When I first sat down with my study abroad advisor, I shared my hopes of going to Italy or somewhere in coastal western Europe. I’m certain that studying abroad there would have been amazing and incredibly beautiful. However, when she asked me if I had ever considered Latin America, I realized that I never really had. She told me about this program that she thought I would love: “Healthcare and Conflict Resolution Courses in English and Medical Spanish” at the Universidad Veritas in San Jose, Costa Rica. She was right. From the moment I read about the program I knew it was more than I could’ve hoped for from a study abroad experience. The idea of living in a Spanish speaking country for three months was terrifying. And I still sometimes feel that fear when I converse with a Spanish speaker and I can’t understand them because of their accent or because of how quickly they speak. Sometimes, I just respond with a blank stare. But the skills I will gain in Costa Rica to benefit my future are invaluable.
In the next year I plan to start a dual degree in a Master of Public Health and Master of Social Work to continue to pursue my passion for global health, so this program is essentially a head start. Along with studying at the Universidad Veritas, I chose to participate in Service Learning (volunteering with active reflection) because I love being a contributing member of my community and I wanted to become more involved with San Jose. I will be able to expand on my Psychology background and experience working with children with mental disabilities in el Centro Nacional de Educación Especial Fernando Centeno Güell. I mostly look forward to my work with Service Learning because it will offer me the clinical experience necessary for my masters programs and an inside look at the work I will one day be doing full time. I am also extremely excited about my three elective courses: Healthcare & Conflict Resolution, Human Rights in Latin America, and Gender and Sustainability because they will help me to advance my current educational pursuits and personal interests. The development of my Spanish language skills will (hopefully) eventually allow me to work in a bilingual setting with refugees, immigrants and other native Spanish speakers seeking advocacy.
In short, this study abroad experience is helping me achieve my dreams in a way I previously couldn’t have imagined to be possible and I truly have never looked forward to classes more than I am this semester. The experiential knowledge I will gain from Veritas Universidad, San Jose, and ISA is invaluable and I can’t wait to share it with you as I embark on my Costa Rican journey. ¡Pura Vida!
The world awaits…discover it.