Living abroad in Costa Rica was an incredibly multi-faceted experience full of adventure, education, and self-reflection. I never imagined a study abroad could change me as a person so much but I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity to grow. Although things were somewhat uncomfortable to start, having moved into a house with no English speakers, I quickly realized how fast I could adapt under unique circumstances from my usual life, and it became very empowering! I’m honestly grateful my host Mom only spoke Spanish and that I was taking Spanish classes because it really pushed me to learn and use the language as often as possible. As the weeks progressed, I began to have longer conversations my with incredibly sweet Mama Tica and felt so much more at ease out and about interacting with locals at the markets and my favorite lunch spots! Before I knew it, I even felt like I was a local, walking from my house to the University, to nearby coffee shops, and exploring parts of the city of San Jose! It was so cool to feel like such a part of the community!
The courses offered at the university I attended, Universidad Veritas, were so immersive and I loved that they utilized multiple teaching strategies making it a very interactive classroom! Due to such a biologically diverse location, I was able to go on the most incredible field trips in my Tropical Ecology and Conservation Biology & Endangered Species classes! Between hunting for frogs at night, doing a bird biodiversity research experiment to snorkeling in tide pools for corals and urchins, to doing shark DNA extractions, I just constantly felt like a scientist really getting involved in my passions which was so rewarding as someone who wants to do that kind of work in the future.
My favorite parts were the weekend trips though! I feel so lucky to have had so many weekend trips to explore so many of the jaw dropping beautiful sights of Costa Rica. We traveled to Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast and Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast where they have the most delicious Caribe style gallo pinto – a staple Costa Rican menu item, and to the mountainous Monte Verde, the volcanoes, Arenal, Irazu and Turrialba and to my favorite place, La Fortuna. Where the most magical waterfall I’ve ever laid eyes on is! You just become such a part of the natural world in these incredible forests teeming with life like monkeys, sloths, lizards, crabs, fungi, insects, and plants! It’s truly astounding how much wildlife lives among the many habitats that the country holds. The culture is very conscientious about their biodiversity as well as the balance between agriculture and conservation and there was so much to learn from them about how to meet in the middle of cultural needs and ecological needs which was so eye-opening and helpful for me moving forward in that field. I have so much respect for those dedicated to working on educating people like me and who preserve the natural treasures that their country houses.
I truly enjoyed and appreciated every bit of my 11 weeks in Costa Rica, even the tougher moments. The whole experience greatly broadened my horizons and taught me so much about the world and myself. I feel I’ve adopted so much of the tranquility of Costa Ricans and their “Pura Vida” (Pure Life) approach to life which calls for slowing down, appreciating your community, and taking care of the life surround you. These concepts really shaped this new part of me that developed over the course of my time there. I couldn’t have asked for a better summer!
Angelica Urquizo (Environmental Science) spent Summer 2021 interning in San Jose, Costa Rica through CIS Abroad. Angelica had the following to say about study abroad, “Costa Rica is a place teeming with life and full of wonder. Between offering an opportunity to expand language and experiencing the most beautiful places on earth, Costa Rica is full of adventure and expanding your horizons.”
Share this post: