A special aspect of my experience on the Choco-Rica Study Abroad Program that I did not originally anticipate was the group bonding with the students and faculty. By the end of the trip, we were practically one giant family. At the departure orientation prior to the trip all of the students and faculty had the chance to introduce ourselves, and while everyone seemed nice and friendly I didn’t anticipate how close we would all be by the end of the program. I thought that I might make a few close friends, but I did not expect to get to know so many different people and bond over such a short amount of time. I feel like our group developed an especially close bond, and we all got along for the most part. Obviously certain people were closer than others, but everyone seemed to have had an overall understanding of the group bond. Not only did all of the students get along with each other, but the program director/professor was also an important factor of the group bonding. Towards the end of the trip, the professor handed out randomized pieces of paper with a student’s name on it to each student so that we each had an anonymous student’s name. He called this the “special friend” and the assignment was to observe your “special friend” and write a paragraph of nice things that you have noticed about your person. This was a cute bonding activity and the paragraphs were released anonymously at the end of the trip, so each student got to read a sweet paragraph about themselves written by an unknown student. Another very important aspect of the group bonding was our relationship with our tour guide. She was incredibly sweet and became somewhat of our “mom” for the duration of the trip. She showed genuine love and care for each and every student on the trip and the group dynamic would not have been the same without her.

*For context: the photo on the bus of everyone making sad faces was on the last day of the trip, so we were expressing our sadness about leaving.