I had an amazing experience in Costa Rica from the food to the dances, to the tours, it was amazing. Costa Rica was the first Central American country that I visited and I couldn’t have asked for a better first time. As soon as we landed we were greeted by our tour guide Lily who led us to our hotel. Once we got settled in we got to experience our first Costa Rican restaurant the food was amazing. It was very colorful and fresh and when it came time to order our beverages my Spanglish immediately failed me as the menu was, of course in Spanish. I just asked the waiter what he recommends and it was one of the best drinks that I think I had while I was there.
During my entire time in Costa Rica, there was never a chance I did not get to practice my Spanish as everything from the signs to the menus was in Spanish; and while it is considered a very tourist-populated area of San Jose there were many shops and people who either refused or flat out could not speak English, but it created an opportunity for me to practice language learning which is an invaluable experience and one that is not so easily provided in Tennessee.
Costa Rica is known for its vast biodiversity and when we had the chance to take a tour of one of its cloud forests it was pretty clear why. The animals were fascinating to watch in their natural habitat, we saw so many animals that you do not get the opportunity to see especially in the wild in Tennessee. One of the animals that were the highlight of the cloud forest was the Resplendent Quetzal, the national bird of Guatemala, a close neighbor to Costa Rica, we were told by our tour guide who had been working there for 8 years that only around 6% of people get to see the national bird, and so we must have been in the 1% because we saw the male and the female inches from each other.
The coffee in Costa Rica is like none that I have ever had in my entire time in the United States I have traveled to 35 out of the 50 states and I have never had coffee like the kind I had in Costa Rica. It was always flavorful even dark and I personally am not a huge fan of coffee, however, on these coffee tours I could not get enough of it.
While spending time in Costa Rica we had the opportunity to talk to students in a nutrition class, their food and culture class equivalent, while there we learned about each individual student’s stories and they were all pretty interesting but, one thing that we learned was in Costa Rican culture it is not unheard of to start feeding your infant coffee. Everyone there drinks coffee so often and so early on in age that by the time that they’re an adult it does not affect them or give them that same energy from caffeine as we Americans do as they quite literally drink it like water.
Overall I had an amazing experience in Costa Rica, Monteverde was beautiful although we did not do much while we were there aside from a few tours I would not trade this experience for the world and I look forward to more opportunities like it.
Mikey Norwood (BS Anthropology) spent Spring Break 2023 participating in a faculty-led trip to Costa Rica with the HHP department. Mikey had the following to say about studying abroad, “Getting to experience another culture is amazing chance to learn in ways that you never thought that you could it teaches you that travel is an investment and yourself.”
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