“Who knows when you’ll be back? Be safe, but try new foods and remain open-minded,” Jenna noted. And although she will be traveling to Finland for a semester abroad next spring, the few weeks spent in Costa Rica were memorable and eye-opening in their own right.
Although she had previously traveled with her family across Europe, Canada, and here in the U.S., she realized this 2015 winter trip to Costa Rica was an opportunity and piece of freedom she may not find again. “I was excited for a short taste, and I knew some people going and it was with Ursinus professors,” she said. But this was also a fact-finding mission of sorts, to see if a biology route and field research were right for her.
Jenna believes that she will be more culturally immersed while on her own in Finland, but benefited both personally and professionally while in Costa Rica. She improved her learning of the importance of patience, positivity, and the ability to work with others. Jenna was also able to help other students with the language barrier, as the Costa Rican Spanish is similar to Spanish taught here in the U.S. And professionally? “Even if I don’t pursue a career in ecology, this was still a fantastic learning opportunity.”
The study abroad experience may have only been 20 days long, but when surrounded with the same people every hour of the day, you form close bonds, which Jenna most certainly did. And as nice as it was to be home after the plane touched down, there are memories of the Costa Rican culture that she’ll remember forever. “I was very impressed by how nice people were. No matter how hot it was, and how little money people had, I appreciated seeing how happy they were to meet new people and to just live.” She continued, “In the U.S., we think we have to have so many things to be happy, but Costa Ricans were with people they loved, and were content with the simpler joys in life.”