Archives for category: Costa Rica

In the ongoing mini-saga in responses to my piece comparing my experience as a Jew in Costa Rica and in Israel, University of Chicago student Jonathan Katz wrote this piece for New Voices, where my op-ed originally ran.

I was not the biggest fan of my colleague’s piece. I found the approach to be too broad-stroke, and I myself cringed at the description of San José. Admittedly, Cohen could have been more charitable. But I also found his piece to be honest, which I thought was important and refreshing.

But the response was unwarranted, cruel, and in some ways anti-Semitic. And in it, there is something interesting to examine: Underlying all of it is a subconscious narrative that, because Costa Rica has gone through certain activities to connote acceptance of Jews, Jews should then simply be happy with whatever experience happens in Costa Rica. Without critique.

If you read my piece for New Voices comparing my experience as a Jew in Costa Rica and Israel, you weren’t the only one.

A number of bloggers read it as well and were not impressed. Some of it reached near libel and/or anti-Semitism. Read the responses for yourself. 

The home page of New Voices featuring the my blog post.

The home page of New Voices featuring the my blog post.

Shortly after my blog post went live, the Costa Rica Star responded (I think?) and confirmed my critique of their earlier article about me (I think?).

Screenshot of my story on the New Voices home page

It was hard being Jewish. There were no Shabbat dinners or daily prayers in my life, so I felt Jewish a grand total of three times in Costa Rica. I had to seek out spiritual enlightenment, and that usually only happened within the walls of the synagogue.

That stood in stark contrast to Israel, where being Jewish was pervasive and, by extension, easy. Everything around our hotel on the Kinerret closed on Shabbat, forcing time for reflection and relaxation. Kosher food is bountiful. Hebrew is omnipresent.

But I felt just as Jewish at services at B’nei Israel as I did when I was surrounded by it in Israel. 10 hours in a shul in Latin America was as spiritually fulfilling as 10 days in the Holy Land.

Read the rest of my reflection on my travels at New Voices.

Picked up a girlfriend in Chicago, and we still get along almost a year later.

Finished my tenure as editor-in-chief of The Eagle, one of the best weekly student newspapers in the country.

Interned for a phenomenal five months at PBS MediaShift.

Lived for four and a half months in Costa Rica, the most verdant country I have ever had the pleasure to call home.

Traveled in Israel, which I have always called home.

Secured my last internship of my academic career at The Washington Post, a newspaper I have revered since moving to DC three and a half years ago.

Through good times and bad, I could count on friends and family to be there for me.

I’ve made some enemies, I’ve made more friends.

I’ve had some sucesses, I’ve made more mistakes.

I cried, but I more often I laughed.

There have been good days and bad.

I don’t regret a second.

Come at me, 2014. I’m ready for you.

A few weeks ago I went to a Costa Rican presidential debate in San José. When I got back to the states, I wrote, recorded and edited my first international piece and my first piece for Latin Pulse I’ve done in months. It’s also the first time leading the weekly news program.

I also snagged a couple of photos of the candidates present.

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This is an important report for me. Majoring in international studies was my way of preparing me for a life of international politics reporting. I’ve also invested myself in radio reporting with work at Latin Pulse as well as PBS MediaShift. The fact that this piece exemplifies both is particularly significant in my professional development.

Hopefully this is not the last.

IFSA blog 12.2.13

Some final thoughts on my trip to Costa Rica. I’ll miss it dearly, but I’m happy to be moving on.

IFSA blog 11.15.13 5


Today is my last full day in Costa Rica. And I’m OK with that. I’ve got a great winter break and semester in the works, and what I’ve done here has been phenomenal.

Hasta luego, Costa Rica. 

IFSA blog 11.15.13 4


The fact that seeing the gaping maw of an active volcano is considered a day trip here reminds me just how amazing this country is.

IFSA blog 11.15.13 3

I haven’t toured churches this intensely since my trip to Italy in 2010. But Costa Rica was the perfect place to do it. With such a rich history of Catholicism, the country is a rich case study in religious architecture, both old and new.

IFSA blog 11.15.13 2


Seeing the beautiful red-eyed tree frogs and learning how to make chocolate from scratch was a great way to close my study abroad program.

Don’t worry, I’ve documented both for you.