First Impressions of SFS Costa Rica

Posted: February 22, 2012

Name: Patrick Ronay
School: Gonzaga University
SFS Program: Sustainable Development Studies, Costa Rica

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”  – R. Browning

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I find that many of my peers will describe their study abroad program as an “experience” due to subjective variables. But what I have found insofar with SFS is that I will, upon return, be able to say I received an education in every sense of the word. The evidence available will be objective spanning from the knowledge gained and enhanced, cultural literacy and self-development obtained. At the very least, the SFS program will supplement my understanding of sustainability and then form and imbue the foundation for a life of environmental stewardship, which is an immense blessing in itself.

What were your first impressions of Costa Rica? 
My expectations of Costa Rica were slightly obscured by persons who had vacationed here and experienced the ready-made parts of the country rather than the environment in which we find ourselves. They all spoke very fondly of this country, but I knew my experience would drastically differ. I find myself quite smitten with our circumstance as it presents a pace of life that coincides well with my demeanor. The setting contains beauty, both natural and artificial, that carries a refreshing humbleness that is much welcomed.

What were your first impressions of The SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies? 
The field station is simpler than I expected. The absences from our affluent lives (e.g. hot showers, cell phones) gave an initial shock to some, but, simultaneously, that deepened the allure of this program. I have already come to the realization that my time here will be greatly defined by my daily patronizing of the Center’s porch and its hammocks.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
The term academically, to me, goes far beyond the classroom and encompasses many variables of my education at the university level. Therefore, the adjustment will be just as complex. At Gonzaga, I have been privileged enough to become enmeshed in the community through a variety of campus resources and, most importantly, relationships. The relationships there have furthered my development intellectually and spiritually and removing myself for a semester period will take its toll on me, yet perhaps this novel environment will allow for a type of growth that my current level of maturation demands.

Culturally, the language barrier is the most imposing, immediate challenge. I’m also curious to see my reaction (if exposed) to the portions of the country where, as some say, cultural imperialism has begun.  How this will alter my perspective, in many different regards, cannot be foreseen.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester? 
The opportunity to learn and grow amid new stimulation and like-minded peers is fantastic.

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Pure, blessed, and entranced.

Read More about SFS Sustainable Development Studies