Pura Vida in Costa Rica

As part of the Spanish for the Ag Sciences program, I visited my first Latin American country and improved my Spanish during a month-long immersion experience in Costa Rica.

Today’s Spanish Lesson: pura vida = pure life (a common Costa Rican phrase). Costa Rica = rich coast (for the richness of biodiversity there). After spending 6 weeks along this “rich coast,” I certainly got a glimpse of what a “pure life” looks like in Costa Rica.

Thanks to College of Ag Sciences programs and support, I embarked on a trip to Costa Rica the day after spring graduation as part of an immersion experience for my Spanish for the Ag Sciences classes. A group of 11 students and 2 faculty members from our college spent a month in Turrialba, Costa Rica. The Spanish for the Ag Sciences program includes two introductory Spanish courses specifically for ag science students, and culminates in an immersion experience to a Spanish-speaking country. We had a great time as the first group to visit Costa Rica—check out our blog or YouTube channel!

The night after arriving in Costa Rica, we found ourselves in Spanish class. These small, specialized classes continued for 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks. We lived with host families, volunteered at a local orphanage, had dance and cooking classes, and toured local agricultural industry facilities. We saw dairy and forest farms, coffee and pineapple plantations, and visited EARTH University, an incredible tropical agriculture school with students and faculty from over 35 countries that manages its own banana and coffee plantations!

During two of the weekends, we took trips to the Caribbean. We spent one weekend in the touristy town of Puerto Viejo and another at a tranquil resort in Tortugero (translated “the place of the turtles”). Between the two trips, we spent time at the beach, toured national parks, ate good food (as always), and witnessed some fantastic wildlife. We saw monkeys, iguanas, sloths, caimans, crocodiles, toucans, parrots, snakes, and even a raccoon on the beach! On the last day of the group’s time together, we stopped at one of the country’s four active volcanoes and spent the afternoon at an animal-rich “waterfall garden” where I got to hold a toucan and pet a puma (aka the Nittany Lion)!

After our month with the program, the group boarded the plane to head back to the states—but I wasn’t with them! Stay tuned to hear about the second part of my Costa Rica trip, where I visited local agricultural high schools as part of my thesis research.