Starting college was a very difficult time for me. I am from a small town and have gone to the same school with the same people my whole life. You would think I should have been ecstatic to leave and start at UGA with everything it had to offer but that wasn’t the case. I saw it as leaving my dog which I had just gotten my senior year, my boyfriend and my family. I felt all alone and I was terrified. The only thing that gave me some comfort was having my brother at UGA as a senior. I generally went home a lot Freshman year because I live close and I wanted to spend time with my boyfriend and dog, with that being said I would have never imaged myself Junior year looking into a study abroad program.
Throughout my sophomore year I grew a lot as a person and finally made some good friends from starting my job and joining Pre-Vet club. Up until this point a lot of people I knew had gone on study abroad trips but I never thought I would be able to do that financially and mentally. Fall semester Junior Year we had someone come and speak in my class about the Study Abroad trips offered from the College of Agriculture and I was very intrigued. As soon as the presentation was over I started researching them and talking to my family. I quickly choose the Costa Rican Avian Biology trip because I had always wanted to go to Costa Rica and because I’m Pre-Vet, all the new species of animals interested me. When I finally got the go ahead from my family and I got accepted into the program, I couldn’t believe it.
After the initial excitement and shock, the months leading up to my trip I didn’t think about it much. I was very busy with school, work and extra activities that I didn’t have time to analyze that I’m leaving the country for three weeks until after finals spring semester. I then had only a few days until my departure. This would be my first time leaving the country, first time getting and using a passport, and first time flying on a plane by myself. After finals I was still busy trying to shop for last minute items and find hiking pants that were long enough! It wasn’t until the night before that I started getting really nervous. I was really worried about the plane and flying by myself. I was worried about the living situations and having to start all over again making friends like Freshman year. I was really worried about my dog being upset because after Freshman year she has been living with me and I’ve never left her like this. I thought she would think I abandoned her. Leaving my family at the airport was really hard for me. I had to keep it together when I said bye but as soon as I got to the other side I went to the bathroom and cried. It was difficult for me to keep it together at this point and now I had to go be on my own. I continued to be upset and cried as we took off. But as soon as we landed in Costa Rica everything changed. I did not prepare well for this trip emotionally but this ended up being the only hard part of the whole trip!