Name: Leslie McNulty
School: Franklin College, Switzerland
Major: Environmental Studies
Program: Sustainable Development Studies, Costa Rica
Having spent numerous hours in airports, early mornings and sleepless nights, I can say that before you even step onto the pure soil of a country or admire anything more than iron birds landing on the tarmac, you can feel personality in the air. The balance of openness and opportunity hugged me as I searched for my 31 new classmates fervently awaiting the arrival of Trygve, our SAM, Claire and Ana, the interns, arms full of star fruit and bananas.
We dived in immediately to classes starting day two, amidst a variety of orientation sessions. By the arrival of the first weekend we were off to the Tirimbina Rainforest where several students saw their first fer-de-lance snake. The group spent the night and was off the next morning to the Dole banana plantation. We received a tour of the facility and the fields learning the history and every step of one of Costa Rica’s most expansive industries. Saturday, September 15th the group attended the Independence Day parade in our new home of Atenas. Many Tico – local – children marched through the streets playing in bands and dancing. The following day was our first day off in which some students went bungee jumping, to the beach, explored close to home in Atenas and in the country’s capital San Jose.
The following day began the very busy schedules of classes and homework but ended in field trips to the Tarcoles river basin. First we took a boat tour and caught sight of many bird species and crocodiles. Professor Edgardo led a field lecture on the boat amidst a forest of mangroves clinging stiffly to the thick mud. After leaving the boat we received another lecture sitting on one of the trash beaches at the end of Coast Rica’s most polluted water basin. The next day we began our first field experiment at Poas Volcano National Park, a majestic crater which bathed visitors in the smell of sulfur. Students surveyed park guests about the quality of the services and their concern for the protection of Costa Rica’s environment. After returning to the center the students had their cleats handed to them in a staff vs. student soccer game. To round off the weekend one, our second Sunday offm the group split into two, half going on a trip to a beach on the Pacific side and the other half going on a 20 mile white water rafting trip.
Check out Leslie’s images below…