Would you believe me if I said that I had class in a boat with crocodiles swimming below? Or in a river in Carara National Park? What about with a group of howler monkeys above my head? While witnessing an iguana fight? Or what about when you hear the most ridiculous bird call and your professor gets more distracted than the students? It hit me when I got up from class to run to the bathroom and the staff had just caught two snakes—this learning environment is the best. And anything is possible.

Whether class is at the Center or in the field, everything is possible. For me, the best way to learn is where everything is happening. And it doesn’t matter if it starts to rain on your parade because it’s a welcomed break from the heat.

In the classroom, professors do a great job of painting a picture of the environment, but actually being immersed in the place is much more powerful. Instead of pointing at pictures that you can search on Google, you are on Playa Azul (near the mouth of Costa Rica’s most polluted river) seeing local community members cleaning up discarded plastic bottles for a living. In the small village of El Sur, you are able to make sugar candies with people who have been doing it their entire lives. On any given Sunday, you can take a taxi into town and hang out with people from Atenas. Not only do I get to learn about the environment and humans’ effects on it, but  I’m also immersed in the culture of Costa Rica.

When was the last time you took a second to really observe your surroundings? I often stop to think how lucky I am to have an opportunity like this. I am learning about all of these great places and tropical species, but, it goes further than that. As a person, I am forced to step out of my comfort zone and adapt to so many different “norms.” Now with a month left in the program, I could not image the beginning of my senior year happening any other way.