One month ago I was in Costa Rica. It seems almost dream-like now, as I get back into my usual routine as a student at the University of Missouri. Trekking through the jungle of Costa Rica may very well be one of the highlights of my college career. It was a journey so vastly different than many of my peers would ever experience. Covering nature and society in the developing world was invigorating and eye opening.
From hiking through cloud forests looking at plant life, to learning about the growth and cultivation of coffee, Costa Rica offered a unique viewpoint into the developing world. The country is filled with incredibly diverse landscapes and species, the likes of which could fill countless stacks of books on the topic.
The people we interacted with were extremely friendly and helpful. The lifestyle and weather seemed fantastic. The food was outstanding. Leaving that behind to return to the chilly Midwest was difficult, to say the least. However, the nature I encountered was more intense and challenging than I ever could have imagined.
Nature and I do not always get along. I’ve done my share of hiking, but I was always more comfortable in a more urban environment. It’s the person I am, where I grew up. But Costa Rica was a completely different experience. I went outside my comfort zone countless times on the trip when out in the jungle with wild animals. It was super intriguing to visit, but not something I was overly comfortable with exploring for extended periods of time. The walking was strenuous, too. The terrain was often very steep, making for challenging climbs on the sides of volcanoes.
I did much better with our “traditional” tourist activities. Zip lining, hot springs and beaches are magnificent in Costa Rica. Tourism is a large factor in the country’s economic standing. Experiencing the cross between the natural habitat and protected areas with the influx of travelers simply visiting for leisure created an interesting juxtaposition on the magnificent landscape.
I realized some important things on my travels. The culture and environment make Costa Rica great. Visiting a country with a widely different culture than my own is something not to be taken for granted. But reporting on these differences is not my forte. As a strategic communication student, I simply reaffirmed my dislike of more “traditional” reporting as a journalist. That’s the most important lesson I learned in Costa Rica; learning about where I want to be in life is now more apparent after covering nature and society in Costa Rica. The skills I’ve developed at MU and continued to refine in Costa Rica are fantastic and will help me be better in my preferred field.
This serves as my last post on this blog. It was an exciting experience to travel abroad as a reporter. I simply loved my time in Costa Rica, and it helped immensely with my discovery of who I am and who I want to be in the future.