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Costa Rica Update #11: Otro Verano Increíble

Posted by kevinwolz on August 14, 2011

Well, here I am three months later at the end of yet another incredible summer. It is truly difficult to put my feelings about this summer into words, yet I know I will be talking about it for the rest of my life. While I learned a lot about Spanish, biology, and agriculture, none of these areas tops how much I have grown as a person. This summer was more than just an educational experience…it was a life experience. What follows is my best attempt to summarize the most important things I gained out of this summer. It doesn’t include verb conjugations nor species names, but rather things that will undoubtedly impact me for the rest of my life.

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I now know what it feels like to be the minority. I have been shouted at in the streets, discriminated against in a store, almost beaten up over a cultural misunderstanding, been given “the look” more times than I’d like to say, and, worst of all, been the target of many assumptions that I highly resent.

I have acquired a new perspective on my values and priorities in my life. When your mind doesn’t have to think about anything in particular, it’s allowed to think about whatever its wants. Over my three months in Costa Rica and Panama (especially in the many long bus rides) my mind has been allowed to wander wherever it pleases.  Looking back, it’s very enlightening to realize what things I hardly thought about all summer that had previously occupied large portions of my mind just weeks before. On the other hand, it was fascinating to see my mind revisiting things that I had never really given enough of a chance before. These topics, that dominate my mind when the strong filter of what I “think” I need when I get entrenched in certain ideas or lost in the routine of everyday life, are the things that must be truly important to me. As I move into this new semester, I think I have the best perspective on my priorities than I ever have before. Can’t wait to see to what new places that perspective can take me…

I’ve learned how to travel cheap and still stay within my comfort zone/feel safe. This will undoubtedly prove extremely useful for the many future travels that I am already planning.

I have experienced and actually been a part of a different culture for an extended period of time for the first time in my life. A deep understanding of another culture is so important for more than just the sake of understanding that culture, however…I think that I now actually have a better perspective of my own culture. Nothing beats a perspective from the outside looking in.

I can be pura vida. Basically, I slowed down quite a bit this summer (may be hard to believe for those who met me for the first time over the summer) and learned to live without technology every second of my life. While this doesn’t mean that I won’t return right back to a crazy-fast, technology-filled life once I return to campus (heck, as I look at my Post-Summer To Do List, I can already see that it seems highly unlikely), but at least I know it’s possible and feels great.

Biodiversity is more diverse, ecology is more complex, and evolution more inspiring than I ever thought before. That’s saying something.

I formed some really great relationships with my host-family and other friends that I met over the summer. The fact that I will be leaving all of them behind tomorrow is only just beginning to set it. That said, I have no doubt that I will return to see them all again.

I really missed running. The last three months of abstinence has been the longest inactive period I’ve ever endured since becoming a runner over 8 years ago. Core and lunges just don’t cut it. I need some endorphins.

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Photos from the past month that I haven’t been able to post until now:

Villas Mastatal (First Farm)

Finca Amrta (Last Farm)

Panama Border, City, and Canal

Fortuna and Bocas del Toro

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2 Responses to “Costa Rica Update #11: Otro Verano Increíble”

  1. Joan said

    Kevin, By the time you read this, you will be home and relaxing with Mom & Dad! I enjoyed this blog very much and especially the new pictures. Quite a difference between the two farms and your accomodations. The food looked appealing although I didn’t know what it was. What a wonderful experience you’ve had this summer and I can’t wait to hear where you’ll be going next…
    GB

  2. Dale & Joyce said

    Absolutely fascinating, Kevin. What a wonderful experience you have had and we are sure it is only the beginning. Welcome back safe and sound.

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