My first week in Costa Rica has been amazing. The landscape is breathtaking and the culture is full of life. The accommodations of the first few places we have stayed have been drastically different. Ensenada is on the Gulf of Nicoya with flat pastures and steamy weather. The next location, Monteverde, was high up in the mountains with thick cloud forests and cool temperatures. It’s been a shock to my senses. I’ve found it difficult to get used to the various customs and living spaces of each place. Being thrown into a drastically different world all of a sudden has proven more difficult then I had anticipated. It’s physically and mentally exhausting.

Everything that is happening makes one feel a little homesick, yearning for more familiar territory. I have never been the person that becomes homesick very easily so it was surprising to me when after a week or so, I missed my own home very much. However, what I hadn’t expected from the situation was how much those around me helped me get through it. They informed me that they too missed their homes. All the students came together and talked about our home lives and memories. We laughed together and comforted each other. We studied together to pass the time. The professor and TA kept us busy with activities and conversation. It came to a point where I had forgotten about my initial sorrows and lived in the moment with those around me. They reminded me that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I marveled at their kindness towards me.

I now look back on the last few days (especially after zip-lining through the canopies of the cloud forest in Monteverde) and feel elated with how much I’ve learned and overcame. It’s only been a short time but Costa Rica has taught me so much about myself and capabilities. The environments and activities are still tiresome but I’m so fortunate for them. With the help of those around me and with a little internal contemplation, I was able to overcome my initial challenges and I am so excited for the next few remaining weeks I have in Costa Rica.

My advice to any student who faces the same challenge that I had to face would be to reach out. Reach out and open up to the students and faculty around you. I promise that most of them are feeling the same way and there’s nothing better than having someone who can empathize with you. The professor and TA want to see you succeed in the class and they were so incredibly helpful during the whole trip. As for the students, I’m 100% positive that I made long-term friendships as we comforted each other during times of need. I have more time to build upon those friendships here in Costa Rica and I can’t wait to overcome more challenges together.