This month has been simply amazing.

I’m sure that most SFS students say something like this upon completion of their time at their respective Centers, but it’s true. To think that for the remainder of my summer, I won’t be able to step onto a porch and choose my own hammock to read in, or that I won’t be washing dishes with my awesome pandilla chore group is very strange.

Every element of this program has been valuable. From the experience of group living in the tropics, to trying new foods (yucca, plantains, and heart of palm!), to playing bingo with the citizens of La Presa (our neighborhood)—everything has been a new and rewarding experience. However, the two most rewarding parts have been the people and the fieldwork.

Prior to coming to Costa Rica, I had never conducted an experiment that I had devised on my own, let alone my own experiment in the tropical rainforest. With the help of Achim, the professor that I chose to work with, and the assistance of my fieldwork partner, Zakia, I learned an incredible amount. Experiencing my research topic firsthand made me gain a tremendous appreciation for scientific research. Although I don’t necessarily foresee myself becoming a researcher in the future, I know that the skill set I learned in the field will help me for the rest of my life. We were tested mentally and physically and we are definitely better people now that we have done this.

Now, the people! The people of the Center—students, professors, and staff—have been so warm and welcoming. From sharing a meal at the Spanish-speaking table with (tropical ecology professor) Mau, to working in the greenhouse with (program assistant) Rosy, to having a friendly conversation with (cleaning staff) Evelyn, every encounter had meaning that contributed to the overall experience. It’s impressive how quickly we all became best friends. From games of ‘mafia’ and soccer, to group study sessions, to conversations on every topic at all hours of the day, the bond that I share with my fellow students is irreplaceable. Thank you to everyone!