Location: Costa Rica
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Term Abroad: Spring Break '17
Major: Psychology (Pre-Occupational Therapy)
Initial thoughts on Arrival/ First Impression
Before arriving in Costa Rica, I was nervous because I did not know a lot of Spanish, and I had never traveled abroad or flown on a plane. But as we were landing in San Jose, I became very excited as I realized we were finally at our destination! We were able to view Costa Rica’s beautiful scenery as we drove from the airport to Cartago, and we were welcomed with smiles when we arrived at the base where we were staying in Cartago.
My study abroad experience exceeded all of my expectations. Not only was I was able to serve in a daycare and learn more about Costa Rica and its history, but I was also able to explore Costa Rica, learn Spanish in Spanish lessons at the base where we were staying, and get to know fellow Honors College students. Our week was full of serving and new experiences…it flew by and was a blast!
I was placed at daycare during my time in Costa Rica. While serving at the daycare, I was able to interact with many children. They would help another group member and I with our Spanish, and we were also able to teach the children some English. One moment I remember is helping a young girl count in Spanish. We counted to thirty together, and when we were done, I started counting in English. The girl repeated after me and acted very excited to learn English! What I found particularly special about this experience is that not only was I helping the children, but they were also helping me. The language barrier did not stop us from having fun and learning from each other!
Not only did studying abroad give me the opportunity to meet people from Costa Rica, Mexico, the Bahamas, and other states in the U.S., but also other Honors students from IUPUI with whom I have developed lasting friendships. I feel more connected to the Honors College and IUPUI as a whole after studying abroad. I was also able to gain a greater appreciation for IUPUI and the many opportunities it provides its students outside of the classroom.
I absolutely loved my study abroad program. It had a service component in which I was able to work with kids, which is a passion of mine, and it was also full of excursions that allowed us to explore many different areas in Costa Rica. The locals and the individuals at both my service site and the base where we were staying were very welcoming and friendly, making it an amazing experience that I will never forget. After traveling to Costa Rica, I want to continue to travel abroad to explore other cultures and meet new people, and I also hope to return to Costa Rica one day.
I gained valuable knowledge about Costa Rica, it’s history, and it’s people, as well as a deeper appreciation for cultural diversity. It was a privilege to experience a culture other than my own! I also think that I gained more confidence to get out of my comfort zone and to have new experiences, which is something I can use in all aspects of my life. Lastly, I gained many new friendships with my fellow Honors students who studied abroad with me in this program.
Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Studying abroad is full of new experiences, which can make one feel uneasy, but having an open mind and being willing to try new things will allow you to fully immerse yourself into the culture you’re in. It will enrich your experience while abroad.