I have always loved travel. From a young age, I was fortunate enough to have a family that took vacations almost every year. Often times our vacations amounted to a cruise from Florida or Puerto Rico to the the Caribbean. My family took us on cruises so often that I already have lifetime Diamond status with Royal Caribbean (not to be confused with the status of my nips when it is cold outside). I loved cruising, and every year I would look forward to our family cruise, no matter how many times we went to the same location(s).
While traveling has been a part of me all my life though, it wasn’t until I studied abroad that I realized how much I needed travel in my life. Prior to this experience, I had almost exclusively traveled with friends/family, but for the first time in my life I was setting out to see the world on my own. I was originally supposed to study abroad for the first and second semester of my senior year of college, but extenuating circumstances (if you can call divorcing parents that), led me to cancel the first semester’s trip. Second semester was mine though. So when the time came, I packed my bags and was off!
I chose Costa Rica as my study abroad location, partly because I had always wanted to go to Costa Rica and partially because the semester there got me back in time to walk at my graduation. My program included a Spanish course as well as a few other classes, but I am not writing this to talk about the school, because let’s be honest, you don’t study abroad because the classes look interesting. No, you study abroad for the freedom, the fun, and a chance to journey into the unknown!
The unknown was exactly what I found, and I couldn’t have asked for something more exciting or awe inducing. I got hooked. During my stint in Costa Rica, we traveled around the country to places like La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Monteverde, and Manuel Antonio to name a few. Additionally, our program took us to Panama to visit Bocas Del Toro, which has by far my favorite hostel to date. The place had swings and a slack line over the water it was built on! Not to mention there was a bar called “El Barco” (or something like that, it was dark and drinks were cheap), which was built over the water, on top of a shipwreck!
While I could probably gush about Panama all day, my love for travel started in Costa Rica, so it is only fair I give it the attention it deserves (don’t worry my sweet Panama, I will be back for you some day).
While I knew from week 1 that I loved everything about studying abroad, the realization that I had opened up my eyes to a whole new world (queue Aladdin) started from our group’s first weekend trip to Manuel Antonio. It may have been a long bus ride from San Jose, but it was worth it! Our hotel was on the beach, and though the hotel, mistakingly (I hope?), put kissing swan towel art on my and my roommate’s for the weekend’s beds, it was perfect. We were able to go to the local restaurants, meet the resident monkeys (spoiler alert: they were cleptos), and frolic on the beach late into the night.
It only got better from there. While there were numerous places we went, the two that stick out most were Monteverde and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Monteverde because the zipline through the canopy is hard to forget! La Paz Waterfall Gardens because the animals were adorable (I’d never seen an ocelot before!), the food was delicious (seriously, I still talk about the fruit to this day), and the 7 waterfalls you could hike to were something out of a movie! I even made my friends go to several of these places when they visited Costa Rica years later.
When my time in Costa Rica came to an end, it took me only weeks to get back on the road. Now, I go stir crazy if I have to sit in more than 1 place for longer than 1 to 2 weeks. At the time of writing this, I have been to over 80 countries and have no plans of stopping shy of… all!
If you ever need help planning a trip to Costa Rica, or anywhere for that matter, I can probably help you out! Traveling and travel planning is what we do best :). Just send us an email or DM us on Instagram!