Pura Vida & Mental Health Abroad

When making the decision to go abroad for a semester, the idea of leaving your family, friends, and daily routine can be daunting. However, sometimes taking a page out of your destination’s book and adapting to the ideas that are offered can be the best cure for being homesick or even aiding you in things as simple as calming anxiety.

Upon my arrival to San José, Costa Rica, I was excited to start my journey abroad and create everlasting memories and experiences. Costa Rica is a very tranquil place with people operating in a very calm, no-rush fashion. ‘No pasa nada’ and ‘todo pura vida’ are a few phrases you’ll often hear in response to issues. In turn, I felt a bit of a difference from my lifestyle back home, as the on-the-go life I had cultivated in the States had changed instantly.

While adjusting over the past couple of months, I’ve had time to explore the country. Given the size of Costa Rica, I was very prepared to explore in depth via weekend travel. Venturing to all the accessible oceans, hiking mountains, and conversing with ticos, I believe I found the balance and individualism I was seeking.

This is the magical Irazú Volcano, just a short drive from San José. An awesome day trip!

Shortly before coming to Costa Rica, I decided to purchase a camera from Facebook Marketplace. I’m always interested in learning new skills and expanding my mind. I felt that being in a foreign country with a plethora of free time, accompanied by the beautiful landscape I was entering, would be the perfect mix of opportunity.

I have since found positive solitude in my adventures, making journeys to vast landscapes and biomes that allow a sense of connection with nature. Through my drive to explore along with the resources that Costa Rica has to offer, including its friendly locals and their genuine kindness, I’ve been able to grasp a strong sense of self-identity and individualism.

Something as profound as this has not only fueled me to keep discovering new places and things, but has spiked my mental, physical, and emotional health. It’s hard to take time and reflect at this age. Being a student, we quickly find ourselves devoured in a mixing bowl of academics, work, personal life, friendships, relationships, social obligations, and a number of other factors that contribute to a busy lifestyle.

Nevertheless, it’s imperative to put aside time for yourself and your mental health. Costa Rica has allowed me to do so, and through this divine opportunity, I have a newfound love for photography and design: a hobby I’ve found a passion for and wish to integrate into my professional career post-graduation.

This is the incredible hidden beach in Jaco I visited while independently traveling there!

I challenge those in all places around the world, visiting or residing, to take time to take a step back, take some deep breaths, and enjoy your environment. Look at life through a different lens and open your mind to new perspectives. Tap into the nature that surrounds you, reflecting not only on where you are now but also on your previous experiences that have led you to these mesmerizing places.

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