At the beginning of the fall semester, we asked student Sarah Woody about her first impressions of Costa Rica. Now, as the semester comes to a close, she shared her thoughts with us again.
What did you like most about the SFS experience?
I really appreciated the close-knit learning community. It is really unique to live, eat, travel, and study with a small group of like-minded people. It gave me the opportunity to really get to know the other students, staff, and professors and they made the Center feel like a home away from home. I’ve had some very intriguing dinner conversations, inside jokes, and so many memories to take home with me that I will never forget.
You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
I love Costa Rica and have such a positive impression of the country. I love how easily laughter flows and how life proceeds at a calm and easy pace. I’ll miss the warm weather and the fresh fruit and the incredible natural richness of this beautiful country.
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?
Living at the field station is so much nicer than I ever imagined! What I have loved the most is the sense of community. When I have some free time I can go out to the common room where people are lounging around reading or talking or watching movies. It’s easy to organize group games or get a group of people to play gaga, basketball, soccer, or Frisbee. The most challenging part for me has been finding the right balance between hanging out with people and taking time for myself. It is easy to feel like you are missing out when you aren’t with the group because everybody is so close by! Mold growing on everything has been a constant issue that we joke about a lot.
What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
My biggest challenge was conducting surveys in my Environmental Ethics class. It made me feel very nervous to go up to people I didn’t know to survey them, especially with the language barrier. In the end people were very friendly and although I wouldn’t necessarily want to do any more surveying, it was a very positive experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone.
What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
It is honestly very difficult to pick only a few memories because there are so many! The first thing that comes to my mind is a hike that we took in Nicaragua. It was a very steep trek and not knowing that I was almost to the top I felt as if I couldn’t take another step. But after I trekked a bit more, all the weariness melted off my limbs when I saw the incredible majestic waterfall that was our destination. I took off my boots and ran into the cold water and felt so much elation that I randomly hugged people and my face hurt from smiling.
Give three adjectives that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Nostalgic, bittersweet, content