Costa Rica Junior Journey Recap

Nov 2, 2022

by Trinity McCall

Florida Southern College student Trinity McCall ‘23 took advantage of her Junior Journey by going to the South American country of Costa Rica during Fall Break.

Trinity, who is from Jacksonville, will earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Cinematography and Film/Video Production in the spring. Trinity shared about her experience on her Junior Journey in the blog below.

Costa Rica Junior Journey
By Trinity McCall

San Jose

SAN JOSE

Costa Rica is truly a beautiful and amazing country. I am so glad that I finally got an opportunity to visit. It was a trip I shall never forget. My junior journey (Oct. 2022) was led by Dr. [Bernardo] Blanco, who is a very sweet and passionate teacher. The first day of your Junior Journey will probably be the longest. Our travel day started at 3:30 a.m. as we boarded a bus to Fort Lauderdale to catch our flight. Costa Rica is about 1,300 miles from campus. While that may sound far, our flight was only 2 ½ hours. The climate is very similar to Florida but the landscape is anything but. We landed in San Jose, the capital city. It was warm and humid just like Florida but completely surrounded by beautiful mountains. After checking into our hotel, we visited the mall of San Jose. This was our first chance to really immerse ourselves into the culture. We quickly learned that not only did we need to brush up on our Spanish, we also did not understand the conversion of money.

Colones

CURRENCY

Costa Rica’s currency is called a colon. One American dollar is equal to about 620 colones. That might sound like a lot, but prices in Costa Rica are about the same as in Florida. For example, a coffee here at home might cost about $4. That same coffee would cost around 2,500 colones in Costa Rica. So everything evens out. Over the next few days we were able to stop by a bank and convert our money to colones. This allowed us to get a better grasp of the currency system.

Waterfall excursion

EXCURSIONS

Our first excursion, and one of my favorite days, was visiting Catarata de La Paz. Located approximately two hours from San Jose, La Paz (The Peace) is a beautiful waterfall and garden resort. There we were able to hike various trails, admire animals, plants and even interact with butterflies. Over the next few days in San Jose, we visited the National Theater, toured the University of Costa Rica, spoke with local high school students and explored the city.

josipek

JOSIPEK & LA FORTUNA

Half way through our trip, we ventured to the mountains of San Ramon. There we stayed at Josipek, a botanical garden 30 minutes away from La Fortuna Volcano. This became our home for the next three days. While at Josipek we were able to truly immerse ourselves with nature. I was able to see wild toucans, owls and even a sloth. I won't say everything was perfect, as Josipek had no air conditioning and very little hot water. However, the sacrifice of our comfort was well worth the experience we had. Our activities there included a coffee farm tour, a visit to a local elementary school, and a day at the La Fortuna hot springs. My fondest memories of the trip were made during those three days. I was able to make new friends, try new things and have fun overall.

costa rica food

FOOD

Breakfast was always an interesting meal in Costa Rica, as I was often unsure as to what we’d be served. The most common foods we had for breakfast were rice and beans, eggs, plantains, and fruit. On occasion, we’d be surprised with pancakes. Lunch and dinner on the other hand offered more options. Each night we were able to choose between at least two protein options, usually chicken or beef. This was accompanied by selections of rice, vegetables, and sometimes American options food such as french fries or hamburgers. One of the coolest experiences I had was a fruit tasting. The wonderful staff at Josipek laid out a beautiful selection of fruits and juices native to Costa Rica.

SUMMARY

Overall I had an amazing Junior Journey. If I could offer any advice it would be to do your research. Don't go to a new country without looking into their language, food, and customs. This will help you know what to expect in the long run. Make sure you pack the right clothes! It's okay to bring extra outfits but you definitely don't want to over pack or you won't have room for souvenirs. If you're a picky eater don't be afraid of traveling abroad. We were often given diverse food options and Dr. Blanco always made sure we found something to eat, even if he had to speak to the chefs on our behalf. I met a lot of really cool on this trip and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

Pura Vida

san jose full image