If someone would have told my high school self she would be going to Costa Rica and France to study abroad in the same semester, she would have freaked out. In this blog post, I want to highlight the amazing experience I had studying abroad in Costa Rica through the UA in Costa Rica program. I have always wanted to travel, so I knew study abroad would be something that I wanted to do from a young age. I even picked my school partially based on how good their study abroad program was and The University of Alabama came in at the top of the list. When I was doing college visits, I was able to visit the Education Abroad office to talk about what studying abroad is like at UA and the different programs they offer. It was in this information session that I learned about the UA in Costa Rica program. I knew from the summer of my junior year in high school that this was something I wanted to participate in.
Even though I had high expectations going into the program because of how amazing it seemed, the 6 weeks I spent in Costa Rica exceeded what I ever could have imagined. The beautiful scenery, stunning wildlife, and perfect weather never ceased to amazing me. In addition to having an incredible living location in the middle of the cloud forest, the people on the program were amazing. The group of 11 students that I traveled with bonded quickly and I couldn’t have picked out a better group to spend 6 weeks with. We were together from 7 am to 10 pm, so I was extremely grateful that we all go along so well and became friends as quickly as we did.
In terms of the classes, I enjoyed all of them as an environmental science major. I learned about the different countries in Central America and the Caribbean, studied field methods, learned about different climates, and even got to take a field trip to learn about how food, energy, and water are all related. In addition to having classes daily (yes, even on the weekends), we spent many of our afternoons on excursions exploring Costa Rica. We went zip-lining over the canopy of the rainforest, swam in nearby hot springs, visited two very different beaches, and went on many hikes to gorgeous waterfalls. Everything about this program was an environmental science student’s dream come true. Spending so much time outdoors and waking up to the calls of the toucans was something I never could have imagined I would be lucky enough to experience.
Leaving Costa Rica was difficult. As cliché as it sounds, even though I had only been there for 6 weeks, it had become my new home and my group had become my family. Saying goodbye to the wonderful staff that had taken care of us at the center was emotional. However, even though it was sad, I could not be more grateful for the memories that I made there. I’m already planning a reunion for my group and I can’t wait to spend time with them next semester! One of the best long-lasting effects of this program is that all of the students are from UA, so you are able to make friends that you’ll see for the rest of your time at UA. Overall, with the amazing professors, classmates, staff, location, and excursions, I could not have wished for a better study abroad program.