arenal. Cloud forests. Quetzals. Monkeys. Sloths. Pre Columbian art. White sand beaches. A small town with outdoor explorations of diverse ecologies.

Two very different experiences. Both with a strong emotional pull. Both with great photographic opportunities. One this year and another next? Maybe. But what if I can only do one?  Which would it be? I plan to go in January. I am not a fan of January in New England. Warmth and green are the way to begin a new year!

What would be your decision? Why? 


4 thoughts on “Decision: Spain or Costa Rica?

    li class="comment byuser comment-author-tameralg bypostauthor even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-323">

    The decision is made. I’ve reserved my spot at the school and booked my flights. I am going to Spain! 2 weeks in Valencia followed by a week in Cadiz and ending with a week in Barcelona. I am SO excited!

    Karen Dietrich has been a font of information and inspiration. Thank you, Karen! I am trying to jumpstart my language lessons before I head out on what may be my most exciting adventure! You will certainly hear much more as I travel and learn in January!

    Muchas gracias!

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-313">
    Jan Barrett

    Spain….it’s more culturally exotic….and you can dance the Flamenco!

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-312">

    I have visited Costa Rica and live in Spain, so here goes:

    If you are looking for warmth and sunny skies, Costa Rica would win. Barcelona in January is mild-ish, but on the cooler (to cold) and damp side (around 50 to 60 degrees) — trees are bare.

    As far as language learning, in Barcelona you would get the bonus to learning a little Catalan, the language most spoken in Catalonia — signs and street names, etc. are just about all in Catalan, not Spanish. In the summer months, I live in a town just north of Barcelona and a short ride to Girona, and everything is through Catalan.

    January in Barcelona (after the 5th and 6th Three Kings celebration) is the very best time to visit because of the comparatively low number of tourists…it is when you can actually take tours and not stand in line for hours to see Sagrada Familia —though the lines are better than they used to be — and the Picasso museum, etc. (and if they offer the Dalí Museum tour to Figueres, also best time to see it — because you actually can see something with no crowds!) But it is still hectic and Costa Rica would be the relaxing option, perhaps.

    And extra bonus in favor of Barcelona is we can get together for a visit! I could get the train and take you to a favourite BCN Catalan restaurant or you can come for a few days stay in Valencia (a couple of hours by high-speed train and much warmer, by the way — more like 70 degrees) — the most wonderful and underrated city in Spain!

    Hope this helps and message me if you have any questions re: Barcelona and a visit!

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-311">
    Judy Gervais

    Costa Rica is beautiful, but for me, the jungle is the jungle and animals don’t speak Spanish. If you really want to immerse yourself in a language Barcelona would be more intense. You’ll love the art and culture. It is also a beautiful place. Good wine us cheap! Gaudi is fabulous and neighborhoods like the Jewish Ghetto are interesting. Wonderful markets. You might learn a little Catalan too!

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