By: Claire Naughton

Costa Rica
Posted: March 15, 2022
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Student Post

Life in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

I find myself missing the Center when we are gone for too long…Every day I find a new painting on the walls and can imagine what students in previous semesters were able to learn and experience here.

With only 3 years of high school Spanish under my belt, I set off to Costa Rica with high hopes and an eagerness to learn. Currently, I am about six weeks into the program and have already gained so much knowledge from the staff and fellow students. I can safely say that my bird watching skills have improved exponentially! I am an advanced birder. Our cohort has already seen every species of Toucan in Costa Rica; we are a really lucky group!

Drinking coffee at the LIFE Monteverde. (Photo: by Claire Naughton).


I was originally compelled to study abroad with SFS due to the Directed Research component and the ability it gives me to study in the field. The days can be long and academically challenging, but after attending online classes for over a year, it has been exciting to go on field trips each week. On our field trip to Monteverde, we stayed at this epic lodge overlooking the Nicoya Peninsula. Here are my friends and I soaking up the sun the morning before we left.

Students on their final morning in Monteverde. (Photo provided by Claire Naughton).

One of our first field trips was to the Manu Center. Since then, it has still been one of my favorites. At Manu, I went on my first night hike in the pouring rain. I was able to learn about mist netting techniques and bat species from Mapache and searched for frogs in the rain with Victor. On top of that, it was the first time we were really able to see wildlife up close and start to develop our naturalist skills. This is a group photo we took on our final day at the Manu Center.

Students at the Manu Center. (Photo provided by Claire Naughton).

This semester, I came in really wanting to see a three toed sloth and it finally happened at La Finca Nueva Farm in Arenal. Here, we had the opportunity to see a really interesting agroforestry system. Victor told me not to get my hopes up, but we were able to snap this incredible photo of the sloth waving at us!

Three toed sloth. (Photo provided by Claire Naughton).

While I’ve enjoyed all the field trips we’ve gone on, I find myself missing the Center when we are gone for too long. Though the walls are thin, the people inside are what make this center homey. Every day I find a new painting on the wall and can imagine what the students in the previous semesters were able to learn and experience here. Whether it’s watching Ozark all together or cutting bangs for each other in the hallway, the center is always bustling with life and new adventures. One of my personal favorite activities was the soccer game against the staff. The field mysteriously flooded (even though it’s the dry season in Costa Rica), which led us to get all muddy from either falling in the mud or diving for the ball. All I have to say is go team Mapache!

Students following their soccer game victory. (Photo provided by Claire Naughton).

I can’t wait to keep traveling around Costa Rica knowing I have somewhere to return to.

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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