4th Post – Costa Rica

In Costa Rica by Eller Student

Well this is the 4th and final blog entry on my experience in Costa Rica.  It’s been an absolutely fantastic way to spend two months of my summer and it’s flown by.  One of the single most incredible things is how well you can get to know a small group of people in just 8 weeks.  Thank you to my fellow “Dreamers”: Mackenzie Sheldon, Alejandra Borbon, Santiago Perez, and Evan Szheuss for making it what it was.

After another 8 weeks abroad, I’ve again discovered just how quickly one’s perspective on everything can completely change.  While there’s something to be said about what you can learn from travelling in general, this experience in particular, was one to take away from.   Not only did we get to travel to Costa Rica for 2 months, but we got to live with a Tica family, gain excellent professional experience, listen and speak to inspirational individuals, and fit in some touristy stuff.

For me, Costa Rica was a catalyst.  It marks the beginning of a new way of seeing the world.  It changed the way I think about people, places, culture, my perspective on the “real” world, and most importantly it created a plethora of new relationships with great people from all over the world.

When we all went out for the formal dinner on our last night together, it was easy to feel the mix of emotions around the table.  Sad to leave, excited to go home.  Wishing you could rewind and do it all again, but also excited about the new future.  It was obvious though that no one was quite ready for it to be over yet.  Juuuuust a little longer. 1 day…. 1 week………… 1 Semester…….2??  Wait, when was I supposed to graduate?  I wish.  Even though we’re all leaving Costa Rica, it doesn’t mean that it’s completely over.

The real tragedy would be to leave it all behind in Costa Rica, to forget everything we’ve learned about ourselves, our friends, and our families, and to fall back into the same routine we were in before we arrived.  To let the relationships and thinking that have developed over the last 2 months disappear.  Costa Rica absolutely brought us together and provided the setting, but beyond that, it was our relationships and interactions with the people around us that created the change.

So where do we go from here?  Well, I personally don’t know yet.  I mean I have a better idea than I did before I got here, but I can’t say that I’ve really figured out what my ‘dream’ career would be.  But I know what it wouldn’t be, and I have a better idea of what to look for and what I want to get out of a career.  I also got the motivation I needed to become a little more proactive about my future.

I think if I had to pick a few word to summarize the trip I would say inspirational, motivational, and proactive.  Each speaker we talked to had an incredible story of changing their lives or getting to the place they are now and each one was inspirational and most importantly, unique.  I would definitely say that the speakers were one of the most influential aspects of the program.

Costa Rica itself is an ideal place to witness the definition of being proactive and hard working.  The majority of my coworkers were about my age, full time university students, and they also managed to work full time.  It was incredible to me.   How could people be working so tirelessly and yet Costa Rica is still considered the happiest place in the world?  Well that’s just how it is in Costa Rica.  They can get up at 5:30am, drive 1.5hrs to work, work from 8am-6pm, go to class until 9 or 10pm, drive another 1.5hrs home, study and finish homework, and then get up and do it all again.  But they always manage to do it all with a playful attitude.  Pura Vida.

This to me was a sort of wake up call.  How much time have I wasted sitting like a vegetable watching mindless television?  I’m not saying I’m going to come home and work and study 18 hours a day but when I compare my lifestyle to theirs…I’m just another spoiled gringo.  What could I accomplish if I worked that hard every day?  How can I find something that will inspire me enough to dedicate that kind of time and energy to?  I mean there are plenty of options out there; it’s just a matter of choosing one and running with it.

This was another important topic for me throughout the trip: That the only thing you can ever do for certain is start. You can’t be afraid to embark on things whose ending is unknown.   Sure, there’s always the possibility of failure, but at least you’ll be able to say you tried.  And there’s the possibility of success, and nobody really knows where that could lead.  Essentially it comes down to two choices, you can do something, or you can do nothing.  Hopefully, I can take this trip with me and begin to do a little more something and a little less nothing.  I’ll look at my future in a more proactive way and seek it out rather than wait for it.

I think I still need to throw myself into a few more uncomfortable situations though, and see what comes out of it.  Something good always does.  In this case, it was a new group of close friends from all over the world (U.S., Mexico, Germany, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Canada), a comic love story, an incredibly close bond with a small, fragmented family, a chance to see one of the most beautiful countries in the world, a better understanding of the world and life, and a better understanding of myself and who I want to be as a person. Not to mention great work experience and networking connections.

So for me, Costa Rica was a catalyst.  It was what sparked a series of reactions.  It drew us all together here, it started here, but it’s certainly not ending here. Pura Vida, and thanks again to everyone that was a part of it.