One of the amazing things about studying abroad are all the opportunities to gain hands-on learning experience in the field. Not only do you get to do some amazing things, but you get to visit places that regular tourists don’t get to see. Due to my classes I have gone to visit Veragua Rainforest and The Eternal Children’s Forest, among other the future trips I have ins store.
The Veragua Rainforest was incredible, and as part of my Environmental Policy class, I got to help a scientist put up butterfly nets for his research project. He even let me hold a butterfly that escaped in his lab! Before I went to Veragua I had no idea that it even existed, nor that I would be able to visit and get my hands a little dirty. I even learned how to use a slingshot! Beyond that we went on a night hike that led us, in our rubber boots, down a creek. We also went on an early morning hike and saw a fresh jaguar paw print and heard howler monkeys. Nothing seems more like a dream than looking at a jaguar print and realizing that you are hearing monkeys!
For my Freshwater Ecology course, we went to the Eternal Children’s Forest to collect tiny critters from a creek and a water sample. At first, I really didn’t want to go, I mean who wants to spend the weekend in the middle of nowhere, collecting tiny critters. Who likes doing that sort of thing? It turns out I like spending time hiking, in the middle of nowhere, and spending time in a creek collecting critters. I was shocked by how much fun it was! As a biology major, in the states I spend most of my time in a lab, but this class has expanded my definition of a lab. Science isn’t constrained to a room, it is all around us and while being in the creek that was evident.
Field trips are one of the best parts about studying abroad, especially because you get to spend time with friends, doing exactly what you came to Costa Rica to do, to try new things and learn in a new environment. They are one of my favorite parts of studying abroad and I hope you get the chance to experience them too, even if it is just for a day!