- Cheryl Strayed
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Author Andrew Zimmern, once said, “Please be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in.”
Being able to study aboard in Costa Rica was a marker in my life. I was out of a cliche, comfort zone. While my language skills improved and my interest in medicine molded and roasted, I found my experience personal. My internship in a geriatric care clinic in the capital, I was able to realize how to read a patient’s body language, how to engage in narrative medicine speaking with patients, moving beyond the healing from the neck down, I was alone in an environment that demanded my excellence. A normal day for me ranged from 6 to 5, a reality that required early rising and energy management to remain productive throughout the day. It was this realization I learned discipline is greater than motivation.
Motivation get you going. But when it comes time to apply, it depends on grounded action. Small actions help one moves towards their ideals.
What to pack:
- Iphone + Viper: Although I was fearful about bringing my phone in a different country, I was told to download this cool app called viper. Viper was awesome for my study aboard because I was able to called my parents for free (you can call anyone using the viper app as long as the other person had), I texted both friends back in stated and my peers in Costa Rica who had the app. Please the ability send photos made home sickness non- existent.
- Warm socks and poncho: Helpful for tropical places like Costa Rica
- Ask yourself what will you be doing from high intensity to low intensity. For example I knew I was going to be attending many guest lectures also well as horse riding for long intervals. So for me, lots of professional wear as well as riding pants and boots!
- A great bag with many pockets. Serves you well!
- Pack light! You will bring more back than you arrived with!
What I learned:
- Walk around sometimes. Safely with others but unplanned adventures were the best conversations with my friends from exploring hotels, to visiting small shops.
- Be productive in small steps. I would find myself in my small amount of free time before class, jotting notes, and outlining large assignments in my near future.
- Travel in groups and let your group know where you are going if you venture off.
- You do not have to go out with friends all the time. One of my favorite memories in Costa Rica was going to a festival with my host family. Swimming, horse back riding and a picnic, was ultimate bond and a learning opportunity for me to use my spanish. Gain the courage to say yes, think three steps ahead and be confident in your choice.
- Leaving is just as hard as adapting to the new culture. Even now, four days back at home in the States. I miss Costa Rica. I called my host mother. I am motivated to cook some Costa Rican dishes. I am molded. I learned how to drink coffee in a way that does not make me hyper, I make more time for breakfast in the morning, and as my aunt has said I have gotten more talkative… I do not know about the last part but I do know I am coming into myself. I goal is to be as Maya Angelou would say, “I come as one, I stand as 10,000.”
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