At this point we have completed our first week of the program. Looking back on it, it’s hard to believe that it has already been a week. At the same time, however, the week has been so full with authentic experience that it has easily felt like a month. Time is ineffable like that I guess. We’ve caught and released the state bird of Costa Rica, toured El Progreso (an organic farm led by the wonderful Doña Nuria), and become familiar with the culture that is dictated by its trademark phrase, “Pura Vida.”

In class, we’ve had a chance to learn the history of Costa Rica as well as the many environmental and social challenges that it still faces today. We’ve had a chance to learn about the wildlife of the region from observing the subtle tendencies of epiphytes to the extraordinarily uniform behavior of leaf cutter ants. Costa Rica is filled with intricacies that would take much longer than the duration of the program to fully explore, but I believe that I can speak for everyone in saying that the opportunity to learn even a fraction of these ins and outs is a blessing.

We all came to Costa Rica with our own personal expectations, aspirations, and doubts. It is likely that many of us came with the expectation that the program would change our lives in one way or another. Having arrived and spent some time in the country, we’ve all had some time to reflect on what “life-changing” might actually entail. Personally speaking, this past week has made me realize the importance of vulnerability in producing change. Through group activities that pushed us out of our comfort zones, we’ve had the opportunity to change a little ourselves as well as observe changes in others. It’s nice to know that there is so much more to come.

→ Sustainable Development Studies Semester Program in Costa Rica