Trip to the Coastline South of Sydney

On June 23rd, my mom came and visited me and we visited the coastline south of Sydney towards Wollongong. We drove there with family friends who live in Sydney and were thus able to experience many beautiful sites along the way. I’ll explain my magnificent coastal journey through some nice pictures I took from the trip.

A view of the southern coastline. It’s not visible in the picture, but at this lookout at Bald Hill Headland Reserve, you can see the city of Wollongong in the distance.
Austinmer Beach, a beautiful beach near Wollongong.
A nice park area in Kiama, a town along the southern coast.
Another scenic view from a park in Kiama.
The Kiama Blowhole, the town’s famous natural landmark where, under certain sea conditions, water will shoot up high in the air from the hole shown in this picture.

Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

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.

Trip to the Capitol

On June 14, I took a magnificent 1 ½ day trip to Australia’s capitol, Canberra. Getting there was simple, I took a train from Newcastle to Sydney and then another train from Sydney to Canberra. I had to start the trip at night to make it to Canberra early so I could make the most of my time there. I boarded the train to Sydney at almost two in the night and off I went to Sydney. After reaching Sydney Central station, I lounged around in the beautiful grand concourse section of the station. The station is very old and historic. After taking in the surroundings for about an hour, I boarded the train for Canberra. Unlike the train from Newcastle to Sydney, which is paid for with the Opal public transportation card, the Canberra train must be pre-booked online. The train journey to Canberra was one of the most beautiful train journeys I had ever taken in my life. I passed through various sheep grazing fields, mountains and hills, and cozy small towns along the way. I was even able to see a few wallabies! The journey was overall very picturesque to say the least!

Me in Sydney Central Station
Train from Sydney to Canberra
View from Canberra train

After reaching Canberra station, I walked to a nearby convenience store and purchased the local public transportation card. Canberra is in its own state, the Australian Capitol Territory. The state is situated within New South Wales. Because of this I had to purchase a new public transportation card, as Opal cards won’t work in Canberra. Once I got that situated, I walked to my hotel. Canberra isn’t a very big city, so it can easily be traversed by foot.

Reached Canberra!

After getting refreshed, I headed out to the Parliament building for a tour. The Australian Parliament building gives out public tours which is a wonderful way to check out the building and learn about the central government. The tour was very informative, and I learned a lot of interesting things about the Australian government and the building itself. I learned, for example, that the Australian government has a senate and house of representatives and that the parliament building was designed by an Italian-American architect. The parliament building is itself quite an architectural masterpiece.

Parliament of Australia!
House of Representatives chamber
Senate chamber
Another view of Parliament

Afterwards, I traveled down and toured the Old Parliament Building which is situated right across from the current Parliament building. The Old Parliament Building is the original parliament building that was the seat of government during the early to mid-20th century. This building has a more traditional colonial architecture and both chambers of the bicameral legislature are built to resemble the British house of lords and house of commons.

Old Parliament Building
Prime Minister’s room in Old Parliament Building

By the time I got done touring, it was five in the evening and all the other landmarks were closed so I walked down to the National Library of Australia and chilled in there while checking out their historical literature collections.

National Library of Australia

The next day, I woke up and went to the Royal Australian Mint where they manufacture the country’s coins. There I also took a tour and learned about the history of currency in Australia. An interesting fact I learned is that during Australia’s early colonial period, coins were used from all over the world as the colony had a shortage of coinage, so the colonists used anything they could get of value from Spanish coins to raw gold ingots. The mint also produces medals and currencies for other countries around the world.

At the Royal Australian Mint!
Coin manufacturing area

After seeing the mint, I traveled to the National Museum of Australia. Like the Parliament building, this museum is also an architectural wonder. I toured the museums various exhibits, all of which display a comprehensive history of Australia and its peoples. The museum is a great place to learn Australian history and culture through various artifacts and exhibits.

Entrance to National Museum of Australia
Cannon from Captain Cook’s ship, the Endeavour

The last landmark I saw on my Canberra trip was the Australian War Memorial. The Australian War Memorial is a breathtaking site. The landmark hosts a museum dedicated to Anzac history and service as well as a memorial to the Anzac forces who served in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping missions. The most striking part of the memorial was a wall with the names of those who died in service. Seeing the wall was a humbling experience as I learned about how Anzacs played pivotal and heroic roles in major conflicts throughout recent history from World War 1 to Iraq.

Australian War Memorial
Inside the dome of the Memorial

Canberra is a beautiful city and I enjoyed my time there. I wasn’t able to see all I wanted to see due to time constraints, but I was satisfied with what I was able to experience. The city has many museums, galleries, and monuments. They provide a great opportunity for learning about all things Australia. If you ever visit Australia, make sure Canberra is on your itinerary!

Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

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.

Trip to Melbourne

After the Canberra trip, I took another 1 ½ day trip to Melbourne. On my first day, I took a hop-on hop-off bus tour. Like the one I took in Sydney, this provides a great way to tour the city as the tour takes you to all the city’s major landmarks and also provides narration throughout the tour giving you great insights into the city you’re touring. Here I’ll explain my trip through the pictures I took throughout my tour and from on foot.

Federation Square. The structure on the left is an art gallery. The structure on the right with the “i” sign is the Melbourne Visitor Centre.
Flinders Street Railway Station. This is one of Melbourne’s biggest transportation hubs.
St. Paul’s Cathedral. Located across from Federation Square.
The Immigration Museum. This museum explores the history of immigration in Australia.
Eureka Tower. This is Melbourne’s tallest building. It also has a skydeck where you can view the city from the top floors.
Some interesting architecture!
An Olympics training facility I spotted on the bus tour!
St. Patrick’s Cathedral. A very cool looking cathedral with Gothic Revival architecture built in the late 1800s.
Melbourne Cricket Grounds. This is one of Australia’s largest and most premier sports and entertainment centers.
The Arts Centre Melbourne with its iconic spire.
Luna Park near St. Kilda, a nice beach and port area near Melbourne.
The Spirit of Tasmania. This ship takes passengers and cargo all the way to Tasmania from Melbourne.
View of Downtown Melbourne from the tour bus
Entrance to Melbourne Chinatown
Delicious pan-fried dumplings I had in Chinatown!
Cook’s Cottage. This house was built by Captain Cook’s parents and was brought to Australia all the way from England in 1934. It is located in Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne.
The gun and cartridge bag used by Ned Kelly, one of Australia’s most famous “bushranger” or outlaw from the 19th century. This is located in the Victoria Police Museum.
This is the City Circle Tram. A free tram that runs throughout Downtown Melbourne. It is one of many trams in Melbourne, which has the largest tram network in the world.
The Shrine of Remembrance. This monument honors all the Australian men and women who died in service throughout the various wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping missions of the 20th to 21st centuries.

These pictures are just a few of the many I took in Melbourne. Melbourne is packed with interesting places to visit and see. If you really want to experience all this city has to offer, I would recommend coming here for a few days or even a week.

Aman Kukal is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Economics. Aman is spending the spring semester in Newcastle, Australia with the ISA Newcastle, Australia: Courses with Locals program.

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.

Las Cataratas del Iguazú

My final excursion in Argentina was an absolutely incredible way to end my program. Last Thursday I took a bus from Buenos Aires to the northern tip of Argentina, a place called Iguazú. The national park there is enormous and overlaps the borders of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. I even got to see the place where the three borders intersect! The day I arrived, my group was taken into the jungle to visit a tribe of indigenous people called the Guaraní. When I learned about this part of the excursion, I felt a little uncomfortable about going into the jungle to look at the way a tribe of people lives differently than I do. I learned that they used to be semi-nomadic but now they live off tourism and selling their artisan crafts because they can’t travel and hunt anymore due to the development of urban society. While this made me sad, I decided I would rather support them in the only way that I could, so I went and learned a bit about their culture and bought some of their handmade crafts. The guide talked to us about their history and showed us the wooden traps they used to use to catch animals for food. He also told us about their system of government. They normally elect a new leader every 3-4 years, but the current leader has been in place for 27 years now and is responsible for providing the people with running water, electricity, elementary and high school, and most importantly, the title for the land in which they live. I do appreciate learning about other cultures that are different from mine which is why I travel. However, I still feel conflicted about visiting a tribe of people as a tourist. We didn’t go to where they actually live but watching the people that were there and being told to take pictures with them felt like I was visiting a zoo, which made me uncomfortable. These are people just like me, even if they do live differently.

On the other hand, the national park was amazing. Though I was only able to visit a small part of it, what I did see was incredible. There were huge waterfalls that spanned multiple kilometers and mist that made rainbows at almost every angle. In addition to the amazing scenery, there was an array of species of wildlife throughout the park. I couldn’t begin to count the number of butterflies that circled my group every step of the way. That was really cool because they were not afraid to land on our heads, hands, or shoulders. There were a couple of gorgeous blue and purple butterflies that stayed on my hand for about 20 minutes while I walked from the first set of falls to the river, where I rafted down to the next point. I also saw a toucan, a family of monkeys, and a ton of raccoon-like animals called coatis. Coatis aren’t afraid of humans at all, unlike toucans. They came right up to my group looking for food. They were pretty cute, but we weren’t allowed to feed or pet them because they can be dangerous sometimes. We saw multiple falls from multiple angles, each with their own breathtaking view. I’m really starting to realize that seeing things like that with my own eyes is absolutely worth traveling to the other side of the world.

Michael Panelas is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Spanish and Jazz music. Michael will spend the spring semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the ISA Spanish Intensive Program.

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.

Run, Run, as Fast as You Can

Picture it: A 180-year-old church; the palace of Frederick the Great; the cutesy charm of local European markets. And it almost didn’t happen – well, at least for me.

Do you know which city I’m talking about? If you guessed Potsdam, Germany, you probably paid too much attention in history class. But hey, you’d also be correct!

Universität Leipzig has a group for international students called WILMA, which stands for “Willkommens Initiative für in Leipzig Mitstudierende AusländerInnen.” I know that’s a lot, so please don’t hit the escape button.

Every so often, WILMA will take weekend day-trips to the surrounding cities of Leipzig, giving students the opportunity to explore said cities for a couple hours. Students are given an unofficial tour of the city on foot, then are set free to scare the locals (may or may not happen each time).

This was my first trip with the group, and of course I was excited because I was finally getting the chance to see a little bit of Europe without it costing an arm and a leg. Plus, I knew it would be a great chance to meet/hang out with people I’ve come to know over the past couple months.

Okay. So. Wake up super early on a Saturday? Check (worst part). Arrive at the main train station to meet WILMA? Check. Board local train with WILMA to Potsdam? Check. Okay, everything seems to be going well.

The weather’s kinda bad. Wait. The weather is actually really bad – raining, cold, lots of wind. The only thing missing is..ope, no, I said it’s raining, we’re good.

Aside from the weather, everything is going..wait. The train has just stopped, and we’re waiting.

And waiting.


And…you get the picture. But why have we stopped? Turns out, we were waiting for another train to use the track we were on, but of course didn’t know when that train was coming. So, we wait for over an hour.

Not a problem. Our plans are now altered a little, but that’s okay. Train is movi…okay, NOW what?? The train stops again, but this time, the conductor comes barreling out of his cabin and heads straight for the bathroom.

Look, I get it; when you gotta go. No, THIS time, someone was SMOKING in the bathroom, which is a big no-no. Now I’m thinking we’ll never get to Potsdam. Little did I know..

So, with all these unexpected interruptions, naturally some rearranging has to happen. We’ve already missed the other train we were supposed to catch to Potsdam, so the only thing to do is wait for another one to come.

We end up having a “layover” in the city of Magdeburg, and we’re told that we will have an hour before our next train comes. Great! This will be a good opportunity to eat/restroom/explore.


One thing about trains: It doesn’t matter where you’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.

Just kidding, that’s a quote from “The Polar Express” film. But the thing about trains is, if you’re late, they don’t care. That statement almost became a reality for me. Almost.

So, I decide to go off with two people I had met earlier that day to see what we could get ourselves into. We pass some shops (*looks at phone for the time). We pass some historic-looking architecture (*okay, getting closer to having to leave). Oh, look the Elbe River! (*very-nervously thinking we need to get back to the station)

^Oh, look the Elbe River!

Our train leaves in seven minutes, and the bridge we are on taking pictures of the Elbe in the rain is definitely more than seven minutes away from the train station. Meanwhile, WILMA does not take a head count and will not politely ask the train conductor to wait.

The question now is not “if” we miss the train, but “when” we miss the train, WHAT WILL WE DO? We subconsciously agree that the only thing we CAN do is (insert my least-favorite three-letter-word here).

I kid you not, I am running so fast and so hard that I am having horrific flashbacks to middle school. It was like running the mile all over again, only this time, I had a backpack on and it was raining. Remember the awesome weather I mentioned above?

We are RUNNING through crowds of people, RUNNING through the busy train station, RUNNING up flights of stairs. My body has never felt more like jello than it does right now. At this point, I don’t even care if the train leaves, so long as I can catch my breath.

But by the grace of all that his holy, our train, for whatever reason, hasn’t left. We quickly get on board, and in all honesty, we don’t even know if it’s our train. All we know is that it’s better than nothing. (It was our train.)

We collect ourselves, catch our breath, and drink some water. The trip is still a go! And aside from that incident, the terrible weather, and the long delay, Potsdam proved to be enjoyable, not so much because of the sites (come back in the spring/summer when everything’s in bloom!), but because of the people I got to spend time with.

Check out some of the photos I took below when I wasn’t trying to cough up a lung!



A look inside the 180-year-old rebuilt St. Nikolaikirche
Looking out from St. Nikolaikirche
Sanssouci, the summer palace of Frederick the Great (also wishing it was summer in this picture)

Vince Woods received his Bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. He is currently a sophomore at UMKC, pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Education with the intention of teaching German. Vince is spending the semester abroad with the MAUI-Utrecht Exchange Program in Leipzig, Germany.

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.

One way to be a tourist

I’d like to take this moment to come out to the world as a proponent of bus tours.

Now, I’ve heard three main takes on how you’re supposed to explore a new city: There is the ultra-tourist, who is signed up for a guided tour of the entire city, with fast pass tickets and a fancy walky-talky headphone set-looking thing to keep in constant contact with the tour guide.

Then there’s the tired tourist, who follows all the big crowds of people and stands in every three-hour line he or she can find.

Finally, there’s the free spirit, who hoofs it around the city in a day and will tell you that they’ve connected with it on a personal level.

I’m not here to say that any of these is right or wrong; I’ve done a bit of each and enjoyed them all.

But I would like to say that if anyone tells you that bus tours are a waste of time, they might be doing the bus tour wrong.

Let me walk you through it. Step one, you find a bus stop with a bunch of brightly colored double decker vehicles zooming in and out, with a couple people passing out pamphlets and selling tickets.

You buy your little ticket, hop on the bus, and either pick up a set of headphones to listen to the recording, or go to the upper deck to listen to the live speaker.

Now, your tour guide is almost always going to be a sassy middle-aged man who has very loose respect for the things he’s not actually supposed to mention on the tour, so you’re going to learn a lot of interesting tidbits about the city that you’d have to comb the internet to find.

For the most part, the tour will be two to three hours, if not less. By the end, you’ll have seen most of the main tourist attractions, heard some interesting stories, and gotten a look at where all the good shopping is.

Now, depending on which kind of ticket you’ve bought, you can either hop off the bus and explore each place before catching your next ride, or you can go back to your lodging and map out a plan for which places you’d like to see in more detail, and which ones were not as interesting as you had hoped.

Bus tours may not be for everyone, but so far they have served as a nice introduction to a new city for me, and I recommend that any new traveler give it a chance.

Bridget McSorley is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in Business Administration and Languages and Literature. Bridget spent the academic year abroad with the University of Lyon 2 exchange program in France.

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 See!

Traveling the West Coast

One of the best things about living in South Korea, is that you can see a lot of the country without having to travel very far or for very long. Size wise, the entire country of South Korea is about as big as Indiana. This makes it extremely easy to accommodate going to a popular place even if its only a day trip. One of the pleasures that I have experienced was taking a chance on a random Facebook group that organizes group travel for foreigners living in South Korea. Normally, I would never trust my life to people that I don’t know, however; Korea’s crime rate is extremely low and having already lived in the country for a few weeks, I felt it was okay to give it a shot. This particular group was ran by someone who gets paid by the government to show foreigners different aspects of Korean culture. The itinerary of the trip constituted of traveling to mostly smaller towns on the West Coast.

The first thing that struck me when traveling outside of Seoul, was the complete lack of foreigners. I mean literally, I was the only European with blue eyes for miles around, and the locals are not afraid to stare at you until it becomes infinitely uncomfortable. Some people were even taking my picture, they didn’t ask me of course, but it becomes pretty obvious when you have about 10 phones pointed in your direction. Honestly, I knew they were just curious so I didn’t let it bother me too much, but that was before they shuffled our group out to make kimchi in front of an audience. Yes, that is right, they made our group into a weird performing foreigners act, where we stood in front of a mostly older Korean audience and they dressed us up and made us make kimchi. Now, if you don’t know what kimchi is, its pretty simple; its a traditional side dish of cabbage fermented in different seasonings, you will find this at almost every single restaurant served on the side of your food for free. Making kimchi is a pretty important aspect of Korean culture and most older women take this task very seriously, so it only makes sense that they would find it hilarious to have foreigners trying to make a traditional dish while they watched.

After we had humorously fumbled through trying to make kimchi appropriately, the organizers rushed us on to a stage and turned on music where they then insisted that we dance. So now I’m dancing, after having just made kimchi. Normally, the entire experience would have been humiliating, but it was a lot of fun and the locals were so nice and excited to see us. The whole thing turned out to be okay because at the end of it, they gave us free food and took us down to see the ocean. By far, this was one of the weirdest experiences that I’ve had in my entire life, but it is now one of the fondest memories that I could not have gotten elsewhere.

Emily Noe is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying History. Emily is spending the semester abroad with Dongguk University in Seoul, South Korea. Emily is working towards achieving her Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate in history.

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.

Go Solo

I’ve just completed five weeks of traveling on my own. Navigating transportation, staying in hostels, and, of course, seeing the sites. It was a crazy adventure and I’m telling you to do it; but not because it was all fun and laughter. Sure, there was some, but I grew the most from the moments I felt the worst.

I traveled from Glasgow to Alnwick, Durham, Stratford-Upon-Avon, London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki, and Oslo. I saw so many wonderful things and had some incredible experiences, but it was also a lot harder than I thought it would be. I am a bit of a loner usually, I don’t mind being on my own. The first thing I learned about myself was sometimes, I need someone else to make a few decisions for me. I got extremely tired of deciding where I would eat in the evenings. But now I’m a lot closer to knowing where the line is for me between being alone and having a companion.

The second thing I learned is that I really need a routine. Waking up every day and having to plan what I would do, where I would eat, etc etc etc, was fun the first two weeks but got super exhausting.

Feeling depressed and tired but still being able to go see all the things I wanted to was a really big win for me. I learned a lot in my time on my own and I’m grateful that I had the experience; though I don’t think I will do another five week solo trip.

My hostel in Stockholm, when I was really starting to feel it, had a sign in the bathroom with the quote:

“An easy life doesn’t teach us anything. In the end it’s the learning that matters; what we have learned and how we have grown.” ~Richard Bach “One”

Claire Davis graduated from University of Missouri-Kansas City studied Liberal Arts with minors in Theatre and Environmental Sustainability. Claire spent Summer 2017 finishing her degree with the UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland.

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


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.

When it’s over.

I had a life changing experience while abroad.  It was fun, stressful, exciting, exhausting, and everything in between.  Once I was finished with my 6 week program at Charles University two of my closest and oldest friends met up with me.  I took my first night train!

Sleeper cars are really cramped…

We spent three weeks traveling through Southeastern Europe and ended up in Italy.

Life at home isn’t this exciting.

The last few days of my three week adventure I spent alone in Rome and in Naples.  I definitely recommend solo travel.  I was able to go see the sights at my own pace and I was forced to speak up in situations where I’d usually let my travel buddies step in.

I found the Trevi Fountain all by myself!

Even though I went through bouts of homesickness while abroad, I’m sad to be home.  I wasn’t prepared to feel like this, but I hear it’s normal.  To fight by coming home blues I am keeping myself busy by meeting with all of the friends who missed me while I was gone.  Every so often I look at pictures from my trip and dream of returning to Italy and Croatia.  Aside from the sadness I feel a new sense of who I am and what I want out of life.  Something I want is more travel!  Next on my list is Japan 2018!  Thank you UMKC for letting me have this experience!

Lauren Higgins is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Physics with emphasis in Astronomy.  Lauren is spending the summer abroad at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

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.