Studying abroad was something that I always wanted to experience, but I never took action to sign up until my senior year. However, I came across the program titled “Food and Culture in Costa Rica” and the description of it sounded too good to be true, so I couldn’t pass it up. Although I am not a nutrition major, this trip broadened my perspective on the world. Not only did I learn about the food and culture in Costa Rica, but I learned about all the different factors that play into the economy. Coffee production stood out to me the most because I saw numerous coffee plantations as well as coffee tours throughout the country. I had no idea that coffee and tourism played such a huge role in the economy, nor did I realize the lifestyle of those who live in Costa Rica. Majority of the houses in Costa Rica had some type of greenery as well as fresh produce. Another big part of lifestyle is how people obtain an income. I noticed that when traveling from one place to another, people would be in the middle of the road trying to sell things like snacks or even sunglasses. This aspect made the trip interesting because I never knew what I would see next.
Aside from what I observed when getting from one place to another, I had the opportunity to participate in numerous activities in Costa Rica. During our free time, the group took a trip to La Chimba. We all got to hike and see some of the most beautiful views. Another activity was talking with some of the students at a university. It was cool to talk with students that were my own age and see how different their lives were compared to my own. Some other things that I got to do were a coffee and chocolate tour, visit an animal reservation, tour the cloud forest, attend a cooking class, eat amazing food, tour the national museum, and even attend a dance class. There were so many places I got to visit, but these were a few of my favorites that came to mind.
Overall, I would do another study abroad trip in a heartbeat. The entire trip was planned out from start to finish, and I know I could not have planned a trip like that on my own. While I enjoyed how easy-going the trip was, I especially enjoyed the program itself. I had never been out of the country before, experienced a culture first-hand, or tried REAL traditional food.
Through this program, I was able to do all those things and have a great time with the other students who went on the trip. I was especially grateful for this trip when I spoke with some other students who were from Boston and doing study abroad. They were telling me about how miserable their trip had been and wanted to be a part of my trip. The Costa Rica trip was too good to be true because it included all sorts of amazing activities. I gained a new perspective on the world and am better prepared for traveling in the future!
Lauren Alvis (BS Exercise Science) spent Spring Break 2023 participating in a faculty-led trip to Costa Rica with the HHP department. Lauren had the following to say about studying abroad, “I chose to study abroad because I wanted to gain a new perspective on the world and experience a place I had never been. I can confidently say that studying abroad is worth it and that it is not as scary as it seems. Before this trip, I had never traveled out of the country so I didn’t know what to expect. In the end, the trip was AMAZING and I would highly recommend studying abroad because it was one of the best experiences I have had in my college career. I wish I had done it sooner!”
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