Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I chose the SFS program in Costa Rica because it was a perfect marriage of my interests – environmental science, international studies, and Spanish. I truly believe there is no better way to learn something than to get hands-on experience working in the field, and this is exactly what the SFS programs provide. I knew I needed a change of scenery to broaden my world view and expand my understanding of what I had learned at school, and I couldn’t have picked a better place to find it!
What are you first impressions of the country?
Costa Rica is absolutely gorgeous! Although we’ve only been here for a week, we have already explored some of the National Parks and cozy little towns that make this such a unique and beautiful country. The locals have all been very friendly and willing to help us with our Spanish and let us know where the best restaurants and shops are. Through our first few classes we have learned a bit about the history of the country and how this has shaped their sustainability goals, which can clearly been seen in the recycling and composting systems as well as their reforestation efforts.
What are you first impressions of the field station?
The field station already feels like a second home! From the hammocks on the porch to the fruit trees ready to be picked to the clear-blue pool, there is something for everyone! I particularly appreciate how much the Center focuses on sustainable practices – all of the food waste is composted, water management is a huge priority, and as little electricity is used as possible. This really speaks to why all of the students are here, and is a big part of why I chose this program. I also love that we can all congregate as a group in the common room for movies and games, or find a quiet area to be alone when we need to be.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
I think my biggest challenge academically will be to keep up with the homework and readings, since it is very tempting to sit in the sun or go out and explore during our free time! I think culturally my biggest challenge will be to adjust to speaking Spanish every day and overcoming my fear of approaching people in order to get more practice.
What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I am most looking forward to the Directed Research portion of the semester. I know that research is something I am interested in pursuing for my career, so the opportunity to gain experience collecting data and writing a scientific paper is incredibly exciting and relevant to me! I cannot believe that in a few months I will be able to say that I worked on a research project on sustainable development in Costa Rica!
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Grateful, excited, adventurous.