When it comes to preparing for a trip, many people are last minute packers, but not me. I love packing. That might sound strange, but for me deciding what to bring on my adventure is the beginning of the journey. I like to consider each item and how it will fit into my trip. It helps to build my excitement for what is to come, and it makes everything feel more real, like it’s actually happening and not just a dream.

I also tend to over-pack. At times, knowing what to take and what to leave is a challenge. As the saying goes, “it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have”. However, the key word is “need”. I know that I won’t have the space or the need for every pair of sandals I own. So even though the desire to bring them all is tempting, I’ll keep all but one or two pairs safely stored away on their allotted shelf.

Gifts for my gracious host family, bathing suits (but not the revealing ones), a notebook and pens, and extra socks are some of the things I will bring on my trip. I will also have my phone. I’ll try to stay connected through blogs and twitter if the hotel accommodations for the first few days are internet-accessible. If not, I’ll keep track of my thoughts the old-fashioned way, and the notebook and writing utensils will definitely come in handy.

Bringing a phone is also good for music as well as photography as communication, but I tend to use an mp3 player (yes, I still have one of those) because it’s more reliable. No need to worry about wifi, connection, data usage, or getting stuck with your phone battery at 2%. I love listening to music on planes and selecting the perfect song for takeoff. I bring my tunes everywhere, but rather than using music to block out my surroundings I use it as a way to enhance them. I love having the perfect musical accompaniment for whatever I’m doing, as if my life is a music video. Nevertheless, when the battery runs out, or if the situation calls for it, I’m more than happy to enjoy the sounds of laughter and conversation, or the sounds of birds, crickets, waves, thunder, wind, and rain. Nature’s soundtrack is the loveliest music of all.

-Tanaia read more →

A few days ago my sister gave me a journal in order for me to organize thoughts for my documentation project as well as write down any general happenings during my trip. Having a journal is great, but the best aspect of the journal are the words written on the cover. Words that will serve as constant reminder to me throughout my time away.

Carpe Diem is Latin and is commonly translated to, “seize the day” and it couldn’t be more applicable than when I am in Costa Rica. I’ll see these words everyday when I look at my journal and I will be reminded not only to seize the day and capture as much as I can for my documentation video, but also to enjoy my time to the fullest and immerse myself in the culture.

In honor of Independence day tomorrow, I hope everyone “seizes the day”, watching fireworks with friends/family.

-Chelsea read more →

There is a fine line between overpacking and under packing. I seem to be able to find an excuse to pack everything I own, for example, my graphing calculator. You never know when you’ll need to find the inverse of a matrix or solve a trigonomic function. But all jokes aside, how do you minimize bringing excess baggage without leaving out important items?

I’ve decided to think up a buddy system for this trip. If I’m ever conflicted on whether or not I should bring something with me I ask my sister and a friend. So far this method has helped reduce the stress of packing and its helped me feel well prepared. Packing lists are great, but friends and family are nice help too! And now that I am almost fully packed, I can feel the excitment rise, tres días más!


– Chelsea read more →

There’s no denying the fact that Costa Rica has a “history of peace and neutrality” and remains one of the most peaceful countries in the world.  Therefore, researching an event that has stirred up various opinions in country like Costa Rica proved to quite an arduous task. However, as I scrolled through various Twitter headlines and clicked through countless pages on Google, I couldn’t help but realize the one issue that seemed to always pop-up.

The Costa Rica- Nicaragua San Juan River dispute dates back to 2010, and there have been hearings as recently as last year. The conflict centers around an event in 2010 when Costa Rica claimed Nicaragua crossed Costa Rican territory while dredging the San Juan River. The Nicaraguan government denies this claim by stating, “they can’t invade [their] own territory”.

The tensions have led to an array of different opinions regarding Costa Rica. In the Christian Science Monitor, Tim Rogers claimed that the dispute will “force Costa Rica to reexamine its commitment to disarmament and confront the ghosts of its wimpy image”.

NPR’s Renee Montagne gave insight on the views of many Costa Ricans. While Costa Rica sees that the land has always been their own, Google Maps mistakenly attributed that land to Nicaragua in their database.

One can clearly see the different media biases. For instance, a  CID- Gallup Poll shows that 91 percent of Nicaraguans think the crisis was caused by unclear border limits and 73 percent of Costa Ricans think the crisis is because of Nicaragua’s military invasion of their country.

Despite the contrasting opinions, it is up to the International Court of Justice to finally put an end to the dispute.






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Hey, this is Alexis. Tonight is the night before I leave. I am like a child who is eager the night before Christmas, my anticipation is growing by the minute.  I have a multitude of butterflies in my stomach. The official countdown has begun. 12 hours from now a new destination awaits me. Right now my household is like the household who forgot to buy the presents. Good thing the Walmart by my house stays open until 12 AM.

I chatted with my travel mentor today. My friends who have traveled to Europe several times also gave me some pre-departure pointers. I am so nervious about flying. The airport seems so large and complex. As a very bright student I know that I should not worry, but I have to remember to pay attention, grab my bags, and be alert at all times. I also need to remember to grab my id’s and passport before I leave.

I  still have to pack a few last minute things and charge my portable charger, phone, and camera. Today I’ve been out celebrating my sweet 17 birthday with my friends and family. My official birthday however isn’t until tomorrow. Being a Wandering Scholar is the best gift. I am so fortunate for everyone who has helped prepare to leave the country. With last minute thoughts provoking my mind….I have to go.

Hasta luego,

AKT read more →