For many students, spring break was a time to relax and recharge for the final weeks of the semester. For a group of fifteen students, however, the time off was an adventure in the beautiful country of Costa Rica.
Accompanied by Dr. Alan Stam and Dr. Paula Federico, these students traveled across the country, from San Jose to Monteverde, stopping at several spots in between.
The trip’s educational purpose was to study ecology, so the group visited the three different kinds of forests that Costa Rica is home to, comparing the plant and animal life in each.
The group also participated in several activities that allowed them to experience the culture of Latin America. They ate at local restaurants, participated in a bioluminescence tour, zip-lined through Monteverde, and visited a jaguar rescue center and butterfly preserve.
First-year Heather Fryman decided to go on the trip after seeing an advertisement poster in the Student Union. It was her second trip to Costa Rica, and she says that it was an experience that she will never forget.
Fryman’s favorite part of the trip was their visit to the Yorkin Indigenous Reserve, a village that she describes as being, “… outside of touristy places. Yorkin was real!”
The reserve was developed to help preserve the culture of the Bribri people, and all of the profits from tourism are put toward improving the infrastructure of the community.
At Yorkin, the students were able to experience a fraction of the indigenous culture, like making their own chocolate. Also, the group went wading while barefoot in a nearby river, which touches the Costa Rica border.
Without even realizing it, Fryman said, they waded across the border and into Panama.
Fryman’s least favorite part of the trip was the tropical bugs. The spiders were gigantic, and since the group spent most of their time on wildlife reserves, they were not allowed to kill them.
Instead, the spiders were captured and taken outside. The students were also advised to wear tall rubber boots while hiking. The boots served as protection against venomous snakes; luckily, none of the students were bitten.
Although the trip was ecology based, studying the ecosystems never felt like work, Fryman said. The gorgeous views, spectacular sunrises, and astonishing rainbows helped her to connect with the beauty of nature, and she definitely plans to return in the future.