Posted: December 1, 2016

At the beginning of the semester, we asked student Laura Broffman about her first impressions of Costa Rica. Now, as the semester wraps up, she shared her thoughts with us again.

What did you like most about the SFS experience?
I loved that in addition to being in a completely new country, we were all being immersed in a new, environmentally conscious lifestyle. Even on a day-to-day basis, we were reducing our impact and following the sustainability contract we made. It felt great to know we were actually taking environmental action, even on a small scale. Living like that, in a beautiful country, helped me feel closer to nature, and more passionate about making a difference once I leave.

You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
Costa Rica is definitely not as perfect as I’d imagined before coming, but it is by far the most beautiful and interesting place I have visited. It’s filled with friendly and easy-going Ticos, endless, awe-inspiring biodiversity, delicious rice and beans, and environmental awareness. I love Costa Rica. Though I’m sad I’ll be leaving in a week, I know I will be back sometime in the future (hopefully soon!).

What is life at the field station really like? What are the best and the most challenging parts of living at a remote field station?
Everything that was difficult at first quickly became second-nature (and if not enjoyable, at least we could laugh about it). Cold showers are now refreshing, ‘no toilet paper in the toilet’ is easy to remember, and alarms going off at 5:30am is tradition. Living with the same twenty people for three months straight was definitely difficult; the dorms often feel smaller than they really are and there isn’t a lot of privacy. But despite that, being with like-minded people sharing the same experience was really great. We all learned so much together and from each other.

What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
My biggest challenge academically was the Directed Research. Having to pick my own topic and question was difficult, but it paid off because I got to study something I’m passionate about, and I’m proud of my work. Culturally, there were some initial adjustments that were a little difficult, but it only took a couple of weeks to settle in. It was easy to get into the fun and busy rhythm of the program.

What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
It’s really hard to pick one because there were so many days and trips that were amazing. A small memory that sticks out is when I came back to the Center after the mid-semester break. I had just had a great vacation on the beach, but I remember walking through the front door and being so happy to be back. I was excited to unpack, take a cold shower, and sleep in my own top-bunk-with-mosquito-net-bed. I remember someone else walking in a few minutes after me and saying, “we’re finally home!” Even though we complain about the cold shower, bugs, and spotty WiFi, the Center has truly become our home away from home, and I know I will definitely miss it.

Give three adjectives that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Exhausted, happy, proud


Students Dominic, Marisa, and Laura celebrating Thanksgiving at the Center


Sunset in Santa Teresa during Directed Research


End-of-semester Homemade Pizza Night!

→ Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica