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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If you’re like most people you are probably very worried about what is essential for your baggage!! But wait no more as I will give you a brief overview of what is bare minimum on your trip to any Coastal Equator like place! First things first organize 10 pair of socks! Get a pair of sandals as well, however just in case bring socks for comfort and warmth! Also bring 4-5 shirts, 1 of which is kind of fancy as you may want to look nice for a day or two. Also bring 2 to 3 pairs of shorts for comfort in warm humid weather! Some everyday working pants ×2 for all occasions (not just jeans). Don’t forget hygenic materials as well!! Such as toiletries, lotions, toothbrushes (or bristles), etc. Hopefully it’s self explanatory. Don’t forget a rain jacket and about two long sleeves as well. It would also help to bring along Mosquito repellent and sunscreen as sun burns and mosquito bites are very plausible! As well as other more dangerous possibilites so be safe a bring what you need! Then of course athletic shoes, and hiking shoes accompanied by sandals. A sun hat! And Gloves for service projects. Finally last but certainly not least of the absolute basic minimum of things to bring….A water bottle!! Dehydration is a true ordeal and the best way to prevent bodily collapse is to in fact stay hydrated! In humid places of unknown feeling to your body acclimation takes time and hydration helps your body get on its general flow. read more →

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It’s currently hot, humid, and stormy here in Connecticut, so at least the weather in Costa Rica will feel a little bit like home to me. Unfortunately, this weather makes packing feel like a little bit more of a chore than it should…

I’m sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor, staring at my suitcase. What to pack, what to pack… There are so many things I wish I could/ need to take, but so little room in my small carry-on (14″ x 22″ x 9″ max size as specified by United Airlines). Here’s a rough list of things I’m thinking I’ll need:

  • Passport, student ID
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Sunscreen – SPF 30+, 50 recommended
  • Shampoo, conditioner, soap/body wash
  • Hairbrush
  • Band aids + Neosporin
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Mosquito net?
  • Bug repellent
  • Socks – hiking and casual
  • Underwear
  • Swimsuit – a comfy, simple one
  • Towels – Take more than you think you’ll need! My friend in CR told me it’s so humid that nothing really dries.
  • Athletic shorts – lightweight and dry quickly
  • Pants – jeans, comfy PJs, hiking wear
  • Rain jacket/poncho
  • Umbrella
  • Other jacket and/or sweater
  • T-Shirts – cotton or quick-dry
  • Nice shirt and blouse – for more formal occasions
  • Cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking shoes
  • Sandals
  • Work gloves
  • Plastic bags – for trash, dirty/wet clothes etc
  • Journal, pen, Wandering Scholar booklet
  • Bible
  • Phone + charger
  • Laptop + charger – Not sure on this yet, maybe to blog
  • Water bottle
  • Spending money

The list is longer than I thought it’d be…! I’m hoping there will be enough room between my suitcase and backpack, but it’s a little too hot to check right now so for now, my suitcase remains empty.

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Personality-wise, there is much to be taken, much to be left behind. This is a little bit harder than my actual packing list but just as important:

  • An open mind
  • Spanish skills + ability to communicate wisely
  • Pride in my story and culture – as an Asian-American, as a Christian, as a Wandering Scholar
  • Caution, but not fear
  • Ability to listen
  • Flexibility! I want to let go of my need to plan and always know what’s ahead.

Finally, I’m going to miss my family a lot. The familiarity of home, routine, Mom food. There’s nothing tangible I can take of my home, except what’s in my heart, but I wish I can take them all along – none of them have gone abroad for a long time (especially my parents!) and they deserve a fun vacation.

So many emotions~ Only one more full day before I’m headed off to Costa Rica!!! #casi

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This past week my mom has been accompanying me on several trips to our favorite stores making sure I have all the necessities I need for this trip. There were many things I already had, like comfortable shirts/shorts, sandals, the usual. Still, I barely had any space to move around in my room when we were done; the haul was real. Pairs on top of pairs of sleepwear, hiking shorts and pants, sun hats, sneakers, etc etc etc. It took time to sort through what we didn’t need and could return than it did to do the actual shopping itself! Nonetheless, it’s all apart of the process and although it’s been somewhat stressful at times it’s still a lot of fun.

I’m learning a lot of helpful skills to retain when it comes to travelling that I will hopefully apply several times throughout my lifetime. There aren’t many things I’ll be leaving behind because I absolutely refused to leave my hair care and skincare necessities at home: face astringent, Neutrogena acne treatment, Shea butter and everything else you could think of is coming with me :). My mentor, Leslie, recommended that I definitely take some loose but long pants because of the modest dress culture in Costa Rica. Fortunately two of my favorite pairs of pants fall under this category, so that was a win-win.

I’ll be dedicating the entire day before my flight to going down the checklist I’ve created and physically packing my bags for my trip. I’ll most likely be vlogging the process so I can include on my personal blog/digital brochure. This flight will only be my second throughout my life, and the thing I’m most anxious about is losing luggage T_T. I am looking forward to figuring out how to somewhat navigate an airport on my own, though! read more →

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 →