Hayley Buehler - Costa Rica, summer 2011
Are you thinking about studying abroad?
I'd like to share with you a little bit about my experience studying abroad. During the summer of 2011, I took a 5-week trip to Costa Rica. The program was through a company called International Studies Abroad (ISA), which I was introduced to through the Study Abroad office here at PSU. I am a nursing student with a minor in Spanish so I knew my focus would fall within those subjects. I have always been told that while in college you absolutely have to study abroad somewhere, anywhere, you just have to experience it once! With my Spanish degree, I felt obligated to make it happen to better my skills because even though you learn a lot in the classroom, actually experiencing it is a much better way to really make it stick.
Like a typical college student, I procrastinated on making it happen. Finally, I realized I had only one summer left as a college student and after that, I would most likely get swept away in the big kid world never to have the time or means to follow through with my plan. With the help of the Study Abroad office, I juggled different ideas of programs offered until I came across one that I knew would be perfect for me. It included the study of Spanish as well as healthcare, and it was only for 5 weeks during the summer. I knew I couldn't afford to take a whole semester away studying abroad, but something like this would still truly let me get a feel for a Spanish-speaking culture.
I won't lie; the process to prepare is quite the challenge, especially when school is your primary focus and it's hard to think about something that is 8 months from now. I will assure you once, twice, and twenty times that after your study abroad experience, you will be so incredibly glad you made it happen because you will never forget the unbelievable opportunities you had.
Now on to the fun details: what I got to do in Costa Rica.
√ Live with a host family
√ Eat authentic food (probably too much of it)
√ Learn and perfect my Spanish
√ Take classes at a local university
√ Bungee jumping
√ Learn to surf
√ Go snorkeling
√ Go sailing
√ Learn how to cook authentic dishes
√ Dance to the rhythm of Costa Rica
√ Hike through the rainforest
√ See a real volcano
√ Go biking throughout the rainforest and learn about the wildlife
√ Go whitewater rafting
√ Tour a coffee plantation
√ Visit different beaches
√ Go zip-lining through the rainforest
√ Tour San José
√ Meet tons of American students from all over the U.S. and form lifelong friendships
√ Travel to Panama
Pretty unbelievable, right? I still can't believe it! The list doesn't do justice to what my life was actually like during those short 5 weeks living as a true Tica (Costa Rican citizen). I'll admit that going into a Spanish-speaking country was pretty intimidating at times, but the American students I studied with had experience ranging from pretty advanced to never having taken a Spanish class in their life. Was their opinion of the trip completely different from one another? Definitely not. We all can say without a single doubt that it was amazing regardless. Anyone can do it. I urge you to take the jump. Go anywhere! I promise you won't regret it.