A Change of Lifestyle, Experience, and Environment

Imagine, your first trip outside the United States, where enchanting Autumn comes each year and the fleeting of Summer heat tugs at the strings of want and desire. You travel to a place where the palms grow tall, the stars shine the brightest and most of the biodiversity found in the world has grown accustomed to living. A change of lifestyle, experience and environment, the triple threat.

My experience traveling to Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic were quite different than other study abroad trips. In the Dominican Republic, I worked with high school students to develop environmental curriculum for the country because it is a nation determined to be one of the most affected by climate change. Costa Rica was quite different, I worked with peers from class on research projects brought to us in the middle of rainforest and seasonally dry forest  by professors from Kent State and the University of Costa Rica. I learned collaboration, a sense of oneness and the idea our world is changing and I wanted to be a part of it. 

Besides the long nights working on presentations over the Costa Rican, ocean sunsets and the countless hours helping students develop protocols for beach health in the Dominican, I danced during New Years in Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica with the ticos and ticas. I saw the resilience of the Dominican culture when faced with adversity that is beyond their control. I have to say my experience has meant the world. My friends I have made, have changed my world. The tropical paradise very few see has made room within my heart along with the massive amount of diversity ranging from White Face Capuchin Monkeys, to the growing and shrinking Coral Reefs and to the different amount of plants that vary in color like Autumn at home. The seasons may not be the same, but that summer heat is a constant and those aging Autumn leaves are replaced with the bountiful colors of the most thriving and living plants found on the planet. Who knows what may happen? You may find love too, like I did. 

Study abroad is more than an experience, it is the soul transforming into a fountain of knowledge from which our existence flows.