As I sit here ready for school with my phone on one side and my cereal on the other, I constantly wonder if I have bitten off too much. I know that I am the type of person that thrives more when I have more to do. For instance, if I have three hours to do a project, it will take three hours but if I have five, it will take five. This summer I am studying abroad in Costa Rica. My program is a five week intensive Spanish course with a cultural photography elective tacked on. As with many things, I did not really know what I was getting myself into, but I thought it sounded fun. I applied for the Gilman scholarship which was very intense and elongated in its own right. But then after I received the Gilman, I was offered an opportunity to be a travel correspondent for Reach the World. I have a group of fifth graders in inner city New York that I write and send pictures to on a weekly basis. So let’s see, I am taking eight college level credit hours in five weeks, I have my kids that I correspond with and to top it all off, I brought my girlfriend with me because she is a teacher and on vacation for the summer! Whew!


I am also a recovering alcoholic, and keep in constant contact with my sponsor and kindreds back home. Since I just arrived I have not been able to find the time for a meeting as they are difficult to find. It is not easy to get around here in San José with little knowledge of the town and bus systems. And I am a passionate blogger whose blog hasn’t seen my fingertips in at least a week! But I am here in Costa Rica, and I intend to get the most out of it. When you put everything down on paper, and realize how many things you are balancing, the light shines differently. If I was a pessimistic person I would think this is too hard and I can’t do it. I am not a pessimistic person. When I see all of this on paper, I realize that I am very strong and the amount of things that I can handle at once is quite wonderful.

I am up for school at 5:30am every morning. I get ready, make breakfast and lunch, email my sponsor and head out for the day. I chose to do this on my own and therefore do not stay with a host family or close to school. I ride the bus for 30 minutes, and then walk the rest of the way. I am in school by 8:00am until noon. I eat lunch, and do homework until my next class at 3:00pm, and then head back home at 5:00pm. I get home about 6:00 usually to a dinner that is ready to go, spend a little time chatting with my girlfriend and then homework until 10:00. Every day I wish I would get in bed sooner. But when your time is spoken for, you just keep working. I am blessed to work with these kids. I am grateful for my scholarship. The natural progression of my life led me into a pretty significant hole with very little light at the end. That was more than two years ago. Now I constantly amaze myself and others with my self progression. I have studied on the 15th floor of my friend’s apartment building while on vacation in El Salvador. I have studied in the cloud forest of Monte Verde while on excursion with Universidad VERITAS. It took me a lot longer to find the drive and passion for school than most. But now that I have found it, little excites me more than a job well done, smiles on my kid’s faces, feedback from my blog or Facebook posts and of course that A on my transcript.

Written by Holly Ranker, Social Media Journalist

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