COLA Study Abroad Interview-Michaela Hinckley-Gordon-Costa Rica

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Michaela Hinckley-Gordon, I am 20 years old and a junior at UNH. I am a Political Science and Justice Studies major with a Spanish minor. I am from Benton, Maine which is a small town in central Maine.

Why did you choose the Costa Rica summer program?

I chose the Costa Rica summer program because it would allow me to fulfill my Spanish minor and it fit into my schedule.

Did you find your course work pushed you to explore more of Costa Rica that you might not have otherwise?

The course work definitely pushed me to explore more of Costa Rica that I might not have otherwise. One of the two classes I had to take was a music class and one of the biggest assignments was to go to a live concert in Costa Rica and write a report on it.

What will be your best memory of being abroad?

This question is nearly impossible to answer. I have so many memories I will never forget. The people in my program and the adventures we went on, from hiking in tropical forests to white water rafting, created memories for me which I will always look back on as some of the greatest in my life.

Were you able to carve out opportunities to meet locals abroad? How was socializing in Costa Rica different from socializing back home?

I was able to meet locals while abroad. I lived with a host family and had the chance to meet all of their family and friends. I also was able to meet locals on during some of our excursions, including rafting guides, organic farmers, and an amazing driver named Roberto.

What personal and professional changes have you seen in yourself since you began your study abroad program? Are they positive or negative? Why do you think these changes have occurred?

I think the biggest change for me, both personally and professionally, was a new mindset. The Costa Rica summer program was for me, the biggest step I have ever taken outside of my comfort zone. After returning from Costa Rica I had a new certain type of confidence, that I think only comes after stepping out of one’s comfort zone.

How has it been readjusting to life in Durham?

Readjusting to life in Durham was definitely different. It made me appreciate my time in Costa Rica but also gave me a new appreciation for Durham.

Top 3:

Place to eat: Pollo de Pepe

Places to go: Territorio de Zaguates, Rio Celeste, and Manuel Antonio Events to attend: A local live concert

Stores/shops to go to: Definitely hit up any fresh fruit stand!

Transportation tips: Avoid San Jose and only take the red taxis unless you know the driver.

Random things to know: The phrase “Pura Vida” can be used in any situation!

Photo Credits: Shaina Maciejewski

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