Learning Through Adventure in Costa Rica

By James Bridge

2 minutes


In recent decades Costa Rica has achieved renown for its commitment to environmental sustainability. How did this come about? And why in Costa Rica? With these questions in mind, nine students from eight U.S. universities joined the second InterExchange Sustainable Action Costa Rica program

The group in Monteverde
The group in Monteverde
Image courtesy of James Bridge

From Jan. 3 to 11 the group traveled from San José to Monteverde and La Fortuna learning how Costa Rica has achieved success in several areas of sustainability, environmental in particular. Throughout the week students visited with numerous NGOs and government agencies including the community associations of San Luis (Monteverde) and La Fortuna, an educational farm, a wildlife rehabilitation center, and Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment, Energy, and Telecommunications.

Truly life-changing

Laura, a senior at the University of Wisconsin majoring in Biology and Creative Writing, reflected on the experience in an online review. “Every day, we visited new local businesses and met new people which made this a truly life-changing cultural immersion, even if it was only for 8 days.”

During guided discussions students considered how Costa Rica has become a success story in environmental conservation, some of the historical context and current challenges and initiatives in this area, and how this all relates to their own academic and career trajectories as well as personal lives.

Students and guide hiking at Arenal Volcano
Students and guide hiking at Arenal Volcano
Image courtesy of James Bridge

“I wasn’t able to fit a study-abroad program into my time at university and this proved to be the perfect compromise,” Laura wrote about her experience. “The group I went with was absolutely lovely and made the whole week that much better. Everyone was friendly and willing to try new things which allowed us all to get that much more out of the program.”

Adventure for the mind and body

A physically as well as mentally engaging program, students had the chance to go on a night walk in the jungle, hike at the base of a volcano, swim in a waterfall, and walk the pups from a dog rescue center. On a free day some of the group members had a soccer match with local guide Pedro and driver Edgar while others went and enjoyed a well-deserved massage.

Students walking dogs from a local rescue center
Students walking dogs from a local rescue center
Image courtesy of James Bridge

Another highlight was the local food and Costa Rica’s omnipresent natural juices. Savannah, a student at SUNY New Paltz majoring in Management with a concentration in Sustainability, also shared her thoughts in a review. “The food was delicious as well and accommodating for any allergies or preferences (my group had someone that was gluten free, someone vegan, and two vegetarians and we all ate really good)!”

The next SACR program is planned for July 24 - August 1, 2020 and will be based on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coastal areas of Puerto Viejo and Bri Bri.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation