Growing up in NYC is something I’m grateful for because it has allowed me to be around a diverse group of people most of whom are accepting of others differences. There is always a mix of people where not one person is the same. In a way, it became like a comforting bubble of sorts sledding me away from feeling different. What surprised me about myself is that I felt a bit intimidated by my fellow group travelers. Based on how they looked. I felt different and stood out were in NYC I blended in. I worried if I could make friends which is surprising because I can get along and befriend people easily. But, now looking back I find myself-silly for worrying about this. Because everyone was great and I will always cherish the memories I made with my fellow travel companions. We shared our dreams and goals in Costa Rica under the starry night during our midnight turtle walks on the beach. Another thing that surprised me about myself is that I wasn’t that scared of bugs/insects. (We co-existed together). I was mesmerized by the beauty Costa Rica had to offer. What surprised me about Costa Rica is how eco-friendly it is (from their sewer system to their trash recycling.

Global travel has always been an interest for me. Now that I have experienced it first hand it has made me all the more eager to search for my next adventure. Since the Costa Rica trip was based on Wildlife Conservation it has also made me more open to traveling not just to experience the culture but also helping out and giving back.

I definitely 100% agree with the Everyday Ambassador blog post, “Why Build Bridges, Not Walls?” idea of building bridges. It is all the more important if not urgent for more bridges to be built in this time of crisis based on current events. People have long been building walls around their hearts and minds, and in doing so hurting society as a whole. I even fell into this mind set of building walls subconsciously when I felt intimidated by how different my fellow companions were compared to me. Popping my bubble of security that I have had all my life growing up in New York City and putting up a Wall of defense. But, this “wall” collapsed with the shine of friendship and instead formulated a bridge of happiness, adventure and a lifetime of memories.Walls have no place in today’s world. People have come too far to take steps back into a period of separation. Although there is separation, it is not to the same extent since there is hope to close the gap between this separation. I hope to climb any walls that I may build today, tomorrow or in the future.


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Now that I am packed, all I have to do now is play the ‘Waiting Game’. I can’t wait to step on that plane headed for Costa Rica, and see and feel, what Costa Rica can offer to me. This is my first trip that I am going on by myself without my parents…am I scared…..NOOO! More like excited, thrilled. I feel like this trip is just the beginning to many new adventures, I will take in the future. Most kids dream of traveling/studying abroad in college or later in life, but why wait? I am worried about my Spanish since it’s not exactly the best…more like helpless, that two years of Spanish class did nothing to prove! But, I am hopeful that I can learn (some) through experience rather than being in a classroom setting. Before I leave, I plan to meet up with some of my friends to go out and eat and spend some time with my parents to convince them not to worry. I still can’t believe I’m getting the honor to going to Costa Rica through Wandering Scholar, it’s like a dream that I don’t want wake up from. The best part is I don’t have to worry about waking up since it’s very real! Well, I do need to worry about waking up since I need to ….catch the plane!!!

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As the date for the trip to Costa Rica quickly approaches I find myself in a bind to have all I need packed. Originally, I had thought I would be taking with me some dressy outfits, such as, jeans, shorts, swimsuits, and dresses. But then I realized I won’t be exactly in the city areas more like the tropical rain forest since Playa Tortuga Research is located there and that’s where I will be for most of my stay. What I had planned originally to pack is not quite ideal for that weather or environment. Instead, I will be looking at Costa Rica’s natural beauty up close.

With this in mind, I plan to take more sporty/outdoor clothes that are ideal for hiking and outdoor activity. Breathable and quick dry clothes. For toiletries, I will be bringing sunscreen (highly advised), mosquito repellent, hand sanitizer, band aids, Neosporin, and makeup. Since the weather is quite hot and I will be doing mostly outdoor activities. If you are like me and can’t live without makeup (joking) I recommend bringing very light, not full coverage makeup. That has SPF and a few products. I would love to take my laptop but I think it’s for the best to disconnect from the internet and take in a natural beauty that I will be surrounding myself in. I would like to take my mom with me in my suitcase so she doesn’t worry herself.

Aspects of my personality that I want to bring or leave behind, for example, is my open mind and willingness to try new things and leaving my nerves about meeting new people. When I was searching ‘how do people in Costa Rica dress’. In the city, most people dress as they do in any other large city in the world. You can stand out if you make it very obvious that you’re a tourist. One user (ROADADVISOR) said, “Just be you…and be happy…we love happy people…if khaki shorts and cotton blouses make you happy …go for it!”(TripAdvisor) read more →

A note from TWS: It is important that our Wandering Scholars prepare for their journeys by researching their host country before they leave home. The below post is the product of an assignment in which we ask our Scholars to read and share something interesting they’ve learned about Costa Rica’s history, culture, or politics. 

Since 2014, the control over the Mexico and US border has become extremely strict. one way is by forcing Central Americans to find new routes to safety. This resulted in a surge of refugees fleeing violence and political instability, to find new homes elsewhere. Because of this, Costa Rica has attracted fleeing refugees, since it is the most stable country in the region. Currently, the Asylum claims are set to quadruple.

“Now, the country is offer temporary protection to refugees.Under the new protection transfer agreement (PTA), Costa Rica will accept up to 200 prescreened refugees for periods of up to six months, while their US asylum applications are processed. Migrants who arrive in Costa Rica before applying will not be considered for US asylum.” ()

This event is similar to many of the other migrant crisis all around the world, and has been going on for a long time. Europe has only just woken up to this issue, in 2015. Thus creating the name “European refugee crisis”. One of the reason, for the spike of asylum seekers is the Syrian civil war. Secondly, it’s impossible to gain legal entry into Middle Eastern countries.

The US response was to accept “at least 10,000 Syrian refugees” in 2015 (KRISHNADEV CALAMUR).

Because of the opportunities Costa Rica offers like many of the European countries.and the US it is not alone in its shelter  for refugees seeking homes.

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