“And they don’t speak any English”, our tour guides said to us as we were being assigned to homestay families. I was frightened to say the least.
This was going to be the first time during the trip that I would be separated from the rest of the team, and I spoke almost no Spanish. Luckily, I was partnered up with Lupe, one of the student coordinators, who could speak Spanish. But I was still worried about being unable to connect with my homestay family. I didn’t want to bother Lupe by asking him to translate for me every time I wanted to communicate. On the other hand, I didn’t want to just remain silent and lose the opportunity to connect with the locals and immerse myself in Costa Rican culture. Continue reading →
The back of my throat was on fire as I tried to catch my breath and hold back my tears. My trembling hands held the quickly, scribbled note reading “it’s going to be ok”. The plane had left us and the panic was bubbling up to the surface, I looked at Claire and we both stared at each other in shock. My feelings of guilt, uncertainty, and fear were mirrored in her eyes. Here we were alone in the Mexico City Airport – just two foreigners with mediocre Spanish speaking skills, low funds, and limited knowledge in international travel. Needless to say, things weren’t looking too good for us. Despite the odds, we survived to tell the tale. So if you ever find yourself in this situation, here are some guidelines for survival.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Adaptation can be defined as “the process of changing to fit some purpose or situation: the process of adapting” (“Adaptation”). Every day we face change or decisions facilitate change. Traveling, of any kind, can create more change than people may realize. It may be a business trip, a vacation, or a commute to work; but it requires an adaptation. On November 20, 2015, I was selected to be a student participant in the 2016 Costa Rica Program. On March 18, 2016, I left for Costa Rica with my fellow team mates from the Los Angeles National Airport. During that time period, travel to me was just travel, you go somewhere and have fun, then go home…
Have you ever tried a food you’ve never had before or have you ever raced against a friend to see who was the fastest? Have you ever talked to a stranger or asked a random question in class? Have you have felt a bit of nervousness going into something and decided to do it anyway?
If so, then you have been challenged whether it was by yourself or by someone else. Whether or not you have chosen to partake in it and complete it was your choice and these choices are a part of who you are. Continue reading →
Our recent trip to Costa Rica was, well,… AMAZING to say the least. We laughed, we learned, we explored, but we were also challenged. We were challenged to be vulnerable and to really put ourselves out there. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily label myself as a “wallflower,” but I’m definitely one who enjoys observing more than participating, and enjoys listening rather than talking. That being said, when we first arrived in Costa Rica I was immediately faced with my first challenge of the trip.
My first real challenge happened in a park in the center of town. Many locals were sitting on the benches and enjoying their Saturday morning talking to each other, playing board games, people watching etc. It’s definitely not something you see often here in California. It was such a relaxing environment to be around and it felt like no one had any worries. Not only that, but there was a music festival happening as well. A live band came to play in the park where a rather large crowd of people gathered around to listen, dance, and enjoy the music. It was beautiful. I loved watching everything that was happening around me, but that was just it: I loved watching. I loved seeing the vibrant colors everywhere, listening to the music playing with laughter in the background. Continue reading →
Outreach is an important part of the Costa Rica Program and one of the ways we share our learning with the campus community is through a collaboration with UCI Dining & Hospitality. This year that collaboration led to our first ever Costa Rica Night Fair and small lunch promotion.
Being dropped off was like the first day of Kindergarten, except we were college kids in a foreign country! It felt odd at first. Not because we were placed in the homes of complete strangers in a foreign country, but because by this point, we had already done a lot throughout the day and the week as a whole team that it felt weird to split up and experience similar, yet different situations.
Our Costa Rica trip came to a close only recently, but those ten days feel so close and so far away at the same time. I can vividly remember everything, but still feel the need to refer back to my journal to remind myself of how I felt at those exact moments. Continue reading →
It wasn’t until my time at Mastatal that I really saw the initiatives of global sustainability and cultural immersion intersect during this trip. It was there where one could rather clearly see the intimacy of community through the friendly encounters of the people of Mastatal. Sustainability was pervasive in the demands of everyday life, through emphasis on the minimization of impact on environment. Mastatal was a humble town of just a bit more than 120 residents. It was easy to walk along the main roads of Mastatal, even as part of a group that was visiting for a mere five days, to pass by someone who we’d previously met at the school or restaurant the day before. But what really tied it all together, through culture, sustainability, and community presence, were the four farms of Mastatal. Continue reading →
There were a lot of things everyone was excited about throughout the Costa Rica trip. From homestays, food, and wildlife, it is not hard to imagine why we were excited. From the day I heard about the Costa Rica Program, I knew I was really excited about the cultural immersion aspect and learning about the wildlife in Costa Rica. However, as time went on and we learned more about the trip, I began to get excited about other things! In fact, a few hours before our flight, Jennifer asked the group what they were most excited about. From the top of my head, I knew I was most excited about ziplining and spending a night in the jungle since I believed those activities would give me a chance to learn about the wildlife and biodiversity in Costa Rica in an exciting way as well as a chance to get to challenge and get to know myself better because I would not normally do those things. Continue reading →
At Villas Mastatal, an organic farm and education center, I saw many wonderful things and learned that when people get creative they are able to find multiple uses to everything in the world. Here, every item is unique in its own way and had more than one use such as the glass bottles, the food that became compost, and the trees that grew and produced food to eat and then was turned into compost. It all helps the environment, the people, the animals, and the insects. It’s like a cycle of life and it is amazing. The Ticos showed me how much of life they love. You’ll soon understand what I mean.Continue reading →