UMKC Study Abroad Fair

Plan to attend the 16th annual Study Abroad Fair! UMKC faculty leaders, study abroad returning students, and professional study abroad providers will present details about available destinations, types of programs, and possible financial support.

Free t-shirts for attendees! Come enjoy popcorn, lemonade, raffle prizes, and start planning your adventure!

To Study or To Travel? That is the Question.

King Henry III’s round table replica found in Winchester Great Hall.
Winchester Cathedral

I think I’ll only get to take four books home– weight restrictions and all that. But I’ve made up for my disappointment by buying a wooden sword and tiny catapult/pencil sharpener. The second week of the program we were able to take an amazing tour of Jane Austen’s house, and Winchester Cathedral and Great Hall! I technically should’ve brought my homework along, but how could I write an essay surrounded by so much history?

The tutorial system of education, however, does NOT disappoint. It is amazing to have a class with just three other students and one faculty member. While I am beginning to adore my tutor, I’m still quite biased toward UMKC professors (shout out to Doc and DJ)! I can only imagine what kind of learning I’d be able to achieve if I had access to this system in the states. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to learn about myself and grow my study habits by finding a new system that works well for me. I can’t wait to implement some of the teaching style when I’m a professor.

Jane Austen’s House in Chawton
The idyllic English country side near Chawton Manor

I may be a literature student, but there are yet words I’ve not encountered. I believe those are the ones I’d need to accurately describe the beauty of this place. For now, I think I will go with: My heart is full and my head dreams for more.




Ashley Silver is a senior at the University of Missouri — Kansas City studying English Literature. Ashley will spend the summer semester abroad with the IFSA-Butler program in Oxford, England.

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.

In Awe of Prague and Beyond

When I first got to Prague a few weeks ago I was in awe; taking everything in and seeing what seemed like a whole new world. Thinking back to then, it is hard to believe I only have a week and a half left. I have become so familiar with this place, the people I have met, and my new routine. It is going to be hard to leave this, but I am so thankful for the experiences I have already had and the people I have met!

The first week of class was mainly introductions and getting to know the other people on the program as well as the area. I was surprised that jet-lag didn’t have much of an effect on me, although it did to my roommate and a lot of other people on the trip. Our first weekend was a “free” weekend that we were allowed to go where we wanted. A group of about six of us decided to all go to Austria (Vienna and Salzburg) together. Although I would do this all over again, it was a very interesting adjustment to stay and travel with people I had really just met. In Vienna, we went to the St. Stephens Cathedral, Parliament and Belvedere Castle (that has the original Napoleon painting)!

St. Stephens Cathedral
Vienna Parliament

The next day we got on a train and went to Salzburg, and I can honestly say that it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been. A group of three girls and I went on a Sound of Music Tour and got to see a lot of the scenes from the movie. When we finally came home we were exhausted and probably pretty tired of each other already, but through this weekend trip I became close with a few people, and those relationships are so important in situations like this.

Sound of Music Tour

In looking back at the first part of my trip I am surprised at how well I have actually adjusted to life in Prague. I was really nervous about the cultural and language barriers, but it has been a relatively easy transition overall.

My favorite thing in Prague so far has been the ease of getting around. Public transportation has been so nice and is everywhere. Even easier, walking from one side of the city to the other is easy and the view isn’t too bad either. I am looking forward to the next week and a half of studying abroad and can’t believe it is coming to an end so soon!

Isabelle Pekarsky is a junior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City studying political science. Her hometown is KCMO. Isabelle is spending the summer abroad with the Developing Dynamics of Democracy Program in Prague, Czech Republic. Isabelle’s goals are to attend law school after graduating in May 2020 and possibly pursue work in international relations. She believes her experiences studying abroad will help her learn more about democracies in other countries.

Disclaimer:  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 Cities That Made Me Speechless

I sat down three times to write a blog about Prague, but for some reason, I couldn’t think of anything to say. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my time there, I definitely did. And it wasn’t that the city didn’t leave an impression on me. But I felt like I didn’t have any coherent thoughts or words about my experience there.

But soon after, it was time for me to go to Rome, and I had the idea to just write a blog about both cities, that way I had more to say. Then I came home from Rome and my writers/thought block was almost worst. I didn’t understand what was happening.

See the reason I couldn’t write about Prague, and now how it’s even harder to write about Rome was I didn’t know how to write about a beauty you just have to see with your own eyes.

I couldn’t explain the magical feeling I got walking through the winding cobble-stoned streets of Prague, like I had been transported to a fairy-tale land. I couldn’t put into words the emotions that overcame me looking up at the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel, the ceilings I heard about every day of my childhood (thank you Catholic school education).

It’s that feeling of being lost in history that people are chasing when they come to Europe. But it’s not kind of history that has a face and name, like when you see a Berlin square that the Nazi’s rallied in. It the 100’s of years of people that weren’t written in the history books. The merchants who all met in a small square in Prague that you, thousands of years later, are eating dinner in. It’s the streets that the first Christian’s walked on, and you have to wonder about what life they were living. The history that swallows you up, and you are just a small fraction, a blimp in the city’s eyes.

In Prague and Rome, when you see artifacts and buildings that were built in the 1700s, you are unimpressed because the 1700s? That’s new for these cities. With buildings built 2,000 years ago still standing, 300 years is modern. But then I kept thinking about how stuff in the 1700’s is older than my own country. With the U.S. not being founded until 1776, most of the stuff around me has been there before everything I’ve ever known at home was even thought of. Some of these buildings were worked on before anyone knew America even existed.

My expectations going into Prague were actually pretty low. I remember both of my sisters saying Prague was a “must-see” but I didn’t really know why. Prague’s history was (and is) confusing to me, I didn’t understand how the city was important in history, I don’t remember ever learning about it in history books. All I knew was that it was old and currently in the Czech Republic, but previously in Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, under Nazi rule, AND in the Austria-Hungary Empire. I couldn’t wrap my head around an old and beautiful city that experienced that many regimes in current history. But that experience made Prague what it is, a must-see. It has pretty much every era of world history to show, from ancient to Baroque to the communist era.

As for going to Rome, I was anxious. From loving ancient history, to learning about Rome so much in school, I was worried my expectations were going to be too high. But from St. Peter’s Basilica, to the Colosseum, to the food, Rome did not disappoint.

But my favorite part of both Prague and Rome weren’t the grandiose structures of ancient times, it was the quiet beauty that just existed as part of daily life. The cobblestone streets and the beautiful trees and the random statues on every corner. It’s probably the stuff you get used to living in Prague or Rome, but when used to seeing a Walgreens (no disrespect to Walgreens, I love you) on every corner, it is a bit overwhelming.

All in all, amazing doesn’t cut it. So again, I find myself at a loss for words.

Emily Reid is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City double majoring in Journalism and Political Science. She is spending the semester in Berlin, Germany through the ISA Berlin Program

Disclaimer:  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.

Transitioning from Newbie to Native (More or Less)

A pic of me on a side trip to Morocco and the Sahara Desert!

Let’s be real: there’s a honeymoon phase to almost any new thing we do. Whether that’s starting a new job, new school, new hobby, or making new friends, there comes a point when you see the activities or the people for what/who they really are. You may still enjoy it, but you begin to know the true depth, see the flaws, and generally have a deeper understanding of reality as you become more accustomed and comfortable in that environment or with those people. I have definitely noticed a similar trend with studying abroad.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and for me, I even welcome it by embracing the sometimes uncomfortableness of the situation. When you reach this point, it is when you really begin to learn the culture and experience something new and beautiful.

For me, this process took over a month. I can’t pinpoint an exact day since it’s so gradual. But I do know that today, compared to when I first arrived in Spain, I am much more comfortable and feel like I blend in (most of the time) to the natives around me. Here is a simple example of when I first noticed this change:

In the busier, more crowded areas of Granada there are typically people stopping others to take a survey, sell a service or product, etc. They usually only target Spaniards, so it’s safe to say I wasn’t called out during my first month here as I probably looked so lost. However, one day a man stopped me in the street, and said (in Spanish), “Is your family missing?” There was definitely something lost in translation (because what I thought I heard could not have been correct…I still have a lot of Spanish to learn) and I repeated back to him with surprise what I thought he asked and he quickly said in English, “Oh, you’re not from Spain?” I replied that I was from the United States and he apologized for stopping me and moved on without a second thought. I, however, was so honored! It was so simple and kind of silly, but I was so proud that someone thought I was a local. Usually being stopped like that by people of the street would bother me, but in Spain it means that I come off as one of their own. I feel that in myself, as well. I am so much more comfortable here than I was at the beginning: I walk more relaxed and continually feel more at home.

Hiking in Alpujarra, Spain. If you look very closely you can see the Mediterranean Sea between the mountains.

As I have mentioned in past posts, I love traveling. But this is more than traveling- it is a learning experience. I learn more about the culture, the people, the history, and myself every day. It’s not all pretty, but it is the reality and that’s what I want to know. I don’t want a sugar-coated semester: I want raw and real. I want to understand the economic crisis of Spain and how that is making it difficult for Spaniards, especially young people, to find secure jobs, forcing them to live with their parents until they are 25-30 years old, for example.

But at the same time, I have loved learning about the good things that this country has to offer. Like the fact that most students pay less than $1,000 for college per YEAR as opposed to universities in the United States costing anywhere from $10,000-$60,000 per year, causing most students to be in extreme debt. The government of Spain understands the importance of education and it shows in the prices of attending university. Spain’s education system and general economy may have its own flaws (for example, the reason that college is so “inexpensive” is because taxes are much higher), but at least it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg outright to attend college. It’s all much more complicated than I know, but that’s pretty incredible.

There is so much more I could discuss regarding the culture and the people. It’s an intricate and complex country with a lot of history and depth. And I haven’t even mentioned what I have learned about myself and my own beliefs by being immersed in this culture. There are still things that I have discovered but haven’t fully grasped and can’t articulate quite yet. I don’t think it will be until I return home and have time to process the semester in its entirety that I will understand how this semester has impacted me. I am looking forward to those realizations, because I’m sure this time has affected me in more ways than I know.

Thank you, Spain (and all other countries I have been fortunate to travel to this semester), for welcoming me, teaching me, and showing me all that you have to offer.

The mosque of Cordoba (now a Catholic church).
La Plaza de España (The Plaza of Spain). A few scenes from Star Wars were filmed here!

Camille Meeks is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Psychology and Languages & Literature with an emphasis in Spanish. Camille will spend the Fall semester studying in Granada, Spain through International Studies Abroad as a Truman Good Neighbor Scholar.

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 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


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


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.

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


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.


The ocean

Want to know the most beautiful place on planet earth? It is the Highlands of Scotland! Greenery surrounds you almost everywhere you look and the water is restless, but stunning.

Just a small glimpse into the beautiful Highlands

There is always a hanging mist in the Highlands in Scotland and I admit it is really cold here, but if you bundle up and brave the cold it is a sight worth seeing. We took a boat into the Highlands and I have never been on a cruise ship, but that is what I imagined it would look like. It was huge and luxurious with a cafe. I was able to relax for a little bit and enjoy the ocean. On this trip to the highlands we are visiting the Isle of Lewis and the Isle of Harris. There are many monuments here and the start of our journey in the highlands we went to the Butt of Lewis. You read that right. I said the Butt of Lewis (don’t google or you may get some weird images). It is the end of the Island of Lewis and there are cliffs high up that we got to look off and stare at the ocean. I stared at the sea gulls circle around trying to get the fish and there was a seal popping his head out of the water daring the sea gulls to come closer. The water crashed into the rocks angrily and the vastness of the ocean is enough to make the largest person feel small.

There was a lighthouse behind the cliffs and it was everything I imagined it would be. I felt at home here and never wanted to leave. But we made our way back to our Hostel for the night where nine of the girls in my class here all stay in a hostel room together. It was so much fun, it felt like a slumber party! The next morning we had class things to clear up, so we gave our speeches in the hostel. This trip has taught us all how to be flexible and roll with the punches! It has been a very fun experience seeing what our journey will bring us next. The second day we made our way to the Isle of Harris where we stopped at an old town where we learned how tweed blankets and scarves are made. It was interesting to watch and the people there were very kind. A nice man explained everything to us and left nothing but happy feelings in my heart. I will definitely be visiting that town again.

The mighty and powerful stones

Next, we made our way to the Calanais stones which were tall, mighty, and mysterious. These stones are mysterious and no one knows exactly why there are there. After the stones we made our way to the beach and at the beach I got to see a HIGHLAND COW (pronounced coo). If you have been following my blogs you know I am a farm girl and all I wanted this whole trip was to see a Highland cow and get a picture with it! I finally got it and my dreams have been fulfilled.

My baby Highland cow. I FINALLY GOT A PICTURE!!

We then made our way back to the hostel and all in all. The highlands were pretty amazing. As always, may adventure find you… even if it is so far north that it doesn’t get dark at night.

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.