Why did you choose this program?
I chose ISV Costa Rica because the program offered a way to explore the rainforest while at the same time making a difference in the world. I also wanted to travel to a visually appealing country where I could practice my language skills, so I chose Costa Rica to utilize my Spanish in order to connect with locals about the work we were to perform. Finally, every resource I used to research ISV and Costa Rica gave me a great impression of the program and location.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My program provider organized pretty much everything, down to recommended flights. I chose to get to Costa Rica on half the recommended flights and half my own itinerary, so that was really the only thing I had to coordinate on my own. ISV is a very thorough program; any questions I had were answered immediately without hesitation.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would tell the next volunteer on this program to savor every second of it, because everything you do on this program is once in a lifetime. Also, make sure you LOVE rice and beans!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Every day we met as a group at 7 o'clock and discussed the day ahead. From there we walked several kilometers uphill to the project site, and worked for three to four hours. After a break in the afternoon, we'd meet up as a group and do a variety of tasks for about an hour.
The rest of the day we'd have to ourselves. The morning and afternoon work included counting seeds dispersed through the forest, measuring trees, planting soil bags, making tourist signs, researching ecotourism, and sorting data.
One does not realize how incredibly diverse the country of Costa Rica is until they set foot on the soil. I saw monkeys up close cracking coconuts, scarlet macaws nursing a baby, and numerous other animals doing their thing in the wild.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?
The fact that I was traveling all alone for the first time ever was pretty scary. I have traveled all over North America and Europe, but never alone. I quickly overcame this fear by immersing myself into the culture and speaking with as many people as possible, making friends.