With my Spring semester finished at the University of Georgia, I had just one week before I would be departing to attend the UGA Avian Biology Maymester program in Costa Rica. This program would be my first study abroad experience therefore; I had no clue what to expect. I was told by numerous people who had attended this program before not to over pack. The reason for this was that this program involved a lot of hiking and moving from place to place so, a big suitcase would just cause more headache than necessary.
With just one week before departure, I had very little time to prepare, therefore; I relied on the packing list located in the course booklet that my Professor had provided to me. Following this packing list I was able to quickly get together what I would need for Costa Rica. However, I learned that if I packed everything listed my suitcase would become way overpacked. Being overpacked was one of my biggest fears while preparing for this trip because of everything I was told, and I also wanted to have enough room in my suitcase to bring back souvenirs.
The day before departure I was still deciding what items could be left and what items were necessary; eventually, I got to the point where I felt prepared for Costa Rica but not over prepared. Then the day of departure finally came. Once landed in Costa Rica my class was loaded onto a bus and our suitcases on another bus then driven to the Courtyard Marriott hotel in Alajuela. That night we were told to have our suitcases down in the hotel lobby by 6:15am to have them loaded onto the bus. The next morning we left our suitcases in the lobby as we were told. After eating breakfast we went outside to board the bus because we had to get to Poas Volcano National Park early before the clouds rolled in obscuring the view of the volcano. To many peoples surprise, our suitcases were loaded on top of the bus and covered with a tarp. Everyone knew how much it rained in Costa Rica and didn’t believe that a tarp could keep their belongings dry. For the most part, the tarp did its job but in Costa Rica nothing is waterproof. People who had larger suitcases like me found that their suitcases regularly got wet during bus trips. The reason for this is that the larger suitcase was placed on the edge or bottom of the suitcase pile to add support for the smaller suitcases. This left the larger suitcases vulnerable to rain resulting in many of them getting wet.
After my two week trip in Costa Rica I definitely felt like I overpacked. However, being well prepared especially for a trip like this is necessary because anything could have happened. Overall, I recommend that people start preparing for a trip like this at least a month in advance that way they will not be rushing around with just one week trying to get ready.