My journey to studying abroad is not the typical one. Last year, I went through some very hard times in my life. All I wanted was to escape, get away, and work on finding myself again. Through my research, I discovered study abroad. I full heartedly jumped straight into this opportunity. I can stay in school, see the world, and discover a new culture all at the same time?  Studying abroad is a life changing opportunity. I was very afraid, shaking while sitting in the airport by myself. But little did I know this was about to be the best last minute decision I had ever made.

Once I arrived in Costa Rica, I met my host family and instantly felt the love I would be surrounded by. They did not speak much English so I really had to push myself in my classes to get the full experience. Learning another language was the highlight of my trip. It will open up so many opportunities for my future. In addition to my host family, I met lifelong friends in Costa Rica. Exploring this amazing culture with other students was fun and we embraced the culture with open arms. The friends that I made helped me heal and find myself again, which was why I needed Costa Rica.

I loved every single class that I took at Universidad Veritas. I was placed in an Intensive Spanish course, Marine Biology, Tropical Birds, and Cultural Photography. The school in which I attended believed in hands on experiences rather than tests. I was constantly on field trips and conducting field work.  My biology classes came with an abundance of adventurous experiences. I hiked a volcano looking for tropical birds, and visited many islands looking for marine life. I was in Costa Rica for 3 months, and did not spend a weekend in San Jose where I lived. Every single weekend was packed with traveling and exploring. I would go back and not change anything. I would study abroad 100 times if I could. The saying of Costa Rica is “Pura Vida” which translates to “pure life” or “happy life”. I can say that after this experience, I fully understand the meaning of Pura Vida.

Courtney (Madison) Butler is majoring in Biology (pre-professional). She spent the Spring 2019 semester studying abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica  through ISA. Madison had the following to say about her time abroad, “Study abroad was the scariest and most rewarding decision I have ever made. The culture and the people changed my life.”

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