Uptown Funk You Up

Not that we’re taking full credit for this, but ever since the famed UWCCR lip dub of “Waving Flag” surfaced a few months ago, there seems to be an untameable surge of lip dub from other UWCs in their attempt to immortalise a generation through the medium of awkward dancing and off-beat lip-syncing!

A new challenge was set to create a lip dub of “Uptown Funk” for each college and create a massive lip dub using footage from all the colleges! Here at UWCCR, not only did we accept the challenge, but we also decided to have everyone film footage for the lip dub in the various places we went to during the Easter Break (Semana Santa). I went to Bocas del Toro, Panama with a bunch of friends and we took advantage of the amazing beaches and beautiful sun as the backdrop for our lip dub! Here’s how the entire edited compilation video turned out!

Thank you Eleanor!

1 month.

Sadly, the day that I am simultaneously looking forward to and trying so hard to avoid is drawing closer. On April 23rd, it was not only my 18th birthday but also 1 month to go until graduation. It’s so crazy to think that my time in Costa Rica is drawing to a close because it still feels, and probably always will feel, like I just got here.

Livin’ La Vida Boca!

I know, I know- this is not keeping to the conventions of this blog but this post just needs to happen. I usually post things that happen IN Costa Rica since this blog is called “Costa Lisa” after all but this past Semana Santa (Easter Week), a few friends and I  headed up to Bocas del Toro in Panama and it was amazing! The only way I can think to describe the Bocas adventure would be through this collection of pictures I manages to capture during our short escapade to paradise.


























Conociendo Costa Rica

It’s weird- it’s felt as though there’s been nothing going on worth writing posts about but that’s quite untrue. Since my last update, I have reluctantly settled back into my little bubble of the IB and the occasional Buzzed quiz. I guess I haven’t become a “New Year, New Me” kind of person just yet.

About a week ago (week ago), I went on a trip to Guápiles in the Limón Province on the Caribbean coast. We were off to visit EcoFinca (or “Eco Farm” as the English speakers would call it) as part of Conociendo Costa Rica with my tutor group along with another tutor group. I probably will not do justice to it but I am presuming that a small crash course on these UWCCR terms I’ve been throwing around is imperative to make sure that this blog post makes even a slight bit of sense. As it is in many other UWCs, I believe, each student is placed under the care of an assigned tutor who is pretty much your parent for your time here. I’ve somehow lucked out and had two tutors in my two years here- as a first year, I had Bernardo whereas as a second year, I was paired with Stephen. Each tutor group is made up of around 8 students along with the tutor and we usually go on outings together seeing as we have a budget! On top of the outings we can go on whenever we decide to, each tutor group must participate in a Conociendo Costa Rica (“Getting to Know Costa Rica”) once a year to learn more about the country we are living in because it can sometimes feel as though we are limited to the confines of our school campus as our only experience of Costa Rica. Now that you’re up to speed, let’s keep going…

Knowingly and regrettably so, I didn’t necessarily set myself up for a good night’s sleep the night before. Sleeping at nearly 1am and waking up at 5:45am, you could say that I was living life dangerously- contrary to popular belief. In my near zombie state, I dragged my way to the cafeteria to get some breakfast that would hopefully jolt me back to life. Eirini (my roommate from Greece) also happens to be in my tutor group so we headed to the cafeteria together. With departure set for 6:30am, we expected to find many more people in the cafeteria as we shrugged in at around 6:10 but we were greeted by way less faces than we expected- a grand total of two to be exact. The earlybirds in question were Stephen (my tutor) along with Emma from Belgium who was in another tutor group that was coming along on the same Conociendo trip. Slowly but surely, people did begin to trickle in but it seemed that Stephen’s tutor group was increased in numbers of people who arrived while Florian’s tutor group had a single member in appearance. Not that this was a competition at all, but you could say at that moment we were winning. However, Florian’s tutor group did begin to show up with time and a huge chunk of both tutor groups was present by the time we were set to leave.

I can only remember the bus trip to the farm in scattered fragments. Mainly because I was in and out of sleep for most of the ride. Just as I eased into sleep, it instantly slipped away when we dipped into, and sometimes dodged, the potholes on the road and it should be noted that resting my head on the glass window isn’t the best position to sleep in considering the constant bumping of my head on, I repeat, A GLASS WINDOW. After the bumpy ride where we managed to drive through the morning traffic in San José to the extremely green natural landscape, we finally arrived at the farm after the 3 hour journey.


© ECO- Finca Terranatura


We were graciously greeted by the owner of the farm, who gave us a brief overview of how his farm works in comparison to the large scale commercial farms scattered around Limón. I found it particularly interesting when he mentioned that he just left his government job in the capital city 15 years ago and came down to Guápiles, Limón to open up a farm as he always dreamed. Although it ultimately ended up as a success, I found this particularly gripping because it is easy to remain where we feel is most safe for ourselves instead taking a big leap and hoping we can reach the dreams we have built in our minds.


© ECO-Finca Terranatura

© ECO-Finca Terranatura

After a quick crash course of all things concerning sustainable farming, he demonstrated the differences between chemically altered fruits and naturally grown fruits. He even went as far as to show how durability of fruit is a top priority for transporting to distant markets such as the ones in Europe. Fun fact- a chemically altered papaya can be kicked like a football with no bruise whatsoever whereas a naturally grown papaya can barely handle a slightly tight grip of a pinky finger. The more you know…

© ECO- Finca Terranatura  Nice pose, Juanse.

© Bernardo Rodas
Nice pose, Juanse.

He then proceeded to give us a tour of his farms to see all the amazing fruits he grows on there. We came across various herbs (all legal, I might add), starfruit, cacao trees, mulberry trees- but when we came across sugarcane, I got hit by the feels. Mwabi, a first year from Malawi, and I were freaking out over the sugarcane plant as we had enjoyed it countless times throughout our childhood. It is safe to say that sugarcane is the bae.

After our tour, we headed back to have some lunch- truly delicious lunch. After, he took us through the entire process of making chocolate. We first roasted the cacao beans in a pan for a few minutes then we went on to grind them using an old-school but foolproof method of a mortar and pestle. I had a go at it as it was very reminiscent of how maize and other grains are ground up back in Kenya. After this, we went on to further grind them into even smaller particles which I tried out as well- it was quite the arm workout. This further grinding process reduced the previously grainy cacao into a somewhat fine paste.

© Bernardo Rodas

© Bernardo Rodas

As the all too familiar scent of chocolate wafted through the kitchen, we all sighed in unison by how amazing it smelt. We even got to get some samples to take home with us. We then went on to make some sugarcane juice which is nothing but the juice of a sugarcane- nothing more, nothing less.

© Bernardo Rodas All the blood, sweat and tears put into a well-deserved cup of sugarcane juice.

© Bernardo Rodas
All the blood, sweat and tears put into a well-deserved cup of sugarcane juice.

All in all, I loved my Conociendo Costa Rica because it gave the chance to do something I would have probably not had the chance to do any other time in my time in Costa Rica. Furthermore, the hands-on learning applied on this trip made me truly appreciate the fruits I eat (healthy lifestyle) and the painstaking efforts to make chocolate (not so healthy lifestyle).

Love is blind!

Blind date season strikes again at UWCCR! It is held every year and ideally a second year and a first year are randomly assigned to go out on a date and get to know each other in case they probably haven’t spoken to each other all that much yet. Last year, I was coincidentally paired with a second year, Elisa from El Salvador (someone I was constantly confused of being multiple times last year). She sent various love letters anticipating to our date and it was a blast!

This year, I was really excited to find out who my blind date would be this time around. Since we have an overwhelming amount of first years this year, some second years had two first year dates. After all the mind-boggling speculation flying around, the list was finally released and my dates this year were Blake and Avanne. When I first arrived to the oh-so-fancy cafeteria, I realised that one of my blind dates, Blake, was one of the photographers for the night so I had to awkwardly wait on the side as he took adorable couple pictures meanwhile Avanne seemed to be missing or i was just stood up- both very viable options. I plucked Blake off to the corner and told him I was his date much to his surprise and we decided to take a few cute date pictures to pass time and wait for Avanne- hoping she would arrive.



10392417_889442221068496_6623240780908572996_nand VICTORY! She didn’t leave us hanging. She eventually showed up and we had a second date photoshoot with our entire “convoy” of sorts finally together. It was such an amazing evening spent with my dates and I really enjoyed having conversation filled with the best “awkward date questions” I could conjure up! After all, it was all for laughs and we had a great time having a double date (more like triple date) with Kripa and her two dates, Georgia and Geinson.



I had such a great time and it was entirely planned by Kripa and Peppi- pretty impressive, I must say! Afterwards, I stayed behind to help clean up the cafeteria and put it back to normal and it proved to be just as fun as the date was. We were blasting the greatest hits of the early 2000s with not a care in the world and we ended getting distracted by the balloons and all. SO SO MUCH FUN. Kripa and I later started joking that I was the unofficial behind-the-scenes mastermind who ensured that the Blind Date Night happened…we’ll never know.



Día de la Independencia

September 15 marks a pivotal moment in Costa Rica’s history- this is the day they gained independence from the Spanish along with many other countries in Latin America. Their independence day celebrations are taken very seriously which months of preparation prior to the actual day. I can clearly remember hearing the marching bands of Santa Ana continuously practicing their jovial tunes day in, day out in the weeks prior to the local parade when I was in class. Many parades are held around the country to celebrate independence and our local community of Santa Ana invites our school to their parade every year which is a great excuse for all of us to don our respective national costumes and be patriotic although we are still celebrating Costa Rica’s independence- it’s an odd concept but it works.


























Wabei, my co-year from Zambia, turned 19! I’ve recently been really fascinated by the concept of celebrating birthdays and how much significance that can hold for a person. I mean, ultimately birthday celebrations are a way to validate someone and be like “Hey, you’ve been breathing consecutively for said amount of years! Congratulations and keep up the good work!” It’s weird to think of it in that way but that’s what it truly is when we come down to the nitty gritty of it all!

When these very random thoughts started circulating through my mind, I couldn’t help but look back at how I feel about every birthday I’ve had (and can remember) and how excited I get prior to it and the day of- it is undoubtedly a highlight that I can’t be patient enough to wait for, but I manage. That got me thinking that surely everyone else must feel that way, or something similar, about their birthdays when we, as outsiders, can’t come close to experience the same sort of excitement as them in realising how significant a birthday can be for other people. It’s really interesting to think about because I figured that we should just probably step back every time Facebook (or whatever other social media platform/our brilliant memory) tell us it’s our friends’ birthday and wholeheartedly take some time out of our days and make it a special day for said birthday boy/girl/man/woman/non gender-binary-conforming person/cat/dog/individual.

I think I need to stop having thoughts for a while. That was a little odd. Nevertheless, here are a few pictures from Wabei’s 19th birthday celebration!











SO. Hey there…I’m Lisa. Do you remember me around here? I sure feel like I’m treading unfamiliar territory. Time to relearn how to blog (not that I ever really understood how to.)

In case, it isn’t completely obvious yet I’ve not been here for a while. Embarrassingly enough, this is my first blog post of this school year- my final year of high school. Oh gosh, that makes me shudder every time I think about it. I honestly feel like I’ve reached a point of being exhausted and overwhelmed all the time and I never dedicate time to this blog (as much as I used to) and that needs to stop, Lisa!!!

Nevertheless, besides the treacherous never-ending Trimester 4, which happens to be the most important trimester in determining whether I go to university or  not (no biggie), I have really enjoyed being back in Costa Rica this year round!It has honestly been such a jam-packed few months but I have enjoyed every moment of it (well, almost every moment). All the opportunities that I have come across as cray and I am so glad that I am taking up more this year round. Today, I had some sort of epiphany and I realised that I can’t merely abandon my blog just because I have “too much work to do” or whatever the excuse may be, because ultimately I have less than a year left here at UWC and in Costa Rica and I want to make the most of the moments and I need to remember to document them or else they will be nothing but a blur in the future.

See you sooner than later.

(shout out to Eleanor)

1 Year Down.

A huge landmark of any great relationship has come upon us- The IB and I have been in a relatively stable relationship for one whole year! I can’t say it’s been the happiest of relationships but we pulled through! Yay (??) for 1 year, IB!

In other news, I am FINALLY returning to my blog- for real this time. The last time I made a comeback to this blog, I only lasted about one blog post worth then I returned to a deep dark hole of Youtube videos, Buzzfeed quizzes and general procrastination. Of course, a little studying for finals was fit in there too. Nevertheless, it served as a well deserved break from this small part of my cyber presence and spending time with friends was cherished even more since we were fast approaching graduation towards the end of May!

As first years who had not really experienced the stress of exams thus far, it hit some of us pretty hard. I was only to be found in my residence’s upstairs study room for the better part of the end of April and May in preparation for the imminent death trap that was the IB1 end of year exams! *shudders* On top of having to stress out over the end of year exams, we were all freaking out because there wasn’t much time left to spend time with people on campus before the second years left for good! Memories were to be made and cherished- we just needed to somehow allocate time for that. Committed to “cherish the moments”, Mona (Norway) made it her personal mission to go out for smoothies at a local smoothie shop, “The Cool Smoothie Place” as we refer to it, everyday for about a month although I couldn’t manage to go every single day as the smoothie addict, Mona! Although I wasn’t even going to actually drink a smoothie everyday, going for the smoothie adventures was a great way of making the most of the time we had left in our first year! I also got to spend so much more time with Alara, a second year from Turkey, who lived in the room across me all year. Alara and I were often the only people left in the study room at the late hours of the night still studying for our exams and we really bonded in the little time we got to spend together. We even got to host Evening Café together with Kripa (Nepal), Mona and Zara (UK) because Alara had not hosted it before and it was nearing the end of her time at UWCCR! It was an awesome night filled with studying for Psychology perfectly accompanied with Turkish coffee, brownies, international music and a whole lot of Turkish delight- one of the most memorable nights of my first year for sure.

Once exams were finally done, we blinked for a moment and before we knew it, we still had activities in store for us as we waited for the second years to complete with their exams! The first years had Group 4 Project Presentations and our First Year bonding day. They both went pretty well although our bonding day stood out because we got to get out of campus for a day and spend time with each other as a generation and get closer especially following some unfortunate events that had affected our school a few months ago. On top of that, we also had a second year-firstie bonding day on the day before graduation where we got to spend quality time together as a school for the last time. It was a day filled with emotions but we also had a lot of great moments at the pool and conducting various activities!


8am, May 26th- Finally, I was awake and the day we had all been waiting for (and been dreading slightly) had finally come! The first years were due to show up to the ceremony a little earlier in order to welcome guests to the graduation before it began and also to form a long pathway of us holding all the flags represented by our students and staff which would serve as an entrance to the ceremony. We watched as parents trickled in, impatiently waiting for the graduates who eventually made their entrance in pairs, preceded by the teachers and other staff. It was a short and enjoyable ceremony with speeches by Hernán Jimenez, a Costa Rican UWC alumni/actor/comedian, and a whole slew of students and teachers!

Everything happened very quickly after the graduation ceremony- from unexpected departures to manic packing- but I somehow managed to survive all of it (although my sanity at that point was in question)!! Kripa and I spent the night in my room that night but we didn’t dare to sleep too long in case we missed a bus leaving for the airport at crazy early hours without saying goodbye. Bus times were scheduled for 3am, 4am, 7am, 10am and 1pm- everyone’s normal schedule was affected by this in turn. Working up the strength and willpower to get up at the early hours was torture enough until we had to actually say goodbye to people and the waterworks were in full flow! The car park was crammed with so many people, half-asleep just suffering with a great deal of heartache, all in unison. When it was my time to leave for the airport, I only found out that I had a spot on my bus about 10 minutes before it was due to leave so that added to my heap of stress. More than 24 hours later, I was sat on my carryon suitcase in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, convinced that my luggage must have been lost somewhere in my long journey filled with complicated connections but alas my luggage was there and now, I am finally home.

All in all, I would like to congratulate the graduating class of 2014 and I wish them all the best as they venture all across the globe!