Costa Rica Buck-I-SERV/OAC Spring Break 2018

Jana Owen


Community Service-Costa Rica Spring Break 2018


  1. For my STEP project I went to Costa Rica through Buck-I-SERV/OAC. During the trip we did community service in the town of Brujo, Costa Rica and also did adventure activities.

During my time in Costa Rica, I learned a lot about myself and the world. There were many activities that we did during the trip that I had never experienced before. This included propelling and duckying. Both of these activities, especially propelling, are potentially very dangerous and all around thrilling and scary. I am typically a little afraid of heights and almost decided to not take part in the propelling. However, I knew I would have regretted that decision. I learned how to challenge my fears and try new things.

My view of the world also changed. The main question we were asked in Costa Rica and one that we were asking ourselves was, were the people living in a town with a population of 150 with little electricity and no amenities actually living in poverty or paradise. Originally, I think we all would have said poverty, but after spending 10 days there and learning about the simplicity and bliss that filled their lives, we all said paradise.


I think the biggest thing I learned from my trip to Costa Rica was appreciating the simple things in life and not worrying about things you cannot control. This related back to the poverty vs. paradise debate. Life in Costa Rica is very simplistic, something that I had very rarely experienced before. I experienced many things during the trip and spoke with many people all which led to my decision of paradise.

We stayed with various families in the small town of Brujo. These families did not have electric stoves, wifi, and other various amenities that we take for granted every day. I lived without my cellphone for 10 days, something I have not done since I got a phone. I learned to prioritize face to face relationship over texting conversations. I did not have social media for 10 days. I paid more attention to the things going on around me and not what people on my phone were doing. This taught me to live in the moment and take the whole experience in.

Not only was living without basic amenities an experience, but also conversing with the families we stayed with, especially in Spanish. I am conversational in Spanish and learning how to speak it with native speakers was such an amazing experience. The family I stayed with was able to tell me what they did for fun and how they spent most of their time outdoors. They all said that they prefer the Costa Rican lifestyle versus the lifestyle in the United States. They all seemed genuinely happy and happy to have us learn about their culture.

  1. This transformation has taught me to live my life to the fullest, appreciate the little things in life, and “not sweat the small stuff.” I now appreciate the many amenities in my life that I did not have in Costa Rica (such as screens on windows to keep bugs out of my house) but also to live more simply and not worry about the things that I do not have. I used to worry about stressful things in life that I ultimately could not control. Now I try and focus more on the things that happen in my life and how I handle them. I believe that Costa Rica has made me a more well-rounded person.