After my initial anxiety about the trip, everything changed once we landed! Once in Costa Rica we were quickly put on a bus and taken to the Marriot Hotel ( a luxurious living environment that we didn’t know soon would change). On the bus, we had our tour guide, Hugo, start talking about Costa Rica and what we should be expecting soon. We made it to the Marriot where we were assigned roommates. I was most worried about the roommate part, but it ended up being the perfect match. After the first awkward introductions, we had two options for dinner- either the Mexican restaurant across the street or the Walmart to the left. Me, my roommate and a couple girls went to Walmart. This was the first initial culture shock. We quickly realized we didn’t know anything about the different money currency and that the workers did not know English. This was my first understanding that I am actually in another country and it was cool and exciting! This night ended up being a great night where me and my roommate, Josie, ended up bonding over chips and salsa in our room. I was so worried about making friends and roommates but it all fell into place.
This study abroad is so busy and you do so much its difficult to find words to describe it. One thing that stuck out to me was the food. The first place we went to was Ensenada and I feel like they had the best food out of the whole trip. I loved every meal. Ensenada also made an impact on most of us because it was a huge change. It was hot, our rooms had no air conditioning and there was a lot of bugs outside and in our rooms. But I felt like we all grew from this experience. It was beautiful and our rooms overlooked a large field and a beach. Being one of the only people on the trip who had no background with birds, this is where we started birding and I learned so much in such a short time. One memory was we got caught in a huge storm on one of our birding hikes and I’ve never been so soaked in my life. None of our waterproof gear held up against this storm. There were puddles in my shoes and I didn’t think any of my stuff was ever going to dry. I felt like it was a funny experience that we were able to bond as a group over.
Another memorable time was in the middle of the trip when we went to San Gerado which I had heard many rumors about because of its dreaded hike. The hike down and up to get to it was difficult but very rewarding. Where we stayed had a huge porch with hammocks and it was amazing sitting there drinking coffee looking out to a Volcano. At this point in my trip I had made two good friends who I roomed with and we found a giant spider in our room that night that caused the whole house to shake as all the girls ran in our room and started screaming as they witnessed this giant spider. One of the girls was our hero and captured the spider to release it back outside.
Overall, this trip was not an easy trip. We were constantly busy and hiking. We stayed at eight different places and were thrown into so many different environments. It was hot, there was little air conditioning and hot water but I enjoyed everything about it. I made many new good friends and learned a lot.