Chapter 1: The Quest for Pura Vida

Why Costa Rica?

Choosing to study in Costa Rica was a lucky accident at the end of a meandering trail connecting the dots of some of the best wrong decisions I have ever made.

So here’s the progression of decisions that led me to Universidad Nacional in Costa Rica:

  1. I decided to apply to a big school where I knew no one (for adventure).
  2. I registered for a basic Russian class (because I had to take a language).
  3. I dropped the class in favor of Spanish (because of two friends from Mexico I met the summer before my freshman year).
  4. I switched my major to Spanish (because anthropology was boring and Spanish was fun).
  5. I applied for a summer study abroad in Spain (to get a head-start on my Spanish).
  6. I never finished the application (because my mother disagreed).
  7. I took basic biology for science majors, even though I hated science (for the challenge)(and because I had to take a science class anyway).
  8. I changed my major to biology (because photosynthesis is practically a miracle).
  9. I found a study abroad program in Costa Rica focused on rain forest ecology that I liked (because half the semester is hiking and camping in the rain forest).
  10. I did not apply (because it did not fit into the classes I needed to take).
  11. I changed my major back to Spanish (because botany is really more of a hobby anyway).
  12. I looked at more study abroad programs (because I would have chosen studying abroad as a major and career if I could).
  13. I settled on Costa Rica (because I had already done the research anyway).
  14. I decided to go for a full year (because I could).
  15. I got accepted into the program (because I applied).

So it’s hard to connect a lot of paperwork, mental pictures of lots of trees, a list of names of my host family members and their puppies, and a tour book to a real place, but that’s where I’ll be in two weeks.  And I can’t imagine doing anything different.


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