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My Costa Rican Adventures by Sara Cook, Animal Sciences major, International Agriculture and Equine Science minors

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Posted: January 27, 2016

I’ve left my heart in so many places.
"Bring your 'daughter' to work day" Rio Turriabla

"Bring your 'daughter' to work day" Rio Turriabla

What could possibly be a better way to finish up my freshman year than to embark on a journey to Costa Rica for my summer? I can’t think of a single one. Through the Spanish for Agriculture Embedded Course, I was given the amazing opportunity to travel and live locally in Turrialba, Costa Rica for an entire month of my summer!

Traveling is something that I can’t imagine never doing. The thrill of hopping on a plane and a few hours later being in a completely different world never ceases to amaze me. On this trip so many great places were visited, volcanoes, farms, and Spanish school. But, despite the gorgeous agriculture and endless opportunities available in my little home in Turrialba, I found my favorite part of the entire trip was meeting the people.

Through the program, I was paired with the sweetest Costa Rican family in the world who became like my own over the four-weeks I spent living there. My Mama-Tica spent countless hours cooking meals that I cannot replicate no matter how hard I try! My Papa-Tica did an informal ‘bring-your-American-daughter-to-work-day,’ and took the time to show me the little secrets of the town. My wonderful Sister-Tica (Hermana-Tica) bravely took me into the many stores and markets, introduced me to her school where she taught, and was nothing but helpful when I struggled with the Wifi to complete some homework assignments. One of the luckiest parts was Nicole, my Sister-Tica’s daughter, who was always a good friend to talk to when I was tired! (A four-year-old doesn’t require any extreme levels of Spanish, thank goodness!) Even their Chihuahua puppy, Lulu, made sure to include me in the family!

The cultural experiences I received through tagging along to Cuerpo Christi celebrations, baby showers, and local Zumba classes was priceless. The culture was so vastly different from what I was used to in the United States, that I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself waving ‘Hello’ to the neighbors as they drove by and found myself saying ‘Pura Vida’ more than anything else! Spanish school was Monday through Thursday in the mornings, which gave me plenty of time to learn the local slang, ask my silly questions, and spend my afternoons meandering down the mountain to grab some lunch in town. I gained both confidence, practice communicating, and active self-management when navigating the towns.

In terms of educational experiences, I definitely learned tons about agricultural practices I never knew existed! My favorite overall agricultural aspect of the trip would be learning about the use of dairy and beef cattle. There is a cross breed between Brahma and Holsteins that are commonly used because they act as dual-purpose breeds and can withstand the heat and climate found in Costa Rica. Bio-digesters are also extremely popular as sources of energy in both large and small operations. To me this was all beneficial for my overall knowledge for International agricultural practices and ways to find renewable energy. Overall I loved the dairy farms!

For me, this was another amazing experience to add to the story I am writing with my life. It was an experience where I built relationships I would have never found otherwise, spoke Spanish on an independent level with all age groups, got to know a new culture, and of course—leave a little piece of my heart with the Land of Pura Vida.