Being a black woman abroad, I definitely felt seen. In all honesty, there were moments when I desired to be back home in an environment where it wasn’t shocking to see braids or a black woman. However, in Costa Rica I didn’t feel discriminated against. I just felt like I stood out a lot, which at times could be uncomfortable. However, this is something that happens to black women almost universally. I also had instances where people would touch my hair or ask questions about my braids. I didn’t mind that because I consider it harmless and I don’t mind talking about it. Still, it did get old.
Overall, I’d still consider it a positive experience. I was often complimented on my skin and my hair and even though sometimes it felt excessive, I was okay with it. As far as my mental health, the first couple of days I was pretty anxious. The language barrier was really tough for me initially and I felt really disconnected at times. I was pretty down about that but it only lasted the first week and soon I felt really good about everything. I think this is a normal part of the experience, because I had peers who expressed the same feelings.