MelissaWinchell's Travel Journals


What do you want to do the next time you travel abroad?

learn a language, volunteer in a needy community, work with the environment, experience a new culture through studying, experience a new culture through volunteering, meet new people, make some money, change the world [somehow], adventure travel

  • Currently in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Monteverde, Costa Rica Adventure!

These journal entries will be a compilation of my experience on the Living Routes program to the Monteverde Institute. They will be addressing adventures I go on, processes I go through and awarenesses I gain from this experience.

Closing Reflection

Costa Rica Monteverde, Costa Rica  |  Apr 27, 2011
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It has been a wild adventure in Costa Rica and now it's time to move on to the next experience. I have had an incredible time with the people I have met and the places I have seen. I want to remember everything exactly and I'm not sure how I can do that. I've kept a journal during this time that I will enjoy reading back on. I remember being so scared at the beginning, so unsure of what I was getting myself into, but extremely grateful for the opportunity.

From here, I'm starting to process what reverse culture shock is going to manifest as when I get home and it's making me a bit nervous. I remember going through culture shock after Scotland, so what's this experience going to be when I'm returning to a vastly different culture? I think it's going be the hardest for me to get used to consumerism again. Here, there's not much to spend money on and the people do not overindulge like in the States. I'm going to miss the tranquila-pura vida attitude of Costa Rica. I will bring this home with me though. I'm scared of returning to a fast pace-profit oriented world rather than the rural subsistence I have experienced here. I’m going to miss having dogs follow me around and snuggle with me, but to not have to bring them home. Note: How many classes have you had where dogs are allowed to sit in your lap during the lecture?

When I think back to my favorite parts of this program I remember my first week here. Getting to the know the group and jumping from one location to another, was quite the bonding experience. I remember seeing Pati and Ernesto for the first time, scared to death about where they were taking us. At Tirimbina we spent hours on the forest floor looking for cool bugs and animals. We learned how to make chocolate and ate SO much!

Arriving in San Luis I remember meeting my family for the first time. I was terrified because they couldn’t speak English and I couldn't speak Spanish. How could we communicate? Learning to survive and thrive in a different culture has given me a completely new skill set. Things have changed so much since then. I have learned so much Spanish; I have been humbled in the process of laughing at myself and the ridiculousness of how little I know. My worldview and lens has been widened from this experience greatly. I feel like I have shed my skin in growth.

I am going to miss my family here. They have been part of the foundation of this program. Coming home each day, breaking bread, playing with the kids and exploring myself through Costa Rica has been more than academics. I have learned so much through this experience and I want to focus on how I can apply it in the future and where else I can grow.

I have learned how to think critically of the world and how to utilize viable supporting evidence for my opinions. I have experience a different culture and through that a different language. I have questioned my beliefs and learned more about how a group can function and how to overcome conflict.

Thank you Costa Rica for teaching me this.

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