Hola! Como estas? The most commonly used words I heard and spoke on my study abroad trip to Costa Rica.
I left chilly Philadelphia wearing a tank top covered by two heavy-duty sweatshirts, leggings and to top it all off my high boots. I landed in San Jose and immediately began to roast.
A seven day trip that was well worth it, a seven day trip that increased my knowledge and a seven day trip that broadened my horizons. I first heard about ECG 300 studying Fair Trade in Costa Rica last year and was torn between that and Guatemala.
But I chose Costa Rica, and I now know the reason why. I got to learn about a multicultural society that I would probably not have had the chance to experience until later in my life. It was a chance to reflect especially when we hiked the Arenal Volcano in the city of Sarapiqui, quite an accomplishment I’m proud to say I’ve done.
After waking up early, numerous amounts of bus rides, and three cities later Costa Rica was an incredible experience. We drove to three different plantations two of which were coffee plantations having to deal with Fair Trade and Free Trade, the purpose of our travels. And the other a trip to a banana plantation where I posed for a picture of how to properly banana pick with my friend Nicole and our specialist for the day Carlos.
No matter what day of the week, we were constantly learning. I met so many people that taught me so much about their country you would have never been able to learn in a classroom. My professor was right when she said and I quote “you have to experience the culture to really understand what it’s truly about,” Womack said. And I completely agree with that statement. Our tour guide Jonathan said similar words, and a couple that my friend and I met at dinner that said traveling is the best way to learn.
It may not have been an immersion trip, but it was a learning experience that I wouldn’t trade. I could not stop looking out the window on the bus ride to the multitude of places we journeyed too. I wanted to see it all.
And for awhile there I was always nervous about flying, this was only my second time on a plane, but I knew if I didn’t take this opportunity than I would never start traveling. After this trip I promised myself to start traveling more and to experience more.
Learning never stops and Costa Rica taught me just that. Seven days we learned something new about their culture, seven days we grew as a group of 18 individuals, and seven days it took me to write this article about how much I truly enjoyed my time, the people I was with, and the amount of knowledge I took away from it.
My favorite part of the trip was not one moment, or one activity, or one learning experience, it was these two words being heard and being said each and every day. PURA VIDA! Which means a multitude of things, generally it means life is good. And that’s what life is, life is good, even when you cease to believe its not.
I hope to one day return to Costa Rica and see the other parts of the beautiful country. And if your one of those people whose on the fence about studying abroad at all even if its for a semester or just a week or two, whatever the case just do it.
Always Pura Vida Costa Rica