Hola! My name is Maria and I am currently sitting in my bedroom in a cozy home in the middle of San Pedro Montes De Oca in Costa Rica! About a year and three months ago, I decided to study abroad. Well, my friend decided to, and as she updated me on her adventures, I knew that this program was something I needed to do before graduation. The name of the program is Healthcare in ICDS Latin America and it offers classes for those pursuing careers in medicine and those who wish to have a better understanding of the Spanish language and Costa Rican culture. I am currently a health sciences major with a minor in Spanish, so do you see how perfectly this program fits with my academic course load? After a year of planning, I am happy to say I am finally in Costa Rica and the first three days I’ve been here have been wonderful. Let’s start at the beginning though, shall we?
I was excited for this trip for about the 11 months and 29 days leading up to it, however, the day before I left, I was scared. The weight of the entire situation hit me; I would be in a foreign country that speaks a language that I am, at best, mildly skilled in speaking, I would be in a house with people I have never met for three months, I have no friends going on this trip, and I’ve never left the country for more than 10 days to travel to London, where they speak English! I am also a tiny bit of a homebody and love my house, my dog, my family and my roommates, why the heck would I want to leave? However, I put my money and my excitement into this program, so I finished packing at 2:45AM and then woke up at 3:15AM to catch my flight at the Newark Airport at 8:30AM (packing the day before you leave is not recommended as it lead me to severe sleep deprivation which came into play later). I got to the airport, checked in, and sadly said goodbye to my sister and mother, and then waited about two hours for my flight. Those two hours were agony, not because I was excited, but because I was second guessing this trip. I am not made for this experience, why did I believe I could do this? I should just leave, go home, and apologize for dropping out last minute. But obviously, I couldn’t do that, so I sat and waited. I boarded my flight eventually, flew to a foreign country, and hesitantly stepped off the plane to collect my bags. I drearily maneuvered through the airport, scared of what awaited me next. However, things changed once I ~finally~ made it to my host family! My host family is wonderful and all of a sudden the impossible suddenly seemed possible, I could do this trip; yes it is a foreign experience and yes it is new, but that doesn’t mean it is bad!
Over the course of the next few days, I had orientation where I met the other students in my program (some Drexel students, some students from Kalamazoo in Michigan, one student from South Carolina, and another from NYC), met the coordinators, got to know my host family better, and got to walk around the area a little more. It was fantastic. My fears almost held me back from this adventure, and honestly, I can already tell this trip will be something I will wish to relive forever. I am including a picture of the restaurant where our orientation was because it was beautiful!
While this is a wordy blog post, the point is that this trip seemed literally impossible as I sat in the airport struggling to hold back tears when my sister texted me about how she was going to miss me, but now, sitting in my host family’s house with their adorable weiner dog and the wonderful aroma of dinner filling the house, I know that this trip will be worth it. If you are scared to study abroad, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. As someone who’s never traveled for more than ten days and who is honestly content in her own bedroom in Philadelphia, believe me when I say, you can do it. It’s so worth it.