Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I knew that I wanted to go abroad, and I also knew that the kind of trip I would enjoy the most would be one that focused on my environmental interests. I considered going to Europe, but I felt that Costa Rica would push me outside of my comfort zone more. I also think that it is important to understand environmental issues from a developing nation’s standpoint, especially when it comes to climate change. Plus it didn’t hurt that I have been watching nature shows since I was a kid, and since then I have always been fascinated by tropical forests.
What are your first impressions of the country?
My first impression of the country was that it is extremely lush. Even on the drive from the airport I was amazed by how green and alive everything looked. The town of Atenas felt like a small place to me, but it also seemed full of life. I have never seen any public park as busy as the one in downtown Atenas, and it was fun to see students from local schools walking around hanging out together.
What are your first impressions of the field station?
At first I was a bit confused by the field station because I could not get a sense of where everything was, but once we got our first tour of the grounds I was really excited to live in such a cool place. I think I am going to enjoy the little things you can notice around the Center, like the leaf cutter ants making a line up a tree, or the small lizards that scurry around in the brush.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
I think the biggest academic challenge this semester will be making sure that I set aside time to read when we are so busy running around all day! We have all been joking about how we are ready for bed right after dinner, but we are going to have to make time to prepare for our classes as well. Culturally, I think the biggest challenge will be my ability (or lack thereof) to speak the language. I have taken Spanish classes for a long time, but I still struggle conversationally. I have always been someone that is comfortable talking to almost anyone, and it is hard to feel at home without the ability to break the ice using conversation.
What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
The field trips. No question. I have only been hearing about them for two and a half days and I am already super pumped to explore many of the different parts of Costa Rica. The opportunity to see and touch what we are learning about is part of what I believe makes SFS a great opportunity.
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.