Posted: September 13, 2017

As the Fall 2017 SFS students begin to settle into their new homes around the world, we asked them to share their impressions of the experience so far. Sarah Woody had this to say about SFS Costa Rica:

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
The program has a partnership with my school so I saw it listed on my school’s website for studying abroad. When I looked into the program further I was really excited looking at the syllabi because so many of the learning objectives matched my academic interests. I also appreciated the structured nature of the program. Finally, I knew I wanted to go to Costa Rica because I knew of its reputation for being a model for the world in conservation and I wanted to utilize my Spanish skills, although not in an immersion environment.

What are your first impressions of the country?
My first impression was green, green, and more green. The lush flora and mountainous terrain is absolutely stunning. I am constantly blown away by the beautiful things I see on a daily basis such as unusual insects, a sloth at Braulio Carrillo National Park, and beautiful flowers everywhere. In addition, the locals have all been very friendly so far and the city of Atenas is easy to navigate and picturesque with a central park full of trees and sky blue benches.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
The field station has exceeded my expectations! The living conditions are exceptional. I share a room that is larger than my college dorm with one roommate. We all share a bathroom with working plumbing and although it has cold showers it really doesn’t bother me because I believe in living sustainably so deeply. There are so many little things that make the center feel like home. I love reading on the comfy couches in the common room or swinging on the outdoor hammocks, cooling off in the pool after running around playing soccer and frisbee, and visiting the chickens and pigs. The food has also been outstanding! Tonight I enjoyed a sweet potato mash, heart of palm salad, rice and beans, and a dessert of arroz con leche, a sweet warm rice milk mixture that warmed my stomach and my soul.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
Academically I think that some of the field exercises involving the creation of my own experiment will be the most challenging. Nevertheless, as an aspiring scientist these are essential skills and I am thankful for the opportunity to practice. Culturally I feel some trepidation (but also excitement) for my first night out perhaps going to a bar. Even back home I would not be totally comfortable with this since I haven’t had that experience yet, and it is more intimidating here where I do not have full comprehension of the cultural norms.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I am really looking forward to the upcoming Nicaragua trip!

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
I am feeling productive, excited, and comfortable.

→ Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica