It is incredibly difficult to think of just a single experience that has made an impact on my life during my trip to Costa Rica. I took something from each and every experience on this trip. The waterfall, zip-lining, surfing, and living in a household that spoke a different language than my own really pushed me out of my comfort zone. However, if I had to choose one experience, then I would say that experiencing and interacting with the community in Nicoya and Nosarita would top my list.
The value and sense of community in Costa Rica is incredibly more enriching than it is here in the United States. Whether I was simply walking down the street in Costa Rica, stopping at the “supermercado”, or walking into another family’s home, I always felt so incredibly welcomed. I never once felt that I was imposing on their life, like I often do here in the states. In Costa Rica, people want you to open up to them and they genuinely want to hear everything and anything you want to say. No one was staring down at their phones; they were looking up at the stars or mingling with family and friends. I had never realized how individualized we are in America. I grew up in an extremely close-knit family that taught me family comes first. However, the people in Costa Rica do just exactly as I was raised to do: you put your family first no matter what. It is incredible to see the impact that this has on a community where everyone holds similar beliefs and never puts himself or herself above other community members. One experience that really struck me as incredible was when I was in Nicoya and everyone was so happy and content with what little they had. They didn’t surround themselves with television, Hollywood, or cell phones. They just spent time with each other. All of the bonds I made with the people in the towns and the people in our group have forever impacted my life in a positive way.
Therefore, maybe in the end the most meaningful experience that happened to me was that I learned to be optimistic and not afraid to try new things. From this trip, I have learned to take advantage of every experience, so that I am able to experience everything much more. I have matured past where I originally thought was possible, and it was all thanks to this trip!
Post by Mandi Bowser
Photos Courtesy of Hailey Hennessy