Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
The interconnection of science, economics, culture, and sustainability really interest me. Furthermore, the opportunity to learn by doing in one of the most amazing countries for species biodiversity and conservation seemed too great an opportunity to pass up!
What are your first impressions of the country?
It is absolutely beautiful. Everywhere I turn, I see new species and interesting creatures. I haven’t seen the beaches yet but I have held a hummingbird, seen a monkey, eaten various plants on the side of the hiking trail in Braulio Carrillo National Park, and played with puppies on an entirely sustainable farm. Oh and the people are some of the most friendly on earth! Even though my Spanish is very limited, I’m always greeted with a smile and patience. Also, I don’t think I will ever get sick of the food: gallo pinto and fresh fruits and vegetables are just some of the amazing things I’ve tried.
What are your first impressions of the field station?
Even though it’s barely been more than a week, it already feels like “home.” And it couldn’t be in a more perfect location for sustainable development studies: the Center is nestled on a hill overlooking a seemingly uninhabited rainforest with orange groves, mango trees, iguanas, a cow, and a pig that’s scheduled to have piglets at the end of the week! The staff is extremely welcoming and helpful and the accommodations are comfy (although I will admit the cold showers are hard to get used to!). There has been hardly a free minute… we’ve been kept busy with class, readings, field trips, pandillas (chores), and other fun things… I can’t believe I’ve only been here a week!
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
Academically, staying focused while surrounded by such beauty and fun things will be a challenge I believe. In addition, we are studying extremely complex, interconnected systems that will take time and effort. Culturally, I’m definitely nervous about adjusting to speaking Spanish and not being afraid to take risks. On top of that, becoming familiar with the many classic “tico” ways of life will be an adjustment… but one that I am excited for!
What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
There are many, many things so here I will list some of them:
— Directed Research project: I love the idea of working to solve an unanswered question in the community in which we are living
— Getting to know my professors and their diverse backgrounds
— Improving mi español
— Exploring more parts of the country! I can’t wait to see the beaches, the volcanos, etc.
— Bonding and growing even closer to the other people in the program
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Excited and exhausted pero pura vida!