At the beginning of the spring semester, we asked student Ben Lefkowitz about his first impressions of Costa Rica. Now, after a semester in country, we reconnected with Ben.

What did you like most about the SFS experience?
I like that there was so much hands-on learning and experiencing the country I am staying in. I am learning many things that I will use for the rest of my life. I do not feel separate from where I am visiting. Instead, I am part of it. I also can already see how I can use what I am learning in the real world. I am also getting to know the country is such an intimate way.

You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
This country is a welcoming and breathtakingly beautiful place. Everywhere I go, I am blown away by how amazing it is. The people here are so welcoming and helpful, even with my weak Spanish. I love learning about how they are a leader in environmentalism and how they can improve. There are so many national parks to explore, all with different things to see. I am sad to leave, but I know I will be back.

What is life at the Center really like? What are the best and the most challenging parts?
It is hard but lots of fun. I love how everything you need is so close, so you never have to go too far. You also know where people are most of the time when you need them. The food here is also super tasty. The most challenging part is dealing with the lack of privacy. You can sometimes get a few minutes of it when everyone is out but sound travels very easily here, and you have roommates. Despite this, it is entirely worth all the fantastic fun and learning I have had here.

What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
One of the hardest parts for me academically was working on all the papers without a writing center to provide help. How close together all the deadlines and projects are has also been hard with how little time you have. Culturally it has been hard not being able to speak Spanish and talk to the locals. I have been trying to learn, but it’s hard.

What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
I have a few best memories from the program. The first would be when I visited the continental divide. It was a long and tiring hike up but feeling the wind blow in my hair and seeing where two plates came together is something I will never forget. Another would be going with a group of friends from the program to Manuel Antonio to see the trails and have fun at the beaches. The last would have to be my DR collecting data on a coffee farm and being able to put what I learned into the real world and knowing what I am doing would become an actual published paper one day.

Give three adjectives that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Tired, relieved, educated









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