An experience of a lifetime, that is how I will always remember this study abroad opportunity. Pura Vida are the first words that come to mind now that I am back in the United States reflecting on this trip. The literal translation of this phrase simply means “pure life” in English, however, I now have a much deeper appreciation for what this term really means to me. Costa Rica is a special place, and the UGA campus where we stayed in Monteverde is nothing short of a tropical paradise. Though we were kept busy with class lectures and labs throughout the trip, the cultural immersion I was able to experience with my fellow classmates truly is a testament to why people in Costa Rica are so happy. The land is beautiful, agriculture is abundant, weather is amazing, and food is delicious. The combination of these attributes make for very happy people who live here and travel to visit, even if just for a short time such as myself.
I went into this trip excited to learn about coffee production and technology, but what I gained from the experience was so much more. Not only could I consider myself an expert in all matters coffee-related now (yes, the French press brewing method is worth the hype), but I really experienced much more of Costa Rica than I thought I would with my fellow classmates. In one short week, we managed to visit various coffee farms and their processing/roasting facilities, milk cows, take nature hikes, receive salsa dancing lessons, and even venture out over the mountains on ziplines. This program made me realize how special it is to study at a school where others are just as passionate about Food Science and Agribusiness as I am.
On one of the last days of the trip, the bus driver pulled us over to an overlook spot on the edge of a mountain. The view was breathtaking, and with my closest friends on the trip, we hopped off the bus, looked at the amazing scenery behind us and called the Dawgs at the top of our lungs as is traditition back in Athens. That to me, is nothing short of Pura Vida.