My adventure in San Jose Costa was truly life changing. I have never been to a place that had such natural beauty. Everything in Costa Rica was vibrantly green and full of life. There were so many different colors around its environment it almost seemed fake, especially when it came to the birds in Costa Rica. The birds in Costa Rica were surreal and unlike any birds that were in the United States. It was so fascinating to see animals that I would normally see at the zoo roaming around freely in Costa Rica. I saw animals such as sloths, monkeys, and Toucans wherever I looked. Because of how I grew up, nature has always been really important to me and I loved how the Costa Rican farmers really focused on sustainable farming. They believe in the saying that if you take care of the earth the earth will take care of you. I loved this ideology because I too think it is important to take care of the planet for the future generations. I find it frustrating that a lot of places in America do not care and just take and take from the environment and disregard the damage they cause. I think that because Costa Rica really focuses on their environment it is very evident to tourists like me when we come to visit.
One of my favorite things about Costa Rica was experiencing their rich culture. I really tried opening myself up to trying new things and new foods while there. It was fun to try a lot of different foods and to learn about traditional food preparations in Costa Rica. This was really interesting and insightful because of how different it is to food preparations in the United States. One dish I learned how to prepare is the traditional beans and rice dish. This staple food is called Gallo Pinto and is traditionally eaten as a side dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This dish is very simple to make. It has simple ingredients such as red beans ,onions, red peppers, coconut milk and cilantro in it. Additionally, not many spices are used to season this dish which makes the dish bland compared to other bean and rice dishes I have eaten in the past. Even though Gallo Pinto was not my favorite dish to eat while abroad in Costa Rica, the freshness of the ingredients were incredible. Everything I ate there was so fresh, especially when it came to the fruit there. I ate lots of pineapple, plantains and I even ate fruits that are not available in the United States such as Guyana.
Something that really stood out to me about Costa Rica was how different the environment was. One minute it would be raining and the next moment it would be supper sunny with no clouds in sight. I really enjoyed how moderate the temperature was. Additionally, while in Costa Rica I learned that it has 5 different ecosystems present. I found this really cool because most counties do not have an environment that is so drastically different without having to travel long distances. However when I was in Costa Rica I got to experience their different ecosystems when traveling from San Jose to Monteverde. San Jose was more tropical and humid while Monterverde was very cool and did not have a lot of humidity.
My experience in Costa Rica was a once in a lifetime experience that I would not trade for the world. I am so lucky to have had this opportunity to explore not only a new environment but also to learn about Costa Rica’s culture. Additionally, this study abroad program allowed me to connect what I was learning in the classroom about “Food and Culture” to a real life experience. Thank you UTC for giving me an experience that I will never forget.
Michelle Gragg (BS Exercise Science) spent Spring Break 2023 participating in a faculty-led trip to Costa Rica with the HHP department. Michelle had the following to say about studying abroad, “Costa Rica is a place where everything is infinitely better. The food is better, the weather is better, even the people where better.” Pura Vida!”
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