Traveling to Costa Rica as a study abroad trip was the best decision I made all summer. Our group of 13 students dove right into the rich culture of Central America where we experienced new food, new cultural norms, and a new language. I had many new thoughts and takeaways from this trip, especially after returning home to the US. It was amazing to see how different the culture of Costa Rica was from the United States and how a short plane ride can bring you into an entirely new world. Everything from the language to the weather was different. I was able to see volcanoes right outside my hotel room, spend a few nights in the tropical rainforest, walk in the downtown streets of the capital, and visit lots of farmland. A part of the trip that I really liked was how fluid everything was. We never spent more than a few nights in the same place. This motion made us very tired but it also gave us a lot more to learn about and experience. A part of our cultural education was learning about the seven provinces of Costa Rica and some cultural norms that would help us adapt. We landed in the Guanacaste province and immediately dove into the culture of Costa Rica. I loved how there was new food and Spanish all around us. We started off our trip in the Alajuela province where we stayed in a rainforest lodge and visited a small organic farm. From there we traveled to the city of La Fortuna, a HUGE tourist city, where we visited a beautiful waterfall, toured a second cacao farm, and got to experience the downtown culture of eating out and hopping from shop to shop in our free time. One of the hotels we stayed in while in La Fortuna offered a view of Volcan Arenal right outside the window, as well as zip-lining through the tops of the trees. This was definitely an all-time high for me. From La Fortuna, we traveled to the capital city and the busiest province of Costa Rica: San Jose. For the week we spent here, we visited many restaurants and museums as well as two chocolate factories. It was amazing to follow the chocolate-making process full circle and really see firsthand the “bean to bar” process. While in San Jose, we took a one-night stop in the Cartago province where we stayed at CATIE, a globally-known research institute. Here in CATIE, we toured the botanical gardens and learned about the incredible cacao research performed there. As we closed out our trip, no matter how exhausted I felt I was incredibly grateful for all that I got to do. 

Our group at the Rio Celeste, a beautiful blue waterfall!