For my first trip abroad, I tried to go in with as little expectations as possible and I think it’s how I kept my sanity. I like things to go as planned and I tried to let go of that for this trip. I want to let go of that need in other parts of my life as well. I think my travels in Costa RIca were a great first step.

My original project involved and black and white photo of each person I met accompanied by a summary of an interview with said person. However, using my film camera turned out to be  much more difficult than using my digital. In addition, I only had time for one formal interview, which was saved to my phone, which is now broken. While I do believe I can recover the file, this is where having no expectations for the final result of my project will help.

I am disappointed that I can’t present the experiences I had on my trip the way I originally planed. However, I know that I have plenty of quality digital photos that will express the unique stories of the people of Costa Rica. I have faith that my blog posts will inspire others to take a leap into the unknown in order to learn about others and the world around them. I want to share the story of the garden keeper and the three-year-old boy and the passion the town had for soccer and so much more with everyone at home. I firmly believe I can do that.

Overall, my trip to Costa Rica has definitely made me want to travel more and more. I saw so many wonderful things that I just want to go anywhere and everywhere to experience more of them. I think this trip has started me on a really great path of self-awareness and personal growth, also. I know that I can push my limits and not only be okay, but a better person than when I started. I wish that every person could experience this and I am so grateful that I was able to.

(Sydney Kramer) read more →

I started my journey with the Wandering Scholar expecting it to be completely life changing. It wasn’t quite as drastic as I thought it would be, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t inspire me to continue to explore and take leaps into the unknown. I saw another world that made me want to see all the others out there. I experienced a loving community and a new desire to meet more and more of them.

My favorite moment remains to be the second day in Costa Rica. My group and I were staying in Pura Suerte. In the early morning we hiked to a near by waterfall for a swim. I was not ready for what I saw because this waterfall made my jaw drop. I literally could not close my mouth. It was so stunning! The natural beauty of it was breathtaking and I stared in awe over how Mother Nature could create something so spectacular. Even after an hour of swimming in the warm waters of the pool at the base of the waterfall, my eyes were still wide open, taking in as much as they could. I would fly back to Costa Rica in a heartbeat to in those waters again.

The only thing that could have made that moment any more special was sharing it with my loved ones. That was really the only thing that could have made the entire trip any better. I missed being away from them and I wanted to share every exciting experience with my mom, my dad, my brother, my best friends, and everyone else.

My trip to Costa Rica feels like it came and went but I will always cherish the memories I made there. The Wandering Scholar helped me to keep an open mind. I learned that what is different in the world can be scary at first, but absolutely lovely when you take the time to understand it and appreciate it. In addition, working with my mentor, Katie, prepared me to travel with no expectations and learn to be aware of what was around me and myself. I am now a lifetime Wandering Scholar and I could not feel more blessed for being able to go on this adventure!

(Sydney Kramer) read more →

After landing in Costa Rica, my first realization that I was really there was seeing the palm trees swaying in the breeze.  When we arrived to the small city outside of the bungalows we were staying in for the first night, it was so strange at first. But it was also so incredible to see another, completely new way of life, and I couldn’t wait to explore it!

My very first impression of the food was quite horrible. I had a sautéed plantain with cheese and I gagged on it. It was too sweet, slimy, and just plain bad. But my hope was restored during our first lunch. I had  the traditional Casado dish with bright white rice, rich and smoky black beans, and flavorful steak. I was in food heaven and I would be for the rest of the trip. I want rice and beans now.

My home stay family also gave me a wonderful experience. They gave me the most welcoming and loving time I could have asked for. I lived with a mother, father, the oldest daughter, the youngest son, and the son of the oldest daughter. The mother talked to me constantly even though my Spanish was slow and jumbled. She made me delicious traditional Costa Rican food and even comforts from home like hamburgers. The eldest daughter taught me to dance and her son taught me that the joys of childhood are universal.

My group was surprisingly just as great! I never expected to grow so close to a group of people in just ten days. We laughed, worked our butts off, and cried; all together, just like a small family. I will remember their smiles for a very long time.

While experiencing all the magic Costa Rica offered me, I missed my family the most. I wanted to share the hikes, the food, and the people with my mom and dad every night. I know that they would have loved it so much.

And now that I’m home, back in the pouring rain (even though it’s summer) I miss the food and the friendliness of Costa Rica. I have never met people willing to taken in complete strangers. I wish I could bring that warmth back to the United States.

(Sydney Kramer) read more →

It’s funny how I’ve spent since early February getting ready for this trip to Costa Rica, yet it still doesn’t seem real to me. I began this journey seeking the Wandering Scholar fellowship with determination, but fear as well. Never in my life had I wanted something so bad or had been so worried I wouldn’t get it. I’ve dreamed since I was little of being a global explorer. and the Wandering Scholar presented me with that very opportunity when I thought it would never be possible. My hard work has never paid off as much as it has now and it feels so rewarding!

Being a fellow has been stressful, but also incredibly beneficial because I am forced to look at a travel opportunity in a unique way. The Wandering Scholar has helped me to learn about where I am traveling, acknowledge how my perspective affects how I see things, and how to be more than just a tourist and see more than just the sites.

In my last 24 hours, I have done a lot! I am fully packed, have weighed my duffle multiple times, and gone through my packing list just as many. I went out to lunch with my best friend and had a great dinner with my dad. Currently, I am feeling nervous and I can feel the butterflies fluttering in the pit of my stomach. As I write, I am jittery and frantically going over all the things that still need to be done. I am terrified I will forget something essential. I am worried about how my expectations and reality will meet up.

But I am taking with me acceptance for what will happen and how I feel. I know what ever I experience will be amazing. I want to meet as many people as I can and learn as much about them as I can. And I can’t wait to start a lifetime of traveling and exploring the world! read more →

In all of my travels, whether to a friend’s house or my two-week family road trip to Mount Rushmore, I have never been a light packer. On this trip to Costa Rica, I am no different. I am pretty sure I could fit in the large black duffle bag I am squeezing all my “necessary” items into.

In that bag includes all the basic travel essentials and some personal items I will rely heavily on when I am exploring the unknown in Costa Rica. It was recommended I bring a comfort food and my favorite nutty and chocolate-ity spread came to mind: Nutella. In my bag, I will also be packing my cameras, film and digital, and they will be my eyes to all of the wonderful, exciting, and possibly terrifying things I will experience. However, I will be leaving behind my comfort zones, like my bed and family. I wish I did not have to leave my best friend, Kayleigh. She brings out the most adventurous, spontaneous, and hilarious sides of me.

I will leave behind the need to control what is happening and my expectations for what might happen. But, I will bring my sense of adventure, self-awareness, and authenticity to be the real me.

This trip is my opportunity to learn so much about the world and so much about myself. I could never pack enough to be prepared for what might come. I can only hope to take in as much as possible and be ready for anything. read more →