COLA Study Abroad Interview: Jacqueline Sullivan-Costa Rica

11112295_876106775797089_535902801154193930_nPhoto: Jacqueline and a baby turtle on the beach in Costa Rica.          

COLA: Tell us a bit about yourself. (Major, hometown, interests, etc.)            

Jacqueline Sullivan: My name is Jacqueline Sullivan. I am majoring in Zoology and Spanish and am from East Longmeadow, MA. I love animals and hope to pursue a career with animals in the future, possibly in wildlife conservation and protection. I play rugby here at UNH and recently joined the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC). This Spring (2016), I will be participating in a second study abroad in Granada, Spain.

COLA: Why did you choose Costa Rica ?                                                                

Jacqueline: The program was through UNH, which I liked because all of the classes had UNH equivalents listed so I didn’t have to worry about credits transferring. I also really liked the length (6 weeks) of the program. For me, this was long enough to get the study abroad experience, but also short enough not to take up my entire summer; I was able to return and work for the rest of the summer. I have also been to Costa Rica in the past. I went during high school for a nine-day trip with other students and loved it. Having the chance to return was amazing.

COLA: How was it being immersed in a new language? Did you pick it up from them and how did it affect your day-to-day life?                                                                  

Jacqueline: It was very difficult at first being immersed in a new language, but I felt that it got easier as time went on. In my opinion, my Spanish did improve as I communicated more and more with the people there, but it did not drastically affect my speaking skills. I think was due to the short length of the program. Simple day-to-day tasks were sometimes slightly more challenging than they would have been in the U.S. because of the language barrier. There were times that I had difficulty communicating with my host family, but they were always patient and we managed to talk to each other very frequently.

IMG_5111Photo: Jacqueline and her host family outside of a park in Costa Rica.

 COLA: What are some of the benefits of the Costa Rica program?          

Jacqueline: One of the biggest benefits was living with a host family. I think this greatly influenced my progress in speaking Spanish and immersing myself in the culture. Another benefit of the program was the courses. The program consisted of two courses taken during the six week period. Not only were there courses at all levels, but each course counted as four UNH credits which was great considering the length of the program.

 COLA: What will be your best memory of being in Costa Rica?                

Jacqueline: That is a very difficult question. I am going to have to give three because I cannot decide. The first would be when our tropical ecology class released baby leatherback sea turtles when we traveled to Pacuare Reserve near Tortuguero. The second would be snorkeling in the ocean on the coast near Montezuma.  The third would be a combination of all of the dinners I spent with my host family. Not only did my host mother cook delicious food every night, but we always had pleasant talk at the dinner table, telling jokes and talking about our days.

11222573_868226446585122_7963389494675508674_n                                     Photo: Jacqueline and other UNH students get ready to go zip lining!

COLA: Did you manage to travel outside of Costa Rica while you were abroad? Share a few of your best tips for other students who are planning their own adventures.          

Jacqueline: I did not manage to travel outside Costa Rica while I was abroad, but did travel quite a bit within Costa Rica and highly suggest doing the same. The program director, Ana, at the institution can and will help planning any type of trip that you want to do.

COLA:What was the biggest surprise during your experience?                        

Jacqueline: My biggest surprise was how attached I became to my host family during that short period. I will admit that tears were shed when they dropped me off at the airport. I still keep in contact with them and very much hope to see them again one day.

COLA: How has it been readjusting to life in Durham?                                    

Jacqueline: It was not difficult at all to readjust to life here. Things just kind of went back to normal for me. I think that this may have been different if I had been away for longer(Costa Rica is a summer program); I will find out when I get back from Granada.