Why did you choose this program?
I chose this program (Outdoor Recreation) because my desire is to just play outside for the rest of my life. I seek places and opportunities that allow me to do this. I also needed an internship to graduate and with a major of outdoor rec and minor of sustainability - Kalu Yala seemed to just scream my name!
What better way to get my remaining credits than to play (and learn) in the jungle for 10 weeks! The place looked beautiful and like it was full of smart people who wanted to be a part of something bigger.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Kalu Yala was very good at working with me in completing the forms I needed in order to get credit for my internship through my university. They were also more than happy to answer my questions on more specifics that I could provide my internship advisor with.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would tell anyone to be flexible. To go to Kalu Yala is to go to a place that is in the building process. Things can be unorganized, unplanned, or just plain chaotic.
However if you let it be, that is a beautiful thing because you get to be a part of something bigger than yourself. You get to say that you helped to form the place that it becomes in the future.
Don't be afraid or irritated of things changing last minute, because it happens, and you become stronger and more patient for it.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Wake up. Socialize until the breakfast conch. Eat a delicious breakfast. Go to your respective program for the morning.
Break for lunch. Go back to your program or take time to work on personal projects.
Break for the day. Spend the next few hours playing volleyball, cards, board games, deep talks, rio dips, yoga, reading, etc. until dinner. Eat a yummy dinner and resume former activities until a much deserved sleep in your hammock.
Go to sleep. Wake up and repeat. Simple and beautiful.
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?
My biggest fear was not finding people who had the same beliefs as me, and being criticized for my own. From the first week it was ridiculous to think that these lovely people would criticize another human.
I found some people like me yet meshed well with others who didn't believe the same things, but were supportive and loving regardless.
What the program as you expected?
Yes and no. The Instagram is pretty and the Facebook is beautiful. None of the photos are staged because our fantastic photographer cringes at staged photos. However while social media shows the ups, it might not necessarily portray the typical downs of living with 100 people for 10 weeks.
You are going to disagree with some people. You are not going to always love your neighbor. That one person has been too loud past quiet hours too many times and it is going to get on your nerves.
No place is perfect and no person is perfect. So take social media with a grain of salt, it portrays the positive story of how we are growing and building.
It's the hard days that make the great days seem that much more worth it.