Name: Kali Whipple
Program site/ Term: Puntarenas, Costa Rica Fall 2010
Why did you choose the study abroad program that you did? I chose to go to Costa Rica because I really wanted to learn Spanish. These days it is so valuable to have at least a little bit of familiarity with Spanish, and I barely knew any. I knew that studying in Costa Rica would force me to learn the language—and quickly!
What culture aspect about your study abroad program do you miss most? I miss learning every day—being so engrossed in learning that all of the small issues and stressors that we deal with each day just seem so trivial. You are so busy paying attention to the different culture and language and climate and friends that the normal college-student worries become a distant memory.
How was studying in Costa Rica different than at home? It was a complete 180 from studying back at home. In Costa Rica, I could focus on learning to better myself instead of just learning to get good grades and to complete my degree. Studying abroad is so much more than just studying—it’s about experiencing, growing, and appreciating!
What did you learn about yourself? I learned that I am capable of taking risks and stepping outside of my comfort zone. I also learned that going to a completely foreign place and immersing myself in a different lifestyle is really not as difficult as it seems.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time? I would tell myself to experience MORE. I had a lifetime of experiences during my semester abroad, but I still could have seized more experiences and seen more places and pushed myself more.
How has the experienced helped you in school or career since returning? My time in Costa Rica made me braver. I came back to school with more intensity and drive to work harder and to open my mind wider. I was also given more tools that opened more doors for me: the Spanish language that I learned allowed me to travel to other Spanish-speaking countries without hesitation and also looks great on my resume for future careers. Studying abroad also gave me a travel bug that I think I will have forever—I’ve since spent a combined total of over 4 months abroad in 7 different countries. I can’t wait to explore more of the world!
Did study abroad influence your career plans? I decided to start focusing more on international studies when I returned home from Costa Rica so I majored in International Business.
What advice would you give to future students planning to study abroad in Costa Rica? It’s not as scary as it seems. All of your peers are in the same boat as you but the strangeness of the whole situation only brings you all closer.