First Impressions of SFS Costa Rica

Posted: September 11, 2013

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I didn’t want to do a typical abroad program in a big European city, especially because I already go to school in Manhattan! I thought that the best approach to a well-rounded academic career in environmental studies required first hand experience in field studies and scientific development. Costa Rica is particularly ideal for an environmental studies major because it is a model for sustainable development and a landscape overcoming deforestation. SFS also had great reviews and was widely recognized as one of the best environmental abroad programs in the country. The academics seemed intensive but all very interdisciplinary and applicable, and I also liked that the program involved Spanish exposure!

What are your first impressions of the country?
Costa Rica was pretty much what I dreamed it would be, it is green as can be! At first I was hesitant about being here during the rainy season because I thought it would limit my outdoor time, but now I am glad that I am here during it because everything is so lush and green, and the rain is the perfect cool-off from the morning heat! The rain is far from restricting. Costa Ricans are all very nice and make practicing Spanish easy, even for my rusty Spanish! Basically, Costa Rica has been an easy place to fall in love with.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
The field station is awesome. There is a cow and her calf, there is a full functioning farm, we compost everything, and it is green and spacious and perfect for exploration. Our dorms are tight quarters, but not even as bad as I expected! We aren’t in our dorms too much anyway since we are constantly busy in school or out and about. Our actual dorm building is great, we have a nice library and beautiful hammocks hanging on the deck and a mini kitchen for our midnight snacks. The food has been AMAZING. I thought I would be getting in shape here but the delicious cooking will probably cancel all burned calories out, and I am okay with that!

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
In my major at NYU, I focus more on the social side of environmental issues, and I think that the science emphasis will challenge me academically this semester, but that is exactly what I wanted out of this program! Culturally, Spanish will be a challenge for me, but again one that I am excited to take. The Spanish involvement in the program is the perfect balance because we have plenty of access to language exposure and opportunities to learn, but we aren’t put in a situation in which our Spanish (or lack there of) would limit our academic opportunities. Overall, I already feel like the biggest challenge will be eventually leaving Central America and this wonderful field station!

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I think I am most excited about all the cool field trips we will be taking, which seems to be almost once a week! I feel so fortunate to be in an abroad program that not only travels around the country and neighboring countries, but involves our travels directly in our academic studies. I also am looking forward to the Directed Research at the end of the semester. I look forward to working closely with the professors since they all seem so knowledgeable and experienced, and also look forward to applying what we have learned to our own research. Out of all the unique opportunities here, the Directed Research is the component I feel will stand out the most in contrast to my academic career at my home university.

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
1. Fortunate
2. Excited
3. Content