SO MUCH TO CATCH YOU ALL UP ON! Right now I am sitting in Las Cruces Biological Station, curled up in 3 blankets in my bottom bunk while eating Chikys, a Central American brand of these little shortbread cookies with chocolate on top (going to have to buy them in bulk before I come home!). My time at La Selva, our first biological station, and San Jose, where we had some intensive Spanish, was absolutely incredible! I was able to see sloths on a daily basis, carry out a dengue prevention campaign in a local community, hike for 4 hours through the rain forest to an indigenous BriBri village and live there for 3 days, swim in a waterfall, meet a traditional sacred shah man, learn to surf, live with the nicest old lady named Carmen, get all my Spanish back (it’s still there! thank god!), attend the Costa Rican Classic soccer game (even bought a jersey…if I’m going to pretend to be a fan for one night, might as well go all out, right?) and more. Oh and did I mention the daily snake sightings? That’s what I love about this program: it’s so full of experience. Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite thing is to learn (nerdy but true) and I feel like I’m doing that every second here.
This program was made for me—it’s the perfect combination of biology, public health, language, and culture. Literally every lecture is on something that I want to learn about—malaria, diarrheal diseases, primary care, emerging diseases, economy of health, and the burden of global health, to name a few—and for the first time, I feel like every detail directly relates to what I want to do with my life. My time in Costa Rica has also inspired changes in my own lifestyle: I appreciate the environment astronomically more than I did before coming here. I mean, sure, I valued it previously, but I never really stopped to truly think about the ways in which our surroundings are connected to disease and the devastating consequences that environmental destruction can and does have on our world. It’s made me seriously consider the ways in which I contribute to this degradation, and I’m ashamed at how much I and many others take advantage of the very thing that enables us to live. After our countless hikes, I also just appreciate being outside even more, taking in the natural beauty! I mean, when else am I going to live in the rain forest?! Well, time to head to bed here because tomorrow at 7 we’re leaving to visit a Ngobe indigenous village! Hasta luego a todos 🙂