Studying abroad just comes with an enormous amount of open doors for students to explore. There are programs for everyone out there and even within that, there are activities for everyone once you’ve stepped out of your boundaries. Focusing on activities that you like to do at home, while you are studying abroad can make the experience more genuine and more molded to who you are as a student and person.
For me, volunteering is close to my heart and it’s something I like to put my time and effort into. Studying abroad is a great opportunity to volunteer outside of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in issues close to home but in another country and culture.
Here in Costa Rica, there are so many opportunities to donate your time and efforts to any cause. For example, through Veritas I was able to volunteer at a local orphanage. A group of four of us took the shuttle to the orphanage to assist them in any way we can. We were there for a couple hours and not only did we help around the building by helping clean and fold clothes, but we got to interact with a couple of the kids living in the orphanage. Being able to speak with them, not only helped me advance my speaking skills in Spanish, but also I got to experience a part of the culture that no one really takes the time to see.
Another wonderful experience that I’ve gotten to participate while here, is more of an ecosystem issue. I got to travel to Matapalo and work with the sea turtle conservation project. This was an experience in itself. We stayed up all night to work with the turtle nests and help the baby turtles emerge from their shells. I can’t believe that I got to help put around 200 baby sea turtles into the ocean and help re-nest a batch of around 97 sea turtle eggs. This gave a different experience, because we were working with people in their twenties and thirties. So not only being able to again work on my language skills, but also being able to see that part of the ecosystem repair in action was a once in a lifetime experience.
Just because you study abroad and leave your home and everything you know, doesn’t mean you have to leave everything at home. Bringing your passions and interests abroad can open your eyes and spectrum on the issue close to your heart.