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Travel Writing and Costa Rica - KU Honors Program : Reviews (La Fortuna)

The following program review responses have been selected for publication by Study Abroad & Global Engagement
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Lauren Elizabeth Gaylor, Winter Break 2013 Participant
My favorite part was being able to see vastly different landscapes within the country, and having a guide (Valeria) who knew SO much about the land, the history, and the people.

 

Drew Joseph Harger, Winter Break 2013 Participant
I loved when the group spent a few quiet moments at the base of Arenal Volcano. I realized just how much of nature we miss because of our distractions.

 

Winter Break 2014 Participant
My favorite part about this program is the amazing opportunity to experience another world and culture outside our own. Every day was an eye-opener for me, and I was able to learn to have an open mind to differences that I normally wouldn't.

 

Kara Nicole Notvedt, Winter Break 2014 Participant
Going to La Fortuna Waterfall was an incredible experience. I will never forget hiking down 480 stairs and being immersed to a 200 foot waterfall and natural spring tucked into the beautiful Costa Rican rainforest!

 

Meagan Anne Young, Winter Break 2014 Participant
My favorite part of the program was soaking in the culture of Costa Rica. The people of Costa Rica taught me how to find joy in everything, and they taught me how to serve others in love. There isn't a greater take-away than that, for me.

 

Cara Michelle Brashears, Winter Break 2015 Participant
The ability to experience Costa Rican culture, adventure, and working on writing all at once was an incredible combination. We had a lot of free time to explore what we were interested in, as well as exposure to many different parts of Costa Rica.

 

Elizabeth Christine James, Winter Break 2015 Participant
My favorite part about this trip was that nearly everything we did involved the natural landscape of Costa Rica. We learned about the animals and plants of the country, while also learning about the people that lived there. My favorite experience was zip lining in the Cloud Forest. We had hiked there the day before, so I got to see it from two very different perspectives.

 

Justine Louise Powls, Winter Break 2015 Participant
I loved that there was so much information provided to us through amazing tour guides and the tours that we were given through the people of Costa Rica and also the connections made between the University of Kansas and the University of Costa Rica.

 

Trevor Russell Prater, Winter Break 2015 Participant
I loved how we got the opportunity to explore such different areas of Costa Rica. Each area had such a distinct climate and ecosystem with unique plants, animals, and ways of living.

 

Emily Lauren Roberts, Winter Break 2015 Participant
The diversity of life that we get to see. There are so many different areas of Costa Rica and it was absolutely wonderful to see a lot of them. The diversity of plant and animal life was fasinating as well when we traveled to all the different areas. The food and fruit was always fabulous.

 

Ariane Michelle Wright, Winter Break 2015 Participant
My answer won't be adequate if I limit it to favorites. For twelve days, we were immersed in an idealistic world of exploration. In a way, the experience reminded me of Darwin exploring the Galapagos, though we certainly weren't making new scientific discoveries. I do think, however, we discovered something equally as important-- discoveries on the art of living. Costa Rican natives, or Ticos, view life in the context of "Pura Vida" (the pure life). From learning and experiencing the flora of the Monteverde Cloud Forest, to whitewater rafting, to investigating a roadside fruit stand, to horseback riding, to hearing a coffee plantation owner speak of the intensive process going into one cup of coffee, to the friendships formed among our group of 25, travel writing and Costa Rica changed perspective. It helped us rediscover something often lost in the whirlwind of our busy lives -- each moment is precious and an opportunity to grow.

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
My favorite part of the program was being out in the nature, such as when we were hiking to a volcano or through a cloudforest. Learning about the diverse flora and fauna and seeing them with my own eyes was really eye-opening.

 

Gabrielle C Doue, Winter Break 2016 Participant
My favorite part of this program was learning about the beautiful culture of Costa Rica through the people and the environment. The people were eager to answer any questions you had, and their respect and awareness for the environment was extremely apparent. They live such a passionate lifestyle, and it was invigorating to be able to become a part of it, although only for a short time.

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
Our guide was absolutely incredible, and she truly made the trip for me. She was so kind and warm, and so very knowledgeable about a variety of subjects, ranging from biology to culture and language to history and government. I felt like I was learning the entire time in a fun and accessible way!

 

Allison S Logsdon, Winter Break 2016 Participant
My favorite part of the program was how it focused on being more about immersion and less about textbook knowledge. Two weeks abroad may seem short, but Mary and everyone associated with the program were able to fill every day with lots of valuable experiences.

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
I most enjoyed the eco-tourism we got to participate in. I loved going zip lining, white water rafting, hiking in the forests, and horseback riding. Costa Rica is such a beautiful country with so much to see and explore.

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
My favorite part of this program was probably seeing so many animals in their natural habitats.

 

Sydney Bryce Shepherd, Winter Break 2016 Participant
It's sort of indescribable. I could sit here and type out a twelve-page single-spaced paper on how incredible the experience was, but nothing will do it justice. You meet incredible people including fellow students, instructors, and program ambassadors. You see awesome things like active volcanoes and indigenous tribes and endangered species in their natural habitats. You have the chance to try all sorts of native and non-native foods and be a part of experiences that are already thrilling, but that much more memorable when they're done in a cloud forest near a flock of macaws or Capuchin monkeys.

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
My favorite part of this program were the people I got to know because everyone was so friendly and so open to everyone's ideas, experiences, and opinions.

 

Sydney Lee Stringfellow, Winter Break 2016 Participant
The food was incredible. I also loved being able to experience a new culture.

 

Kevin Michael Tenny, Winter Break 2016 Participant
Ultimately, I enjoyed being able to learn about the vastness of the Costa Rican culture and being able to experience it hands-on.

 

Megan E Bricks, Winter Break 2017 Participant
My favorite aspect of this program was that we were able to learn so much about the country while abroad both in group and individual activities.

 

Laura E Carlson, Winter Break 2017 Participant
My favorite part of this program was all of the active components. The hiking, the opportunities to go zip lining and white water rafting, and spending the majority of the time outside made this program one of my favorite study abroad programs.

 

Winter Break 2017 Participant
My favorite part of the program was really immersing myself in the culture, the food, the music, and the company of those around us. I made new friends, learned a lot, and had an amazing time.

 

Ashleigh C Pulaski, Winter Break 2017 Participant
My favorite part of the Travel Writing in Costa Rica program was all of the wonderful friends I made throughout the couple weeks we were there. Together, my new friends and I explored new places, tried new foods, zip lined over the trees, and went rafting in level 3 waters.

 

Winter Break 2017 Participant
My favorite aspect of the program was the numerous opportunities to be outside and active. The zip-lining, hiking, and particularly the white water rafting were incredible experiences. The chocolate tour was also super great with chances to taste the chocolate at the various steps of the production process - with amazing spoonfuls of melted chocolate and choice of various toppings at the end. Also food!!! Some of the best fruit you'll ever have :)

 

Winter Break 2018 Participant
My favorite part of this program was touring Costa Rica. We were able to see the city, mountains, volcanoes, and the beach! Each part and province of Costa Rica had something new and exciting to offer.

 

Andrew A Monroe, Winter Break 2018 Participant
I would say my favorite part of this program is the sheer density of opportunities that are packed within our eleven days spent in Costa Rica. I saw so much and did so much while I was there, I almost have trouble believing this trip was only a week and a half. The cultural, ecological, and social experiences I took away from this trip were both incredible and irreplaceable.

 

Winter Break 2018 Participant
The program is very diverse, and it seems as though it gives a taste of many different ways of life that the Costa Ricans live. I really enjoyed the pacing; each day was jam packed, but there is always time for rest.

 

Kayleigh Nicole Anderson, Winter Break 2019 Participant
It is difficult to choose just one experience that outranks the program as a whole. Being submerged in a different culture and environment can be a very intimidating experience, but this program allowed me to feel at ease while exploring my interests in indigenous cultures and tropical wildlife. I particularly enjoyed any experience the program as a whole spent traversing the outdoors which included hiking volcanoes, bird watching, swimming in hot springs and ocean, and much more.

 

Winter Break 2019 Participant
I loved how well-rounded this program was. It was filled with cultural history, political history, the ecological standing of the country. I learned so much about the country and the people.

 

Samantha Hsu, Winter Break 2019 Participant
Our guide, Tatiana was so knowledgeable about all the topics that came up from flora and fauna of Costa Rica to the political climate and history. It was so cool getting to see beautiful things while gaining a lot of information about them. All of the instructors are so caring and relaxed to travel with-they truly want the students to learn and absorb as much as possible.

 

Zachary James Wiens, Winter Break 2019 Participant
This program was such a great way to experience new cultures and new places. Being able to travel to Costa Rica with a group like this was great because it took the stress out of being in a new country because I was with people spoke English and was being guided by people that knew what they were doing. My favorite part had to be going to the beach at Manuel Antonio at the end of the trip. The water was so perfect and the entire area was beautiful!

 

Lauren Elizabeth Gaylor, Winter Break 2013 Participant
I found that interacting with native Costa Ricans was the most rewarding because I was able to really learn about the culture and history of the place more than just staying in the hotels and touristy spots.

 

Dante Anthony Mesa, Winter Break 2013 Participant
The parts of the program that were most rewarding were getting to visit so many different cities in Costa Rica. Each one had its own climate and attractions that made them unique. We traveled from the bustling city of San Jose, to the cool forests of Monteverde, back up to the mild volcanic atmosphere of Arenal and finally all the way west to the hot and sunny beaches of Manuel Antonio. Each environment had such a unique layout and culture that it was always an adventure to wake up and explore. I learned so much about not only the people but about the wildlife and how precious it is.

 

Heathyr Ariane Johnson, Winter Break 2014 Participant
At the end of each day, I tried to recap to myself the activities that we had experienced. It was incredible to realize each evening how much had been packed into each day; they were done so in a way that wasn't overwhelming. Every activity intertwined and related to the others so nicely. It has been fun to write about them afterward.

 

Ann Cecilia Matheis, Winter Break 2014 Participant
While in Costa Rica, we were constantly told "Pura Vida." This expression can have many connotations; however, it was always said with a zest of life. I think I found this excitement for life most rewarding. While learning in a completely different environment, it was so refreshing to have this constant state of happiness and passion in our surroundings. I learned so much about a different culture, environment, and state of mind. Along with all of this knowledge, I love to be able to apply the "Pura Vida" motto to my life at the University of Kansas.

 

Kayla Michelle Overbey, Winter Break 2014 Participant
I thought all the interactions with the people were awesome, especially our guide. I learned so much about environmental biology and how important paying attention to the environment is. Planting trees was definitely one of the most rewarding parts because I knew I was making an impact. It inspired me to really incorporate "green" actions into my everyday life.

 

Winter Break 2014 Participant
I found our guid to be very rewarding. I feel she captured the essence of the whole country and Costa Rican culture. She was very knowledgable and very personable. She has a deep love for her country and we were able to explore the most important parts. These didn't always include tourist attractions, which made the trip that much more immersing in the culture.

 

Victoria Lynn Cortez, Winter Break 2015 Participant
I feel rather proud to have taken my first trip abroad with a group of strangers and to have opened myself fully to every opportunity for learning and growing.

 

Gabrielle C Doue, Winter Break 2016 Participant
I found the opportunity to practice my Spanish with native speakers to be the most rewarding. In addition, learning about the culture in such a personal way- for example through food/drink, buying things in the local market, museums, nature hikes, native dance performances, and just having simple conversations every day with the Costa Ricans- was much more rewarding than learning about Costa Rica from a textbook or in a lecture hall.

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
I found my time in nature incredibly rewarding in this program. We spent so much time hiking, climbing or just relaxing outside, constantly surrounded by wildlife. I gained a deeper connection to my major, ecology, even though this wasn't a science-based trip.

 

Allison S Logsdon, Winter Break 2016 Participant
I enjoyed that this program was very outdoor-based. There is no way to explore Costa Rica from inside a building, and this program embraced that.

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
I found it most rewarding to be able to interact with the Costa Rican people and learning about their culture.

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
I thought the information provided, the sites we toured, and the people we met with and heard from all went into making this program incredibly rewarding.

 

Sydney Bryce Shepherd, Winter Break 2016 Participant
The diversity of the program is wonderful. We encounter so much in terms of different environments and people. I never would have imagined that I was going to experience as much as I did. I didn't feel like an annoying tourist, I felt like a welcome explorer.

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
The most rewarding part of this program is being able to encourage others to go on the same study abroad so that they can experience it too. Costa Rica made me realize so many things about my lifestyle and made me want to become a much more positive and happy person, so the experience was really, really rewarding and I would love to help someone else have that same thing happen to them.

 

Sydney Lee Stringfellow, Winter Break 2016 Participant
The sites and experiences that we were able to have were extremely rewarding. I am blessed to have been able to see what I saw and the memories will stay with me forever. The friends you make while on this adventure are also incredible. Also, you learn to not take nature's beauty for granted.

 

Kevin Michael Tenny, Winter Break 2016 Participant
Personally, I enjoyed the guide that we had. Our guide was able to really go in the depths of the Costa Rican lifestyle from societal and economical points of view.

 

Megan E Bricks, Winter Break 2017 Participant
I enjoyed that our tour guide was extremely educated and was able to share her love for her country with us as we traveled from place to place. I enjoyed being able to interact with the Costa Rican people and learn about their culture and way of life.

 

Winter Break 2017 Participant
Being immersed in an entirely different culture was very eye-opening to me.

 

Laura E Carlson, Winter Break 2017 Participant
Meeting with Marvin the Quaker that left the US for Costa Rica was incredibly rewarding. He has such a unique perspective on the country and his photographs are amazing. I also think that giving back to the country just by planting a little coffee tree was rewarding as well.

 

Winter Break 2017 Participant
The most rewarding part of the program was definitely the food.

 

Ashleigh C Pulaski, Winter Break 2017 Participant
While in La Fortuna, we listened to a representative from Banco de Arból speak about the environment, and then proceeded to each plant one coffee bean tree in the area around the hotel we stayed at, Montaña de Fuego. This was the most rewarding part of the trip because I will always be able to look back and know that I left my mark in Costa Rica.

 

Winter Break 2017 Participant
By far the most rewarding part of the program was meeting Marvin the Quaker, mid-90s and still cognizant, who left the US and moved to Costa Rica. The intimate nature of the visit as we were invited to his home and met his family was very unique and special. Additionally, our guide was truly the best! Tatiana enhanced our program with her personal experience and knowledge. The countries advancements in environmental conservation and awareness were commendable and inspiring. Costa Rican's pride for their country was also uplifting - Pura Vida!

 

Jiaying Wang, Winter Break 2017 Participant
I found it very rewarding that our tour guide, Tatiana, stayed with us during the entire journey. She explained things about the culture and nature of Costa Rica as we experienced them for ourselves. This way, I was able to associate the lesson with the personal experience.

 

Winter Break 2019 Participant
"Pura Vida" truly describes the Costa Ricans' way of life, and that saying will always be a part of me. Seeing how they live their life has made me more appreciative of what the world has to offer and the people that lives in it. From seeing the breathtaking views to be able to have a basic conversation in Spanish, I am immensely grateful for this opportunity. You learn things that stick with you in the back of your mind that you cannot wait to tell everybody back home and that motivates you to make the world a better place. Even though the trip must end, it never truly ends.

 

Samantha Hsu, Winter Break 2019 Participant
The most rewarding part was being able to experience and explore all of the wildlife and nature that Costa Rica has to offer while getting to do it in safe setting. I never felt nervous about being lost or anything and that was really reassuring and allowed me to explore to my heart's content.

 

Subin Park, Winter Break 2019 Participant
The most rewarding element I got from this trip was friends and pictures! I met people from various majors, grades and cultures. Everyone got to know each other very well and the scenary of every places we went to were amazing. The program was planned out in a way to keep us busy and fun everyday!

 

Winter Break 2013 Participant
Make time to study abroad even if it is just on a short program, it is worth it

 

Taylor Nicole Bagwell, Winter Break 2016 Participant
I think you learn alot about yourself on this experience. It sounds cheesy and cliche but it is very true.

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
Don't worry about whether you'll be able to do a lot of things or take advantage of everything while you are abroad. Just enjoy the experience. Whatever you do, you'll have a great time.

 

Gabrielle C Doue, Winter Break 2016 Participant
I learned about the Costa Rican government, their daily life, their access to education, how to be more conscientious of the environment, but most importantly how different life can be anywhere you go in the world, and how important it is to learn about all the diversity that our world has to offer us, and in turn utilize it to improve the lives of others and our own with a new understanding and respect for people of all backgrounds.

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
I learned to let go of time constraints! The trip was so much easier and so much more enjoyable when I just arrived places when people told me to and didn't worry about anything except what was right in front of me.

 

Brenna LeeAnne Murray, Winter Break 2016 Participant
You never know when you might need a raincoat!

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
It was like a gateway - I plan on studying abroad more than just this one program. It showed me that studying abroad doesn't have to be a stressful experience as I once thought, instead it was easy going and informative. A perfect first study-abroad experience in my opinion.

 

Sydney Bryce Shepherd, Winter Break 2016 Participant
Not only did my intermediate Spanish go from sort of sketchy to not half-bad, but I also met amazing people at every turn. From fellow students to instructors to program ambassadors to many more, and each one of them made my trip that much more worthwhile.

 

Kevin Michael Tenny, Winter Break 2016 Participant
Be ready to learn! There is so much going on in Costa Rica regarding its early history or present era, so ask a lot of questions.

 

Winter Break 2016 Participant
I learned about the different climates of Costa Rica, even though the country is tiny and wouldn't seemingly have many different climates. I also learned about the importance of the ecotourism industry, Costa Rica's biggest source of income. As a Spanish major with minors in Global and International Studies and English, this experience was invaluable to my studies. It perfectly culminated my time at KU.

 

Megan E Bricks, Winter Break 2017 Participant
I learned a lot about the culture, agriculture, and history of Costa Rica that has intrigued me to want to study abroad there for an entire semester.

 

Winter Break 2017 Participant
I learned that I love to travel! Trust me, once you study abroad you'll want to do it again.

 

Laura E Carlson, Winter Break 2017 Participant
It's fine if you go into this program knowing no one because you will find friends that are like minded and those friends will help enrich your experience.

 

Winter Break 2017 Participant
There is so much more we could be doing to conserve nature that other countries are already doing it. We need to get working on that.

 

Winter Break 2017 Participant
Wear shoes that you can get muddy!

 

Ashleigh C Pulaski, Winter Break 2017 Participant
I think it is important to go on a small, short-term trip like this program prior to committing to a semester-long study abroad, especially if you are interested in studying abroad. I believe it is important because I thought I wanted to study abroad for a semester, but realized that I don't think I would be able to be away from family and friends for that long. Through other programs at KU, you can get the study abroad feeling, traveling, and exploration all while not being away from family for too long.

 

Winter Break 2017 Participant
It's a short program, make the most of it!

 

Jiaying Wang, Winter Break 2017 Participant
I would definitely recommend this program to students with busy schedules since it is over winter break. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to a foreign country with an amazing group of people. Also, if you do choose to go to Costa Rica, definitely pack some rain boots and a rain jacket!!!