At the beginning of the fall semester, we asked student Daisy Montalvo 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 liked all the excursions we had as a class. All the days of traveling and long bus rides could become tedious. Looking back now, these were the best moments. I didn’t really have any expectations, but all I knew was I was excited for what would come that day. It was great being able to share that with everyone. I can also say that during this program I learned so much about myself and grew in knowledge, confidence, self-love, patience, and mindfulness.
You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
Costa Rica is so homey and has something for every season of life. During my time here, I was able to visit the beautiful and tranquil Caribbean, hike the highest mountain, and have a fun night out in San Jose. People here are kind and you can basically strike up a conversation with anyone. It is easy to call this place home and I’ll always remember it as that.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Meyer
What is life at the Center really like? What are the best and the most challenging parts?
Life at the center is like nothing I have experienced, it has been its own version of a paradise. The best part has been everything and anything. It is beautiful here, first of all. I love early mornings, where the sun is rising over the trees and the farm. The sound of the birds in the morning is unlike anything I am used to. It’s an amazing campus accompanied by amazing staff. Plus, the food here never disappoints. It can get challenging once I reach my social capacity because it is super difficult to get alone time from anyone. During these moments, I would often go into town or spend a Sunday at a café instead of on campus. One thing I wish I did more was get out more often.
What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
My biggest academic challenge were the field labs and field experiments. Our professors give a lot of liberty to choose topics, so it was difficult for someone like me without a big science background. Though, this was not anything I couldn’t handle.
Culturally, my biggest challenge was not being able to get outside of this bubble the campus is in.
What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
The best memory is one I had during Directed Research. During data collection, one woman was kind enough to host our research group at her restaurant to talk to her and other community members. This was great not just for research purposes, but also it was comforting to be able to hear these people’s stories. This restaurant was at the edge of this dense forest, and through the windows, you could see dozens of hummingbirds zipping through the air, it was surreal. It was what I would call peak Costa Rica; we were sipping coffee and talking to some kind people in a magical setting.
Give three adjectives that best describe how you are feeling right now.
SAD, Radiant (with happiness), Is-there-a-word-to-say-that-my-heart-is-full