Adventures at Costa Rica

May 30, 2018

by Shelby Roberts '20
Edited for content and length

I was lucky enough to spend my spring break in Costa Rica, where I went on many adventures. We saw beautiful waterfalls, adorable sloths, lush rainforests and mesmerizing beaches. My favorite part of the trip was visiting two different schools where we worked with many young students.

One of the first parts of Costa Rica the students experienced was hiked up a mountain to see four different waterfalls. Shelby Roberts '20 found a spot to capture two of the waterfalls in one photo.
One of the first parts of Costa Rica the students experienced was hiked up a mountain to see four different waterfalls. Shelby Roberts '20 found a spot to capture two of the waterfalls in one photo.

What did you experience on the trip that was different from what you would normally experience at school or back home?

We experienced a diverse range of activities and were exposed to a completely new culture, so there were several attributes in Costa Rica that differed from activities in the United States. What stuck out to me the most was how prideful the citizens of Costa Rica were. No matter where we went, every person we came in contact with had a smile on their face and a welcoming spirit.

What surprised you about the culture? Is it different from what you imagined it would be?

Prior to this trip, I had never left the country. So, I went into Costa Rica with an open mind, ready to embrace the culture. I was pleasantly surprised by the kindness we received from the locals. We could tell that the people of Costa Rica were so grateful for the things that they had. Their way of living was in no way rushed. They truly live a “Pura Vida” lifestyle.

How was the food?

The food in Costa Rica was absolutely wonderful! We had the chance to try a variety of fruit —Cas, which is a type of guava fruit only found in Costa Rica, was my favorite. We tried many different entrees and dishes throughout the week, all of which I loved! When were at the beach, we were able to try fresh coconuts and “Copo”, which is a version of shaved ice topped with condensed milk.

Shelby Roberts '20 (right) with one of the students (right) at the school that made her officially decide that one day she would love to return to Costa Rica and teach there.
Shelby Roberts '20 (left) with one of the students (right) at the school that made her officially decide that one day she would love to return to Costa Rica and teach there.

Which natural wonders did you get to see?

We saw the Arenal Volcano, which was home to the Lapez waterfalls. We hiked through the rainforest and saw cute sloths and succulent plants. We also spent a day and a half at the beach, where I swam in the Pacific Ocean for the first time ever. It was absolutely breath-taking! Another really cool aspect of the beach was that it was also the location where the original Jurassic Park was filmed.

How did you and your peers adjust to the lifestyle? Could you see yourself living there for a long period of time?

In the beginning, it was a little bit intimidating to be in a country where I felt as though I could not whole-heartedly communicate with the people around me. Many of my peers and even a few of my professors felt the same way. However, a few people on our trip did speak Spanish, so that helped us communicate with the locals. Within a few days, we were able to pick up a few phrases and we were able to communicate with our drivers, the locals and the students at the schools we visited. By the end of the week, I was super excited to order my meals in Spanish. I could definitely see myself living in Costa Rica for a long period of time. After graduation, I hope to return back to Costa Rica and teach at a school there. Their need for teachers is very large, so I hope I can come back and help them one student at a time.