Why did you choose this program?
I chose this program because I've always known that the main issue we face in our lifetime is overpopulation. However, I also know that this knowledge is not enough; we need a solution. How will we turn our biological disasters into enhancements so that we may continue to survive on this planet alongside all the other ecosystems in some sort of harmony? This was the objective question I had been led to research on.
EARTH Universidad was the perfect destination for me to understand the reality of our overconsumption of resources as well as to discover how to mitigate our impact and live within this new ecosystem we have created.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My program provider assisted with everything! I was well cared for with three square meals a day, a very nice dorm room with a wonderful cleaning lady named Georgina, and a fabulous Teacher's Assistant/translator named Ricardo. These are all included in the cost of the program up front.
These accommodations left me with little to worry about so I was free to learn about Environmental Sustainability practices in Costa Rica and attend some of the most breathtaking experiences of my life during our field trips across the country.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
For my program in specific, I wish I would have brought more long pants and disposable shirts. I brought mostly tank tops and shorts, which was great 90% of the time, but for a few of our muddy excursions in the fields and the banana packing plant, I wish I would have been better prepared. However, to my program’s credit, rubber boots were provided to me the entire time!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Our program took place six days a week from 9 AM until 4 PM with 2-hour lunch breaks. On our day off, our group was given free time and had reign of the campus. Three days out of the week, we would have classwork in the morning and field trips in the afternoon. Four days a week, we would be on an excursion field trip, either on or off campus, getting a full picture of the information we had been learning earlier in the week.
For one of our field trips, we were bused to the other side of the country, attended a crocodile safari, stayed in a hotel for the night, got on a catamaran, sailed to an island, went snorkeling, and then went back to the university on the other side of the country! It was an amazing few days!!
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear going out of my own country is that I only speak English and was deathly afraid that I would not be able to communicate with anyone except persons in my party. This did not turn out to be the case at all! It turns out that people are more than willing to try and communicate with you if you're nice and trying.
I made a bunch of new friends from all around the world, not only during the program at EARTH University in Costa Rica, but also on all of my plans – at every airport, the bar, my taxi driver, every tour guide, the entertainer on the catamaran. EVERYONE was my friend!
What was your favorite moment in the program?
This excursion was not part of my program itinerary.
Not too far from the University campus I stayed at, there was a small mom-and-pop style bar that a lot of students attend to unwind and have fun. Honestly, I was leery about going to this place, but after some conversations, I decided to give it a go. There was a chartered bus from the University to the bar about a 5-minute ride. My group went out with a bunch of local students from our University who are mostly from various African countries.
I got into the van with a young man named Jean Fernando from Madagascar, and my life will never be the same. Though I am 25, I do not drink, so I grabbed a coke at the bar and began talking with everyone from around the world. By the end of the night, I had 10 new best friends! They hail from countries such as Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Ecuador, South Africa, Haiti, and even a few local Costa Ricans. My heart is so full of joy. I never knew my life could be so cool! One piece of advice: JUST DO IT!!!