Traveling is one of the most eye-opening and educational experiences that we can have as students. One of our Honors College students, Johnny Voss, recently came back from his study abroad experience in Costa Rica. Johnny is originally from California and is studying psychology.
When asked why he wanted to study aboard, he explained that he had wanted to since high school. He had a few close friends in high school that were exchange students from Mexico and Europe and they encouraged him to have a similar experience abroad.
When picking where to study, Johnny started by making a list of what he wanted to get out of his study abroad experience. By making a list of the pros and cons of each of the many destinations offered, he was able to figure out what was important to him and then narrow down the location. A few of his priorities were the ability to learn Spanish in a place that was warm and relatively affordable. Thus, he finally chose Costa Rica and was excited to experience the calming “pura vida” vibe of the country.
While there, he was enrolled in four classes at a Costa Rican university. He studied tropical ecology, elementary Spanish, Latin American cultures and took a cooking class, which turned out to be his favorite course. Through cooking class, Johnny’s eyes were opened to the culture in a unique way. Johnny highly recommends that anybody who studies abroad take a cooking course if possible.
In his free time, Johnny enjoyed exploring the local beaches with his Costa Rican friends. They showed him around the town of San Ramon where they went out to local restaurants, which were very popular amongst the locals in the evenings. While out, he saw a lot of people doing typical Latin American dances, such as the salsa. On the weekends, Johnny spent a lot of time exploring the natural beauty of Costa Rica. One of his favorite spots was Santa Teresa, a small beach town located on the Caribbean side of the country. Overall, he enjoyed spending time relaxing, living like the locals and experiencing the Costa Rican culture.
Johnny reflects that Costa Rican culture is relatively similar to that of the United States. He commented that it’s more developed than other Latin American countries. One of the biggest differences, though, was the simplicity of life and the slower pace. The people were much more relaxed and weren’t so focused on racing onto the next thing like they often are in American culture. He said the hardest part was the language barrier and he wished he’d been able to communicate better.
After college, Johnny plans on becoming a high school guidance counselor. During his high school years, he was heavily impacted by a couple of guidance counselors who helped him develop into the individual that he is today. He also mentioned that he’s passionate about people, and being the oldest in his family with three younger siblings further ignited his passion for helping and serving others. Johnny is on track to graduate in the spring of 2020 and will then pursue his master’s in counseling.
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