Alumni Spotlight: Kelsie Gagner

Give us a little intro

Kelsie's major is general business to hopefully become an international pharmaceutical representative. She is from Boston, Massachusetts and her go to dance move is throwing her hands in the air and shaken' her hips around.

Why did you pick this program?

Kelsie picked this program because she has a strong love for marine animals. She wants to travel the entire world and figured Costa Rica would be a good place to start since it both near and far from home.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

DO IT!!! Do not think, just do. You will learn so much about yourself, other's and another culture...guaranteed.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

To go in with an open mind and allow yourself to leave your comfort zone. Be open to new experiences and embrace every single moment that you're there because the second you board your plane home you'd kill for just 5 more minutes of it.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

This is going to sound very bad...but I cry laughing every time I tell it. A group of marine biologists came down from North Carolina and were there to study the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. They were in the kitchen talking to our leader's about how they needed three volunteers to help them with their project. Well, my two friends and I happened to be sitting right there and they turned around and asked us if we wanted to be a part of the project. We excitedly said yes (having absolutely no knowledge of what the project was). That night, the three of us met up with the biologists and we headed to the beach.

We were instructed to collect the turtles eggs by sticking a big black trash bag into the turtles nest and catching them as they fell. (There was very little instruction given). So my friend Kira and I were assigned to one turtle. We were kneeling and waiting for the turtle to finish up digging her hole so we could put the trash bag in the nest. Well, the marine biologist comes over and goes "Oh no no, you have to dig out some of the hole to get the bag in there" and he starts digging out the back of the hole.

He ended up digging too much of the hole out and the poor turtle fell into the hole!!! So then, she was standing straight up flipping her front flippers everywhere and trying to free herself. He just stands up and goes "Eh, find another one". Us two are horrified but get up and head to find another one. We find another turtle, and we kneel and wait for her. She ends up leaving because he comes running over, so strike two. Our third turtle was a COMPLETE disaster. We're there, kneeling, trash bag is in the hole, she's laying in the bag, everything seems to be going great. He comes over and says, "Remember, when she's done, you have to pick her up and move her so you can pull the bag out." That's new information to us. Well, the bag's in the hole and she's already laying and I'm trying to figure out how the heck I'm going to lift up this turtle. No more time to think because she all of a sudden stops laying. I grab her from both sides and begin lifting her up and Kira's pulling the bag out of the hole. The bag is almost completely out when the 100 pound turtle in my arms hovering over the hole starts flailing all four of her flippers and I lose my grip! The turtle just goes crashing down on the entire bag of eggs. Kira was not going to give up that easy though, she keeps pulling and pulling and pulling at the bag and the turtle's toenail clips the bag and the eggs come pouring out everywhere!!!

There's some that are smashed open and other ones that are just rolling away. I'm just trying to get the turtle to move and get off but she just kept trying to cover up her hole. We're scrambling to clean up our mess and the marine biologist comes over and just stares at us covered in egg, sweat and humiliation. His mouth just drops and he says "You guys can just go back to the rooms now." And off we go completely mortified at the entire experience.

How much money did you bring? What did you spend money on?

I brought $250 and only spent $125 for two weeks. While I was at the turtle conservation station, I spent my money on peanut M&M's (.75 cents a pack), surf board ($5 for the day), and transportation to the beach where there is good surfing ($4 roundtrip). When I traveled up to explore on my own I spent money on hostels which were $10-$15 a night, meals, and souvenirs. I also spent money on food at the airport.