It was just a few weeks before I left for Costa Rica, and I had so many emotions going through my head. I was nervous, stressed, excited, and impatient all at once. On one hand, I could not wait to start an awesome adventure in a foreign country. On the other hand, I still had so many things to do and buy in order to feel prepared.
What is different about the Avian Biology program from other study abroad programs, is that we travel to many different cities around the country of Costa Rica, rather than staying at a campus the entire 3 weeks. Which means… yes, lots of amazing things to see, but also it means you have to be very careful about what you pack. Before beginning to prepare for this trip I had spoken to someone who participated in the program previously. She strongly emphasized this point: only pack what you need, because you will not enjoy lugging a giant suitcase around the country. So in order to be efficient in packing, I started to compile a list, using the checklist in the program manual, suggestions from previous students, and personal items I knew I would need. Though I was still a little stressed about getting everything I needed when it came to the last couple of weeks before we departed, this list helped tremendously in keeping me sane.
Just a few days before we left, the craziness of spring semester classes was finally fading, and I started to get really excited to leave for Costa Rica. Although I had previously been to Europe with family, and to Nicaragua with a group of UGA volunteers, this 3-week study abroad program would be the longest time away from home, with 17 people I did not know very well, or at all. It was going to be a challenge, but I was more excited than anything. Excited to explore the beautiful country of Costa Rica, excited to learn about the wildlife, culture, and everything else the place has to offer. Not only that, but I was also eager to learn more about myself, and to build new friendships with my classmates.