Vivien’s adventure abroad in Costa Rica
“I would recommend studying abroad in Latin America to anyone who loves the outdoors and is looking for an adventure. I made incredibly many and strong friendships that I am still in contact with.”
Vivien was with us for two months in Costa Rica and experienced some unforgettable adventures in the Wildlife Sanctuary in Puntarenas and in the hostel in Uvita. Look forward to an experience report, in which she takes you on a little journey and reports about her experiences on site.
MY FIRST DAYS
Already at the airport I noticed how my excitement was getting bigger and bigger and even when I had arrived long ago, this did not subside. It took me a few moments to realize that I would be staying in this country for several months. Thanks to WanderWorld, the pickup went smoothly and I was still able to relax well upon arrival. Overall, it certainly only took a day or two for me to feel “normal”. My quick adjustment certainly had something to do with the fact that I managed to completely embrace the new and uncertain from day one and took everything as it came.
A NORMAL DAY IN THE PROJECT
A typical day at the Wildlife Project started for me at 06:00 in the morning. It was a wonderful feeling because the sun was already shining in my face early in the morning and everything was bright and warm. Getting up at this time is generally very different in Costa Rica than in Germany. First the animals had to be fed before breakfast was served at 08:00. In the morning, various projects were done in the park or repairs were made. These included cleaning the cages, collecting grass for the animals, and applying sunscreen to the tapirs to prevent them from getting sunburn. In between there were always juice breaks. Around 12:00 pm we had an hour break and could enjoy lunch. At 13:00 the animals got their food and around 14:00 – 15:00 my shift was mostly over.
A typical day at the hostel also started at 06:00, because I usually took the early shift. Here, however, the shift was a little shorter and I had to work only four hours. I prepared breakfast for the guests, helped to distribute it and then cleaned the kitchen. I could organize the rest of the day according to my wishes. But often I also took over the lunch shift from 10:00 – 14:00 or the evening shift from 18:00 – 22:00. The work in the hostel was definitely a bit more relaxed for me than the work with the animals.
MY FREE TIME
While working at the zoo, I mostly spent my free time relaxing, reading books or even painting, and spending time with the other staff or volunteers. So we went on excursions together, or sometimes went to the supermarket in town to get snacks or an ice cream on the hand. Sometimes we also went out to eat together in a small restaurant in the nearby town. The leaders of the project also threw some parties, for example for Mother’s Day or when it was someone’s birthday. Once we even got a dance class.
My free time in the hostel was very diverse. Since the place Uvita had a lot to offer, I had endless possibilities. On top of that, you always met new people to do things with. I went hiking, to the beach, to restaurants, whale watching or to parties.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE CULTURE
During my time in Costa Rica, I generally noticed that the locals, especially those from the poorer part of the population, seemed very happy and fulfilled. The children there play together almost every day and also the adults usually spend their free time outside with other families from the neighborhood. This made me realize once again that you don’t need much to be happy.
The people I met were incredibly friendly and their culture fascinated me. Everyone was so happy and lively, especially when it came to dancing and music. You met people everywhere who were happy to help you. I also really enjoyed the local food and overall I felt a pleasant culture shock compared to Germany. It definitely helps if you speak a few words of Spanish, but you can get by without it.
THAT’S WHY I LOVE LATIN AMERICA
I could list countless reasons for this. Starting with the locals, the culture that the whole country exudes, the food, the always-on music, the nature, and a combination of everything together. Latin America has so much to offer and I am so excited about just one country that made me want to go back for more. I can only recommend it to everyone.
MY MOST BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
I had a lot of great moments. My favorite moment by far was when I was out and about with the other volunteers from the zoo. We quickly became close friends and when it suddenly started raining we got excited and started doing sports. So we taught each other sports and this was so nice for me because you could just be a kid again and feel light and carefree in the rain. We were all super relaxed and even the locals passing by cheered us on and called out to us.
MY FAVORITE PLACE
My favorite place from the beginning was the zoo. It was a complete contrast to everything I knew before. The staff made me feel like I was part of a big family and I was fascinated by living right in nature. I was also thrilled by the beach in Uvita, near my hostel. The many palm trees and the endless beach were overwhelming. I could never have dreamed of traveling to such a beautiful place.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
I would recommend a study abroad in Latin America to anyone who loves nature and is looking for adventure. A unique experience is guaranteed that you will never regret. I made incredibly many and solid friendships with whom I am still in contact. The projects are super interesting and offer a new perspective on the world. You get to know new cultures, but not only that, you also learn a lot about yourself. Add to that the tropical climate and the locals, who you just have to take to your heart. My dream is to be able to come back very soon.
THIS IS HOW THE JOURNEY HAS CHANGED ME
The trip has definitely changed my horizon and my view on many things. I have learned a lot about myself and what I want in life. I also became more reflective and open to everything that came along. This was the only way I could get to know people and their culture. In addition, I have become more independent and self-confident.