Wandering Scholar Serina

“Today we are all going to take a hike to the waterfalls” says our leaders Paul and Sara.

Everyone asks “How long is the hike?” Our group leaders casually brush it off and tell us not to worry it’s not so bad. Let me be the first to say this hike was a monster!!! This hike was an uphill struggle literally. If anyone has been up a hill that seems to have no end in sight, imagine four of them one after the other.

The way to the waterfall was indeed a journey but it was beautiful. Costa Rica is filled with so much nature and beauty. It was a battle of will though because it was hard not to be that one person who complains the entire time about the all the negative such as this hike. This tough experience of hiking through the jungle to get to a beautiful waterfall was no exception we did have that complainer that has a complaint about everything.

This made the hike difficult in two aspects; walking up the gigantic hills and listening to the never ending complaints. By the time we got to the waterfall I was ready to jump from the top of it to my death, not from exhaustion but from annoyance from the endless complaints. This taught me something. It taught me that it’s the positivity that makes the tough stuff easier and the negativity that makes it harder. It also taught me that it’s not worth complaining when something is tough because no matter how long it may seem and how terrible it may be at the time, it has an end. Everything has an end. I learned this because of all the complaints that were said and all the complaints that were thought, when it was all over and I was relaxing in the Bungalows the difficulty of the hike seemed insignificant. It was the beauty of the waterfall and the cool temperature of the water that I remembered most, not the uphill mountains, not exhaustion but the experience.

It is really your accomplishments that mark the memories of your life. The perseverance through the tough stuff that makes you smile and the level of difficulty that makes you proud. It’s funny how a hike made me think about an idea in a new way. How a hike made me grasp a concept I was unable to before.

Now I appreciate not just the things that come easy to me but also the things that come hard. I completely understand the saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff !” I understand now because I know that everything has an end- small, big, tough, sad, happy, etc. But that is what makes life great, the constant change. The fact that you can’t live in one situation forever. read more →

Day One: Indescribable Moments
Today I am traveling to Costa Rica with Walking Tree Travel. I am feeling very BLAH, I can’t quite articulate the emotion in words. I am standing in the San Francisco airport so overwhelmed by the fact that I am actually leaving the United States (which has been my home for my entire life) for the first time. I am not sure what emotion I am expressing.

As I approach airport security I meet another young person traveling overseas for the first time. We immediately hit it off and become friends. It is strange how two people from completely different places can have the same dream. In the case of my new found buddy and I, we both dreamed of traveling outside the States and experiencing new things. When we were talking she asked me a series of questions that I’ve always wondered but never been brave enough to ask. She said with no hesitation at all as if she ponders these questions often, “Do you ever feel like you want something different? To experience something different? You don’t know what it is or how it will feel, but you want it, you want a change. And you just know that the experience you’re searching for, that difference is somewhere other than where you are?”

I was completely blown away. Here I am walking through an airport having a deep conversation with a girl I just met. I ponder how the word different is remaining so ambiguous in our conversation but to us it has a meaning. I try to define what difference I’m searching for. I have no answers for me or her. I come to the conclusion that I don’t know what it is but I know I am off to search for it and experience it in Costa Rica.

As my friend approaches her gate and we are saying our goodbyes she begins to cry. I immediately know the reason. She’s scared. I know because so am I. I find myself comforting someone I’ve only known for no more than 20 minutes. Not even thinking before I speak I start telling her “Don’t worry, everything will be fine, it will be life changing, you will love Nicaragua.” When she calms down and stops crying I ask myself how can I comfort her when I am having the same worries and anxieties?

The empathy I have felt for my new amiga Caroline astounds me. When we finally say our goodbyes and I find my gate, the time passes quickly. My hour wait seems like five minutes. It’s like a dream! It is really unreal, I am a Wandering Scholar and I am fulfilling my life long dream to travel overseas. It feels as if my life is moving in slow motion. I am noticing everything; the smell of the plane, the color of seats, the chip in my arm rest, the unpleasant smell of body odor, and how the flight attendants put 3 cubes of ice in each cup (if the put any at all).

The plane takes off and gets further and further from the ground. My face is wet. Really wet. Tears? I am beyond shocked because I am not an emotional person at all or sentimental. Here I am going on a life changing experience and I am crying.

I finally realized what emotion I am feeling, happiness! I have never cried from excessive happiness, only sadness and tragedy. I much prefer tears of joy. I can not put into words the joy I feel it won’t do it justice, but this is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life. Tears from joy!!!!!!!! I am Costa Rica bound and beyond happy.

Upon Arrival
As the plane lands, I take one last look out the window I say to myself with no sense of volume control “Que bonita? Costa Rica es bonita!” I don’t care who hears. A man stops next to me and says with a chuckle “First time abroad?” I shoot him the biggest smile as he tells me, “Traveling is life changing.” His wife soon stops too and tells me “It will be all you want it to be, if not more.”

For more about Serina’s trip check out the photos and video on Walking Tree’s group blog.

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Serina's Trip

It’s interesting the way you look at life differently when you know your eyes are about to be opened, to something new, something foreign, something out of your comfort zone. As I zipped up my suitcase this morning I realized, this is happening, I’m leaving. I am going somewhere new. I am going to Costa Rica.

I never put much thought into how big this planet we live on really is. How your idea of a lot of people is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. There are so many people living on earth I can’t even imagine them all. With that thought I got scared. I’m realizing as I’m writing this entry how big this world really is and how I’m officially starting to explore it. I’m terrified and excited at the same time.

The questions I began to ask myself were profound as I began laying each item down in my suitcase. First the socks, toiletries, clothes, shoes,etc.  With every thing I placed I wondered “what will it be like? How do I pack for somewhere I’ve never been?” What if I don’t have a good time?”  Then I came to the realization: this is my adventure. This is the experience of a lifetime. This is something I will never forget regardless of what my experience is like, good or bad.

Then I came to conclude that the world seems large and very  daunting in the eyes of many, but if you don’t go out and explore it for yourself you may never find the similarities that make it small, comfortable, and caring. I think I’m gaining a better understanding of the saying “It’s a small world after all.” And with the logging off and shutting down of this computer I know the next time I write a blog entry I will be in beautiful Costa Rica. read more →


Serina's Trip

This is my very first blog entry ever. I have never been much of a blogger. I guess I was a little stuck in the old time, pen, paper and a journal. I think that this is a great way to journal using technology. This entry is about my thoughts on my documentation project that I will be working on during my travel abroad in Costa Rica.

My documentation project will be about making traveling abroad appealing to my peers. My documentation project will be based on a series of pictures and interviews with the locals of Costa Rica. I hope to be able to photograph the beautiful scenery and people I encounter. I also hope to be able to interview a few of the locals of Costa Rica and ask them about what makes Costa Rica special. I will take with me a camera,recorder, Spanish dictionary, and electronic translator. At the end of my trip when I return home, I will compile all I have collected and make it into a Powerpoint or Prezi that I will present to the foreign language classes at my school.

It’s extremely hard to try to capture the essence of a place that some have never been. As my trip gets closer and closer and my documentation project becomes more finalized, there is a growing anxiety. I worry that my project will not come turn out the way I see it in my mind. As the days grow closer and the weeks pass this anxiety is put at ease by the fact that I know this is my first overseas experience and the excitement and amazement I feel viewing and exploring this country for the first time will pour into my project.

It is a project that will be both challenging and heart warming. I look forward to being a part of something that will not only influence me but ultimately others. This will be a life changing experience and I am glad I will get the chance to share it with others. This project being of such importance to me I will be sure to use the internet,books, my mentor (assigned to me by wandering scholar) and the directors of wandering scholar as resources in these last few weeks as my project becomes not just an idea with a rough outline but a concrete plan with steps,deadlines, and a day of completion. read more →

Even though this year’s Wandering Scholars – Jonathan Moore, Marina Musgrove-Pyfrom, and Serina Wesonga – haven’t left their hometowns yet, their journeys have already begun. 

For their first official assignment as Wandering Scholars, they did some fact-finding about their host countries. From exchange rates and average costs to  popular artists and political issues, they have researched things about their host countries that will impress their host families and inspire their fellow travelers. In the process they’ve also discovered new things to be excited about, as well as some surprising facts about where they’re headed.

Want to know more? Read the highlights on Costa Rica below and stay tuned for our Peru edition!

Traditional Casado

Serina Wesonga researched her host country, Costa Rica, where the official  language is Spanish. However, as Serina notes, English is spoken in business communities and tourist destinations. The nation shares borders with Panama, Nicaragua, and North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

Serina also found that the traditional  lunch meal is called a “casado” a word that means “married man” in Spanish. In Costa Rica, when husbands come home from work this dish is served for dinner by their wives. It consists of rice and beans served side by side and mixed with some type of meat (usually pork, fish, or chicken).

Serina also investigated Costa Rican popular music genres including an indigenous calypso scene. This form of calypso is distinct from the more widely-known Trinidadian calypso sound.

Watch the video below to learn more about this typical music:

During her research Serina was most surprised by Costa Rica’s temperatures during her travel window. She says: “I imagined Costa Rica being very hot in July and June…I found out that [these months] would not  be classified as summer in Costa Rica”. Serina sees differences between her host country’s culture and America’s culture, “Everything seems like it will be  new and exciting  to me.” She says that the biggest adjustment will be the language barriers.

“I am hoping my host family and the people of Costa Rica will be patient as I try to soak up and translate as much of the language as possible. I am extremely excited for the new things that await me and I hope that all adjustments will go smoothly for me”.

Marina Musgrove-Pyfrom‘s host country is also Costa Rica. She discovered that even though Spanish is the main language, there is also an area where a Caribbean Creole dialect of English is spoken. One phrase used in Costa Rica is “Pura Vida.” It means pure life and symbolizes the Costa Rican idea of letting things go, and enjoying life. In Costa Rica, if someone asks you “Como estas?” (How are you?), you can answer “Pura vida.” A local band is Villalobos Brothers and a local TV show is A de Asombroso.

Watch a trailer for A de Asombroso here:

Costa Rica has a similar government system to the USA. She learned that in Costa Rica abortion is severely restricted. It is only permitted if the mother’s life or physical is in jeopardy and it is a controversial issue between political parties.

Marina also noted that the seasons seem different from the U.S.

“Philadelphia, where I am from, is very hot outside [in June and July]. So when I pack for Costa Rica I plan to bring ponchos, rain boots, and rain jacket to protect myself from the rain.”

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