“When In Rome…”

Some times, it is necessary to adopt new behaviors or adapt the ones we already have.
Some times, it is necessary to adopt new behaviors or adapt the ones we already have.

“I don’t understand why some people gets annoyed when I speak”, said a Spanish girl who is an ESL student from my classroom when she was reporting the rest of the class that some people had told her that she curses too much.

She confessed that sometimes she felt kind of frustrated because in her country it was so natural that she didn’t (and couldn’t) realize if she was being rude when she speaks.
“Now I have to be careful every time I speak and it is kind of annoying cuz I don’t feel free to speak as I normally do” added the girl with frustration in her voice and face.

“Well, my case was a little bit different” said other student from the same group who is Colombian and has lived in Costa Rica for several years. “I am from Barranquilla, and people there tend to speak very very fast, so when I first came to CR, people always asked for repetitions when I speak. They couldn’t get what I was saying and I had to learn to control the way I speak just to be able to talk with my classmates. It was annoying and tiring”

This two cases of acculturation show how these two students had to modify something from their culture to stop being labeled as “different” in the target culture a.k.a. Costa Rica.

Since these students are living in a Spanish speaking country and since their native language is Spanish, they have overcome the four stages of Acculturation proposed by William R. Acton and Judith Walker de Felix in their article “Acculturation and Mind” (1986) in regards of language alone, but if we dig deeper in other field like making friends, eating habits, working habits, giving opinions, etc; they might not have been able to have a transition as smooth as with the language.

For example, the Spanish student said that for her it was very easy to make friends and meet people her in Costa Rica because he felt “ticos” are more open. Moreover, she added that in Spain is harder to do this because people not as open as “ticos” and friendships are built in a longer period of time than in CR.

Additionally to her opinion, my Colombian student added that she did not see that as a shocker since she comes from a Latin country in which cultures are pretty similar in regards of closeness to others. But, she sometimes felt that Costa Ricans are not as happy and outgoing as the people in Barranquilla. She said that in occasions she felt “out of place”.

In my opinion, if we focus on the areas mentioned before, these two students are in the stage of “Survivor” regarding Acculturation . This because they are competent enough to develop a “standard” life in Costa Rica and they are able to understand the differences in culture, but they still fell that some elements hinder their total understanding of the target culture.


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