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The Secret to the Pura Vida Life

Si has estado siguiendo mis últimos aportes, ya has notado probablemente que siempre firmo con “Pura Vida mis amigos”. Esta frase pegadiza es muy popular dentro y fuera de Costa Rica y durante las últimas cinco semanas, he estado tratando de descubrir el significado de Pura Vida para mí. Dentro y fuera del aula, la vida familiar y la cultura local, he empezado a abrazar y amar el estilo de vida costarricense.

Dentro y más allá del aula
Tomé dos clases de español en la Universidad Veritas: conversación avanzada y las escritoras costarricenses. Aunque tener que pensar y responder de inmediato en español fue un desafío al principio, pero realmente, disfruté de nuestra clase de conversación porque tuvimos la oportunidad de expresar nuestras opiniones sobre cualquier tema que nos interesaban. Nuestras presentaciones abordaron muchos temas sociales importantes – aunque controvertidos a veces – que oscilaron desde la legalización de drogas hasta la desigualdad en la educación femenina hasta la sociedad capitalista hasta la inmigración de refugiados y más. Mi parte favorita era cuando, inevitablemente, alguien diría algo sin relación con el tema, porque fue cuando se iniciaron las discusiones profundas. Aprendí mucha perspicacia de mis compañeros y mi profesor era una fuente de sabiduría y narrativas históricas. Esta clase fue reveladora con respecto a expandir mi perspectiva del mundo y ser desafiada a considerar las posibles soluciones que podrían combatir los problemas universales de la sociedad hoy en día.

El aprendizaje también estaba fuera del aula en forma de excursiones de clase. Visitamos una exposición de chocolate en el centro de la ciudad donde no sólo probamos dulces de chocolate, sino aprendimos sobre la historia del cacao y su papel esencial en la economía del país también. Otra salida de clase incluyó las clases de cocina que estaban en la casa de nuestra profesora donde aprendimos a hacer empanadas llenas de chiverre a mano y arroz con leche justo en la cocina – son recetas deliciosas que espero cocinarlas cuando vuelva a los Estados Unidos.

Nuestra vida familiar
Me considero afortunada porque creo que tenía la mejor familia de anfitrión. Mi compañera de piso, Katy, y yo nos referimos  a Giselle y Sergio cariñosamente como “Mamatica” y “Papatico” porque se llaman los locales en Costa Rica “ticos” y “ticas” típicamente. Nos recibieron con amabilidad genuina y amor incondicional que nos hizo sentir bastante cómodos como uno de sus hijos. Se sirven el desayuno y la cena a las 7am y 7pm cada día, así que puedes imaginar qué momentos del día que estaba emocionada. Nuestros padres iban al mercado de productores cada fin de semana para comprar productos  agrícolas y ingredientes frescos para nuestras comidas y siempre les decía que cuando cocinaban juntos, formaban el mejor equipo. Sin duda, voy a extrañar estos tiempos debido a la comida rica y las conversaciones que compartimos sobre la mesa, pero les hizo una promesa de que sería una de las primeras personas en la línea cuando abren su restaurante en el futuro y entonces, ya estoy esperando a esa reunión.

La cultura local
Como en cualquier lugar que viaje, siempre habrá diferencias culturales que necesitan tiempo para distinguirlas y adaptarse en consecuencia. Se considera Costa Rica que tiene una cultura de clima caliente, la que significa que hay un enfoque fuerte en la creación de un medio ambiente basado en las relaciones y donde “sentirse bien”, así como con la comunicación indirecta en la que las preguntas se expresan de otro modo para no ofender a nadie. Para mí, “el tiempo tico” significa tener un sentido n más relajada del tiempo, ya que la gente llega a una reunión o evento hasta 15-30 minutos. Una cosa que todavía tenía problemas para acostumbrarme a las condiciones de la calle – me parece que la filosofía es quien llegue a la calle primero la domine. En otras palabras, no exise la parada para peatones allí y hubo veces que tuve que mantener mis ojos en cualquier cosa menos la carretera durante mis viajes en Uber para evitar los ataques al corazón. Creo que la única vez que verá un lado agresivo de los locales está en la calle, pero aparte de eso, los costarricenses son personas relajados en la mayor parte.

Hay tantas facetas de la cultura aquí – es imposible señalar todos, pero para mí, el aspecto cultural que aprecio más era la iniciativa para promover la sostenibilidad ambiental en todo el país. Por ejemplo, había signos por todas partes para recordarte que debes tirar el papel higiénico en la basura y no en el inodoro. También, he oído de ciertas placas que indican un día en el que no se puede conducir – afortunadamente, el transporte público es un sistema económico y eficiente. Los botes de basura designados siempre vienen en colecciones de cuatro: desechos orgánicos, vidrio, papel y plástico. Aunque todavía hay mucho para mejorar, me siento orgullosa de que Costa Rica sea un líder global en este esfuerzo nacional. Este es el modo de vida pura vida aquí – ¿qué hay para no ser feliz?

Como siempre, muchas gracias por leer y nos vemos!

Pura Vida mis amigos,
Rebecca Yang

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If you have been following my past posts, you’ve probably already noticed that I always sign off with “Pura Vida my friends”. This catchy saying is extremely popular both within and outside of Costa Rica, and for the past five weeks, I have been trying to discover what Pura Vida means to me. Inside and beyond the classroom, through family life, and the local culture, I have come to embrace and love the Costa Rican lifestyle.

Inside and Beyond the Classroom

I took two Spanish classes at Universidad Veritas: advanced conversation and Costa Rican female writers. Although having to think and respond on the spot in Spanish was a bit daunting at first, I really enjoyed our conversation class because we had the opportunity to express our opinions on any topic that interested us. Our presentations addressed important social issues – albeit controversial, at times – ranging from drug legalization to inequality in female education to a capitalistic society to refugee immigration, and so much more. My favorite part was whenever we would, inevitably, go off-topic because that was when deep discussions were sparked. I gained so much insight from my peers, and my professor was a fountain of wisdom and historical narratives. This class was eye-opening in terms of expanding my world perspective and being challenged to consider what possible solutions could combat the pervasive problems of society today.

Learning also took place outside the classroom in the form of class field trips. We visited a chocolate exposition downtown, where we not only tasted some chocolate goodies, but also learned about the history of cacao and its vital role within the country’s economy. Another class outing turned out to be cooking classes that took place at our professor’s house, where we learned to make empanadas filled with chiverre by hand and rice pudding right in her kitchen – delicious recipes that I hope to try and make back at home in the States.

Empanadas de chiverre
Love free chocolate samples YUM

 

 

 

 

 

Our Family Life
I consider myself lucky because I believe I got placed with the best host family ever. My roommate, Katy, and I affectionately referred to Giselle and Sergio as “Mamatica” and “Papatico” because locals in Costa Rica are commonly called “ticos” and “ticas”. They received us with such genuine warmth and unconditional love that made us feel right at home like one of their own. Breakfast and dinner was served at 7am and 7pm every day, so you can imagine what times of the day I was particularly excited for. Our host parents would go down to the farmer’s market every weekend to pick up fresh produce and other ingredients our meals, and I would always tell them that, when cooking together, they made the best team. I will definitely miss meal times due to the food and the conversations we shared over the table, but I made them a promise that I would be one of the first people in the line when they open their restaurant in the future, so I am already looking forward to that reunion.

Mamatica y Papatico

The Local Culture
Like anywhere you travel, there will always be some cultural differences that may take time to distinguish and adapt to accordingly. Costa Rica is considered to have a hot climate culture, meaning there is a strong focus on creating a relationship-based, “feel-good” environment, as well with indirect communication, in which questions are rephrased in a way as to not offend whoever you are talking to. For me, running on “tico time” means having a more relaxed sense of time, as people show up 15-30 minutes late to a gathering or event. One thing I still had trouble getting used to was the road conditions – it seems like the philosophy is whoever gets to the road first gets to rule it. In other words, stopping for pedestrians is not a thing there, and there were times I had to keep my eyes on anything but the road during my Uber rides to avoid having multiple heart attacks. I think the only time you will ever see an aggressive side from the locals is out on the road, but other than that, Costa Ricans are relatively laid-back for the most part.

Every decision makes a small difference.

There are so many facets to the culture here – it’s impossible to touch on all of them, but for me, the cultural aspect I appreciated the most was the drive to promote environmental sustainability throughout the country. For example, there were signs everywhere to remind you that toilet paper was to be thrown away in the trash can, not flushed down the toilet. I also heard about certain license plates denote a day where you cannot drive – luckily, public transportation is an affordable and efficient system. Designated trash cans always come in sets of four: organic waste, glass, paper, and plastic. Although there is much room for improvement, I am proud that Costa Rica is a global leader in this national effort. This is the pura vida way of life here – what is there not to be happy about?

As always, thank you for reading and see you on the next post!

Pura Vida my friends,
Rebecca Yang


Rebecca Yang is currently a third-year undergraduate student studying Chemistry and Spanish, with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, but after spending three years in Kansas City, she is proud to call this place home. She is studying abroad for one month over the summer with ISA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

A Guide to Hiking the Highest Mountain in Costa Rica

Mi tiempo en estudiar en el extranjero estaba terminando, y solo tenía un fin de semana más aquí en Costa Rica. Caminando por la montaña más alta de este país nunca estaba en mi lista de cosas más importantes para hacer, sin embargo, mi amiga Mackenzie que había caminado el fin de semana anterior me convenció de que debería tomar la oportunidad de – lo que descubriría más tarde – un único viaje en la vida.

Consejo #1: Reserve el viaje a Cerro Chirripó como mínimo dos semanas con antelación. Las agencias de viajes recomiendan prepararse para el viaje por lo menos tres meses antes, pero en realidad no me comprometí a subir Chirripó hasta tres días antes de ir con mis dos amigos, Michael y Jackson. Te sugiero que no se encuentre en una situación similar porque entregar la documentación y los pagos necesarios en poco tiempo, además de planear un viaje del fin de semana de tres días, no fue la mejor idea. Así que minimizar el estrés innecesario de hacer una decisión de última hora y reservar su posición tan pronto como sea posible.

Consejo #2: Reserve con una agencia de viaje. Para escalar Cerro Chirripó, necesitarás comprar permisos de parque para cada día que estés allí, junto con la comida y el alojamiento en el campamento base. Las agencias de viajes harán tu vida más fácil, y el costo de la reserva con una agencia no sobrepasaría mucho lo que estarías pagando si hubieras comprado todo individualmente. Recomiendo Caminatas al Chirripó que era una agencia increíble que lograron asegurar nuestras reservas en poca antelación y siempre estaban disponsibles en el teléfono si teníamos cualquier pregunta.

Salimos a las 9am de la mañana del viernes desde la terminal del MUSOC que fue tres horas en autobús de San José a San Isidro del General. Desde allí, tuvimos que tomar otro autobús de Terminal Municipal que nos llevó de San Isidro a San Gerardo de Rivas en media hora.

Consejo #3: Compre los billetes de autobús un día antes, o llegar temprano a la estación de autobus al menos una hora antes de la salida porque se venden los billetes rápidamente.

Tuvimos que registrarnos en las oficinas del MINAE y del Consorcio  antes de las 4pm porque el parque requiere que todos se registre un día antes de sus caminatas. Luego nos registramos en la oficina de nuestra agencia de viaje para llegar a nuestra hostal de Cabaña Ojos Claros y encontrarse con su anfitrión, Laura. Una chica de Holanda que acababa de subir al Cerro Chirripó el día anterior estaba allí esa noche y nos dio consejos útiles sobre las expectativas de nuestra subida. Porque teníamos una mañana temprano al día siguiente, nos acostamos después de cenar, y recuerdo tener algunos problemas para dormirse debido a los nervios de anticipación y entusiasmo de la aventura por venir.

Consejo #4: Traiga una lámpara (un faro sería óptimo) o asegúrete de comprar una de una tienda en el pueblo antes de empezar tu caminata. Busca un bastón robusto es una buena idea, también – será tu mejor amigo durante este viaje.

El sábado por la mañana, nos despertamos a las 4:30am y Laura nos llevó a la entrada donde el signo de 0 km marcó el comienzo de nuestro ascenso oficialmente. La flora y fauna del paisaje cambia cada km drásticamente, así que no te olvides de mirar hacia arriba y alrededor porque las vistas diversas no defraudan. La caminata hasta el campamento base es de 15 km y hay una parada al punto medio del camino en el km 7 donde tienen baños, una tienda de alimento y una estación para llenar tus botellas de agua. No fue hasta el km 13, con un nombre apropiado de Los Arrepentidos, donde comencé a preguntarme qué estaba pensando en subir al Cerro Chirripó y cuestionar la vida en general. Milagrosamente, llegamos al km 15 en 11 horas y fue como encontrar un oasis en el medio del desierto – fue probablemente porque pudimos ver que el campamento base estaba en pendiente desde allí.

Consejo #5: Asegúrete de que estás en buena forma porque la caminata es de 40 km (25 millas) en total y puede ser muy duro físicamente en el cuerpo con el tiempo.

En el campamento base, nos quedamos en nuestra habitación que tenía las literas, cada una con una almohada y un saco de dormir o una cobija. Durante la cena, pasamos tiempo con otras senderistas que vinieron de todo el mundo, incluyendo un irlandés y un italiano  que decidieron acompañarnos en la caminata hasta la cima.

Consejo #6: Hazte un favor y tomar el chocolate caliente con las comidas – cada sorbo se calienta su alma.

Consejo #7: Empaca las capas de ropa porque aunque sudarás en la subida, la temperatura en la cima del Cerro Chirripó puede bajar a 0°C (32°F) con mucha sensación térmica.

Para ver el amanecer a las 5 am de la mañana del domingo, salimos a las 2:30am para empezar el viaje de 5 km a la cima de la montaña. Esto es cuando se utiliza la lámpara porque era oscuro completamente y no se desea perderse en el camino. En km 4, había una parte empinada donde las senderistas tenían que dejan sus bastones y subir la montaña con sus manos y rodillas. El signo de Cerro Chirripó y la bandera costarricense nos dieron la bienvenida en la cima y yo vi asombrada el sol que pintaba colores brillantes en el lienzo del cielo.

Gracias al sol, no pude dejar de admirar el paisaje envolvente que estaba escondido en la oscuridad antes. Regresamos el mismo día y fue una locura ver cómo escalmos estos senderos rocosos en algunas partes. No subestimes el descenso porque aunque toma mucho menos tiempo, los caminos lodoso son resbaladizos así que nos caímos mucho. Después, no podía caminar bien por dos días, pero la vista desde 3.820 metros valió la pena sin duda y nunca olvidaré esta experiencia increíble.

Como siempre, muchas gracias por leer y nos vemos!

Pura Vida mis amigos,
Rebecca Yang

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My time in studying abroad was winding down, and I only had one more free weekend left here in Costa Rica. Hiking the highest mountain in this country was never on my list of top things to do, yet my friend, Mackenzie, had hiked it the weekend before and somehow convinced me that I should just take the chance of – what I would later find out to be – a trip-of-a-lifetime.

Tip #1: Book the trip to Cerro Chirripó at least two weeks beforehand. Tour agencies recommend preparing for the trip at least three MONTHS in advance, but I did not actually commit to climbing Chirripó with two of my friends, Michael and Jackson, until three DAYS right before the weekend. I highly suggest that you do not find yourself in a similar situation because turning in all the required paperwork and payments in such a short period of time, on top of planning for a three-day weekend trip, was not the best idea. So save yourself some unnecessary stress from making a last-minute decision and reserve your spots as soon as possible.

Tip #2: Book with a tour agency. In order to hike Cerro Chirripó, you will need to purchase park permits for every day you are there, along with food and lodging at the base camp. Tour agencies will make your life a lot easier, and the cost of booking with an agency would not greatly exceed what you would be paying had you bought everything individually. I recommend Walks to Chirripó, which was an amazing agency that managed to secure our reservations at such a short notice and were always a phone call away if we had any questions.

We left around 9am on Friday morning from MUSOC terminal, which was a three-hour bus ride from San José to San Isidro del General. From there, we had to catch another bus from Terminal Municipal that took us from San Isidro to San Gerardo de Rivas in half an hour.

Tip #3: Buy bus tickets a day ahead, or arrive early at the bus station at least an hour before departure, because bus tickets do sell out quickly.

We had to check into the Park and the Crestones Basecamp lodging offices before 4pm, because the park requires that you register there a day before your hike. We then stopped by the office of our tour agency to get situated at our hostel Cabaña Ojos Claros, run by our lovely host, Laura. A girl from the Netherlands, who had just hiked Cerro Chirripó the day before, was also staying there that night and gave us helpful tips on what to expect our climb. Since we had an early morning the next day, we headed to bed right after dinner, and I remember having some trouble falling asleep due to nerves of anticipation and excitement of what was to come.

View from our hostel’s back porch
The base camp office next to the soccer field

Tip #4: Bring a flashlight (a headlamp would be optimal), or make sure you buy one from a shop in town before starting your hike. Finding a sturdy walking stick is also a good idea – trust me, it’ll be your best friend on this trip.

 

 

 

On Saturday morning, we woke up at 4:30am and Laura dropped us off at the entrance, where the 0 km sign officially marked the beginning of our ascent. The flora and fauna of the landscape drastically changes at every km, so do not forget to look up and around you because the diverse views do not disappoint. The hike up to base camp is 15 km, and there is a rest stop at the halfway point around km 7, where they have restrooms, a snack shop and a station to refill your water bottles. It was not until km 13 (with a fitting name of The Repentants) where I started to ask myself what in the world was I thinking in climbing Cerro Chirripó, and just questioning life in general. Miraculously, we made to km 15 eleven hours later, and it was like finding an oasis in the middle of the desert – mostly because we could see that the base camp was all downhill from there.

 

Started from the bottom…
…Now we’re here.

Tip #5: Make sure you are in adequate shape because the hike is approximately 40km (25 miles) altogether and can be physically grueling on the body over time.

 

At the base camp, we got situated into our room that had a bunk-bed setup, furnished with a pillow and a sleeping bag/blanket. At dinnertime, we got to meet and hang out with other hikers who came from all over the world, including an Irishman and an Italian fellow, who decided to join our group for the hike up to the summit.

Drink of the day

Tip #6: Do yourself a favor and get the hot chocolate during meal times – every sip will warm your soul to the core.

Tip #7: Pack layers to wear because even though you will sweat on the hike up, the temperature at the top of Cerro Chirripó can drop to as low as 0°C (32°F) with heavy wind chill.

In order to catch the sunrise at 5am on Sunday morning, we departed at 2:30am to begin the 5km trip to the summit of the mountain. This is when the flashlight comes in handy because it was completely pitch-black, and you do not want to wander off the trail. At around km 4, there was a steep part where people had to ditch their hiking sticks and climb up the mountain on their hands and knees. The Cerro Chirripó sign and the Costa Rican flag welcomed us at the top, and I was just in complete awe as I watched the sunrise paint breath-taking colors across the canvas of the sky.

 

 

 

We came, we conquered.

With the sun coming up, I couldn’t help admiring the landscape, which was previously hidden in the darkness, surrounding us from all sides. We made our way back down the same day, and it was shocking to see how we even made it up some of these rocky trails that were all uphill at some points. Don’t underestimate the descent down because although it takes a lot less time, the muddy trails are slippery so we took some falls here and there. Afterwards, I literally could not walk properly for two days, but the view from 3,820 meters up was undoubtedly worth it, and I will never forget this incredible experience.

As always, thank you for reading and see you on the next post!

Pura Vida my friends,
Rebecca Yang


Rebecca Yang is currently a third-year undergraduate student studying Chemistry and Spanish, with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, but after spending three years in Kansas City, she is proud to call this place home. She is studying abroad for one month over the summer with ISA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Dunkeld, Scotland

I find it peculiar how life resumes to its original ways, despite traveling abroad for a month. It is hard to fathom, that over two weeks ago I was in another country. Despite missing the little things—my comfortable bed, water pressure in the shower, the use of ice cubes—I find myself endlessly daydreaming about Scotland. Even filling the void by watching the Starz television series Outlander. 

It has been a rigorous four weeks. I had written over twenty pages in essays and had given two eight-minute speeches. The time restraints pushed me to strive for excellence. My experience studying abroad was an opportunity of a lifetime. Although I was abroad for academics, I learned so much more than just reading out of a textbook.

For the first time ever, I was fully independent and only reliant on myself. It was so fulfilling to see that I am able to accomplish these demands alone. For instance, before I embarked on this trip I had never flown internationally by myself. After the multiple sermons by my parents about safety and the endless horror stories, I admit that I was slightly terrified. Ironically, I could have not asked for a better travel experience. I was fully capable of arriving and departing to multiple airports, and cannot contain my excitement for the next time. In addition to my independent travels, I also lived sufficiently with my flatmates.

Group photo on top of Arthur’s Seat.

Study abroad is a unique experience. Due to the time constraints in a foreign country, a bond is quickly formed within the group. Living under an unusual academic situation makes others vulnerable, but allows an individual to form a strong relationship. Over the four weeks, I had the honor of meeting so many unique individuals with various ranges of ideas and beliefs. Each of them were incredible in their own way, and I am so lucky that I had the opportunity to make relationships with these individuals. I am hopeful that these bonds are not only tied to Scotland, but will transcend to the States.

Haggis Adventure Bus

 

It was a “wild and sexy” ride, and I would not trade it for the world. Though, the next time I travel to Scotland I intend on visiting the highlands, since our journey was mostly directed to the lowlands. Not to mention, that Outlander is about the highlands. Ha ha!

Studying abroad has only fed my appetite to travel.

 


Kayli Warner is a senior honors student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Theatre and specializing in Costume Design. She is spending the 2017 summer term abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland. Kayli is a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Society.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

ROMA

ITALIAAAAA
La bandiera italiana

Il Colosseo / the Colosseum
La via para il Colosseo / The street to the Colosseum

Después de que el programa había terminado, me fui para Italia; yo volé de Madrid a Roma, la capital de Italia. Roma es una ciudad muy antigua y muy histórica. Había muchas vistas, mucha historia y mucha cultura para ver; vi tres vistas muy famosas – primer el Colosseo, después la fuente de Trevi, después Las escaleras españolas. Que bonito era todo por Roma, era como Nueva York pero con más historia. Italiano es bastante como Español que pude comprenderlo un poco, pero es bastante diferente que no pude comprenderlo muchas veces (jejeje). Yo pasé dos días allí, pero es tan gigante que no tuve el tiempo para explorar todo. Estudié la lengua latina en la escuela secundaria y me emocionaba mucho visitar esta ciudad de que había oído tanto por los años. Hacía mucho calor allí. La plaza de España era muy bella y había una bandera gigante allí, otra cosa que me alegraba ver. Mis dos amores europeos en un lugar. 🙂

IL COLOSSEO La fontana di Trevi

After the program had finished, I left for Italy; I flew from Madrid to Rome, the capital of Italy. Rome is a very old and very historic city. There were many sights, a lot of history and a lot of culture to see; I saw three famous sights – first the Colosseum, then the Trevi fountain, then the Spanish steps. How beautiful was everything, it was like New York but with more history. Italian is enough like Spanish that I managed to understand a little, but it’s different enough that I do not manage many times (LOL). I spent two days there, pero it’s so huge that I did not have time to explore everything. I studied Latin in high school and it was exciting me to visit this city that I had heard so much about over the years. It was really hot there. The plaza of Spain was very beautiful and there was a huge Spanish flag there, another thing that I was excited to see. My two European loves in one place. 🙂

Le Scale Spagnole / The Spanish steps
La fontana di Trevi / the Trevi fountain

 

Os veré luego, amigos. Hasta pronto. N8
I will see y’all later, friends. Until soon. Natagnél


Natagnél Frisella is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Spanish Language & Literature. Natagnél is traveling through Spain this summer 2017, concluding with the UMKC Spanish Program based at the University of Granada in Southern Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

The Next Hottest Destination

Ya que mi estudio en el extranjero es un programa intensivo de cinco semanas, los estudiantes están tomando hasta 28-30 horas de clases cada semana en la Universidad Veritas. Combinado con una gran cantidad de tarea y proyectos cada noche, hay poco tiempo libre durante todo los días de la semana – por eso, TGIF resuena fuertemente con todos cuando llega el fin de semana.

Nuestro primer viaje con el grupo de ISA estaba en el Volcán Arenal, un viaje de cuatro horas en coche hacia el norte a través del campo, que era un respiro de aire fresco desde el bullicio del centro de San José. Nos quedamos en el hotel Los Lagos, donde podíamos ver el Volcán Arenal fuera de nuestra habitación cada mañana. Durante la noche del viernes, exploramos las exposiciones de vida silvestre del hotel que incluía un jardín de mariposas, granja de hormigas, establos de caballos y un estanque de cocodrilo. También, el hotel tenía aguas termales naturales que nos hicieron sudar en unos pocos minutos, pero mi cuerpo nunca se ha sentido más rejuvenecido después.

Me registró para una excursión de tirolina y montar a caballo por sábado en la mañana, así que el transporte nos recogió en el hotel al sitio de tirolina. Según nuestro conductor, una de sus líneas de cable fue la segunda más larga en el país con 0.65 millas de adrenalina. Volando a través de la selva con el Volcán Arenal en el fondo y Catarata La Fortuna debajo de nosotros fue una experiencia extraordinaria. En algunos puntos, viajaba tan rápido que no podía abrir mis ojos, mientras que en otros cables, casi no llegaba al otro lado (a lo que los instructores de tirolina bromearon y diciendo que necesitaba comer más arroz y frijoles).

Después de doce líneas de cable, tuvimos la oportunidad de visitar la Reserva Indígena Maleku, que está representada por una comunidad indígena pequeñita. Aprendimos sobre su dialecto nativo, la ropa hecha a mano, sus creencias y costumbres culturales, y cómo su obra de arte y artesanía intrincada contribuyen a sus ingresos principales. Terminamos nuestro viaje montando en caballos que fue un desafío a veces. Cuando un caballo comenzaba un trote rápido, otros lo seguían en una carrera loca – necesitabas tener cuidado de evitar las piernas apretadas por los caballos que pasaban mientras agarrabas por la vida.

Por la tarde, nuestro grupo de ISA visitó una granja sostenible, donde proporcionaron generosamente un almuerzo saludable hecho de sus propias cosechas. También, hubo una demostración degustación de caña de azúcar, donde algunos estudiantes giraron a mano una máquina para extraer el jugo del tallo de la caña de azúcar. Gracias a esta experiencia, gané un aprecio más profundo por los beneficios ambientales y de salud de la agricultura orgánica y sostenible.

Como siempre, muchas gracias por leer y nos vemos!

Pura Vida mis amigos,
Rebecca Yang

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Since my study abroad is a five-week intensive program, students are taking up to 28-30 hours of classes each week at Universidad Veritas. Combined with a heavy workload of school assignments and projects every night, there is little free time left throughout the week days – which is why TGIF resonates strongly with everyone once the weekend rolls around.

Arenal Volcano

Our first group trip with ISA took us to Arenal Volcano, a four-hour drive up north through the countryside, which was such a breath of fresh air from the hustle and bustle of downtown San Jose. We stayed at Hotel Los Lagos, where we could step outside our room and catch a view of the Arenal Volcano every morning. We had Friday night to explore the hotel’s many wildlife exhibitions that included a butterfly garden, ant farm, horse stables, and even a crocodile pond. The hotel also had natural hot springs that worked up quite a sweat in a matter of a few minutes, but my body has never felt more rejuvenated afterwards.

Natural hot springs

 

I had signed up for a canopying and horse-back riding tour for Saturday morning, so transportation picked us up from the hotel to the zip-line site. According to our driver, one of their cable lines was the second longest in the country, coming out to 0.65 miles worth of an adrenaline rush. Flying through the jungle with Arenal Volcano in the background and La Fortuna Waterfall right below us was a surreal experience. At some points, I was traveling so fast that I could barely keep my eyes open, while at other cables, I almost did not make it to the other side (to which the zip-line instructors joked that I needed to eat more rice and beans).

Zip-lining over La Fortuna Waterfall

Twelve cable lines later, we had the opportunity to visit the Maleku Village, which is comprised of a very small indigenous community. We were able to learn about their native dialect, hand-made clothing, cultural beliefs and customs, and how their intricate art work and craftsmanship makes up a main source of their income. We ended our tour by riding on horses on the way back, which proved to be quite a challenge at times. When one horse would start a quick trot, others would follow in a mad rush – you had to watch out from getting your legs crushed by passing horses as you held on for dear life.

Organic always tastes better!
Raw sugar cane demo

Later that afternoon, our ISA group visited a sustainable farm, where they generously provided a hearty lunch made from their own homegrown crops. They also had a sugar cane demonstration and tasting, where some of the students hand-cranked a machine to extract the juice from the sugar cane. Through this experience, I gained a more profound appreciation for the environmental and health benefits achieved through sustainable and organic agriculture.

As always, thank you for reading and see you on the next post!

Pura Vida my friends,
Rebecca Yang


Rebecca Yang is currently a third-year undergraduate student studying Chemistry and Spanish, with an emphasis in Pre-Medicine, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, but after spending three years in Kansas City, she is proud to call this place home. She is studying abroad for one month over the summer with ISA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

 

Wait… It is over???

I am now on my way back to the United States from Scotland and I am happy to be heading home, but so sad to be leaving Scotland behind.

At the beginning of the trip I was very homesick and could not wait for this trip to be over and by the second week I never wanted it to end. Soooo, why should you study abroad? Because it is the single best thing you can do to make yourself grow as a person. It is the best thing you can do to truly learn about a topic. It is simply the best thing you can do. So do it. I mean it. I worked many hours of overtime and spent many sleepless nights working to save up for this trip. I applied for every scholarship possible and it was one of the most tedious processes, but everything I did for this trip was worth it. It was worth it when I first landed in London and saw the British flag. It was worth it when I was gazing up at the Eiffel tower taking in its beauty. It was worth it when I was walking through Edinburgh’s castle.

Edinburgh Castle

It was worth it when I smelled and touched the ocean for the first time in my life. It was worth it when I found new friends in the park. It was worth it through the sleepless homework filled nights. It was worth it gazing at the Highland mountains in Scotland. It was worth it. I would do it all over again tomorrow. I was so homesick in the beginning and now I never want to leave Scotland. A piece of my heart will always be here. There is a maturation that comes with traveling abroad and stepping out of your comfort zone so far you want to be sick. When you decide to step out of that zone you discover the greatest joy and some of the best memories. Do not let fear hold you back because if I had let it hold me back I would have missed the greatest experience of my entire life.  I left my small town and everything I have ever known and experienced the world for all it had to offer. I met new people. I tried new things. I laughed….. A LOT. I guess what I want to say to all of you is please study abroad. Please meet new people. Please try new things. Please try this. It will be one of the best things you have ever done. Good luck everyone. Adventure finally found me, I hope it finds you.


Kylie Wilson is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Nursing. She is spending the summer term abroad with the UMKC Honors Program in Scotland. Kylie is from small town Helena, Missouri and hopes to be a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit nurse in the future. She has a pet cow named Betsy whom she loves dearly.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Dancing With the Scots!

I can attest to falling in love with your dance partner, but I never expected the same effect to apply to an entire city.

Falling for Edinburgh began the first day I had the opportunity to explore the city. Full from our traditional Scottish breakfast, (haggis and all!) Victoria and I decided to walk around town. We passed by a vintage shop, and our brief moment of window shopping ended. A stunning sundress stopped me in my tracks, but the event flyer posted on her door lured me in.  The store owner was hosting a small 50’s themed fashion show, followed by jitter-bug swing lesson… and she had two tickets left!

There was one small problem.  The night of the Carnival Jive was the same night of our study abroad welcome dinner. Victoria and I were so torn.  We did not want to miss the first change to bond with the people we would be spending the next month with. On the same note, this was an amazing opportunity to connect with locals while doing two things I was passionate about.  We took the day to consider our options… and make sure skipping dinner was even a possibility.  After a tiny bit of convincing, our wonderful professor set us free for the night!

But first, a search for the perfect outfit.

As we stepped into the small boutique, we were immediately transported into a 50’s cocktail party.  Victoria and I quickly realized we were not dressed for the occasion.  A 20% discount for every item in the store provided the perfect excuse to… um… invest! After some time of working my way around decades of fashion, I found the perfect skirt to complement the evening.

After the host ensured all the guests of age had a 50’s themed cocktail in hand, the night’s festivities kicked off!  A series of evening gowns and sundresses were strutted down a make-shift runway. Twirls and spins were met with oohs and awes.

 

The rest of our evening was met with challenging dance moves and a lot of laughter. Being that women were the main attendees, Victoria and I became dance partners for most of the night.

I was given a run for my money after a chance to dance with one of the instructors for a few songs.  When he asked where I had learned to dance, I was proud to tell him Kansas City had taught me everything I know about swing.

Just before parting ways, the instructors invited me to their summer Thursday night swing lessons.  I gladly accepted the invitation, knowing this could be my cure for a future case of homesick blues.

I have been known to coin ‘dancing’ as my love language, so I’d be wrong to say I was surprised, but the Thursday night after dance lessons sealed my love Edinburgh.  None of my classmates had been interested, so I set off to dance on my own.  My small time of solitude was very welcomed after an overwhelming week in the city.  After hours of lessons in a small neighborhood church, I started my walk home. I think I smiled to myself the entire way. The ‘movie moment’ I had been waiting for the entire time I had been away suddenly washed over me.  I felt like Frances Mayes from “Under the Tuscan Sun” or Julia Roberts in “Eat Pray Love”. It hit me that I was living in another country… and thriving!  It was 10pm, but the sky was still a lively blue, the weather was perfect, and I was walking through the most beautiful neighborhood.  I loved this city and its warm people.  I couldn’t think of any place I would rather be.


Serena Baker is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Serena is spending the summer abroad with UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland. Taking full advantage of her trip abroad, Serena will make a stop-over in Iceland and visit Germany after the program to improve her language proficiency.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go

The furthest point North on Scotland’s mainland.

A notable marker that indicates a transition from adolescence to adulthood is the realization that one’s taste has evolved.  This is not a reference to an individual’s taste buds and how they change every seven years, but rather refining our interest. When I was a little girl, I had always dreamt about living in the city, specifically New York City. The towering buildings, the city lights, and the hustle and bustle of the natives seemed glamorous. Not to mention, that I thought I was going to grow up to be a mega pop star.

As years past, I began to slowly drift away from my belief that I wanted to live in the city. I guess that with all the nature shows I watched with my father, they were finally beginning to rub off on me. Despite traveling to beautiful states, such as Colorado, I was only a child and was preoccupied with marrying my stuffed animals.

My journey to the Highlands only reasserted my ideals of eventually living in the wilderness. I admired the city atmosphere in Edinburgh and loved the relative closeness of shops, but the Highlands transported me to another realm. I was in touch with the beauties of nature, and was able to appreciate such captivating sites.

The image above is by far one of my favorite photographs from studying abroad. It was taken along the west coast of Scotland as we were driving to the city of Glasgow. There were many areas for cars to pull over and admire the scenery. The bus decided to pull over at this stop, and it was stunning. To the west, storm clouds were moving in. In opposition, rays of sunlight shined through the clouds and illuminated the side of the mountains. Despite the rain, a rainbow flashed over the valleys.

The wilderness held up to a mysterious mystique. It is so mesmerizing to see the forces of nature and to admire its wonder. As I was left awestruck, I could not help but smile at my original idea of moving to the city.


Kayli Warner is a senior honors student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Theatre and specializing in Costume Design. She is spending the 2017 summer term abroad with the faculty-led UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland. Kayli is a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Society.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Goodbye Spain!

Currently, I’m sitting in a very uncomfortable chair in the Madrid Airport waiting for my plane to arrive. I’m going home ya’ll! As amazing as this trip to Spain was, I am so ready to be home and eat chipotle in air conditioning. I feel like living in a different country should have been tougher than it was, but I think I had such a good support group in both my host family and friends that I never really got too homesick. And thanks to Facetime I could talk to my boyfriend whenever I wanted! As far as my Spanish goes, I would say that I definitely understand better and I can get by in conversations with a few key phrases. Personally, I think I learned more at my host family’s house and walking around Granada than I did at school. In class everything is structured and organized, but when you’re having dinner with your family there is no outline or slideshow. You jump around and make jokes. The dinner table was where my Spanish was tested the most.

I finished off my month and a half stay with a trip to Valencia with some friends. We took the overnight bus on the last day of classes and stayed for the past 4 days. There, we visited 2 vineyards, went to the beach, and walked around downtown. It was a perfect way to end the summer!

I would 100% recommend that everyone study abroad in college. Is there any other time in your future that you think you could live in a foreign country for a semester long? Eventually, we’re all going to get “real” jobs and only be able to travel for a week or 2 at a time. So pick up a few extra shifts, cut back on the Starbucks, make it work, and take the leap. No one ever regrets the adventures they take. I sure don’t.


Megan Schwindler is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying English Literature and Spanish. Megan is spending the summer abroad with the UMKC Spanish Program in Granada, Spain.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

The End of a Journey

My best friend and I on the plane, right before we left for the United States.

Getting on the plane yesterday morning was a surreal experience. I was ready to leave but at the same time, I wasn’t. I had spent an entire month studying abroad in Scotland, exploring, learning, and having the time of my life. I didn’t want it to end, but I also wanted to go home and see my family. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world and I am so glad I got this opportunity.

Taking my Anchor and Discourse 300 class abroad in Scotland was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I got to complete six credit hours while doing so in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. My classes were focused on Scottish history and literature and so I was able to experience everything that was talked about in the classroom. I felt like I learned more when I was lectured in class and then

The Brig o’ Doon!

immediately following I would go visit a museum or a place that directly related to that topic. For example, when visiting Robert Burns’ house, I felt like I got a sense of Burns and his work. In class, we talked about one of his poems, Tam o’ Shanter, which ended with Tam riding over the Brig o’ Doon. The next day, my class took a trip to Burns’ house and museum and I got to see the Brig o’ Doon (it’s a bridge) firsthand. I could imagine Tam riding over the bridge on his steady horse, Maggie, narrowly escaping death as the witches chased Tam. Tam made it over the bridge just in time, but the witches manage to take Maggie’s tail clear off her rump. Also, Burns is the national poet of Scotland and by going to his museum, I could see how important he is to the people of Scotland. The sense of admiration from Scotland was lost on me as an outsider, but once at Burns’ museums, I could feel their sense of pride, something I wouldn’t have gotten had I taken this class back home.

In addition, I successfully navigated my way around Scotland with the help of friends and the Edinburgh Castle. I did manage to get lost a few times, but I was always with a friend so we were able to find our way back. But getting lost wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Instead, it became an adventure and I got to see a different part of town than what I normally saw every day. I used an old fashion map to figure out where I was and where I needed to be. I read street signs (which were not always clearly visible) to navigate my way around and didn’t use google maps once! Although that wasn’t really a decision on my part, more like the lack of internet access I had. It was actually fun getting lost and then trying to figure out how to get back. It added to the experience.

I had to take a picture with a Highland Cow because they’re pretty cute. But he was more interested in eating grass and wouldn’t pose for the picture.

This trip was also filled with a lot of firsts.  I can’t nearly name them all, but I’ll try to name a few. I flew overseas for the first time and traveled to Europe. I saw a Highland cow which is a cow that can only be found in the Highlands, which is the Northern part of Scotland. I took a ferry across the ocean that carried our bus! At one point, I was on a bus while on a ferry. I stayed in hostels with six girls to a room. I climbed up a mountain that once used to be a volcano. I saw multiple Abbeys that were in ruins yet were still so beautiful. It was my first time ever seeing a castle and getting to go inside one. And lastly, I took a train underwater when I visited Paris, France for a few days.

I was currently sitting on the bus while also on the ferry. I’m still shocked we didn’t sink.
On top of the world! Just kidding, more like a mountain that was once a live volcano.

From this trip, I learned how to travel outside my comfort zone and do the things that scared me. For one of my class assignments, I had to interview Scottish citizens on the streets of Edinburgh. I am not an outgoing person, so this assignment terrified me. However, the people in Scotland are some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. They were friendly and inviting when I asked them my questions and they also asked me questions in return about the U.S. There were two people that I talked to for an hour and a half! We talked back and forth like we didn’t just meet each other a few minutes ago. At points in the conversation, we would sometimes stop and say “what is it that you call it?” For instance, I was talking about an elevator and then stopped and said: “er, I guess you guys call it a lift here.” We both found it humorous and did this multiple times. I also found a flapjack in Scotland is a granola bar and food to go is called take away. It was interesting to learn that we had different names for the same thing. At the end of our conversation, they expressed how they were glad I had stopped and talked to them as they really enjoyed our conversation. I did too. It is one of my fondest memories from my time abroad. I took a step outside my comfort zone and got an experience I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

There isn’t nearly enough room on this page or time in the day to tell you about everything I experienced in my time abroad. However, I will conclude with this: if you ever have the opportunity to study abroad, take it. You will learn more than you think and get to experience a different way of life that is similar yet very different from your own. Don’t let money, nerves, or fear keep you from following your dreams. You can overcome these obstacles and on the other side is a world full of wonder and the best experience of your life.

Thank you for following my journey with me through Scotland and I hope you get the opportunity to travel abroad one day!

Sincerely,

Nicole (official world traveler)


Nicole Wilhelm is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Nursing. Nicole is spending the month of July in many different cities in Scotland with the UMKC Honors College Program in Scotland. Nicole is involved in UMKC’s Campus Ambassadors, Swim and Dive Club, BHS Society, and Student Nursing Association.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.