I participated in session 2 of the Costa Rica: La Pura Vida trip with Global Works this year. As I signed up for the trip, I was excited, but as it drew closer I became more and more wary. I had never traveled without my family before, and other fears crept up as well (what if I didn't get along with the group, what if my Spanish failed me, what if we were in danger, what if...). Motivated by my uncertainty, I emailed my co-leader, Annie. She immediately put my anxiety to rest by describing her own experience on a Global Works trip in high school, and her experiences as a leader as well. My shaking nerves placated, I took a deep breath and resolved to go on the trip, no matter what other worries my brain might come up with. And I am so glad I did. The moment I stepped off the plane in Houston and met my other co-leader, Brent, I knew it would be a fun-filled two weeks. He and Global Works' lively dance instructor/ leader Randall greeted me with smiles and riveting conversation in jumbled Spanglish. The rest of my inhibitions disappeared one by one as the other members of my group arrived. After the flight to San Jose, we bustled through customs and met Annie and the last member of the group. Although we were all exhausted after a long day of traveling, we discussed our concerns and apprehensions-- most of which circled around the homestay. However, after completing that week of immersion I can tell you that without a doubt, the homestay was the most rewarding experience of my life. Since our group was so small, the two other girls and I lived with the same family, who are the most incredible people I have ever met. Our homestay mom was so kind and patient, and curious about our lives back home. We spent many nights up until almost midnight just talking with her and our dad. I look back on those nights as some of the best of my life, because I was able to learn so much about them and the culture of Costa Rica. Our town is called Pueblo Nuevo, and it is small enough that everyone knows everyone. Our three homestay siblings would introduce us to people as we were walking down the street, just as excited on the last day as they were on the first. If you are feeling anxious about the homestay portion of the trip, I hope I can help calm your nerves. I felt safer in every part of Costa Rica than I have in some places in the U.S. The families are patient and understanding, and will open your mind to brand new perspectives. On top of that, in the homestay you get to eat the most amazing food you will ever have. Through the experience, my Spanish improved tremendously. I no longer have any fears about speaking Spanish outside the classroom; in fact, I seek out opportunities to do so. If you are considering a Global Works trip, but you're uncertain, please take my advice and go for it. My live has been improved so much because of what I learned those two weeks, and yours will too. Get out there!