COLA: Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a Junior Kinesiology major from Long Island, NY. I studied abroad in Costa Rica for 6 weeks during the summer of 2017.
COLA: Why did you choose to study abroad in Costa Rica? Why a UNH managed program specifically?
I have hopes to become a Physical Therapist. My major is Kinesiology, and I am following a rigid course load with the plan to start graduate school right away. I didn’t think studying abroad was going to be an option for me. When I found out about the Costa Rica Summer Program, I knew I would do anything I could to go. I have such a passion for the Spanish language and there really was no better opportunity than to be immersed in the culture in Costa Rica.
COLA: Have you been out of the country before? If so, where? Did this influence your decision to study abroad in Costa Rica?
My Grandfather was born and raised in Italy. He was given the opportunity to come to America when he was 23. He worked very hard and made a life for himself here. He married my grandmother and had two sons, one of which being my father. For his 80th birthday, my grandparents, my dad and his brother and their wives and kids went to Italy and went to a few tourist spots, but spent 3 days in his hometown. My Grandmother, my dads mother, was born and raised in Scotland. She was given the opportunity to come to America at 20 and married my grandfather. For her 80th birthday, our whole family again went to Scotland to travel around but most importantly stay with her family where she was from. These experiences showed me the importance of family, but also the importance of opportunity. My grandparents took a chance in coming to America and inspired me to see what more is out there in the world, and I could not be more grateful.
COLA: What were your expectations of Costa Rica before arriving?
Honestly, I really had no idea what to expect. I remember being a good combination of nervous and excited. I was concerned about what my host family would be like, but now I look back and laugh at that. My host family is made up of some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life.
COLA: What is the most valuable lesson you learned from studying abroad?
I learned the value of kindness. My host family, most importantly my host Mom welcomed me into her home with open arms and such a big heart. She made my experience absolutely incredible. I want to be as welcoming for traveling students one day.
COLA: What has your experience taught you about yourself and the world around you?
I learned that there is so much more out there to see and experience than New York and New England. I hope to go back and live there some day. And if not Costa Rica, somewhere else I can use my knowledge of the Spanish language.
COLA: Did you travel outside your host city? If so, where was your favorite place you went and why?
Yes! I traveled to Cartago, Playa Agujas (Jaco), Tortugero, Monteverde, Playa Hermosa, La Fortuna, and Tamarindo. Out of all those places, I think my favorite is not really a tourist location. I didn’t have classes on Mondays, so my host Mom took me to the town where she grew up in San Antonio. We took the bus together for 2 hours and went to this huge piece of land with 15 cows and a small house on top of the hill. I met her 4 other children and her parents. My host Mom and her parents and children all sat together and we had dinner together. She was so happy that I came with her and it was easily one of the best days I had with her.
COLA: Tell us about the classes you took abroad? Did you have any memorable moments in these classes?
My professors were amazing. At UNH, students are so wrapped up in grades and doing well, but my professors in Costa Rica could care less. We had a jar that we had to put colones in when we spoke English. We would talk just to practice. It was a great learning environment overall.
COLA: Why do you recommend studying abroad in Costa Rica? What are some of the benefits of studying there?
Well, Costa Rica is an incredible country and the institute offered a variety of great classes. I was able to put 8 credits toward my spanish minor and also gain an advantage. Learning to use the language when you actually have too and being immersed in that culture is really the best way to learn.
COLA: What is one piece of advice you would give to students looking to study abroad in Costa Rica?
Do not waste time or energy worrying about how you are going to use your phone, honestly leave it behind. You do NOT need it. To fully immerse yourself, you need to unplug and focus on the present.
COLA: Any last questions, suggestions/ advice?
Tranquilo, pura vida!