In just a few short weeks, I’ll be boarding my first flight to Central America and I barely speak 3 phrases in Spanish.  I’ve got my travel sized life all packed away in 3oz containers that fit haphazardly into a clear zip lock.  As I spend my last few weeks in Athens prior to departure, I’m sitting in a classroom wondering what this experience will be like.  I have my preconceived notions, fears, and hopes packed up like luggage too.  The big question is what did I forget?

To prevent my fears from growing bigger and controlling me, I like to imagine funny situations as the direct result of my fears becoming reality.  I don’t speak Spanish at all and one of my fears about this trip is not being able to communicate well to people around me.  The situation I can imagine to make light of this, is me struggling to find or ask where a bathroom is.  Venturing on my first international trip alone includes the very realistic probability that I may get lost.  I’ve imagined myself falling asleep on a bus and winding up in the complete wrong city.  The point is, whether you’re afraid of getting bit by a spider or not, if you imagine yourself becoming the Costa Rican Spiderman, suddenly that fear seems less scary.

I genuinely hope to gain a lot from this trip.  My appreciation of coffee is part of what inspired me to return to college as a non-traditional student and pursue a degree in Food Science.  The rich cultural history and the science behind coffee promises a unique learning experience that I know won’t soon forget.  I also hope to gain an understanding of the food industry on a global scale and not just from the side of a finished product.  Seeing a commodity I enjoy every morning as a livelihood for many Central American farm families will give me a deeper appreciation for the food industry.