As the Fall 2018 SFS students begin to settle into their new homes around the world, we asked them to share their impressions of the experience so far. Daisy Montalvo had this to say about SFS Costa Rica:
Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
SFS just happened to be the place where important parts of my identity could be affirmed. I am an avid hiker and backpacker. My love, respect, and concern for the environment has grown not only while out on the trails but also in the classroom while studying concepts such as ecology, sustainability, and environmental stewardship. Moreover, being Latina is another important part of my identity, so I had always been interested in living somewhere in Latin America. The Center for Sustainable Development Studies in Costa Rica was the natural choice.
What are your first impressions of the country?
From those who I’ve spoken to in Atenas and the ticos here at SFS, the people here just seem happy. I love being able to strike up a conversation with anyone and the feeling of community is strong here. Perhaps this is just the effect of living in a gorgeous country where things move a little more slowly.
What are your first impressions of the Center?
I have never settled in somewhere so quickly, and it is easy to call this place home. It does take work to be a part of this community like participating in pandilla chores and sacrificing normal comforts, like hot water. Still, it has been worthwhile. I also appreciate the staff here that work hard for us students to feel at home.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester, both academically and culturally?
The biggest academic challenge will be the directed research project, as I have no former research experience. Yet, this is one of the things I am looking forward to most, and I know I will have plenty of guidance.
Culturally, the biggest challenge is still being in an American bubble. I want to understand Costa Rican life as best as possible but acknowledge a truly immersive experience is unlikely. Still, the people in the neighborhood are nothing but kind.
What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I am looking forward to our trip to Panama. It will be interesting to compare Costa Rica to another Central American country in all aspects: environmentally, socially, and politically. I really don’t know what to expect from Panama and I am not familiar with it other than the Panama Canal, so it’s exciting to go into another country not really expecting anything.
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Overwhelmed (in the best sense), Revitalized, Blessed.