Am I really back? My time, journey, and travels abroad for nearly five months were more than I could ever expect, but feels weird being back. Central America has become a home away from home. The culture, people, and amazing food are some of the best and most cherished memories a part of my semester. Studying abroad was one opportunity that challenged me academically and personally to pursue goals I had contemplated so much and decided to finally stop limiting myself from the possibility of its manifestation. I learned from this how different, yet similar culture is and the importance of my exposure in Costa Rica. The privilege and opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica this past semester also provided me the cultural exposure of a new country. The beginning can always be the most challenging because you never know which way things manifest, but for me visualizing, setting goals, and preparing myself were some of the steps I took to make it happen. When I thought things would never fall into place, they did!
Besides the motivation I had to give myself, I was fortunate enough to have the help and encouragement of professors, family, friends, and the Gilman! This time abroad was one where I got to zipline/canopy through a cloud forest, visit beautiful islands in Panamá, taking a road trip to Nicaragua, and integrate my studies with trips through Costa Rica, and of course document how life has been abroad.
Friends of mine that have had the opportunity to study abroad always say it is worth it and I found it true throughout my time abroad. It may not be in your plans, you may not have all the finances, or you just don’t where to go, but consider it. Learning about cultures through studying abroad is a great way to diversify not only studying in new surroundings, but also yourself. Throughout my time abroad I had a lot of “aha moments” either through the subtly of building on my Spanish grammar or just the through my daily interactions with my host family. These “aha” moments became an outlet to gain more incite and reflect from my experience abroad. Moreover, provide me with a better understanding of culture, life, and people outside of our capacity or reach.
Costa Rica being very a tropical country, I managed to go through the rainforests about five times (insect repellant was my best friend.)
Ziplining through 15 cables in a cloud forest and attempting a Tarzan swing where I free fell at the end of the tour. Terrifying, but absolutely worth it!
I couldn’t travel by boat on the Atlantic Coast of Panamá without getting in the water. The beauty of the Atlantic Coast in Costa Rica and Panamá was something I had never seen and the food was amazing. I still crave the patacones (a starchy fried plantain) and the rice and beans made with coconut milk (different than Gallo Pinto).
I survived without GPS! Public transportation in Costa Rica for the most part was my way of getting around and pretty easy to understand.
The amount of earthquakes I endured. Perhaps four in total during my time there, but I guess being from California prepared me for the constant shakes.
Participated in a demonstration with other students in the streets of San Jose one spontanious day after school.
Overall, without a doubt Costa Rica was a great start in my travels abroad. Growing academically as a student this past semester is one I truly will miss, but be thankful for all I was able to accomplish. As I push forward this last semester of school, my study abroad experience has been that leap I needed to see all the possibilities waiting for me.