I can remember walking through campus, discovering a study abroad fair smack dab in the center of the University of Memphis. It was a hot, September day in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, so many students were standing under the giant tent, if only just for shade and free water. This was the day I first decided I wanted to study abroad. At first, I was dead set on Australia. I mean who wouldn’t want to spend the semester listening to the amazingly attractive Aussie accent, cuddling koalas, and surfing? Sign me up for all three at once! But when it came time to find a program to apply to, I had one major reservation with Australia. The price tag. Goodness, I could not afford that if I sold my car and everything I owned, albeit I don’t own much and my car isn’t very expensive. So I decided to talk to my study abroad advisor about my options. And by talk, I mean basically harass. Throughout the month of applications and information forms, if I wasn’t in his office, I was emailing him questions (thank you Jonathan for not killing me during this process).

On one of my many visits to his office, he asked what I like to do for fun and what my major is. My answers: “I’m an Exercise-Sport Science major and I like to be outside, camping, hiking, swimming, etc.”  From that, he suggested two destinations- Florence, Italy and San Jose, Costa Rica.  At first, I was not at all interested in Costa Rica. I don’t think I even had a reason, but I just wasn’t excited like I thought I should be. But when I thought about spending three months in Italy, I wasn’t very excited either. My roommate had just come back from a semester in Italy, and her personality fit in with my idea of Italy. We’re nothing alike. Hence, after googling and pinterest-ing “San Jose” and “Costa Rica” enough times, I decided on CCIS spring semester in San Jose, Costa Rica.

The dream of studying abroad became a reality in the nine days between the day of the study abroad fair until the day I began my application. Yeah, nine days- I work quickly. Before I knew it, my application deadline of November 1st arrived and I submitted my application. I only had to wait about two weeks before receiving all of my acceptance information. It was so exciting! I was at work when I got the email that I was accepted into the program, so of course I hurried into the bathroom to read and reread those words I had waited for. By this time, it was October 15th, I was scheduled to arrive in San Jose on January 4, 2015. I had a little more than two and a half months before I left. So the countdown began. I quit my job, started stocking up on bug spray and sunscreen, and officially went inactive in my sorority. But the hardest thing I had to do during this process was find someone to take care of my dog while I was gone. Trying not to sound like the crazy dog lady that I am, my dog is my pride and joy. She’s a one year old lab/pitt bull mix, I think. I got her when she was about four months old, when someone found her and her two sisters in a field about 30 minutes outside of Memphis. She’s named after my second favorite football player on my favorite team, Brees.

I had just moved into a new house the first week of November, thankfully I moved into a rental home that my parents own so the subleasing wasn’t a hassle. From the start of investigating my study abroad options, my parents told me they didn’t want to take care of Brees. One night, while stressing over the situation, I got a random, but much needed text. One of my sorority sisters said she needed a cheap place to live and asked if I knew of anything. So of course I told her I needed someone to sublease my room while I was gone. I’ll spare the details, but Suzanna agreed! She would stay in my room and take care of Brees for me! I was over the moon when she told me she would move in. It was all going to work out. So I finished up my crazy semester at the U of M, said my goodbyes and moved back in with my parents for the holidays.

Before I knew it, I was waking up at 5:30am in the morning of January 4th for my 8:00 flight. I buried my butterflies down deep and set forth on this journey. I arrived two hours delayed, but safely and excited in San Jose. I’m in my third week here and I love it so much already. While every now and then I miss certain things about being home, honestly the only things I miss are Brees and the little cuties I babysit back home. San Jose is such a beautiful city with such beautiful people. It’s a weird feeling, to feel so at home somewhere you’ve only been for three weeks.

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