Read Lauren’s First Impressions

There are certain trips into the field that I could feel a change in myself and the way I perceive the environment around me. Whether I was traveling alone and finding out how to keep track of myself and others, or learning to live the “pura vida” lifestyle with an open-minded heart, or practicing trades of working in the field to understand the mechanisms of life here, I knew something about me was growing and learning to take in the light like the rich green foliage.

The SFS Center in Atenas began to feel more like home and less like a foreign country. There are many things to be thankful for in the safe town of Atenas, and on the peaceful farm, but it only takes a moment to realize how close the wildness is. When seeing monkeys swinging by the kitchen window or stumbling upon an unexpected waterfall, or when the realization hits that something important has been forgotten at a busy bus station—these are the moments that make a person stop to evaluate what is truly important, no matter where they are in the world.

At the top of a hill on the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua on our one week trip out of the country, I had a couple of these moments that made me stop in my tracks. Watching the sunset with a couple of courageous adventurers after a long day of surveying, climbing and a bit of coursework, I found time to sit with the incredible feeling of appreciation. Something astonishing tugged at the edges of this perfect and yet incredibly flawed world every day. As students, researchers, and hopeful contributing adults to society, we can only hope that we can make a difference to allow the continued existence of beauty in the world while working to alleviate the imperfections.