Today on campus we welcome three new resident naturalists (bienvenidos Beth, Elizabeth and Insiyaa!) who will be living, researching and teaching with us for the next few months. Here are my top five tips for making the most of your experience as an intern or naturalist at UGA Costa Rica.
- Be as present as possible. When you first arrive on campus, it’s easy to ask yourself, “what am I doing here?” Living in the jungle isn’t always easy, especially in the rainy season or with pests like lawn shrimp, but life at UGACR quickly feels comfortable. If your mind is focused on life back home or what your next move should be (I’m guilty of both), you won’t be able to fully enjoy your work here. Remember, this is your time for pura vida!
- The more Spanish you learn, the better. One of the best parts about living and working at UGA Costa Rica is the opportunity to meet locals from Monteverde de San Luis. Ticos here are kind, hospitable and passionate about this small valley town of around 500 people. The more you can communicate with the ladies at the lavandería and other members of the full-time staff, the more Monteverde will feel like home.
- Just say yes. Whether someone has asked you to share a cup of (locally grown and roasted) coffee with them or to dance at a community celebration, it’s not only polite to say yes, but it’s also a simple way of opening yourself to new cultural experiences. While Costa Rica is considered to be fairly estadounidense, or Americanized, you’ll still find social differences here worth observing and experiencing.
- Lend a hand. If you want to improve your Spanish or become acquainted with locals, one of the best ways to do that is by lending your time and help. Go to the farm and plant lettuce in the greenhouse with Marlón or pull on a hairnet to help in la cocina after dinner. A friendly attitude is essential to acquainting yourself to campus.
- Never stop learning. Whether you come here as a student, tourist or worker, UGA Costa Rica functions as a playground of learning. Each person here has a specialty and feels passionate about education. If you want to know more, like how to make the perfect empanada, pin butterflies for a collection or successfully run up la trocha, somebody here will be happy to help, so just ask!
Blog post by photojournalism intern Rachel Eubanks.