Why I wouldn’t trade my adventure to Costa Rica for anything else in the world.
As you may have learned from my previous blogs, I have dreamed about studying abroad for many years now. I have always had this inner desire to get outside my comfort zone and see places all over the world.
| These beautiful birds were flying over Rio Tarcoles,
where we stopped to see the infamous crocodile hangout.
I had multiple perspectives when I was making decisions regarding my study abroad.
What was the right location? When is the right time? How do I pick a program? How am I going to afford this?
Picking your location can be a challenge. It really ties in with the other questions I just presented as well. For me, I picked my location for a number of reasons. I first of all wanted a Spanish-speaking country. That narrowed it down to Spain and Central America. I also wanted something affordable with a Medical Spanish component: That narrowed my decision down to three Latin American Countries. I love wildlife and the outdoors and Costa Rica is notorious for these things, so I began to place my emphasis here. Of course, there were many other factors as well, but location can sometimes be a tough decision!
Time is not as complex as you may think. For me, I debated between my last semester of college (this upcoming fall) since I knew I couldn’t be a part of the track team and some of my friends would already be graduated. But, I realized that this would really be a commitment. I decided I kind of wanted my last semester to be at my university.
Since I am graduating early from my 4-year university, I needed to take one to two summer classes this summer to stay on track. This was a perfect for a summer program! I highly recommend doing a summer program because you can absolutely have the best of both worlds. You get to enjoy your university and take your required courses, be part of activities, keep study abroad scholarships, be with friends, etc. during their normal times and you also get to get out and see the world!
I’m not sure what other students have to say about the exact time in your college career is most desirable, but here is my thoughts.
I believe that a lot of college sophomores and juniors are having the most changing time in their young lives. During these two years, I experienced the most life-altering event in my time at college. I think for most 4-year universities, these are also the most academically challenging years during a traditional program. In all honesty, I used my study abroad as a door to get away from this and seek a new way to be challenged. I was kind of over constantly being in the cycle of studying for all of my rough science classes for so long. I just wanted a change of pace. The summer program was perfect because I was able to have a few weeks of post-final recovery and then get out of my normal for a month or two. It was so refreshing! A change of pace is very good for psychological recuperation also. Now is the time to “do you,” so put aside the other things and just take care of yourself for a bit!
|You just simply have to see the world outside of your front yard in a new light. It’s incredible what you’ll find.|
Picking the program was easy for me. CEA was very affordable and had an excellent package for the price. I was able to have all of the features of other Big Name study abroad companies for much less. They also had dates that worked well for my schedule, (as I am in a wedding yet this summer and needed to be back in the States for that!). The Medical Spanish program was something that not many other places offered, and so I decided that CEA would be good fit. I liked the feel of the personalized staff because they used multiple avenues to aid me in preparing for the trip. I had a CEA Site Specialist who had excellent advice and basically served as my advisor. The financial office was helpful in making my payment plan. There were also others either abroad in my location or back in the States who were extremely helpful in the process!
I’ll tell you this: I had a major emergency happen while I was abroad. My grandfather, who I am very close to, became increasingly ill and passed during my study abroad. CEA was wonderful in helping me with necessary arrangements to go back early and they were also very personal with my other needs as well. Maggie and Leo (Program Directors for San Jose) checked up on me to make sure I was okay and helped me with all of my arrangements to lighten my burdens with having to leave early unexpectedly. What other study abroad company would do that?! They were great and I am so thankful for their assistance!
CEA is so authentic and personal and they are a great company to trust in making your arrangements.
How are you going to afford this?
That was my question. I knew that I needed to come up with money for my study abroad on my own.
I chose multiple avenues to meet up and afford my trip. I wrote MANY support letters to friends and family, made a GoFundMe.com, worked extra hours, and applied for quite a few scholarships. It’s possible, especially if you work at it and pick the right program. Summer programs are more affordable and so are certain locations. Central America is a great place to study abroad because unlike European locations, it is fairly “cheap.” CEA offers a number of scholarships and I was fortunate to receive one, which helped immensely. I also utilized their flight voucher program by applying early. You can also host fundraising events to help you get to where you go. You can do it!
| I slowly learned about myself during
my study abroad, things I
never knew and I became
more of who I wanted to be.
I wouldn’t trade my adventure to Costa Rica because I learned things about myself there that I couldn’t have any other place. I am forever changed because of my new perspective of other cultures. You just simply have to see the world outside of your front yard in a new light. It’s incredible what you’ll find. I’ll tell you that it wasn’t always a comfortable decision for me, and that it took some work, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I don’t want to spoil your adventure, so I won’t tell you everything that I learned from studying abroad in Costa Rica, because I want you to see it for yourself. I can assure you, however, that you will never have remorse for taking the initiative to go beyond your norm and opening your eyes to the new and the other. You just simply have to do it! It is something that I will always carry with me because it has become a part of me. I am the complete me because I’ve filled the empty spaces that were once vacant due to wanderlust and not knowing my full potential. Become you. Become a traveler. See the world and study abroad.
|I am the complete me because I’ve filled the empty spaces that were once vacant due to wanderlust and not knowing my full potential.|
Shelby Stolze is the Summer 2015 CEA MOJO in San Jose, Costa Rica. She is currently a Senior at Concordia University Nebraska.
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