Before I came for my study abroad experience, I was in a bit of a rut. That was a big reason I wanted to study abroad in the first place. It’s easy to become complacent wherever you are; it’s comfortable, it’s familiar. Some could say that studying abroad is hard, and there are some parts about it that are. You have to mentally prepare yourself to leave your friends, family, and comfortable every day life for an entirely unfamiliar one; new friends, a new host family, and a way of life that is not one you are used to. I cannot speak for everyone, but those things that people told me would be the hardest part, I have found incredibly easy. Maybe it’s because I was in a rut at home and needed change. Whatever it was, being here in Costa Rica has been one of the easiest adjustments I have ever made. I’m not even sure it’s fair to call it an adjustment; everything that was supposed to make me uncomfortable has done the opposite. I’ve felt more content with my life here than I have in a very long time.
Travel is an amazing thing. For people like me who are more likely to get sick of home than homesick, travel is the cure. This past weekend, my roommate, who has become the designated travel buddy that I’ve been longing for, and I took an adventure and met so many incredible people. Everyone’s story was different; everyone was from a different place, was a different age, in different points in their lives. But we all had one thing in common; wherever we came from, we needed to get away. We craved adventure.
Hearing some of these peoples’ stories gave me so much hope for myself. Back home I would constantly compare myself to my peers. I always stressed if I was keeping up with them in terms of the classes I was taking, the jobs and internships I was applying for, the extracurricular activities I was involved in. So much of my life back home was a competition and even as a competitive athlete, I was sick of it. Being in Costa Rica has made me “tranquila,” which essentially means “chill” to us gringos. By fully embracing the pura vida life style, by exploring a new country on my own, and by listening to the stories of those around me, I truly believe I have become a much more confident and independent person. That is the power of travel. That is the power of the world around you if you take the time to explore and appreciate it, and that is the power of the stories of the people you meet if you choose to listen to them.