The best part about being in a study abroad program is the new friends that I have made. A close second, however, would definitely be the program-sponsored field trips that I have had the opportunity to take. These field trips have been fully sponsored by the International Center for Developmental Studies and I have learned so much about aspects of Costa Rican culture that I would have not otherwise explored. Here is an overview of the trips from the program!
Volcan Irazu and Sanatorium
This was a wonderful way to start my time in Costa Rica. The day after orientation, all of us went on a bus ride to a volcano and were able to see the crater and hike around the area. It was a great introduction to all of the new sights that I would explore here. Shortly after going to the volcano, we went to an old tuberculosis sanatorium. It was such an interesting experience that introduced me to a large portion of healthcare history and allowed me to become closer to some of the other students on the trip.
The coffee tour was absolutely amazing to learn from and look at. We tried so many different flavors of coffee and learned all about the process. We started this trip by picking the coffee fruit from the plants on a farm. Then, we were able to watch how the fruit and bean on the inside were separated through a machine, while learning about the history of this process and how it has been refined over the years. At the end, we were given a tour to look at the history of this process. Overall, this trip was incredibly educational and delicious!
Medicinal and Herb Garden
The medicinal and herb garden tour was very immersive. We started with a tour of a spice garden followed by fruit and herb gardens. Each stop allowed us to taste or smell the different plants, and I added at least five new fruits to my personal list! After this tour, which included plants from all around the world, we ate a six-course meal that was prepared exclusively using ingredients from the farm. This trip ended with a food-coma nap on the bus ride back.
The healthcare facilities trips were very interesting as someone who wants to go into medicine. I was able to learn about the different levels of care for the populations in Costa Rica. These trips also allowed me to reflect on the differences between healthcare across countries, and showed me ways in which the United States could grow from a system like the one in Costa Rica. This trip caused me to reflect a lot on the conditions of people and how to best serve the population.
Oxcart painting in Sarchi was such a fun art! We were able to paint our own wheels and learn about the history of these painters and how the art became known around the world. The intricate details and endurance of the work of these painters was fascinating to me and I was very impressed by the sheer talent of these artists. I thought this trip was great for cultural immersion as well.
Our final trip from the program was to a farm called La Lucha. This was a two day trip, where we all stayed in a long building for the night. The trip started with a museum tour where we learned about the Costa Rican president most known for disbanding the army. We had a campfire that night where we were able to reflect on our time together. The next day, we went on a hike to a waterfall, rode horses, and went boating. This was a great way to wrap up the trips that we had in Costa Rica.