From Costa Rica to Kenya: Out of Costa Rica
Hi everyone! I’m Adri and it’s awesome to be able to do this interview today. I am a 17 year old Costa Rican expat. I post blogs on OutOfCostaRica.com where I talk about my travels and my life as an expat in different countries. Since I was younger I’ve gotten the chance to travel and live in various places and right now I am living in Kenya, in East Africa, and it’s an amazing experience.
1. Why did you move abroad?
My family and I moved to Kenya a little over a year ago and it was because of my dad’s job. He has worked at different NGOs which have required us to move with him around the world. That is why, thankfully, we’ve gotten to visit places like Czech Republic, Dubai, Bangkok and countless other countries.
2. How do you make a living?
I am an IB student right now, which is the International Baccalaureate program and it is practically an equivalent to the A Levels. Apart from being a full time student I have my blog where I share my experiences and thoughts about being an expat and travelling and that sort of stuff, but I am 17 and I still live with my parents!
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
My parents, sisters and I left Costa Rica for the first time around eleven years ago which has made our communication with the rest of our extensive family very cut short. We do have a family group chat with our grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins, where we usually send funny memes and videos to each other. We usually call our cousins when it’s their birthday and we call our grandmothers a little more often, maybe like 3 times a month so they know that we are okay.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Kenya?
I love the weather. I’m kidding, I hate the sun and the heat. I prefer the cold haha
What I love most about being an expat in Kenya is the people. Kenyans are so friendly and kind and they make me feel like I’m home. My family and I go to an all-Kenyan church and even if we are the odd ones out, everyone make us feel loved and part of their lives.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Kenya?
The worst thing for me would have to be the lack of branded shops here. I am a shopping geek and I love clothes a lot, so coming to Kenya and not finding shops like H&M and Forever 21 made me really sad. I know, I’m very egocentric for thinking like that. But yeah, shopping is hard in Kenya and there’s only like three good clothing stores but it is so expensive.
Thankfully there is a new mall opening up soon and there will be a Zara there so that makes me happy. GO KENYA!!!
6. What do you miss most?
I miss my fooooooood!!!! Latin American food is so amazing, you have no idea. I love the taste of my grandmas’ cooking and the juices that you get back in Costa Rica from fresh fruit. Every time I think about Costa Rican food… It makes me cry. Tears are literally falling down my cheeks while I’m writing this. IT’S JUST THAT GOOD.
I’m getting out of hand here, I’m sorry haha but I’m serious, food is life and I miss my food A LOT. My mom tries to make food taste like back home but it’s not the same. The spices and flavors are different here.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
At school it became easy for me to meet people from all around the world. Then, there is a Spanish Speaking Association here in Nairobi where we met a lot of Latin American people and even a few Costa Ricans! I really do recommend looking for associations of your own culture in the places you are going. You will feel better having people speaking your own language and thinking the way that you do when you are in a new environment.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
The strangest thing would have to be the food. I am not a very big fan of Kenyan food to be honest. I only like what they call chapatti which is a variation of the naan bread. But they have food called ugali, mukimo, irio and Sukuma wiki which are food too weird for my Latin American taste buds. However, you find international food as well.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
I might not know any myth about Kenya just yet, but when I told my friends back in Costa Rica that I was moving to Kenya they freaked out. They asked me stuff like:
“Are you going to live in a hut?”
“Is there real civilization in Africa?”
“Will you have to walk miles and miles to get a bucket of water?”
And it just made me laugh... and be scared because those things could have been true.
Thankfully I only have to walk 3.4 miles to get a bucket of water. I’m kidding Nairobi isn’t like that!
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
Oh Kenya is EXPENSIVE! If I compare the prices here to the prices back home, it’s ridiculous how much more money you have to pay for let’s say… a bottle of water. Living here had made a difference in the way that my family spend. Thankfully, for my dad (not for us girls) due to the lack of clothing stores, we don’t spend money on clothes and we can use that for other things.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
If you are coming to Kenya, get involved in the community. There is a lot of social work needed to be done here in Nairobi and around the country and I bet there will be something you will enjoy. I love going and helping out at baby orphanages, there are so many around the city. You could go up to a few villages and help out the community. It’s such a satisfying experience to help other people out!
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog about 6 months ago. I was working as an intern at the communications department of a company and my supervisor saw my potential and motivated me to start my blog. A while later I took the step of opening up Out of Costa Rica under the name of Adri Mendez. I really didn’t have any idea where I wanted it to go but with time I found out I wanted to share my experiences as an expat and a traveler. I named it Out of Costa Rica in honor of the Out of Africa book and film based on the life of Karen Blixen which also lived in Kenya.
I have enjoyed blogging since then and I am looking forward to what this will bring to my life!
Adri's blog, Out of Costa Rica
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