STEP Reflection

Costa Rica Study Abroad 2017

This past Spring Break I traveled to Costa Rica on a service learning trip. On the trip our group visited EARTH University along with several different locations including rural home-stays, beaches, volcanoes, hot springs and worked in schools. We worked with the locals and learned about the Costa Rican lifestyle and culture.

This trip was truly life changing. I learned so much about myself and different cultures that I will be able to draw on in my future. Going into this trip I was uncertain about what I was going to experience. I was worried about being put into uncomfortable situations. In the end and looking back I am so pleased with how it ended up. The Costa Rican people are some of the most generous people I have ever met and yet they live with very little. They are happy and content with very little with what we are used to in the United States. It was very refreshing to be around people that genuinely cared about us and how our futures will pan out. I have tried to bring along that mindset and personality since I have been back in the states.

There were so many different events that took place during the trip that have had a lasting impact on myself. The one story that I always keep coming back to was a night we spent at EARTH University. This university is a school for students all around the world and is focused on education surrounding sustainable living. After dinner in the cafeteria myself and a couple of others from the trip were exploring around and found the “hang-out” spot for the students. We were just hanging around when some students came up to us and asked us if we wanted to play Foosball. These were 5 Somalian students who I will never forget. They welcomed us with open arms and proceeded to play with us and kick our butts for over 2 hours. We shared stories about our lives and got to know each other on a personal level.

There is such a perception that being different is a bad thing and that outsiders are not welcome. I am so thankful that I was able to meet those students because they made me feel welcomed and now I want to do the same for others. I constantly remind myself of that night because those students went out of their comfort zone and that is a struggle for me. In the end it was an amazing experience and I am forever grateful for that.

On our trip we had a group of 12 students along with 2 advisers. We became a very close family over the 9 day trip. I told our group the last day of our class that in the beginning of the trip planning I went on the trip for the different locations we were going to travel to and not so much for the people I was going to meet along the way. In the end it was the complete opposite. I met some of the greatest and most sincere people on the trip that I would have never wanted to go on a trip with anybody else. They people made the trip and the scenery only enhanced the experience. We all will forever have a special connection due to the 9 day trip through Costa Rica.

This trip was by far the greatest journey of my life. It was not because of all of the amazing views and activities we got to see, but rather the conversations I was able to have with the Ticos and Ticas. Costa Rica is known to be one of the nicest countries in the world and they lived up to their reputation. I was continually surprised at how genuine they always were. They wanted to know about our families, past, career goals, greatest fears, successes and so on. Once you began a conversation they listened intently and it was eye-opening to have that experience with complete strangers. In the end, this trip was phenomenal and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering. STEP was a major contributor to my ability for me to attend this trip and for that I am extremely and forever grateful.

One thought on “STEP Reflection

  1. Thank you for sharing. It sounds like an amazing opportunity that you had. Glad you had to realize that the people and the education were both important.

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