I admit, I’m an over packer; it’s just an innate quality that I have embarrassingly limited control over. Once, during a 3 day school trip to Washington DC, I managed to pack 4 pairs of pajama pants – quadruple the necessary amount. Needless to say, packing for my Costa Rica trip has been difficult. I was tempted to pack up my laptop, kindle, iPod speakers, and a million other gadgets, but I somehow convinced myself against it. Avoiding use of these electronics for 10 days will be good for me. Instead of wasting precious time reading on my kindle or checking Facebook on my laptop, I can absorb every second I have in Costa Rica. This truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I intend on taking full advantage of it.

However, there are a couple things that I cannot dare to part with. Most importantly, my Costa Rica bracelet. When my sister was my age, she embarked on a journey similar to mine; she went on a service trip to Costa Rica. Along with riveting tales of her adventure, she brought me a bracelet. To a young fifth grader, this bracelet represented everything my sister had learned and gained in Costa Rica, and I longed to gain this very same experience. Now, this desire has become a reality. I am also bringing pictures of my friends and family. This not only serves to help me when I feel homesick, but more importantly, it allows me to show my host family what my life is like. They are accepting me into their homes and lives for more than a week, the least I can do is give them a glimpse of mine.

Speaking of homesickness, I know that I will miss my friends very much. In fact, if I could pack them up and put them in my suitcase, I would! The travel bug must be contagious because it has spread through out my friend group at lightning speed. We are already planning a trip to Greece and Italy for next summer! My friends bring out a certain confidence in me that I usually do not exhibit.

However, I hope to channel this inner confidence in Costa Rica, regardless of the fact that I won’t have my friends by my side. Having this confidence will help me make friends with the other kids on the trip and help me connect with my host family and other locals. I want to learn as much about the culture and the people of Costa Rica as possible. In order to do so, I cannot be shy or introverted.

Overall, I think I have done a good job with packing. I can’t believe I’m leaving for Costa Rica tomorrow! My emotions are switching off between pure excitement and extreme anxiety and everything in between. I can’t wait!