By: Brenna Barber

Posted: August 11, 2021
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Final Reflections: Summer in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Several of our Costa Rica Summer 2021 students share their final impressions of their SFS experience.

Why did you pick an SFS program? What were some of your favorite things and what will you miss?

Ava: My favorite thing was being fully immersed in what we were studying by traveling to different places in Costa Rica. Everyone here is so genuine and passionate, and it made me so interested in everything we were learning.
Alexa: I picked it because it is field-based and that’s what I was looking for. Loved the volleyball tournament, our overnight trips. Being in the rainforest was the highlight! Definitely going to miss the food. Thank you to everyone for making this experience so wonderful!
Charlie: It was one of the few programs running post COVID-19. I loved looking at the biodiversity of the country, especially the monkeys. I will miss feeling connected to nature at such a high level. This program has been a much needed reset after experiencing a global pandemic as a young adult. It is easy to be jaded after the past two years, but for the first time in a while, I feel hopeful.

What piece of advice would you share with a future SFS student coming to Costa Rica

Ava: Go with the flow and enjoy every moment!
Alexa: Be prepared to be busy all the time! You will sweat a lot!
Charlie: Try to learn some key Spanish phrases and bring a few more shirts than you think is necessary.


Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

What’s the first story you’re going to tell your friends and family?

Ava: I’m going to tell them about the small farms we visited, the families we met there, and the whole process of producing coffee and chocolate.
Alexa: All the different animals I got to see in the rainforest.
Charlie: Going to Monteverde and seeing so many plants and animals, some of which came right up to our hostel door! (A coati)

Expectations vs reality: What were you surprised by? How has your perspective of Costa Rica changed?

Ava: The feeling of Costa Rica is almost indescribable. Being here has shown me the importance of living in the present moment and it has given me a reimagined appreciation for nature.
Alexa: It was surprising that it wasn’t raining more often. I wasn’t expecting people to be so nice.
Charlie: I had no expectations because I didn’t even know if the trip would occur, which made the trip even better.



What unexpected challenge did you face, were you able to overcome it, and what did you learn from the experience?

Alexa: I was too shy with people towards the beginning but the more I got comfortable, the more I began to share about myself with others.
Charlie: I did not expect that the towns closed so early, so as a night owl it was odd going to bed at 9:30-10pm. Luckily, we got up really early, so I have gotten used to an early bed time.

How have aspects of your identity influenced your experience studying with SFS? Did any of those surprise you? Has your experience with SFS influenced your identity?

Ava: I feel so confident and empowered leaving this trip. Being in Costa Rica ahs shown me what I’m capable of and strengthened my relationship with the world around me.
Alexa: Since I have lived in Guatemala, I was expecting Costa Rica to be very similar. I was able to communicate with people very well in Spanish. This experience has reminded me of how much I love being Latina.
Charlie: I think I have become more conscious of the impact I have on the environment, which has made me more sustainable. I also feel more mindful and grounded.

Which three adjectives best describe how you are feeling right now?

Ava: Proud. Grateful. Fulfilled.
Alexa: Accomplished. Content. Nostalgic.
Charlie: Peaceful. Connected. Curious.

Curious to learn a bit more about the SFS Costa Rica Center? Click here to read about why we’re based there, our environmental research focus, how we connect and support the local community, and even take a tour of the Center.

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