It’s incredible that I’m so near to the end of my study abroad in Panama! After just over four months, I am in the final countdown of the days I have left here before I’m on a plane back to U.S., back to the place and culture with which I am familiar! While I am eager to return and see my family and my friends, I will never forget the experiences I have had here.
The advice that I would offer to future students who spend a semester here –use this opportunity to be adventurous! Whatever this might mean to you, take the time you have in a new country to step (or even better, leap) outside of your comfort zone and fearlessly try new things! You will be sure to encounter unfamiliar things while you are away from your home, but don’t let this deter you or throw you off. Rather, embrace the elements that you are unaccustomed to, adapt and take away a lesson from whatever you do!
Seek new adventures! The experiences I most enjoyed while I was in Panama were those I had while exploring the country. I made friendships with other ISA students and some locals, and together we traveled around Panama during our free time and had some truly amazing adventures. We visited places within Panama City and in the neighboring areas, like Casco Antiguo, which allowed us to become familiar with Panama’s more urbanized regions. We also planned trips to other parts of the country, traveling to awesome places like El Valle, Isla Taboga, the San Blas Islands, Las Tablas and Bocas Del Toro. All of these were really fun to visit – and affordable – but my absolute favorite place I discovered in Panama was Boquete. Boquete is a small town located near the border of Costa Rica; it was a long bus ride to get there, but totally worth it! I found the weather in Boquete to be much more pleasant than in the Panama City region, and in my opinion it is incomparably beautiful to any other part of Panama. Located in the mountains near a volcano (which you can hike up!) and surrounded by dense rainforest, Boquete is a picturesque place. Its vibe is much more quiet and relaxed than Panama City, which was a very refreshing change of scenery for my friends and me when we visited.
I recommend that you take full advantage of your time in Panama and visit the whole country; don’t stay only in the area around your home and school! Use your experience in Panama to explore and see new places, interact with the people and make memories. Be an adventurer in your new environment and you will be richly rewarded from what you find!