After two months abroad in Costa Rica, I am finally back home in the states. When I saw my family for the first time in the airport, I was definitely happy to see them, but it was also bittersweet. The trip had never felt officially over until that moment, and I already missed it. The experience that I had on my study abroad trip was incredible and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I will never forget the things that I learned and the people I met there. They were all great and I am glad to say that I came away from the trip with new friends and new perspectives.
My time in Costa Rica definitely had an effect on my perspectives of the world and perhaps even my personality. A lot of this change came simply from the people that I was around. I was around the same eight people for two months straight and, in that time, we became pretty close with each other. Their influence, along with the other people that I met during the trip, changed the way that I view many things and I couldn’t be happier about it. I feel more open-minded and curious about the world around me. I’ve also gotten very hooked on traveling over the course of the last two months. We were constantly on the go and visited many parts of the country and, now that I’m back, it’s hard to settle back down again. I feel restless staying in one place, so I try my best to be more adventurous and go explore more just around Tuscaloosa and Alabama. Looking back, I changed a lot in just the two months that I was away.
As far as reverse culture shock, the food was definitely something to get used to again. The diet in Costa Rica is pretty different. A lot of rice and beans and meat. While there, I missed all the food back home but when I got back into the U.S., I didn’t really miss it anymore. There is just a lot more processed and greasy food that I used to not think anything about eating. Now, I’d rather eat more fruits and vegetables and just healthier stuff in general. I guess thats why I lost 8 pounds on my trip, too. Coming back here, I also realized how wasteful we are in the U.S. Costa Rica is a very environmentally conscious country, at least compared to us, and now I notice everything we do that’s wasteful, such as our insane use of plastics and how much food we eat. Coming back has taken some getting used to.
My advice to future students is if you’re on the fence about whether or not to study abroad, do it. It may be scary or make you nervous or be a long time away from home, but after its all said and done, you’ll always be glad you did it.