Alumni Spotlight: Drew Harrison

My name is Drew Harrison. I was in Costa Rica for a study abroad trip from July 12th-August 9th, 2014. The town in which I was born was Wiesbaden, Germany. I am 25 years old and am currently attending UTSA in pursuance of becoming a high school English teacher.

white water rafting

Why did you decide to study abroad with Sol Education Abroad?

Drew: The reason that I chose SOL Education Abroad above the rest of the programs is because of its specific countries that it specializes in.

The fact that it curtails its program to a few countries means that it is focused on really heightening the student’s experience in learning a foreign language (Spanish). I have heard nothing but excellent things from the people that have experienced a study abroad experience with SOL Education Abroad.

Several weeks before the trip, I received some emails from the directors at SOL explaining the different things I would need, the host family I would stay with, along with many other important details.They have been nothing but helpful and pleasant throughout the entire process from beginning to end.

Describe your most meaningful souvenir and why you love it?

Drew: I think that my most meaningful souvenir that I got from Costa Rica is a hat from a souvenir shop. It is green with many different and unique things describing Costa Rica. Phrases from “Happiest Place on Earth” to “Pura Vida” are just a few things that are inscribed on the hat.

From the moment I purchased it at the Hot Springs to the minute I left, I could be seen wearing the hat. I think it is more meaningful to me because I do not wear hats all that often. It is something that is small yet says much about the country and its people.

group zip lining

How has this experience impacted your future?

Drew: I think this recent experience has impacted my future in several ways. Personally, the trip gave me an insight into how another culture lives apart from my own. In that aspect, it broadened my thinking and made it more global. I think that we as people like to think about things that only impact our life without thinking of others.

When we travel to another country, it forces us to open our eyes and see how the other half lives so to speak. Professionally, it has helped strengthen my language abilities tenfold. Prior to this trip, I had much head knowledge of Spanish but did not use it much.

Being in a country where the predominant language is Spanish helps to break you out of your comfort zone and use what you know. And the Costa Ricans are thrilled to see other people try and speak their language.

Tell us about any interesting cultural tidbits you noticed about your country.

Drew: There were several interesting things that I had noticed during my trip abroad. In Costa Rica, a thing exists called “tico time”. The closest thing that I can liken it to is being fashionably late. For instance, if a party starts at 7:00 pm, people do not usually get to the party until around 8 or 8:30.

It is something that was a little offsetting at first. But it is a very common thing. Another thing that I noticed is that Costa Ricans love coffee. I am not particularly fond of coffee. Costa Ricans have it with just about every meal. The coffee ranges from weak to strong, black to having milk and sugar.

volcano poas

The last thing that I noticed is their strong emphasis on rice and beans. I am not sure exactly why they have so many rice and beans. But my inkling is that they are very cheap and therefore are very affordable to have. They are served with every meal as well.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Drew: One excursion that I got to engage in was visiting the Toucan Rescue Ranch. I do not think that I could have an experience quite like the one I had here. Just because the place is named Toucan Rescue Ranch does not mean it just had toucans. The ranch has everything from toucans to owls and even has an ocelot.

The ranch was pretty big and had many animals living there. The mission of the ranch is to host animals that have either been malnourished or treated badly and restore them to full health. Once they get restored, they get placed back into the wild to live life normally. It was amazing to see a person so devoted to this cause.