Before I left home on this awe-inspiring adventure, I was asked why go to Costa Rica when I could take the same classes back home? This question slightly angered me as I had already experienced some life-changing moments previously while traveling abroad. Although I knew that the experience was going to be so much different, I could not formulate into words an answer to express the magnitude of an opportunity like this. So I simply left giving only the answer that Costa Rica has an amazing environmental science program. That simple statement doesn’t even begin to describe the unbelievable experience I was about to undergo.
A month and a half has passed, and my ability to answer that question has changed drastically. Why study abroad? I could probably go on for an hour or two and still not fully divulge all the amazing things that can apply to life back home. The number one reason is that living and studying in a different culture opens your eyes to a world that you have not yet experienced. Living in Costa Rica ignites my curiosity about how it is to exist in other areas of which I know little to nothing about. This experience has not only broadened my view of the world, but it has expanded my view on my choices in life.
This has made me realize that not only can I strive to achieve my goals in my career, but I can also go beyond those goals. I was pretty content back home working in a zoo, but experiencing the flora and fauna in their natural habitat is unprecedented. I didn’t even wait for my experience here to end before I changed my goals; in fact, it has inspired me to pursue research opportunities with Jaguars in Brazil. It has given my passion for animals and ecology a whole new fire. Today it is so easy to put blinders on and forget that there is so much more in this world that you have yet to discover. Being here has made want to take full advantage of every opportunity as it presents itself.
Walking into the mist towards the Poas Volcano slightly symbolic of my journey to Costa Rica
This place has a way of romancing you into desiring more out of life. You begin to question your path and strive for a better solution. These are all things I’m learning to cherish and will bring back home. We all only have a single life to live and so many times we fill it with “one day I will, I wish, or I should have”. I’m learning here that the best things in life are the moments that you make happen. There is no doubt that studying abroad in Costa Rica or any other destination will change you, but it’s a matter of recognizing and seizing the opportunities as they come. Without traveling abroad I would have never fully realized my dreams as I have now. I can’t wait to bring this extraordinary experience home and apply it to all aspects of my life.
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