Three words come to mind as I begin my countdown to Costa Rica: anxiety, excitement, and uncertainty. However, I am more than thrilled that I have been given the opportunity to experience a new culture through the University. Many questions are popping through my head as I begin packing what I believe to be the essentials- rain jacket, flashlight, hiking gear, bug spray, outfits for dinner, the whole nine yards. Will I be able to understand the language? How different are the cultures of Costa Rica and the United States? How many new people am I going to stay in touch with after I leave? Is this going to be a life-altering experience? I have an extremely positive outlook for what is in store for me. Not only will I be receiving course credit to help me reach my undergraduate degree, but I will also be meeting farmers who make the coffee I serve every morning at my job, and I will be able to share experiences as wished for with my fellow colleagues and family when I return.
I chose this program because I wanted to find ways to develop myself more in a personal and professional way, while not having to give up an entire semester away from friends and family. I came across this trip and immediately thought, “I. LOVE. COFFEE.” If that wasn’t a good enough reason, I also had a friend who had signed up for the trip, so I knew I would have at least one familiar face with me. I have never traveled internationally, and frankly, I never thought I would. I come from a town of 18,000 citizens, and I liked that. It was safe, comfortable, and easy. Once I heard about this trip, it was a sign that I needed to stop looking for safe, comfortable, and easy and start looking for uncertain, perplexing, and challenging.
I decided to snap a photo of my luggage because a picture is worth a thousand words. Three bags full of uncertainty of what is ahead, but three bags of excitement for what is down the road. I don’t know what I will learn or how my life is about to change, but I am ready to find out.