Alumni Spotlight: Josh Sussman


Josh Sussman is 16 years old living in the suburbs of Chicago and currently a junior in high school. He enjoys cooking, running, swimming, and spending time with my family.

How did you become inspired to join the Global Works program in Costa Rica?

Josh: I was inspired to go on a Spanish immersion because I knew I wanted to do something different over the summer and experience a new culture. I did not really know what exactly I was looking for, I just knew that I wanted to learn some more Spanish, hopefully meet some nice kids, and have fun traveling.

Also, I hadn’t traveled outside the United States for a long time and I knew I wanted to have that experience before I go to college. I have always loved speaking Spanish and I wanted to visit Costa Rica because I had heard how beautiful and fun it is to go there. I also knew I wanted to do a program over the summer that had some social service aspect to it because I love being active and working on community projects.

What is the first thing you share with friends when they ask about your trip?

Josh: I usually tell people about the rafting and zip lining I did. I think those were two of the most fun experiences I had, but I will also tell about my experiences living with a Costa Rican family in a small town. Though I had so many fun and exciting experiences in Costa Rica, being able to live with a family was amazing.

At first, I was a bit outside my comfort zone living with a family that was not my own, but I soon grew close with the family. Also, I lived with two other Americans in the home stay, so it was not that difficult. Today, I still keep in contact with the family that I stayed with. That is generally how most people felt on my trip: the home stay was the best. That is really how to learn a language and a culture that is very different from anything in a textbook.

What surprised you most during the experience?

Josh: For the most part, the people. Costa Ricans have a way of life that is quite different from Americans. ¡Pura vida! is a common phrase used in Costa Rica and it means “pure life”. Many Costa Ricans are very laid-back and they do not live a life regimented to a clock like most Americans do. I found the Costa Rican approach to life refreshing. At first, I was a bit surprised by the “pura vida lifestyle,” but I grew to love it almost immediately.

Who is the one person you will most remember ten years from now?

Josh: I hope I will remember most of the other kids that I went on the trip with because they were all so nice. I really couldn’t pick one person that I think I will remember most because I have so many fond memories with nearly everyone that was in my travel group.

I do, however, keep in contact with my host family, Mónica and Eddy, and I think I will surely remember them for many years and I hope that I will have the opportunity to go back and visit them one day.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Josh: From my trip to Costa Rica, I think I gained a feeling of self-confidence and independence. I now feel like I have become stronger as a person because I know have met people from an entirely different culture from my own. To speak and only listened to people speaking in a foreign language has been really impactful.

I feel like I learned and gained so much from talking to Costa Ricans and trying to improve my Spanish. Also, meeting all those kids on my trip was really interesting because we all came together from different parts of the country with different backgrounds. I learned so much from my trip-mates and made many close friends.