I’ve been in Costa Rica for a whole month now and honestly, it has been amazing. I can’t say enough good things about my experience here. I am staying in a very rural area at a research facility run by Texas A&M. It is on the edge of a rainforest and twenty minutes from a very large volcano. It is honestly one of the most interesting and beautiful places I have ever been and I love that I get to stay here for another whole month.
Before I arrived here, though, I had to get through the airport and make the three hour bus ride to the center. I will say, as a fairly new traveler, the airport alone was fairly stressful with customs and money exchanging and new people and what not. Once we got on the bus and started to get going, though, I really started to relax and realize where I was. The roads were winding and hilly, the landscape getting increasingly more beautiful as we got closer to the center. The center here is incredibly beautiful in itself. It sits on a hill overlooking a huge valley and has a mountain right behind it overlooking all of it. Even a month in, I still find myself just sitting outside enjoying the view.
As far as daily life goes, most days we start lecture at 8 am and go till around 11 am or so. Lunch is at 12 and then we continue with lecture or lab at around 1 every day. While it sounds like a lot, the classes have been rather relaxed and fun. The labs are almost always outside or in the forest so it’s not just sitting in a classroom every day. The best part is that each class is only two weeks, so things never get stale and I get to earn credit hours at a very fast pace. Even better, though, every other day or two we take “field trips” out into the surrounding areas. For example, we’ve gone zip lining, to chocolate farms, waterfalls, back to San Jose, and we’ll be heading to the beach fairly soon among many other things.
As far as the culture, I will say that my exposure has been somewhat limited because we stay at the center for a good portion of our time, but the employees here are all Costa Rican and very nice. We do often go into the nearby town and shop around or just hang out. The locals are all great. One day, I even got to kick a soccer ball around with some kids in the city’s Central Park. It was one of my best interactions with the local people. The language can be kind of tricky. My Spanish isn’t very good, but the area is fairly touristy so many people know some English. I think it’s a good mix because I’ve learned a lot of Spanish but also haven’t had to speak it everywhere I go.
So, one month to go and I can’t wait to see what it holds. I have very few complaints so far. The people in our group are great, the locals are great, and the landscape is beautiful. Most importantly, I think I’m hooked on traveling.