My sophomore year I decided to take a leap of faith and went to live in Costa Rica for six months. I had never left the U.S. for such an extended period of time, nor was I able to speak any language other than English. Regardless of these concerns, I went to Costa Rica full of curiosity and adventure.
While in Costa Rica I took two quarters worth of classes at Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, each quarter entailing a different course track. The two tracks were Environment, Sustainability and Development in Latin America and Healthcare in Latin America. Taking courses in Costa Rica was my favorite academic experience. All of our courses were discussion based, and we constantly took field trips to get a deeper understanding of the course material. The most memorable field trip was to the neighboring country, Nicaragua, where I was able to compare different environmental and healthcare practices to those in Costa Rica.
While in Costa Rica I made incredible friends and a second family whom I still keep in touch with today
When I was out of the classroom, I was busy immersing myself in the Costa Rican culture. My host family was absolutely incredible! They included me in weekly family events such as game night, family dinners, movie nights and pickup soccer with my prima. The constant communication with my host family made my Spanish improve immensely! I became proficient enough to act as a Spanish interpreter at my first co-op with the Ronald McDonald House. On the weekends, you could find me exploring different towns and cities throughout Costa Rica. I visited forests, beaches, waterfalls, volcanoes, and more! The most intrinsic experience I had was in Monteverde, where I walked through the peaceful and quiet rainforest and learned the utmost appreciation for mother nature. I had never felt so one with nature.
My first month in Costa Rica was a blur full of constant culture shock, but as time went on, I not only adjusted to the culture, but became one with it. While in Costa Rica I made incredible friends and a second family whom I still keep in touch with today. My Mama Tica has a special place in my heart and I could not have asked for a better experience! After my six months in Costa Rica, the travel bug inside me came alive, and I jumped on every international experience I could obtain. Since Costa Rica I have traveled to Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and South Korea. To those of you thinking about studying abroad but are concerned about leaving home, my advice to you is: take a leap of faith!