Destination: Costa Rica

Nellie Brosnan

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Paris, the city of love and croissants? Florida, to hit the beach or Disneyworld? Or maybe Switzerland, to go mountain climbing and eat some incredible chocolate?

I wouldn’t choose any of those places. I would go to Costa Rica.

And I am.

In the summer of 2011, I started applying for a study abroad program beginning February called American Field Service, or AFS. I had heard about it from my friend, who spent one summer in Argentina and had the “most amazing time.” I’ve wanted to do a study abroad program since I was at least eight years old, because I love learning about different cultures and living in a whole other world, and I simply couldn’t wait any longer.

I chose Costa Rica because it sounded like one of those places where people feel a certain type of envy when you tell them you’re going, especially for five months. It sounded tropical, exotic, a place where you can find the best fruit and the hottest guys.

But I didn’t choose Costa Rica just for the guys, or the fruit. I picked it because it will give me an opportunity to practice my Spanish skills. Spanish was practically my first language growing up in Austin, TX, thanks to my Spanish-speaking nanny, but when I moved to California and went to an English-speaking school, I forgot all of my Spanish. Now, I am learning it back again in school and I hope to become fluent by the end of my trip. I have always loved languages and have wanted to be able to speak a wide variety of them. Remember when you were little and people asked you if you could have one wish, what would it be? I always wished to be able to speak all the languages in the world. It would allow me to talk and to meet so many different people and I could travel wherever I wanted without having to worry about getting lost in the native language.

In the beginning, my parents thought that it was just another crazy idea of mine. They knew that I’ve always wanted to go, but they didn’t think that I was serious about it. My mom told me that if I really wanted to do it, then I was going to have to put in the time and effort to make it happen. So I did.

The application was tedious and never-ending, and even when I had finished and submitted it, the work still continued. I had to obtain a Costa Rica visa and renew my passport along with filling out hours worth of paperwork, but I could just picture myself in Costa Rica, sitting on the beach in the hot, tropical sun, surrounded by new friends. And that was all the motivation I needed to keep me going.

You take a chance when you study abroad. It’s like jumping into a freezing cold river or chomping down on a chili pepper just because one of your friends dared you to. You’re either brave or insane, or maybe a little bit of both, but it’s worth it. Studying abroad is something you’re going to remember for the rest of your life. It means adventure. You get to put yourself out there and take a risk in order to try something new. It’s a chance to broaden your horizons and expose yourself to new cultures and traditions. You make new memories, gain new experiences and everlasting friendships that will stay with you for the rest of your life. It opens your eyes to a world beyond the classroom walls and pops that Cupertino bubble we are all living in.

We all need to get out there more and do something memorable and exciting for once in our lives. Life is better with flavor. We need to spice up our lives and do something outrageous or spontaneous every once in a while to keep life interesting, and studying abroad is an excellent example. We are all so done with the days of homework and AP testing, and just want to take a chance to try something a little adventurous.

Life is better with flavor. And I’m about to add some to mine.