From someone who has never flown out of the country before, I am so excited to arrive in Costa Rica as soon as possible. Even though I will miss spending Thanksgiving with my family this year, I can’t wait to learn all about coffee production, buy Costa Rican coffee to bring back to my warm Creswell dorm room, but most of all observe the vast biodiversity at the UGA Costa Rica campus.

Are their worries of studying abroad? Of course, there are so many “what ifs” that are running through my mind, but I am fully supported by Dr. Mata and Dr. Pegg, which was reiterated multiple times during our trip orientation last week. More than anything in the world, I want to come back from this trip with more pictures than my phone can hold, the best coffee ever, but more importantly my “UGA Study Abroad” story that I will be able to share with my residents as well as my fellow UGA bulldogs back here in Athens.

If I could choose one thing that I am excited for on this study abroad trip is the coffee production tours that are scheduled throughout the week. The way Dr. Pegg introduced them during orientation was incredible and I can’t wait to see how my favorite drink is produced while increasing my cultural awareness. In addition, I look forward to the bird watching experiences as well as milking cows for the first time. If you are an avid coffee drinker like me, you have your favorite coffee creamer to go in it, of course. My favorite is the Nestle Coffee Mate French Vanilla creamer, because the smell reminds me of sitting on the couch in the living room with my Gram watching Dr. Phil and drinking coffee. It is a calming and stress-relieving experience to drink coffee while studying, including cramming for an upcoming exam.

Because I am a pre-med student as a Biological Sciences major in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, I look forward to being able to reflect on my study abroad experience in Costa Rica in my future medical school interviews. I will be able to talk about my increased cultural awareness through the conversations we have with the coffee plantation owners in Costa Rica as well as my passions for agriculture as they relate to allopathic medical practices. Also, coffee has played a huge role in my academic success here at UGA, so I know that this will be something that I will be able to have an engaging conversation with the interview panel as well.

To conclude, when I came into UGA, I thought I would never be able to study abroad, because that opportunity seems to be really expensive and I knew that I couldn’t afford it. Then, half way through my freshman year, I went to this Study Abroad fair that the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences was hosting in Tate and learned all about the programs offered as well as the scholarships awarded. I remember walking in Tate Grand Hall with all of the tables lined up and at first, it was overwhelming but then I started talking to the UGA Costa Rica representatives. Once they mentioned that there was a Thanksgiving Break study abroad program with class credit involved on top of a coffee-related program, I was all about it. I immediately went to meet with Dr. Pegg, my study abroad program coordinator, to discuss the logistics of the trip, including the flight, costs, and content for the program, so I could tell my parents all about my plans. After this meeting and the discussion that this could possibly be one of the last Thanksgiving breaks for the university system, I knew that this was an opportunity that I needed to apply for, right away. Moral of the story, I am so glad I received that Ag Dawg News email my freshman year, because attending that study abroad fair is the reason that I am leaving for Costa Rica in less than a week!